Discoverability of Blender interface, is it an objective of Developers?

My definition:

Discoverability : capability of navigating and using an interface with own user existing interface culture and instant feedback of interface with minimal resorting to manual or videos.

Being a +20 years user of 3D applications from mechanical CAD to 3DsMax, Softimage, Cinema 4D, Sketchup and others including composition apps i have been following Blender development with interest and curiosity. It is undeniable that evolution have been positive specially what Blender can achieve today. But at what cost?

I’ll give you 2 examples of my recent struggling in first use. I am in 2.82 version:

Wanted to have a polygonal object showing up shaded with edges, in discoverability assumption i went to the top right corner to set it up, it is there that are other similar options. Oops, crashed into a wall.
Neither it was in View button options…
I seem i have to select it in object. Time lost : 15-30 minutes.

Wanted to move a couple of points of said object in shaded mode. Behind points are not selected. Very well there is a button in interface that says “Select” so it should be here that i have the option. Oops no option related to it there. Another crash into a wall and entropy increasing.
With my experience i worked it out changing to wireframe mode but to find that is it impossible to to move hidden points behind in shaded mode i had spend another more 15 minutes until i discovered that there is in interface a button that clicks a transparency mode to do it.
It there is logic that it is there near other visibility commands there is no logic that it is not repeated in select option button.

In my opinion all of this in unacceptable from perspective of interface logic.

3rd example
Experimenting the interface and doing some stuff that was not clear what was the result. Went to undo to learn what it was. Undo does not tell what command it is undoing.

Inverse experience. Being a phone dinosaur, just last year i got a smartphone. In just 2 days of normal use - that means 3 -4 calls . i was up and running with Android phone logic, adding apps and increasing my knowledge by just using it, not by having to view 5 min videos for each command.

That was a similar experience of when i learned Sketchup which i rate still the best experience in 3D regarding interface discoverability.

Best regards.


Join the party:

That particular selection bullshit has raised many voices already, yet is continuously ignored by the developers.

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Wireframe can actually be toggled in the top-right corner, just like you expected : in the overlays popover. You have the option to either enable it globally from there, or on an object by object basis, in object properties (in which case it will bypass the “overlays” toggle).

The case of undo : it is being improved as we speak (performance-wise), and hopefully some interface improvements will follow as well (more details as to what has been undone/redone, etc.), it’s up to you to suggest it over here :

Thanks for feedback . You are correct Hadriscus, but it should be with the global viewport icons menu.

Where do you mean ? in preferences ?

@Bullit Blender is not an intuitive software, like say c4d… So don’t expect to find stuff where it should be, stuff is all over the place…
If you keep that in mind, you might be able to use blender without punching your screen in frustration… lol

No, i mean in most top right - viewport shading.

Ah I see. The recent viewport refactor created a few base concepts such as the split between picture and overlays, the latter being whatever’s applied on top of the rendered picture : helpers, non-renderable objects, wireframes or render border, and so on fall into this category. Gizmos were split out from those for the sake of practicality, so that the user can disable just them, but keep the overlays on, but technically they’re overlays as well.

Yes, the interface should not be a split of technical of code terminology even in this case seems artificial like you say. By that logic Eevee should be in a render “department”. What matters is the function it performs: visualization. I sometimes want to show the mesh in wireframe others shaded with wireframe, others only shaded, etc.

I see in many situations the problem is the Language - Logic. Yes the meaning of words that we use to discriminate to justify that this should be here, that should be there. If i would be the master of Blender interface the first thing would be to choose the fewest words possible to describe it.
An example is road traffic rules, it is an excellent example of a language-logic that pretty much everyone can understand. It’s coherence achieved universal acceptance.

Hmmm I never said that. Tbh I don’t have a strong opinion. I think those settings are rather easily findable. Good blending, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance in your learning.


When you said they are technically overlays as well.

Ahhh yes, my bad I meant the opposite excuse my english : they were split out for convenience rather than technicality. Up to the beta I believe they were under a single toggle which made it quite inconvenient to disable one while keeping the other.

I think you have to get used to the fact that each software has a different philosophy and way of organizing displays. Not to mention completely different feature sets. In Blender’s case, they made the choice for this to be an overlay when made globally. Which makes more sense than it being a shading option. Wires have nothing to do with shading because they can be visible in all shading modes. By your way of thinking, we would have two options for each shading mode. As it is the option is still right there in the top corner right next to shading options with wording that is real clear as to what it does in the little pop up hints.

In many other software you are very limited in your choice. It is either wireframe, sold, wireframe solid, then textured and lit and so on. That is why they are listed together.

Blender’s way of doing it is different. So in this case it makes complete sense for it to be non obvious since it is a feature. Not a UI decision.

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I do recall reading in the Modo forum as to how people were impressed when their models looked a lot more pleasing to the eye in Blender 2.8 than Maya and also their native Modo (because of more modern drawing features even for things like solid mode).

The tricky part is convincing the industry to leave the legacy workflows and displays (that pros have been accustomed to and comfortably using since the 1990’s) behind, sometimes a new workflow is embraced like PBR, but not always. Not only that, but it is tricky to encourage them to pick up potentially useful features they never encountered before (ie. Blender’s 3D cursor, which actually saw significant improvements in the last few years).

It is true that some new ways of working just didn’t work (like right-click select), so I’m not saying that everything that is ‘new’ will be superior, but many other times it is superior or has the potential to become so.

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Really? :smile:

Heh, you should give it a try

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I did… and the more I do, the more I hate it… :smile:

It has lots of shortcomings, and with a little love it could be much better I agree to that. Hopefully some fund money goes into it, along with the snapping improvements, that could hange the way we model in Blender.

I disagree Richard . Your text imo also makes it clear. It is the propose, placement in workflow that matters.

For example why Eeeve is now there in viewport icons instead of solely a propose build menu?

Answer: Its speed makes it possible to use it for creative proposes in many workflows. So it can be used often. In the past a render engine like that would be a more formal thing because it would be much slower.

It is still a render engine, but a change in performance made to change its placement in interface.

lol well you can disagree with me. But don’t kill the messenger. Wireframe is not a shading option in Blender, like it is in other apps. That is just how it is. You wanted it to be easy to discover. And if it was a shading option, it would have been right there where you expected it.

This is one of those many cases where choices made to offer more options and flexibility require an interface that makes those options available. As cleanly as possible. And in this particular case. Blender actually has it right. One place to add a wireframe overlay over all shading options.

Look. You see, stick around long enough to get to know me. I am not being a Blenderhead fanboy. Anyone here can vouch for that. So please don’t assume I am just trying to defend Blender against all odds.

Moving on to other subjects, I am sure you and I will find other points of agreement.