Docs are a mess - Newbie point of view

Hi Gang,
First off, I will say I am a total beginner to Blender software (I have done bits in Real 3D and Bryce). The initial layout screen to blender is a mess, stuff going on all over the place. I appreciate that I will get familiar with it once I find my way around and find some good videos.
My problem is that the documentation has not kept pace with the development. I know the gang have great things waiting in the wings that they want to get on with, but if a beginner cannot follow the documentation because it is out of date with what is on the screen, they may just give up and loose a great deal of pleasure.
A case in point, I have just loaded in Blender 2.57. The first thing I look for is the Manual, I find this Overview rather complex, but keep reading. I then come to the Juicy bit - My first Object, yippee.
The snag is, Its all been written for V.2.49, not 2.57 ! What happened to the re-writes for 2.50 to 2.56 ??? I appreciate you cannot do all of the document updates, some may not need it, but certainly your very first tutorial needs to be bang up to date.
I loaded up Gus the Gingerbread man tutorial and started working through it. My numpad functions did not work, my F9 function did not work (UK keyboard setting). I managed to subdivide my body cube, then had problems finding the Limit selection button, then was not sure if it was in active state or inactive state.
I tried removing my vertices, but ended up with deleted boxes (inverted L shape). I could not find my Mirror option at all.
To put it bluntly, It was not a great success. No doubt I was probably doing something I should not have done, or missed a step out somewhere, but to say it did not fill me with confidence is an understatement.
Maybe I should download v2.49 and try something in that while they update the Documents ?
I would like to say that it looks like a great many people support the creation of blender and its community, maybe they would like to pitch in and update their stuff too.

Regards all.

http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:2.5/Manual

The real problem is the help links from Blender (welcome screen and help menu) needs to be updated (!!) It still points to the 2.49 docs (!!). I’m reporting this anyway in the bug tracker…

Hi,

Gustav: have you looked at this “manual”? The first page doesn’t look very inviting to dig deeper into Blender.
And at no (ovious) part does it seem to link to any kind of tutorials for beginners for Blender 2.5x.
There are many places on the internet with great tutorial (blendercookie for example) but the manual simply does not point to such sites.
Blender already has a steap learning curve, but the manual doesn’t really do a very good job in helping you start.

Kind Regards

Bernd

Thanks Gustav and Stargeizer,
Hopefully the pointers can be amended soon. I have bookmarked the manual, so when I get time to have another go I should get a bit further along. I do agree with Bernd that the beginners section could do with a makeover.

@garak, there’s a difference between a manual and a tutorial. Manual describes the functionality while the tutorials let you learn when following instructions of creating a Gingerbread man for example. For newbies tutorials are great, but when you get a bit more advanced you tend want more specific knowledge for example what does “SSS scale do?” and for such thing a manual is way better.

I do agree that the first page could be a lot better, especially for beginners.

Start @ Blender Cookie. Lots of tuts for 2.5.

My suggestion,
http://gryllus.net/Blender/3D.html
blender cookie and other places next.
I hope it helps.

Blender is a terrible app for beginners.
All the bad reputation comes from this. Otherwise is a great app.

yeah, the docs are well behind development. it’s been stated in the past tho that development would be well in advance of documentation, as the goal of the 2.5x series is a feature-complete and stable 2.6. Thus, the plan -i believe- is to fully update the manual once 2.6 is out, as too many changes are occurring during 2.5x development to make keeping the manual up-to-date time-efficient.
as I recall, there’s a thread in here somewhere about a drive for USERS to update the manual, being a wiki and all. apparently that hasn’t gone so great so far :wink:
other than that, ditto the previous posters: there’s tons of pretty decent beginner tutorials around. have at 'em! :smiley:

There is little doubt that the blender documentation was always a big pile of crap.

We should not forget howeve here that Blender is all about participation and cooperation for non profit purposes, on limited free time from people that have work and regular lifes. Because of this the community prioritise more on implementing new features than documenting them. The already doing an amazing job.

Your best bet is online video tutorials, youtube and blender cookie are an excellent source. Suprisingly even though there is no organised complete documentation , learning blender is quite easy. Dont go back to learn 2.49, many things have changed and 2.5 is the future. Actually 2.6 is round the corner.

Its important to note here that if you feel like crawling dont blame Blender, like any 3d app, out there the learning is very very very very long procedure. Prepare yourself for a huge commitment , if you want to make very good 3d graphics.

But I think with video tutorials you will be more than fine, there are tons of them out there. And of course there loads of things you can learn just by experiemtning, its not rocket science, once you understand the basics, the rest is easy to figure out. So you dont really need to be spoon feed on details.

Besides video tutorials, there is the #blender channel at freenode server, there is also this forum :wink: for any question those tutorials cannot answer.

But dont imagine you can jump start making your own art, bad idea. Dedicate 6 months doing the tutorials even more if you are not experienced with 3d graphics. And then when you have a solid basic understanding you are ready to make your own art.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress

How encouraging for all those fine people who at least try to keep up with the changes and update the wiki. Do you?

To Graleth: Welcome to Blender! :slight_smile:
Blender is a community project, where documentation is almost always the weak point. There are just not the ressources for a complete up to date manual like a commercial program has. Usually the solution is to ask the community for good starting points, or look around the net. That’s just the way it is, and I can’t imagine it will change anytime soon, although the wiki authors are doing their best. Therefore free software projects just need a different approach. But it’s really worth it, IMO.

Still your points about how to get a new user up to speed are valid and should be considered when setting documentation piorities. Nothing is so frustrating as out of date docs when you don’t know where else to look.

A specific tip from me: for free and friendly live help come join us sometime in the #blender chatroom at irc.freenode.net. :slight_smile:

Well I have a long history of praising blender and all people working for it, let me have the satisfaction to blame it for something.

Obviously I am exaggerating, the documentation is not that bad, Actually there is even an entire book called “essential blender” and many great things.

The documentation is not a large pile of crap because poeple who contributed did a bad job.No!!!

Its bad because it lacks documentation, it lacks participation it lack people who can contribute their extremely valuable free time. Personally I dont blame the people who contributed to the wiki, I thank them from the deepest of my heart and kneel before them. They are amazing.

BUT!!!

The wiki desperately needs work. Its even part of the blender’s roadmap. Saying that the wiki is in a bad state is stating the obvious. So please dont kill the messenger.

kilon, thanks for clarifying, sounds a lot better now. :slight_smile:

I think the problem lies deeper.

Blender is free, a lot of people contribute and work for that.
The users now also expect documentation to come along free.
For the most part it does, but it needs to be developed just like Blender, and writing documentation is boring to the majority of people, so it´s behind. There are people though who enjoy writing a documentation,they just do it oldschool.
They write books - and their work comes with a price and from my point of view it´s fair they want to get money for refining their knowledge which they gained by sacrificing their time.

So you got those who know their way around Blender, spend a lot of time to understand the new version and write a book.
Users buy the books, or use free or paid tutorials to understand it, and at one point the documentation and wiki starts to fill.

So you got to pay for the information, or wait until the knowledge becomes common and spreads for free.

And they aren´t even those 80-120 Euro technical books, they are cheap:


And if you want more immediate stuff, Blender Cookie is the source.

you are all welcome to join the wiki tean & help improve documentation.

You can be one of two things:
A complainer who does nothing or A contributor who tries to help doc Blender.

Which are you & why?

What i’d like to see is wiki like pages (Pictures, description, uses) implemented into the blender GUI as advanced tooltips.

Just progress - soon you will find that the things will get easier.

Furthermore as Freemind suggests, at times I also feel that some information could be set aside as pages.

My experience with the docs- at first they were absolutely foreign, until I put in some time to be comfortable with Blender itself. Once that happened their logic became clear and I could proceed with much more understanding. The docs aren’t perfect, but I think they are still useful to a serious user- not a “mess,” but more like “good enough.”. I think noobs would be better off learning the parlance and methods from a good tutorial source first.

Hey everybody,
Thanks very much for your thoughts and suggestions, it looks like there are lots of goodies out there, its now a matter of trying them and seeing what suits best. All I need to find now is some free time.

Regards all,

Graleth

john blain has a 2.5 manual for noobies, and he keeps it failty up to date. infact it was last updated 20 may 2011 which is today. and it seems to fet monthly updates at the minimum. http://silverjb.limewebs.com/index.html .