Is Blender becoming too complex for no reason ?

I am at the moment translating the Manual to French and I just can’t believe how much the thorough description of something as simple as moving an object has become a long winded affair.
Forget the numerous means of selecting an object, one can enter the Grab mode by gesture, Gkey, grabbing the Widget or automatically after an operation like a duplication ; then one can use some mean or another to achieve precision : numeric input at the keyboard, ctrl with shift or not pressed ; thing depends on the degree of zooming of the moment or the preferences set…
It doesn’t seem to have an end ! Is all of this really necessary. Won’t the average newbie cry out : “God… why hast thou forsaken me !”

Jean

LOL, I really do feel for the newbies, it was confusing enough to learn back when I started and there were definitly fewer options back then.

While documentation is becoming harder to maintain and keep track of, I think the recent changes have been positive. Blender is growing and maturing, there are methods and techniques for all types of users. You don’t have to use everything, just because it is there. Use what you need, as you need it.

I have been at this for better than 5 years and there are still whole areas of blender that I have yet to explore. Somethings I may never get to.

My best suggestion for all new users has always been, do the beginner tutorials, watch the videos, then pick a project and learn needed techniques as you go. You will retain the information better and will always be learning new, fun things. Eventually you will be able to do whatever you want.

To use your example, for official documentation I think it’s important to get the idea across that the RMB selects and makes Active, Shft-RMB selects multiple and makes Last-Selected Active and that Box Select does not make Active. GKey grabs. Later they can find out for themselves thru hotkey lists and the forums that LMB-Drag, RMB-Drag, Keyboard Numeric input and Arrow Keys do the same thing.

%<

Hmmm, where’s that cracked blender screenshot that says maya “[email protected] by @||dy” or whatever…

How is that any different from any other application, especailly other 3d modelling/animation packages?

I understand what you are getting at, that simple is good. But you can’t make things too simple, or you lose functionality and adaptibility.

I don’t think blender is too complex. If Blender’s purpose was to have a nice and easy 3d graphics suite that the average person could pick up and use to make simple graphics, then I would agree with you, But I don’t think that the average person with no knowledge of 3d graphics is the target audience for Blender.

Anyways, I do sympathize with you in trying to do anything with the documentation, and I applaud your efforts. I think that if things seem too complex in the documentation, the documentation itself needs to be simplified, not Blender.

Sorry for rambling on.

it was cracked by phlip IIRC

edit: here it is
phlip:
http://members.lycos.co.uk/phlipping/bl3nd3r.png
Alltaken:
http://doug.mudpuddle.co.nz/albums/upload/maya.jpg

The thing is that Blender is getting extremely complicated and in some areas inconsistant. It’s always been inconsistant in that it doesn’t use the expected hot keys for certain operations (Anyone used to ctrl-x for cut, ctrl-c for copy and ctrl-v for paste is in for a shock, plus the right mouse button does what most newbies would expect the left one to do and vice versa) but now there are all kinds of special cases. I really do think that the developers need to take a long hard look at the UI and say “How can we make this consistant and accessible?”

As a general rule of thumb closed source applications have much better interface design than their open source competitors, possibly because the companies behind them realise the importance of keeping the users happy, while there is still an attitude in the open source community of eliteism, that you should be abe to understand software from the point of view of those who wrote it and that if you don’t then you’re a newbie. As long as this attitude prevails open source will never get the kind of penetration it wants, or deserves.

The documentation issue is also closely related to the interface issue. No closed source publisher would dream of releasing a product without adequate documentation because they know they’ll be swamped with complaints and tech-support requests. Open source software, however, tends to be really badly documented. Compare, say, Maya with Blender. Maya has a comprehensive manual and tutorials provided, whereas the Blender documentation is often out of date and written in a style that assumes the user already knows what he’s doing. It’s all well and good saying “Google for tutorials and learn from them” but the tutorials tend not to be updated and as Blender evolves they become increacingly irrevelant to the current version and can go from being an aid to being a hurdle. Maya/3dmax users wouldn’t put up with this kind of crap.

The closed source companies put in a lot of effort to make the user experience as plesant as possible, with carefully designed UIs, comprehensive documentation and other touches to help you jump in and learn. The Maya guys even give away a cut-down free version and provide tutorial courses to help those new to 3D get into Maya. Blender needs this kind of work done with it if it’s truly going to be taken seriously.

(From a newbie growing increacingly frustrated with Blender, considering Maya PLE instead)

Partially. However, I think that most open source developers are extremely open to suggestions from their project’s users. For example, if you posted on a Maya forum asking for a certain feature, I would guess that you would be much less likely to be granted that request than if fyou were on a Blender forum asking for something to be added to Blender. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m not saying that the developers of commercial applications completely ignore their customers. I just think open source communities are much more open to user suggestions.

I think that this part is especially important:

Exactly. It takes a lot of effort to do all those things. A lot. It’s not that the open source guys are lazy. They have full-time jobs, families, and school. The fundamental difference is time and money. It takes a lot of time to do all of those things. But if someone spends all his time creating documentation for no pay, that person will end up on the street, no matter how much everyone appreciates his efforts.

Well in some parts blender is really simple bit some of them are really hard to use. I think a new future project would be making those basic things simple and the advanced stuff more organised.

Things like, type a name in caps to have a particle system working, well that’s something nobody would come up. Who comes up with the idea to type a name in caps to have actually a feature working? :stuck_out_tongue:
(just an example of the old softbody stuff) :smiley:

Anyways, it’s not only that we think that blender is complicated, it’s the way we want to learn people blender. We know that much that we want to learn a beginner everything in a few minutes which looks horrible complicated. But when you start saying, hit Spacebar, choose -> mesh -> cube. Now you made a cube :slight_smile: Now select -> hit Tab -> select a point and drag with g. You’re moving vertices :smiley:
Instead of: Hit spacebar -> mesh -> cube -> hit tab -> slect vertice -> hit G to move - > select all with B - > extrude …bla bla… It’s better to do step by step then everything at one time. This way you can even learn you little sister or brother how to use Blender :slight_smile:
I’ve seen a person of around 14 years or less making things in blender sooo fast that I was like. :o

The company I work for does commerical video work (instructional/training video) and some broadcast commericals. Our primary application is Final Cut Pro, but we do need to do 3D work from time to time and we use Lightwave.

I’ve been using Blender since version 1.8 and own the only published book that I know of (The Blender Book by no starch press). I introduced the program a little over a year ago and the company started to take a serious interest because it could be used with Apple’s Xgrid (so I don’t have to install screamernet on 78 machines) and the fact the program is Free and works pretty well with OSX.

We were starting to do some rapid prototyping and sample animatics to show potential clients because the quick rendering engine. There were even a couple simple 3D text animations we did for one production video in Blender. But then we ran into the dark side of Blender: the fact that changes were being made so quick that if we left it on the shelf for three months, everything seemed to change.

We had gotten in some new systems and downloaded the lastest build of Blender last summer because we needed a real simple 300 frame animation. Well the interface had changed, the way some things rendered changed and required us to change so settings, and the final thing that got Blender deleted from every machine in the company: the animation curve got changed from linear to Bezier by default.

Not a big deal until you waste ten man hours trying to figure out why what should have been a 15-minute job from start to finish wasn’t working correctly. Finally we saved the mesh as a LWO, went into Lightwave, did the keyframing in about 20 minutes and 90 minutes later had the animation finished.

For us what makes Lightwave so attractive? Well now with it’s lower price it is extremely affordable and has an intergrated rendering engine that is capable of doing broadcast quality work out of the box. Furthermore, the colleges we hire from give their video production students at least an “intro to Lightwave 101” course. The local community college also offers beginner and intermeate lightwave courses that we will pay for employees to attend. $450 for two semesters extremely cheap training.

But a big kicker is the documentation. Everytime we upgrade, we get 600-page manuals and we can walk into any Barnes and Noble or Borders and walk out with a half dozen books on lightwave for a few hundred dollars.

Another major advantage is the number and quality of models out there for Lightwave. Yes they may cost us money, sometimes several hundred dollars each, but is it worth every penny in time saved usually.

We can’t do that with Blender. Blender has been changing so rapidly that sometimes it is like a whole new application every six months. Also finding models, for those of us that lack those skills, has been a challenge up until the BMR was established a couple months ago. (which is a shock considering it is easier to find free models for lightwave than blender)

If anything, Blender by its very nature, is sometimes trying to be all things to all people. For instance, I am never going to use the sequencer. But I have Shake and FCP. Blue/Green screen functions in those programs are far better than the Chroma-Key plug-in. I don’t need it and any developements to the squencer is likely to get ignored by me.

Anyway, that’s my .02. I will continue to use Blender at home because it’s a neat program.

A solution to that problem may be to keep using old Blender versions even when they get behind. Why upgrade if it already works? With other programs you upgrade less often simply because that costs money. There are plenty of companies still working with Windows 2000, so what’s against using a year old Blender?
A problem with Blender and open source in general is that it’s more fun to write code then documentation. The Blender manual on the blender.org site lacks quite a lot of new features. Maybe make it a wiki?

It’s already done and there’s even 2 of them :
http://mediawiki.blender.org/index.php/Main_Page
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Blender_3D

Now, as for being up to date you need to read the realease logs :
http://www.blender3d.org/cms/Releaselogs.34.0.html

But we are on it at bf-docboard and bf-education

Besides that, it is almost always possible to get help either here, in a matter of minute or on irc (server freenode) at #blender or #blenderQA

And I am really not exhaustive.

Granted, the interface for finding help is non-standard.

:wink:

Jean

Regarding documentation,

we are starting to get to a point where we can catch up and keep up. Previously we were using a documentation tool that while very powerful had a steep learning curve and was available only on a few platforms.

With the wiki, anyone with a few minutes who is willing to register can help out.

Hopefully we will do print on demand which can allow us to get new user manuals published as quickly as new versions come out.

Also we are developing quick start guides and other tools to rapidly orient a new user to Blender.

Regarding the changes in vesion to version - if you had a version that worked for you and that you understood it seems odd that you would have upgraded if you didn’t have time to learn the changes. That is pretty much never done with commercial tools especially close to a deadline. I do agree if a change such as that was made it should have been documented (assuming it wasn’t).

Blender training should grow pretty quickly after this summer, since Blender will have close to feature parity in pretty much all critical areas (animation tools will be finished, layered materials, node based compositor, bucketing renderer, quality rendering output, probably scripted tutorials, probably integrated sculpting tools, and general improvements in other areas, etc.) Also I think we will have a full teaching guide for both the 3d instruction and for programming developed.

LetterRip

Has this come down in price ?

(animation tools will be finished, layered materials, node based compositor, bucketing renderer, quality rendering output, probably scripted tutorials, probably integrated sculpting tools, and general improvements in other areas, etc.) Also I think we will have a full teaching guide for both the 3d instruction and for programming developed.

LetterRip

Wow, I know quite a few people reading this that are drooling right now.

Heh… snicker hahahBWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Heh.

Ahem…

In my opinion open source developers are only more open to user suggestions if the sugesstions being made are what the the developers were thinking already (in other words its an illusion). Otherwise very little effort is made (in general) to understand and meet the needs of the user.

Regarding the complexity of blender:

Wings had an interesting way to deal with a similar issue, it hid all its advanced (and more interesting) functionality by default and only made it availible when the user turned it on in advanced preferences. Unfortunatley this had the side effect of making many people discard the program prematurley because they thought it was lacking the features they needed.

I guess some people are never happy.

Xarf

Heh… snicker hahahBWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Heh.

Ahem…

In my opinion open source developers are only more open to user suggestions if the sugesstions being made are what the the developers were thinking already (in other words its an illusion). Otherwise very little effort is made (in general) to understand and meet the needs of the user.[/quote]
Yay! Generalizing BS…

Please, stick to the topic.

Martin

[quote=“theeth”]

Yay! Generalizing BS…

Please, stick to the topic.

Martin[/quote]

Wow… I think that some of the cool Blender developers stay up late at night meeting deadlines just for the Blender community. In the end everybody involved in Blender chips in to help make this happen.

Oh, up popped another great Blender build. It’s jam packed with stuff that we all can use. Go figure… Again, the “illusion” is real!

Blender is getting more complex. I’m more skilled now at using Blender than I was years ago. I had a light approach to 3d cg when I first started out. Now I want more. Blender is giving me more than I asked for.

I would think that Ton and the other Blender developers have grown in skills over the years. They want to see how far they can push Blender.

That would be a cool catch phrase for Blender, “Blender, the illusion is real.”

I still consider myself new and there is still much to learn, but so far it has all “made sense” once I learn another level or two. Keep up the good work.

Heh… snicker hahahBWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Heh.

Ahem…

In my opinion open source developers are only more open to user suggestions if the sugesstions being made are what the the developers were thinking already (in other words its an illusion). Otherwise very little effort is made (in general) to understand and meet the needs of the user.[/quote]
Yay! Generalizing BS…

Please, stick to the topic.

Martin[/quote]

Is that official censure? Should I be frightened now?

I am, no really.

Regards
Xarf

Well, far more simple then autocad where you have to type every single thing in.

If I’m not mistaken is the fact that keys and function change, if it’s possible to keep from doing that, then maybe it will turn out alright.

Also note, maybe it would help if those new features were in the popup menu from spacebar.