Let's Get Involved

This thread is meant to pick up some topic drift from another thread and turn it into something positive.

When people want to contribute to Blender, there are a few options open to them:

  1. Donate money!

  2. Become a developer

  3. Help with documentation

The Get Involved page is the natural starting place for anyone interested in these activities, but as a resource it could definitely be improved. It would be nice to provide new and aspiring contributors with some friendly, gentle guidance.

Some suggestions have already been made, including:

  1. Create a “Customize Blender’s UI” tutorial, as a way of heading off those UI complaints which stem primarily from lack of familiarity with how to customize
  2. Provide a “Beginner’s Resource Guide” of some sort, giving inexperienced coders a solid but basic orientation to Blender development
  3. Identify very simple items from the To Do tracker that would be easy for newbies
  4. Identify ways to contribute to the Blender wiki, possibly via a similar To Do tracker based upon known incomplete or inaccurate sections
  5. Some sort of guidance or resources to help orient inexperienced or out-of-practice programmers. This could be as simple as linking to existing “intro to python scripting” tutorials, or it could be something more elaborate.
  6. A link to this: http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/User:Ideasman42/ArchLinuxVirtualBox

These are all just ideas (some of them embarrassingly vague, yes) without full plans so far, and no one has taken ownership of any tasks yet. A project like this would also benefit from input from some of the core developers, to see what they really need or would like to see from the community.

So help me out here: how do you think we could improve the environment for people who want to contribute to Blender but don’t know how? What resources do we already have that could be centralized? How can this be less of a vague list of ideas and more of a list of action items? I’m just some schmuck who thought other people were making valid suggestions and wanted to help guide the conversation and help however I can, but I will state right now that I don’t have the knowledge to do this myself. Heck, I’d like to be the guy who shows up and uses a resource page like this eventually.

I would add a ‘How to checkout and compile the blender’s source code’ in the beginner’ section, following on from what Harley said in the previous thread.

I’d also add a catch-all way for non-developers to help. Right now we all sort of vaguely say ‘the wiki’, but don’t really mention anything concrete. Is there any clear task we can give the nonprogrammer newbie? Translation/providing screenshots/combing and improving existing text?


Actually (and I hope this isn’t taken as to be as controversial as the last thread) can we have a ‘How to behave in an open source environment’ primer that doesn’t come off as a ‘fuck you’ to everyone who isn’t already involved? (I think GIMP and Ardour both have primers like these but for some reason when I read them, all I can think is, ‘You all sound like a bunch of dicks.’)

Stuff that highlights some basic guidelines (don’t ask for what you can google yourself, don’t ask for features you’re not willing to implement, etc.) and provides reasoning behind them so people without the same context can understand why we’re asking so much of them.

I think if more effort was put into how to attract people to donate to the fund, that would take care of problems 1 and 2 in one felled swoop. Being able to hire more dedicated developers is essentially what they really need. If you’re wondering what I’m doing about it, I have been donating and do plan to eventually learn Python, although it’s currently not at the top of my to-do list. As far as documentation goes, my current skill-set, in my opinion, wouldn’t be good enough to add anything to the Wiki. 2.45 just came out when I started Blender.

I think we’re going to find that this is not an uncommon sentiment.

It would be nice to know, before we go any further, if it’s true. The people this ‘attract the beginners’ stuff produces are obviously going to be entry-level people.

We’re all here discussing this at best as users, or potential newbie developers. If Ton et al have no use for us, we may as well all just go home.

One thing to consider is that there are two different kinds of “newbie developers’” we are talking about here.

The one type you might be thinking about are current Blender users who are so enthusiastic about helping out and improving the software they are considering learning how to program. Or at least improve on programming knowledge and skill that would be considered beginner. Those people can do all sorts. It is valuable AND easy to make patches that are accepted that do things like change menus around or change how they work or just make simple things work more constantly. Even seemingly silly things like fixing grammar and spelling mistakes are very valuable and useful.

The second type of “newbie” isn’t a programming newbie at all. There are plenty of people with years of programming experience that will have a hard time immediately applying those skills without lots of help, orientation, and practice with the Blender source. You have no idea how big the source is. It is very well organized, but even so it takes a long time to figure out where things are and how they work.

Here are some free resources I’ve picked up for anyone wanting to potentially get into development:

You can brush up on Math at

I think there is going to be one big problem in this conversation, and Harley just pointed out part of it. We’re talking as if there is one big thing we want to fix, but there are in fact a lot of things at work here. For a start, we’re all making suggestions that address different groups of people. Since I apparently think in lists, here’s another one:

  • Beginner programmers
  • Experienced non-Blender programmers
  • New users who are blundering around trying to figure out what’s going on with this Blender thing
  • Experienced users who want to begin contributing in some way other than programming
  • Users who don’t know what they want to do (or even if they want to do anything at all), but who want stuff.

Perhaps it would help if we organized our thoughts according to those basic categories. In my day job, I have to organize volunteers and direct them to various different programs based on what kind of things they want. I’ve found that it works best if I give them a menu in FAQ form. In this case it would look something like:

  • I want to help program Blender or write Python scripts, but I don’t know much about programming yet.

  • Resource 1

  • Resource 2

  • etc.

  • I am a programmer, and I want to start contributing to Blender.

  • Resource 1

  • Resource 2

  • etc.

  • I just started using Blender. How can I get involved and where do I find help?

  • Resource 1

  • Resource 2

  • etc.

  • I’ve been using Blender for a while, but I’m not a programmer. How can I help?

  • Resource 1

  • Resource 2

  • etc.

  • Does Blender have this feature that I need? If not, how can we get it added?

  • Resource 1

  • Resource 2

  • etc.


Of course, most of these questions are already addressed either on the Get Involved page or elsewhere on Blender.org. What originally prompted this entire conversation is the fact that some people in category 5 show up here on the forums not having looked for (or at least not having found) the answers that are already out there. For instance, this exists but people still ask questions that are answered right there. We need to find a way to ensure that the right eyes see this resource and recognize that it is useful to them.

I think that all the ideas presented here are great, if we could talk to the person who maintains the get involved page I think that would be good. And now to help with the ideas I thought I would take K Horseman’s FAQ/list and fill in all the relevant information, so that the information that has been presented in this thread, is better organized in a semi-mockup.

Newbie Corner:
1. Resources:
Customize Blender’s UI
Beginner’s Resource Guide
How to checkout and compile the blender’s source code
Learn Python the Hard Way
Computer Science For Everyone
Learn C the Hard Way
2. Tasks:
Simple todos for python or C/C++ aimed at people with little to no programming experiance (should take them 4 hours or less)
add links to tutorials
add screenshots

Developer Resources:
Developer’s Wiki
Python API
blender.org SVN checkout or online via the web interface.
Overview of current Blender coding projects
Overview of developers involved as
Module owners/membersMain access point to Development wiki docs.


If I have forgotten anything or you have suggestions please let me know and I will update this.