New Blender Foundation Transparency Blog

Hey everyone,

In an effort to reach out to the community more effectively, especially for those who donate and are unsure what they’re donating towards, Ton and I decided that a monthly “digest” of all interesting Blender development moments would be a great idea. Starting on the 1st of May, and continuing on the 1st of each month afterwards, I’ll be posting a blog post to outlining developments happening in Blender that are interesting to the average user, but perhaps may have flown under the radar. It will include interesting problems encountered by developers, aha! moments, ideas for future development and improvements, concerns over existing systems, and other interesting tidbits right from the brains of the guys and girls who work so hard to keep Blender on top of its game.

The main goal here is honesty and transparency. Often times there is a lot of hype (positive and negative) in the community over comments made by developers, high-profile users, and Ton himself. My personal interest in approaching Ton with this idea was to quell a lot of the discontent from the community when there are long, silent periods after feature announcements, or when comments are misconstrued or taken out of context. I think that everyone can agree that pertinent information gathered in one place is a good goal for any organization with a user base as large and varied as Blenders.

So I’m here to ask the community: What do you want to see? What kinds of things would be interesting for you as users to see touched on every month? What kinds of questions would you like asked? Remember, keep things broad.

I hope that this can be a good resource for everyone who wonders what goes on behind the scenes, without having to dig through commit logs. It could also bring to light a lot of the struggles faced by the dev team and help people see them as people rather than code bots.

Anyway, before this goes into full swing, I’d love to hear the thoughts of the community.


I think you have to communicate and be transparent first and foremost about how decision making is done inside the Blender Foundation, Institute etc. This is the main complain around here I believe.

no complains here, writing software isnt as easy as changing subject names in a novel.
Small programs are easy to maintain, but big ones can fail over program design / maintenance / planing /code styles /formats etc or starve out by lack of support. So some leadership is required to do that, as its now a bok book with more and more chapters (all the new things that get in, in each version) and keeping it all workable …i’d say thumbs up !

looking forward to read development articles.

It would be nice to have more detailed/better rationale from Ton whenever he decides to turn down the inclusion of popular pieces of functionality that have been created with the help of pages of user feedback (like for example, why it almost seems like the wireframe drawing code is in a permanent ‘do not touch’ mode).

This would include, for example, just why he thinks it’s not a big deal if you can’t tell objects apart in wireframe mode without selecting for instance.

What would be great to see is each months goal plans… What we can expect for the upcoming month, targets that did / did not hit the previous month. how this fits into the bigger scheme of things. Take for instance PTex support for cycles, this has been pushed back 2 releases now… Would be good to see that go into more detail as to the current problems and why it has been taking a bit longer then expected. There are other examples as well (sticky keys is another, Opensubdiv, OpenCL support etc.etc.etc.)

The other thing, is how we can effectively flag problems to the developers which reside inside of blender… There are multiple major particle bugs that have been not addressed (and is even in the 2.74 release) for over 2 months. Reporting on the bug tracker doesn’t seem to warrant any responses from developers themselves as there are 4 (that i know of) threads which are all unanswered.

Two big things come to mind for me when someone says “Blender Foundation transparency”. The first is financial transparency and functionality/patch veto reasoning. As such, the kinds of questions I would like to see answered are:

  • How much money is coming into the Blender Foundation grouped by source (i.e. Steam/Valve income, donation income, e-store income, Blender Institute income, etc).
  • What is this money being spent on, grouped by area of functionality. I understand that this one is a little difficult but the OP did mention the concerns of donators/subscribers and, let’s face it, the communication on spending targets (as matched to revenue sources) has been so bad that claims of deception are neither uncommon nor as easily dismissed as they should be.
  • Veto justifications & (related) internal feedback being relied on for this. Let’s face it - this is something that keeps coming up and argument about it drives a lot of the community resentment (from both sides). Ton is clearly not “absolutely powerless” nor do I believe he is a power-mad dictator micromanaging everything. Reporting on which decisions he makes vs those made by others against his wishes will help sort out where on that spectrum his leadership actually resides.

The first two are pretty straight forward and need no real specific questions, but to get started on the third:

  • Why is Ton of the opinion coloured wireframes are not ready for the main branch when, for example, pie menus were committed in a far less complete state?
  • What was the feedback from the artists that used it in Gooseberry? We know that they were quite positive to start with (Twitter), so what (if anything) changed their opinion on that?

That could actually be something which could work, a way of communicating frequently asked questions… wireframes… ui… blender render future etc.etc.etc.

In the interests of transparency I would like to know why my post to the Gooseberry blog was stripped out and my ip address blocked.
Could it be that someone didn’t like me offering opinion that a lot productive time (and incidentally funds) had been wasted getting to a workable script (incidentally ever more truncated to the point of having little independent worth) and that management wise we weren’t ready yet to move on to a full movie?

If the tone of your posts sound like this one, I can only assume how they read and can also only assume why your posts were not considered productive. You are asking a question, then answering it yourself. You seem to know all the answers, so I don’t see how you are contributing in a meaningful manner. Almost every complaint about open movies in the past has revolved around lack of a good script. It was clear from the beginning that this was going to be something that had a deeper, feature worthy script, which by all accounts it does in my humble opinion. Also, if you have been following the progress, and paid attention to the work that has lead to the current state of the project, management has been doing a fine job.

I am all for transparency, but I hope this doesn’t lead to people chiming on things that they really shouldn’t have an opinion on. Open is great, but too many cooks always leads to wasted hours and a mediocre, middle of the line product.

Thank you for your immediately hostile response. Its a pity as a community we can never move beyond reactionary fanboyism even when considering the topic of transparency.

The only thing you need is some developer giving good, logical answers to questions people have about Blender. Like for example in this forum. It’s more common than you think (with commercial programs), but in open source world you don’t need to reach for users, because a certain group of people will donate anyway. I guess for them there are no problems in Blender.

What kinds of things would be interesting for you as users to see touched on every month?

UI development, and why it stagnates. It’s years now, and nothing happens. Even the smallest things that could be fixed in two minutes are still there.

Example. We have mark and clear seam in 3D View. But just mark seam in UV Editor.

Since excuses are like assholes (everybody has them) what’s the point? instead of a telegraphic I-don’t-like-it you get a whole blog post stating, with an avalanche of words, the same concept.

Even on the money front is the same since it has already been extensively discussed that you donate to Blender Foundation in general and not towards a specific project/goal.

First of all I think it is a great idea - if it succeeds being a open, honest monthly blog-post about Blender development. Made by a ‘outsider’ - bridging the developers with the community.

Since the goal is to be a ‘digest of all interesting Blender development moments’, I actually think you just have to look at the about page on blender.orgfor inspiration on a subject. In the section about Blender development (of course) :

So a interesting touchstone for monthly questions/subjects, I think should be about the status quo on the synergy between the Blender developers and the online community.

A synergy in which the development of Blender fully depends.

Hi @m9105826 ,
First of all, great initiative!! Thanks for your commitment to the community.
Personally, I have to agree with Alvaro. I really don’t mind when a feature gets pushed back, or silent weeks, etc. Of course, a blog like yours will be most welcome!. However, it is mostly how users cannot do much about planning and decision making. I’ll be honest; for me, the biggest disappointment in all my years supporting blender was the way gooseberry production has been handled. After years of donating monthly, I cancelled all my subscriptions, because I believe gooseberry wasn’t properly thought out to benefit blender, and 90% thought to make a movie.
I think ton must understand that we are not here to finance their movies, to let him choose directors, artists, and spend 70% of our money on them, without asking anyone. We want blender to be better, and gooseberry is not prioritizing that. Let me give you an example:
Do you know how ridiculous it sounds that the full development of a new, complex hair system starts TOGETHER with production?? Ton is using the excuse that production together with development improves blender, but this is only half true, because production POLISHES blender, but gets in the way of serious, long term projects like hair simulation!! no wonder they ALWAYS end up just patching and hacking current systems while doing movies (remember cloth?). Now hair is a fix (or hack) again, and the cool ideas got all posponed.
Here is how it should be done: Production should be used to make the tools work great TO THE USER, but never to develop the complex coding and math behind the tools, like hair simulation. So, in gooseberry, there should have been about 4 months (at least) of pure hair development (As well as other things), pure dev work (and money to more of them), and only then, when hair is roughly working, when all the features needed for the movie are already there but unpolished, THEN should the movie start production. if not, coder work only interferes with artist work!! who wants to work with a tool or feature that may change completely?? when we work in production we (artists) only need improvements! but not core changes!! Core changes should have been made before starting production. And core changes are what are getting always posponed. We have a hacky hair system, a weak cloth system, an object limited modifier system, a slow, unrealistic and limited smoke system (done in a GSOC), a pathetic fluid system, no particle mesher (there is outside work on this, but the blender foundation hardly gives it priority), a cluttered ui, a basic layer system, a basic and poorly designed render layer system that interferes with normal layers, a ultra basic linking system, no override possibilities… the list goes on. These features are what is important, not the film itself!! and by letting these features “slowly improve” while 80% of the money is spend on the artists of a movie that nobody cares about, they are only dooming them to be always behind and relying on user love to cope with these things and find ridiculous technical side roads!!

IMHO the Gooseberry Project was just a bone thrown for the usual suspects maintaining the Blender community alive.

This back-scratching is getting old already.

For this thread to be useful, I think we need to maintain some focus here. This thread isn’t for spilling our grievances against the Blender Foundation. It’s about getting a set of questions that m9105826 can ask & reasonably expect to have answered. He is not going to, and should not, just pass on complaints from the forum.

With this in mind, let’s focus on questions that will illuminate &/or improve the situation. Believe it or not, the squeaky forum wheel will not get the kick here. The point is not to pass on complaints but to facilitate communication. We can learn as much from the questions the Blender Foundation refuses to answer (or answers vaguely) as we can from the ones they answer in detail… but only if they are asked reasonable questions in the first place.

@m9105826 sounds like a great idea.:yes:

It would be cool to read about topics related to the
Blender Gamedev Requests/Issues list and what is going on on the I/O area, viewport enhancements, how far Mike Erwin was able to go with the PBR shader editing and drawing etc
News related to Opensubdiv, Asset Browsing which Bastien Montagne works on/worked on will also be interesting.

The “transparency” question I would ask is this:

Non-profits and charities in many countries are required to publish financial statements. This is not a requirement for a “Stichting” in the Netherlands, but is nonetheless expected before many people will donate to any organization. In 2005 Ton mentioned that this would happen in the future, starting with the 2003/2004 reports. It is now 10 years later and I can see no published financial reports for the Blender Foundation. When will this happen?


I thought we had all agreed years ago that Blender was much better off being run as a benevolent dictatorship? Look around the FOSS community at projects like GIMP, and think very carefully before going down this road.

Just saying.

No offence to peoples pet projects, but I would much rather see the BF concentrate on animation improvements and getting MLT into Cycles rather than stuff like coloured wireframes.