Possible UI Glitch?

I’ve just dealt with a very frustration situation that involves a learning disability I have. I want to emphasize that: This is a learning (or reading or perceptual) disability, so it’s not something I can just “get over” or learn to avoid. I have work-arounds, but it can still be tough.

Background: Basically I have trouble with details in symbols and distinguishing between similar symbols. This can include letters and numbers and sometimes when a website switches to a different font, it can confuse me. When I write in Perl, C, C++, or Java, if I mistype and put a colon (":") at the end of a line instead of a semi-colon (";"), I can have a lot of trouble finding the error. If the compiler points to a line, yes, I can find it. When I first encountered an error like this, I spent about 45 minutes going over a section of code to find ONE colon. (Since then, I’ve learned to just retype all the semi-colons in the area in question.)

Screen Shot 2020-11-24 at 1.38.21 AM

I needed to use the Mix node for the first time. I read about it in the manual, but could not find the “Use Alpha” item to turn on and off. I thought maybe it had somehow been removed in my version (2.91.0) or something like that. I spent over a day looking over screenshots of a sample blend file someone gave me and my version of it. I was not able to perceive the difference and that there was an icon by the drop-down that was “lit up” in the other person’s version and that it wasn’t “lit up” in my attempt to duplicate the effects.

Why is this icon put next to a drop-down anyway? It looks like it’s part of the drop-down and not a separate control. And why not just put it in with a checkbox like “Clamp” is? Is there a need to do it as an icon and not a checkbox?

I realize that 99.9% of people who encounter this will probably get it, but for some of us, it’s confusing. Why an icon next to another control and not a separate checkbox?


would colored icons be easier to spot ? We were several people pushing for colored icons instead of black and white ones back during 2.8 development, because we didn’t find them readable enough.
As for your suggestion, yes I imagine “use alpha” could be shown in the form of a checkbox. I guess the reason it is shown on the side of the dropdown is because it is closely related to the mix operation.

You should write your feedback on devtalk.blender.org/ where it will have a chance of being read by developers.



I’m not sure if colored icons would be easier or not. That’s a good question. I’d have to see tests that I could compare, but, even then, I’d only know what works for me.

My issue is not that it isn’t readable enough, but that, as it is, it’s not labeled and, unless you know what it is, without going through the manual, there’s no reason to check it out. It looks like it’s part of the drop-down tool. And, to be fair, I have seen GUIs where there might be an extra part to a drop-down or list widget on the side, so it really looks like it’s part of that tool. So when a user clicks on that drop-down, and gets a list, often there’s no reason to check out the icon beside it.

From the point of view of a new user, with perception issues, Blender is not an easy program to learn and making button look like it’s part of another tool makes it even more confusing. It’s a deliberate ignoring of the GUI rules most of us have spent years intuitively learning. Coloring it might help, but moving it might help more. Keeping it near, but not attached to the drop-down would make it clear it’s not part of it.

But I think, more than that, what do most people look for when they need to turn a function on and off? A labelled button or checkbox. I think that’s an unspoken assumption, especially when there’s at least one other checkbox for an on/off option in the same panel.

Thank you for listening - so many times a point like this is just ignored. I’ll bring it up on the forum you mention after I’ve had some time to think about how to word it for a few days.

Just a thought… One big help to me learning blender was the tooltips. Some of them have not been finished but hover with your mouse and it should have a description. For example in the compositor:

I know how you feel, I am no good at icons either, I miss the old tool box with all text and no icons. I know there are a lot of users that swear by icons but by no means this applies to all of us. I spend a lot of time hovering over icons to see the tool tips.

For me the old multicolour icons where much easier to distinguish.

Just wanted to let you know you are not alone on this!
Edit: I also have problems with spelling and grammar. I have had to correct my post . - as usual! Lol

Yes, Blender has some peculiarities like that. They’ve been mostly ironed out these last two years, with the ongoing effort of making the program easier to approach and more “standard”, but some remain, and I believe this is one of those cases.
Here is the project board for HIG (human interface guidelines) : https://developer.blender.org/project/board/12/
And the guidelines themselves : https://wiki.blender.org/wiki/Human_Interface_Guidelines
You can try posting on Devtalk and ping on of the developers working on this (Julian or Hans, I think).

@a59303 that’s a good advice but I think OP had trouble noticing the button in the first place, unless I’m mistaken.

Yeah, you may be right, I can’t really tell.

Yes, tool tips are a big help. But when someone thinks, “Oh, there’s one widget, a drop-down list with that thingy beside it,” then there isn’t a reason to hover your pointer over it. In my case it was more like, “Okay, here’s the drop-down,” not, “here’s the drop-down and what’s beside that.”

It’s quite easy, if you’re not familiar with the interface, to not even see that the Alpha button as a distinct component, separate from the tool it’s abutted against.

Yeah, I guess @Hadriscus was right.