RedShark's response to the Blender community

I recently wrote an article in response to both Phil Rhodes’ piece, ‘Blender: love and/or hate relationship’, and the ‘Scathing commentary on Blender’ thread here. I wasn’t even sure that RedShark management would publish it, but they’ve decided to make it, for lack of a better term, the site’s ‘Official Response.’

Personally, I don’t believe that a contentious relationship helps anyone involved. But I do recognize that some of these misgivings may stem from the lack of a Blender ‘expert’ on hire. I discussed this with the Managing Editor, who is open to bringing such a writer to RedShark, as a regular contributor. More on this in the coming weeks…

Anyway, it seems that the ‘Scathing commentary’ thread has really blown up, morphing into a UI free-for-all. So, here’s the silver lining: even if you disliked Phil’s original Op/Ed, at least it was a jumping off point for an excellent debate.

Yes, it is. A few new concepts came about and a few people are working on changes they want to make - and I learned a few things to streamline my workflow even though I’ve been a long time user. How is that for unexpected results? lol

blender shouldnt try to change to be like the rest. In fact the weird mouse design is what makes it nicer than maya to work with. It reduces repetitive strain injury on the wrist. It reduces the times you have to click and hold to move objects(G,S,R), it also means no more holding alt key to orbit- works better with tablets.

Whoever wrote the article is close minded. If they wanted those features changed, they should just hire a developer to make them optionally available in blender.

It should stay bleeding edge, innovative and challenge old formulas and design. That is what makes it so special and full of life that Autodesk software has never had

It doesn’t have to change much to “be liek the rest” - options already exist in the user prefs to change what you want, and only a few things need to be coded to address a few issues brought up in the other thread. Not knowing it is there is probably the problem, since the initial experience does have a lot to do with how much you are aware of in the program.

It’s an interresting article, but it seems that the writerwas missing the whole point of the history of Blender. Max and Maya never were in house tools whereas Blender was the in house tool of NeoGeo. It was a SGI program that followed those conventions back then. The interface was tailor made for the artists at NeoGeo. When it was released as a closed source freeware it was still being used as an in house tool. Eventually NeoGeo went belly up and the meanwhile Blender was gathering quite a following. It wa became open source 11 years ago. In my understanding there were 2 mantras. 1: keep your left hand on the keyboard nd your right hand on the mouse. 2: Blender is about bringing Hollywood to the users, not bringing Blender to Hollywood.
To shift Blender’s UI to a more ‘conventional’ state according to the industry standards would mean turning your back to all the user who subcribes to the philosophy of Blender’s GUI paradigm, and besides even if there was a reason the change, there were not enough developers to take on this huge task. In the old days Blender was light on features, which was a very pressing matter to bring it up to par. Meanwhile Blender kept ammassing a huge fan base, so changes to the GUI like the writer of that article wants is just not possible without betraying every fan. But there valid critiques of the GUI within the constraints of the paradigm. Those concerns where tackled in an ardeous 2 to 3 year rewrite of the GUI with a very positive feedback from within and outside the Blender community. The point of the Blender Foundation movie is

i prefer blenders GUI over the rest

I think Blender’s UI and human interface elements are spot-on. I spend most of my time with the 3D viewport maximized. I like this because it helps me focus on the models and away from tweaking settings. I think this is largely impossible in more industry standardized apps.

In my day job as a web developer I get really frustrated with “industry standard”. Everytime I try to employ some exciting new design concept I get loads of emails complaining that it isnt like the old site. In light of that, I am stuck maintaining a cluttered “click heavy” site because none of my regulars want to learn something new.

I’m wondering if that is what we are seeing here. People have gotten used to intrusive UI’s that have layer upon layer of clickable things. So used to this antiquated design philosophy that no one can try anything new without getting attacked.

Left hand on the keyboard, right on the mouse.

What puzzles me, is why no other 3d/art type app does the same… It actually makes sense.

But each to their own, and I certainly wouldn’t post such scathing comments about an other app - even if I hated it.

ok, this guy was biased towards commercial software! As I see the things, they are not so bad!

Bender is about freedom, it delivers the technology of 3D and filmmaking no matter if they have money or not!not everyone can give 12000$ for the “complete Autodesk package”, but everyone has a right to make art and to express himself in any form, which is not what freemarket is about - freemarket is about selling your product on the highest possible price, just like Autodesk do! but what about the nonprofessionals and the poor people that dont have 12000$? should they just play in the mud?nah, Blender gives them the freedom to express theirselves and to master 3d to the extend that one day they become pros!

Other than that, you can make your blender interface how you want it with a little Python scripting - there is nothing hard in making interface panels and so on in Blender!And yes, you can change ANY shortcut and make your own keymap, it will take some time to do it, though! Yes, Bmesh is not mature enough, but its already usable, and I must say that there are just a few options that I miss from lightwave and max! that said, modelling in Maya is an unwanted problem, in lightave and modo is really good, in Blender is easier than the previously mentioned, but still, I miss 4-5 tools from lightwave, and in max we have the greatest flexibility because of enormous amount of modifiers, and other operators, but I still find blenders modelling the easiest in the end of the day!

And, yes, Blender has a long way to go in terms of rigging ande animation, but it is catching up fast! I can imagine that in the next year it will be a complete solution that can compete with the big names.

Dont forget that Blender is relatively young software comparing to the previously mentioned - Maya and Max are at least 10 -15 years older, am I right?! and it is developed by 7 core developers and a handfull of hobbyist coders, the second group works for free in their free time! and Maya and Max are developed by hundreds of highend highpayed professionals, yeah?

So, furthermore, I can say that I hate installing Maya, starting it and waiting for a 70 seconds starttime, Blender starts from 6 to 16 seconds for me and has the easiest installing process that is possible! Personally, after switching from Maya/Max/Lightwave to Blender two years ago, I will never go back there. And dont call their interfaces to be good cause thy are not, they fail to redesign their interfaces and their communities hate that fact - in Blender at least if you dont like the interface you can do your own interface!
I cant emphasize enough how usable is to make a bug report and the next day to see that the bug is removed, something that is tabbo for the commercial software
where are the big movies made with Blender then?The industry is a ridgid one - big companies often has a contract with the big software developers and they emphasize on learning Maya/Max because they already payed thousands of dollars for them and so the animation schools must teach Maya/Max to provide workers for the big companies and industry standards. This means that feature movies are made with these softwares too!
For me, Blender is the first 3d software that I ever used that I dont have a big problems that I cant overcome with a little bit of Python and a little bit of diving in user preferencies, and, Yes, I save around 10 000 $, which is what I earn for two years(yes, I live in a poor country)!
So, instead of complaining bout the interface - modify it for your needs, instead of complaining bout shortcuts, modify it for your needs, instead of complaining for a lack of functionality - make the scripts that you need, instead of complaining about no major movies made with Blender, why wont you make one? Or just go out and buy Maya for 6000$

I have a big fear… :frowning:
You will destroy Blender… :frowning:

I still don’t get the fuss about Blender’s Interface. Yes it is different. But it is not counterproductive IMO. Personally I find it better thought out than it’s commercial competitors. It is intuitive, and once you understand the concept behind Blender’s workflow, it is more productive than Maya, Max or whatsoever.

It’s also funny that some professionals always raising their concerns about Blender’s quirky workflow, but working with Zbrush on a daily basis. And someone who ever launched Zbrush understands what I mean.

Maybe blenderartist is the wrong place to discuss the blender UI because everybody here is either coming to terms with the UI or has already “mastered” it. Ofcourse everybody here will say that it’s ok because most of us look at it from the inside and not the outside (there are some though and you know who you are)

Now it’s cool that that follow-up story was made, it does not deconstruct phil’s opinion and it focusses on the article being unbiased towards lightworks but I think every blenderer is very much focussed on defending the UI and doesn’t really care about lightworks in the first place.(could be wrong ofc)

Is the blender UI that much of a barrier?

Yeah, to me the whole ordeal sounds like a big bunch of butthurt from the Blender community. The original article had a point - the default keymaps are counter-intuitive and make for a bad first impression. But then again, everything is configurable and anybody who bases their view on that initial reaction obviously hasn’t looked deep enough to make a valid commentary. Sadly, a lot of people do that and it has to be taken in to account.

Thanks for the response jongjong.

I agree with Mcbuff, that it did concentrate on lightworks quite alot, but thats cool. I’m a fan of lightworks, and it’s odd UI works for me;).

Still it’s cool Redshark published the follow up. One thing I think comes across quite well in the article, is that Blender and Lightworks do find themselves in similar positions (although different), and it has to be good for both if they could get on well together.

For those of us that struggled through the learning curve (yes, I believe Blender’s curve is steeper than other 3D apps), decided for some reason to stick with Blender (either because we’re cheap or we think there is something worth sticking to it for), and have the dedication to go through the hassle of reworking the keymap - the main thrust of the original article is moot.

For the people new to Blender, for those still evaluating if it’s worth the effort, and/or those without the level of dedication necessary to rework the keymap into a streamlined, tested config - the main thrust is completely valid. You don’t start teaching people how to use a word processor by throwing them at the macro system & shortcut key editor - you use the functionality & shortcuts provided as defaults. If for no better reason than because all the tutorials will be using it that way. Blender is hard to get used to and it has made unintuitive decisions in regards to the interface. Once you stop smarting over those two issues, the rest of the article is not that bad.

FWIW: I like Blender, have rejigged the keymap some due to it’s unworkable default status, and am not saying we need to be like Maya/3DS/Modo/whatever. Simply responding to the way people lashed out at the op-ed’s author as if he was sacrificing kittens to Alias-Wavefront on the weekends.

I am not happy with blender GUI , and that is why I am coding my own GUI for blender which literally from scratch (and currently all python). For some people this whole effort is pointless and its true I dont hope to just redo the whole enormous GUI from scratch. But when I am finished I will have something far easier and more flexible to use.

There is always room for improvement in pretty much anything you do. However we need more developers to make blender better, people complaining about it adds nothing to ti. It wont matter if blender get 1 billion users, in the end what matters is how many developers are coding it . And making a great software is a huge undertaking.

This article is quite unfair.
Zbrush is a piece of art application. Phil Rhodes should write an article on this UI too. Nobody will take him seriously, of course.
3dcoat has a Pshop-like UI, mixed with a LW look. This is a trap. Really, it’s far from being considered as a good UI.
And, finally, yes, left hand on the keyboard, right on the mouse. As I always do in adobe apps, zbrush, 3dcoat, sound apps etc etc etc .

What’s happening is simple. As time goes by, more and more people around will start attacking the new blender. Money talks.
You know, if you spend a lot of money on another app, then realize what blender can do, you might become a little offensive. LOL
Sorry, I had to say it.

Our basic defense: Start donating a little more money to the BF or to some particular developers.

I am by no means a Blender expert, quite the contrary.

I have many years of 3d experince with Lightwave, Max and Modo. And of course I´ve been sniffing out Maya without really ever getting into it, but sufficiently to judge its UI.

Since 2.5´s UI revision Blender is pretty much in the same league as those programs, and I don´t understand how the UI discussion is still alive.

Seriously, to this longtime 3d user (15 years) Blender now looks and behaves just as well as the other programs. Tools to the left, editors and modes at the bottom, modifiers and properties at the right.

I really don´t get it. How is Blender´s UI still still more confusing than other 3d programs?? To me it looks, feels and behaves like a mix of Lightwave and Max, but much simpler and more organized than the latter.

The article was spot on, and honestly it shouldnt have gotten the hate it did.

BLENDER IS A LOVE HATE RELATIONSHIP, for those who might have a background which can create a contrast between apps and workflows. If you have worked with max, maya, modo, zbrush, mudbox…ect for any length of time, if you have worked like many studios do…using multiple apps and switching between them multiple times a day… then you can effectively see how default blender throws a wrench into it all.

Blender doesnt deserve only praise…it has some godawful design decisions and elements as well. Unlike many other apps, these CAN be changed in a much easier fashion, but only if the community is objective and experienced enough to call it out.

I agree 100% with the first redshark article, and maybe I can do so because I dont have my loyalties tied to any one piece of software… thats what it is…SOFTWARE. Tools. Its not your pet dog, or your mother…its just software in which to create and edit 3d.

The community is funny as well… they like to trash talk those who use or rely on commercial software, or the big industry in which 3d software is used…but fail to realize how much financial support and next gen development comes from appealing to those at the “top of the ladder”. As it stands now, with all blenders “users”, barely anyone is actually giving into the development fund. Sentiment based around protecting your “free” software wont keep it in development, but being willing to accept more stream lined changes in an OPEN SOURCE project which can appeal to a far wider and professionally capable audience would only help, not hurt, the future of Blender. Sometimes I wonder where the priority of the critics are? IT certainly doesnt feel like its for blender.

Anyways, the irony is that those who call the author biased are speaking from their own bias.

2.5 was a step in the right direction, but why would anyone logically think it has to stop there? Its a step, meaning there will be more, so try not to get butt hurt about it. The difference between blender and other commercial apps is that at least with blender, you havent invested thousands of dollars to use it and job wise have a reason to keep its interface the same. Change and evolution, even with the UI should be embraced by the open source community, not condemned.

What’s important to realize is that Blender manages to be not only the most accessible application to get, but also the least accessible to use with its default configuration, for those picking it up. Blender is not intuitive, it is not consistent, it makes some seriously bad design decisions causing it to have a vastly unnecessary learning curve, and yet its the most accessible 3d application on the market. There shouldnt be a push back to address the accessibility. The same argument used against changing blenders UI (but people can change it if they want to via programming), the old users who want to keep it exactly as is can stick with old versions or make their own changes to keep it they way they like it. Blender needs to become accessible to a larger more professional market and some simple changes can address that.

That is probably one of the most stupid comments I have read all week. 1) Blender should be intuitive and easy to jump into for cg generalist and 2) In order to work effectively in default blender, you are doing far more hotkey combos (similar to that of the game twister) with your hand than you will EVER have to do with Maya. In fact Maya is probably one of the most tablet friendly 3d apps on the market. Wrist strain? lol get real please. All you need with Maya is the alt button and the space bar, plus the control key if you make a custom radial menu. The users hand wont have to move much at all, thus putting more control in the hands of those using a wacom pen. I have seen lead character and environment artist for major game studios work with ease just using a wacom and maya, with ui elements hidden as well. (grabbing, scaling and rotating all exist in maya too btw, and moving objects requires very little clicking)

All you are doing is trying to confirm your bias. Use Maya seriously and then come back and try to say that. Really the only rational hate Maya should get is in regards to the corporation that owns it, the application itself is fantastic.

Actually you are wrong about that. Most of the apps I have used, which is many, can quickly hide nearly all the UI elements. In Maya you can press control and spacebar to leave just a viewport. Pulling up the hot box allows you to do just about everything without the need of the GUI. Blender is not unique in the maximized viewport feature, in fact i bet you they got it from other apps, which some do very well and others not so much.

What’s the word when someone’s response to irony is ironic in its own right? Recursive irony? Haha.

Regarding interfaces, zbrush is probably one of the most important pieces of software (don’t respond to a straw man and try to argue it’s not the most important. No one can deny its importance in the field), but it’s interface is sooooo hard to learn and figure out. Seriously. The first time you ever use it… you draw a tool on the canvas and then go to move it and… draw another tool. The very first thing that happens is completely counter-intuitive. I’ve been working with it for 2-3 months and I am just now beginning to feel like I’m getting a hang of, not just the interface, but the entire LOGIC of the program. And yet, that doesn’t stop people from using this very extremely powerful program.

Look, you don’t like the interface of a certain software… then fine. Yes, all software should be accessible and easy to use. Blender could certainly use some improvement but so could most software. After using blender for over a year, I find it very difficult to try to use 3dsmax and maya. But that’s just me.

The truth is that blender is not likely to be adopted for widespread use in the industry, but NOT because of the interface. It’s the same reason that open office will never seriously challenge MS office. Companies have already committed so many resources to other programs that starting over completely with a skill set not many professionals have mastered is kind of unreasonable. There are much bigger barriers than the UI. Again, if zbrush can be so widely adopted, it proves that an interface is not a serious barrier to adoption.

Oh, and mad props to Kilon for dragging up a dead horse to kick again for a while again :wink: