Tabbed interface -- Why not?

Hi folks,

I’ve recently started using Blender again after a long(ish) hiatus, and I have noticed that the interface is starting to get messy as more and more features are pumped into Blender.

I seem to spend a lot of my time collapsing panels to find the option I’m looking for. This is particularly noticeable in the Material, texture and particle buttons.

Plenty of people have suggested tabs as a way to organise the interface, but like many proposed changes, it has been met with strong opposition. So for the meantime, I’m holding off on producing a full blown proposal. Instead, I want to provide a specific example to gauge the interest of users.

Using tabs in the transform panel of the properties sidebar can save a lot of vertical space:

http://www.bzfusion.net/skymaps/Misc/tabs.jpg

So, any thoughts on why this is a bad idea? I don’t see how clicking a tab is any more inconvenient than having to collapse panels. The plus side is that the interface will be a lot more organised if this philosophy is embraced.

Thoughts?

Why not ? I like it.

LOC/ROT/SCALE is a perfect place for that. But are there any other places that would accomodate so well ?

Besides when i type LOC values, i like to be able to hit tab until i get to ROT values as well. So we’d need a shortcut so that tabbing would switch tabs (erhh ?). See what i mean ?

What’s the betting everytime you wanted to look at the Loc, Rot or Scale value it’s on the wrong tab.

This way of presenting the similar pieces of data (the object properties) in three separate places looks barmy to me.

Now imagine imagine having to change/keyframe the location/rotation/scale with tabs hundreds of times a day.
It would be better to have the placement/size of graphic elements inside the panels with strict economy in mind.
I do admit that UI is still far from economic, but for the time being it works !

Sods law, I guess.

I don’t understand the comment about the properties being in three separate locations when they aren’t. You can argue that I’ve used a bad example, but the principles behind it are solid.

looks barmy to me.

I don’t hear Modo users complaining about it’s interface.

Besides when i type LOC values, i like to be able to hit tab until i get to ROT values as well. So we’d need a shortcut so that tabbing would switch tabs (erhh ?). See what i mean ?

Heh. I didn’t even realise you could do that…thanks for the info. Anyway, there’s a simple solution – after you’ve tabbed to the last LOC value, it could automatically switch to the ROT values once you hit tab again.

The point here is that blender is getting new tools all the time, requiring more space to fit them in. Couple that with all the addons that require screen space, and you’ve got a potential mess.

At some point, something like this will have to be considered. You can’t endlessly add new panels and expect to have a productive piece of software.

That’s something I agree with wholeheartedly. Interface elements are way too big by default.

It seems a good solution. But this way you have to switch between tabs just for check the values. Instead, now, you can check all the values of transformation at the same time. I think that those tabs must be applied for the panels. For example a tab for background images, one for display panel, one for transform orientation and so on.

I think that a solution to improve blender interface is to reduce the icons dimensions. Everything is big just because icons are big. If you reduce icons dimensions, you save at least 20% of vertical space, without reducing texts dimensions.

Shift selecting Loc, Rot and Scale the same way as you can select the face/vertex/edge mode or the manipulator modes would solve this problem and bring the best of both worlds, no?

So you have the same you have now without tabs but taking up even more space. Brilliant !!

The problem with the idea as given in the original post is that it appears no thought has been given to actually using it in normal use.

May sound good in practice but in reality just irritates you.

If you want to use tabs, which can be useful, use tabs where it is appropriate, not as in this case deliberately hiding working info from the user.

No, what you have is (by default) much less wasted space and a flexible system which allows you to switch to the old layout – Brilliant, yes! :wink:

I find that a little annoying. Perhaps you can give me an example where you would need to constantly input loc, rot, scale values using the transform buttons. In my experience, users generally do this via keyboard shortcuts (s,x,2.5) etc.

Further, I explicitly stated that the reason for the initial post was to discuss using tabs, not to harp on about the example I provided.

May sound good in practice but in reality just irritates you.

Again, we have an example of this in practice. It’s called Modo, and it has an interface that’s a hell of a lot more organised than Blender. I don’t hear Modo users complaining about it.

If you want to use tabs, which can be useful, use tabs where it is appropriate, not as in this case deliberately hiding working info from the user.

Can you provide a single example of a tabbed system that doesn’t deliberately hide working info from the user? No? Then your point is moot.

We’ve had more things hidden behind “tabs” in 2.49 and I believe the majority of users will agree that it was a hassle to use. In my opinion, the mock-up you posted would be tedious to use, if you are tweaking things. Just imagine having to switch between loc and rot all the time! Of course there are other areas where this wouldn’t be a big deal.
The comparison with other apps such as Modo, where there are “real”, movable tabs isn’t really applicable. It would be good if we had them, but they are more complicated to program and atm the WM simply doesn’t handle it.
The “space” complaints usually come from people with small displays, whereas I believe productive work starts at 2x1920x1200 pixels screen real estate :wink:
So my proposal is that the people who are affected by this create their own screen layout and petition for it to be included as an option. Almost all of blender’s layout can be edited in realtime by right-clicking on the relevant area and picking “edit”. It requires some basic python knowledge, but it’s not too hard.

I don’t see how clicking a tab is any more inconvenient than having to collapse panels.
It is inferior because not everyone has to actually collapse panels - and even if they do, collapsing individual panels is more flexible. Hiding it behind tabs forces everyone to use them.

I run Blender in 1080p, and space really is an issue. Saying that I’d need to buy another monitor to be ‘productive’ is an argument against the current design, imo.

For instance, this is what the particle buttons look like fully expanded, and this is after I have scaled them down from their default settings.

It would make a whole lot more sense to have two or three tabs containing all that info, with the first tab being dedicated to the most actively used features, then have lesser used features (children etc.) occupying the second and third tabs.

Not only would this be cleaner to look at, but you’d find what you are looking for a hell of a lot faster, as there are a lot less panels to scan through. It would be a benefit for your productivity, not a detriment.

I don’t like it. As said you would be continually pressing those tabs instead of accessing them fine as we do now.

What I miss is to click on a subpanel and this subpanel be open and all the others closed. It could be shift+click for example. I would love that.

I’d rather have expand/collapse-arrows beside Location/Rotation/Scale/Dimensions, like the Transform header itself. It would take a negligible amount of extra screen space, and allow any combination of visible attributes.

A small thing that would make my life easier would be a simple “collapse all” button for those headers. I tend to do that manually when I get confused by a too crowded panel, and then expand what I happen to need at the moment. Unless there’s already some magic button I’ve missed?

I appreciate the effort with the mockup, and think there’s probably some great ways to unclutter the interface with tabs… but to be honest, this looks like an example of why to avoid them in certain situations, for reasons others have already mentioned.

A more versatile possible implementation of tabs in the N/T panels:
Tabs containing different “instances” of the whole panel, with user-defined expanded/hidden headers. Just an offhand idea that probably has some glaring problems of it’s own, but eh.

More generally, a problem with the N/T panel is that they can’t be separated from their main-windows, so the “trick” of having several Properties panels for different uses isn’t really possible without having extra 3d views just for the tabs. That makes it harder to bypass tabs when the content they separate needs to be simultaneously visible/editable, and so makes it more important to get tabbing right if implemented.

Um modo is well organized but it is not to be compared to what this example shows. In the case of modo only less frequently accessed information is tabbed. More frequent used elements are plain visible and easy to access/spot for the user.

I think your misunderstanding the use-case here. Sure people use those fields to input specific values. However, it’s more common to use those fields as a quick reference (and copy value) for the current state of things… and not just values, but keyed states in animation or with drivers, too. In that more common case, a glance is faster than a mouse-move, click, and glance. Tabs may be a viable option, but perhaps your specific choice of example is not the best.

i wouldnt mind having tabs for some things but, not for Location, Rotation, Scale… (reason being you can see cisually whats going on since 2 will always be hidden behind tabs) i like how it is now that we can see everything straight away. (tucking it away into tabs really doesnt save that much space, but you “lose” lots of information) i.e. is everything zeroed out. with the tabs you would have to click all the tabs to find out, this seems like a waste of time

Having a second monitor will help productivity regardless of what applications you use.

For instance, this is what the particle buttons look like fully expanded, and this is after I have scaled them down from their default settings.
The “for instance” is a bit deceptive. The particles tab is the largest agglomeration of panels in all of blender. It is highly unlikely that you would require all of these panels expanded at the same time, however you can rearrange and expand the ones you need and have them in a second space.

It would make a whole lot more sense to have two or three tabs containing all that info, with the first tab being dedicated to the most actively used features, then have lesser used features (children etc.) occupying the second and third tabs.
How would you determine which features are more or lesser used? Different people have different requirements, therefore we require flexibility.

Not only would this be cleaner to look at, but you’d find what you are looking for a hell of a lot faster, as there are a lot less panels to scan through. It would be a benefit for your productivity, not a detriment.
To me hiding stuff behind tabs would be a detriment, because I don’t have any problems with space, but I have a strong dislike towards tab-clicking as it was common in 2.49. I’ve outlined why tabs (as you proposed them) are less flexible because they force you to use them. Since you haven’t responded to that (or the proposal to create an optional small-size layout), I must conclude that you are not really looking for a general solution but are instead pushing your view regardless of other people’s practical considerations.

The solution that (hopefully) would make everyone happy would be to be have the panels be freely draggable into both “tab form” as well as “column form” like in many other applications, but that would require someone to change the code in a deeper way.

For animation this would be really bab bad bad!