The Info Window is illogical...

One of Blender’s strengths is its flexible use of rectangular areas. All of the windows can become any other. They work and look consistently. Each one features a “header” that can moved to the top or bottom, and there are little “splitter” areas at the top-right and bottom-left corners that can be used to more areas.

I said “consistent” but really every window is consistent except for one: the “Info Window”. That is the area at the top of application that contains the “File”, “Add”, “Render” menus, allows you to change layouts, scenes, and render engine.

Unlike every other area, the items on the Info window acts on the entire application, not just the contents of its own window. It is global, not local. Logically it is almost as if it were a large area that contains all the other areas, but it does not. Knowing how all the other areas work, a user might guess that flipping that header “to the bottom” would result in it moving to the bottom of the entire application, but it does not. Instead it merely moves a few pixels down within its narrow height.

Like every other area, you can change it to something else by using the control at the left, but doing so here does nothing useful since the area is too small to accommodate any other editor window. You can also split it using the controls at the top-right and bottom-left, but doing so is not useful in any way.

If you move your mouse to the bottom edge of it you can drag the window larger. What you see in the extra space is the “command history”. This can be useful but this feature is completely hidden.

This area either needs to become consistent with the others or it should proudly acknowledge that it is distinct from the others. I propose the latter.

I think first that the “command history” should be chopped out of it and that become a separate editor window type. Then it will no longer be a hidden feature and can even get its own header with menus and buttons, etc.

Then I think the Info panel should have the “window change menu” removed so that you can no longer change it to some other window type. Similarly the window “splitters” should be removed. And also remove the option to flip the header from top to bottom. We’d then be left with an area that can no longer be accidentally changed, re-sized, flipped or split. It would become what we already consider it to be: the application’s menu.

Then to further indicate that this area is special it should be displayed in a different way, perhaps with a slightly different background color.

Any thoughts?

Similarly the window “splitters” should be removed.
Why? I may not want it wastefully spread across the whole of the top of my monitor. If I split it I can gain additional screen space if I’ve also split my 3d view.

It would become what we already consider it to be: the application’s menu.
Don’t know about Linux but it assume it would behave like the traditional windows menu bar, in OSX it would not. I really dont see this as an issue, it’s like change for changes sake, removing something I may want to move to an appropriate place given my specific needs.

Wow, I didn’t imagine anyone going through the gymnastics necessary to gain back that small amount of space. Wouldn’t you have to remove every single window to do so? Maybe I’m just missing an easy way to do that.

No, “flip to top” and “flip to bottom” are a real confusion. Accidentally dragging the info window down (revealing the command history) is a real issue. The splitter there might be useful there after all as you’ve mentioned.

Personally, when setting up my default workspace, I increase the size of the Info editor by about 10 pixels. This way, I get the most recent one or two operations performed in the log/history. As an additional bonus, when something goes horribly wrong (say, with a script or add-on), that part of the Info editor is bright red.

I’d hate to see that go away.

Me neither, but I find it is a really hidden feature that the info window hides the history.

It’s like when the info window used to hide the user preferences. It was kindve embarrassing having to explain where to put your mouse and drag down just to change settings. It was like a cruel joke on new users. We moved preferences and decided to hide a different feature there instead.

If we made the command history a separate window type then you could still do what you want, but you could do it anywhere. Just divide off a new tiny area and change it to that window type. That window type could have its own menu (that you could hide in your case). Highlight a few lines in the history, select “make macro” from the menu for example.

To be fair, the default layout used to have this 10 or so pixel addition, I believe. However, I think someone “fixed” it for “friendliness”.

If we made the command history a separate window type then you could still do what you want, but you could do it anywhere. Just divide off a new tiny area and change it to that window type. That window type could have its own menu (that you could hide in your case). Highlight a few lines in the history, select “make macro” from the menu for example.

I see where you’re coming from, but I personally don’t like the idea. In fact, I often have layouts that hide the Info editor altogether. I don’t see it as being monumentally different or special in comparison to other editors (hell, to be honest, I rarely ever use the menus in the Info Editor, aside from the occasional import/export). It operates at the scene level… just like the Properties editor or the Outliner. Sure, it’s got a couple global menus (Help and Window), but I see those as corner cases.

I dunno… I’m fond of the fact that Info is an editor just like any other. At the very least, there’s consistency there.

Great comments. Thanks!

My less big nitpick is that the Add button should be removed from the info window.
It confuses new users, because it does not know where to add (which layer, where is the 3d Cursor) if there is more than one 3d view available. I’ve seen users add cube after cube because they have another 3d view somewhere, with a different 3d cursor or layer visibility… and the add button puts it there.
we can have add in the 3d view header if needed instead, which removes that problem.

@Harley: I Agree with you—mostly. The menus on the Info header should be a special case in the UI. Perhaps they should live outside the regular Blender panel structure. Right now it is a jumble of features with very little logical organization. Creating a new window for the command history might be a good idea. Perhaps it could be combined in the Python console or some other one?

@slikdigit: I agree that the Add menu should perhaps be moved to the 3D View panel—that would be a more logical placement for it. After all, that’s one of the most often used actions when working in the 3D window: adding objects.

Sometimes I think (hopefully wrongly) that the “Add” menu is on that panel simply because it is a more prominent place. Which is only because (by default) the menu for the 3D window is on the bottom. And that menu is on the bottom only to avoid having two menus scrunched up together, which is the reason why the default view has the Timeline menu aligned to the bottom.

I hate to argue against customization, but having rectangular areas that butt up against each other but can have their headers on top or bottom creates some confusion. Does that header belong to the window above it or below it? With almost all other applications we get used to having menus at the top. But then we come back to the Info panel menu and having two similar-looking things next to one another, one for the application and the other only for that window.

This is probably the most radical change I can imagine. I’m not saying this could ever happen (it couldn’t) nor that it would an improvement. But it is nice to propose big changes just for the discussion.

In the above image the info window is now just a menu bar, with slightly different background. I’ve placed all the other headers “on top” to show how they butt up together. I’ve removed the shading between the 3D view toolshelf and its header.

The “Add” menu is off the “Object” menu (or “Mesh” menu it Edit mode). The Render engine choice is moved to the “Render” menu (and to the Render properties panel). The “Layout” widget is now a menu off of “Window”. The “Scene” widget is similarly moved somewhere logical on the menus too, but I haven’t really thought that through… :slight_smile:

How would this work with transparent toolbar themes?

Really the problem of what belongs to which editor window would probably be better handles by stronger guttering between panes. A couple of pixels would do it!

That said this is a pretty “meh” feature to debate… pretty cosmetic and academic in terms of its meaning to users…

The UI toolset itself is pretty simplistic and a richer set of widgets and types would be a more noticable and beneficial area IMO…

For non overlapping UI and consistency, ease of use and flexibility there’s a huge backlog of features that would be high value… Just look at AfterEffects for one, Nuke for a more similar but unique/more flexible paradigm.

For sure. I was just bored and looking for something to discuss. I enjoy this kind of thing.

I have done it, because on widescreen displays vertical space is rather precious. I don’t remember the process being very involved, but it was a long time ago.

Overall I think the Info window works fine. I’m sure it could be improved, but please don’t fix what ain’t broke. And to be honest, there are many higher priority ToDo’s that need to be worked on, the Info window surely is way down on the list.

I have to admit, I think it is pretty illogical ATM. I don’t know how to fix it, but I agree that it is one aspect of the UI that should get some attention. Sure, it’s not that huge of a deal, but each little step like this makes Blender cleaner, better, and friendlier to users both new and old.

I think I am about done playing today. Have to get some laundry done…

This is the same idea, but a little more “Raynish” with embossing removed. Icons in the header for fun. A wider border between areas.

In my dreams I’d love it if all the Info button stuff got pushed up to the Mac OS X menu bar. And closing a window didn’t quit blender, and opening a file created it’s own new blender window…

But that would screw over the majority of people who are familiar with the Window’s way of doing things. And honestly the “idea” works as is, it makes sense in a fullscreen and cross-platform context.

I think your concept is ok Harley. Though I’m not really a big fan of the dark lines. I’d nominate theme backgrounds for being the primary identifier for separating different windows. Of course, it can be tricky to not go all techni-color on it :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m probably off topic, but it seems sort of related since we’re talking about headers.

I noticed the other day doing UVs, that UV editor’s header has gotten fairly ridiculously cramped - it’s as long as the entire timeline now.

I’m not sure what all could be moved since none of it is actually irrelevant to doing UVs. I guess some things could be moved to the side panels. Maybe the “UV Map” name for example. Maybe some stuff could just be tucked into the pull out menus, but I’m not sure what is commonly used and what isn’t.

If I’m way off topic feel free to ignore me, but I need to rant about it somewhere. :stuck_out_tongue:

I have to say, I’m not a fan of moving the 3D view menu to the top. For whatever reason, it just looks wrong. That bottom area works perfectly well plus it looks good. Sorry, that’s just my opinion.

In the example above the info window has been reduced to just four simple dropdown menus (moving “Add” to 3D view editor, and putting layout, scene, and render engine in the menus. So I suppose you could then move those four menus into the Mac menu bar. And use native menus on Windows. Then the statistics could be put into their own window type that you could put anywhere, hide, etc.

On Mac it would make it a bit more Mac-y. Seems odd though to have two different types of menus. How do you imagine it looking and working? There’s nothing wrong with having bold ideas. Nobody’s going to laugh…