The Rookie Interface

At bf-committers there is a great discussion about a simpler interface
for starters.

Jorge Rodriguez wrote:
New users are concerned about two things.

  1. How do I control the camera?
  2. How do I edit the mesh in the most basic way?

That’s it. They don’t yet care about animation, rendering, properties,
cameras, materials, anything. All they care about is learning how to make
an object worth animating, rendering, etc. Look at any tutorials, the first
thing they go over is camera controls, the second thing is basic mesh
editing. If you make these first steps confusing or difficult then they
will abandon Blender as junk.

Here are the steps a new user must go through to start editing a mesh.
(Note: Yes all of this information is available through tutorials, but
people don’t like watching tutorials, especially if they’re already
familiar with other tools. Everything needed to operate Blender at its most
basic level should be learnable through Blender itself.)

  1. Change to edit mode. A new user doesn’t know that this is necessary to
    edit a mesh. A new user doesn’t know that the mesh can’t be edited in
    object mode. The new user must look it up. It’s not in a menu. It’s in a
    dropdown labeled “Object Mode” - the user may not know what that means, or
    that it’s a dropdown, or that clicking it allows mode changes. “Edit Mode”
    in that dropdown isn’t visible unless the user clicks something.
  2. Choose an edit type. The new user doesn’t know how to do this. There are
    three buttons on the button bar that do this but they are buried in other
    crap and not obvious. This is also not available in a menu.
  3. Select something in the mesh to edit. This is a problem since the user
    will try to left click and select is right click. It may not even occur to
    some people to try right click. It’s really damn frustrating not to be able
    to select things.
  4. Choose whether to Grab, Rotate, Scale. The user does not know these
    shortcut keys exist. The buttons on the toolbar that provide Maya style
    manipulators are not obvious, and not the recommended way of operating

By now many people have quit. Even if they persevere, Blender has many
other similar interface problems. Here’s what I would like to see:

  1. Change to edit mode. There is a larger button on screen that does this
    directly from Object mode. In fact, there should be four, one for Vertex,
    Edge, and Face, and one to return to Object. They are by default present
    until specifically hidden by the user.
  2. Select something to edit. Using left click like everything else does.
    Nobody cares that right click is superior - they already closed Blender
    because how the hell do you select things? Really I have no idea how right
    click select has persisted this long.
  3. Choose whether to Grab, Rotate, Scale. Just like edit modes, there are
    buttons on the screen that do this. They can be hidden later of course, for
    when the user learns the advanced keystrokes.

So like this:


Simple. Clean. A great first impression. I did it before I saw Raynish’s
version, but I love his too:


(PS the last link broke because the mailing list added a space. Here it is
on its own line:
Sorry :P)

Anything that the new user doesn’t need to accomplish his first goal should
be hidden until it’s needed. Once the user needs to assign a material or
find something in the outliner, they can just open one. The method of doing
so can be obvious or tucked away in a menu somewhere. (“Open Properties”)
Once they want to animate it’s easy to drag out a timeline. In the
meantime, showing too much on the screen is just information overload, and
will confuse new users.

I second this and like to enhance one point:
Let the GUI behave as expected for new users.
Have an option to change this behaviour for experienced users.

For example:
The interface has to start with left click selection, because this
is expected. The experienced user can change this, because he knows
how - the rookie won’t find or even search this setting.