Why Blender isn't mainstream

Having a pretty complex commercial Blender project again after a year, I’ve collected a list of items that annoy me (and any other mainstream user) most about Blender, maybe if it can serve as a bit of “food of thought” and “arrogance reducer” for the Blender decision makers, that would be great :slight_smile:

Why Blender isn’t mainstream:

  • There is no central place with comprehensive and consistent documentation; the Wiki documentation is often outdated

  • Mysterious buttons with an icon that doesn’t tell anything useful and no tooltip (the “Li” button in the file browser, for instance)

  • Various empty buttons with neither icons nor tooltips

  • On the other hand, buttons with a totally obvious purpose have a tooltip “Displays Foo. Click to change.”

  • Random parts of random panels in the buttons pane are simply out of view with standard monitor resolutions and the default config, mostly without any visual clue that they exist at all (for example, various buttons in the “Mirror Trans” panel in the material buttons)

  • The way to change your user preferences is (fasten seat belts):

    1. If you don’t also want your currently open file to be your “template”: Save your current project (CTRL-S), press CTRL-X and confirm the ambiguous “Erase all?” confirmation (“What?? No, please don’t erase all!! Just close the current project!!”)
    2. If you have installed Blender as a different user than the current one (under Windows), quit Blender, become the original user, start Blender
    3. PULL DOWN THE TOP MENU HEADER (!!!), or alternatively, click on one of the “windowtype buttons” and set it to “User preferences”
    4. Change your user preferences (but observe that here, there are no tabs, but instead, buttons serve as tabs)
    6. Press CTRL-U (!!!) and confirm
    7. If you have installed Blender as a different user, quit Blender, become the previous user, start Blender
  • The “layer system” consists of a set of 20 blank buttons. No naming, no locking, no visual feedback on selection, no nothing. Still, various comprehensive layer managing contributions (among them at least one (mine) with a complete implementation in C and all the features one could ever ask for) have been rejected VARIOUS times (“no complete concept”, “too slow” (no noticable speed difference with 8000 objects)).

  • No real-world units anywhere in the interface; getting useful results from many settings and especially the physics systems is pure luck. There is no visual clue at all regarding the scale of the current view (there used to be one (the grid), it was removed a few years ago when the grid became ‘intelligent’ and always displayed the same no matter what zoom level. My fix for that (draw grid dotted if not 1:1) has been rejected due to “too slow and distracting”)

  • There is a decent image browser in Blender; however, to activate it, you need to HOLD the CTRL-KEY (!!!) while clicking on the “File-open-related menu item” (as you might have guessed, there is no mention of this in the tooltip or anywhere else in Blender). Should you already be browsing your filesystem using the normal file list view and then suddenly decide you would like to view the current folder with thumbnails, then yes, there is NO WAY TO SWITCH to thumbnails view: you need to EXIT the filebrowser, CTRL-click on the menu item that originally opened the file-browser, and then RE-NAVIGATE (!!!) to the directory

  • The concept of “multi-user data” (materials, meshes etc. shared by several objects) is great; however, there is HARDLY ANY VISUAL CLUE that, for example, a material is used by several objects (the only clue is a tiny ‘2’ next to the material name, and a MINIMALLY DIFFERENT shade of the button that nobody will recognize). This is another feature that got removed and nobody got hung for it: in Blender 2.25, multi-user data displayed buttons in an evil ‘in your face’ blue which was instantly alarming

You didn’t remember the password to your other account, Alex?


To be honest, no… I tried 5 different ones and it then locked me out (I deleted cookies, but it seems it is also based on IP addresses) :slight_smile: You can delete the other one then, I guess.

ah well, nothings perfect,
If 2.47 really is the end of days (api/new events system)
then you will find in 2.50, most of these issues will be addressed. (hopefully)
i think Blender Devs have a lot on their plate,
they are working with Industry Professionals,
getting ideas & no doubt improvements will follow.
Also, why (apart from closure), add more functions now, only to have to rewrite them later.
A step back to consolidate what Blender has now.
Then soon a new beginning with 2.50.
I would like to see a final 2.47 or 8 similar to BeBraws Massive Build on Graphicall,
throw in everything that works & doesn’t conflict for a final.
bye bye 2.4. hello 2.50 ++

I guess 2.50 is the chance to clean up many of these issues. However, I’m not that faithful here. Most of what I commented on could have been resolved for years already, but either nobody noticed or nobody cared (or nobody had time).
In general, I think it is time to do a complete feature freeze for at least half a year, and concentrate all manpower available to BF for sanitizing the interface and feature access/consistency during this time.

It’s not about coding. It’s about concept!

especially the physics systems

one BU = one meter :wink:

instinctive, I would like to see your Blender works, please!
thank you!

Actually I am using Blender for two years now so I am already quite familiar with UI and have no problems.

But I have to say that all mentioned comments are really precise and important. Looking back when I was learning Blender all these issues made me head-ache. I guess work-flow and learning curve would much better if mentioned proposals would be implemented.

I guess as it was said new 2.50 architecture should really help with this.

Not sure if that is really the reason but then frankly I don’t really care… but one thing: You might want to rephrase that message a little less hostile. Afterall we can’t see your face while you type this so we can’t guess the intention. The way the post reads currently is a little kid that is dissapointed that his distributions were rejected instead of giving constructive criticsm to improve blender to everyones liking.

Some points I find valid but some I do not quite understand:
Especially your point about the layer system is not valid. The layer system has to be worked on or better separated out into different concepts since it is not only a organisational matter but also has implications on lighting and variouse other stuff. This is imho a very bad thing. So instead of doing some patching to the layer system it is best to revise it and do a better layer/group mechanism.

And I do not think a complete feature freeze will help either. There is always going to be refactoring and new developement on the code base. Afterall it is what OS is all about.

BTW one point I find very valid is the indication of a scalefactor in the view. Come to think of it I might just check http://www.blenderstorm.org to see if it is allready on there.

Alexander, your remarks are good and illustrate some of my concerns.

I think you concentrate a bit too much on details than on the larger picture, but still very true.

Feel free to contribute this on the wiki, (see discussion page).

there’s a website where you can log your complaints as suggestions and people vote on them. If you don’t get any votes then you don’t need anyone to tell you that you are being ridiculous. it is http://www.blenderstorm.org/ so please do not post your ramblings here anymore. Go to http://www.blenderstorm.org/ and type until your fingers bleed.

from teaching the software I can say that Blenders different approach
makes it harder for students to understand Blender at the beginning
when they know other software solutions. But once they know how
to use it it is no problem for them anymore.

However the points your brought up I think don’t count towards the
no main stream usage.

Those are more of financial, support, and feature nature.

However I actually would say Blender is part of Mainstream already.
In Open Source it is the dominant software and more and more smaller
studios and designers find Blender. It is not that everybody used Maya.
I think you have to look at market placement and where which software
is used.

I think I have to agree with the poster, he has a good point.

Done http://www.blenderstorm.org/qapoll/ideas/idea/450/

Blender was my intro 3d…2.04 on a floppy from a friend…With no internet connection it was learn by trial and error…error…error…my favorite…with occasional updates through the years…my appreciation for the thought and energy required to release it has risen (10 fold to my skills)…personally I find Blender much more intuitive and usable than most programs…so…love it …or…

I love how everyone complains about “what blender is not”. For what it is blender is the most powerful open source app in the world right next to open office impo.

if people want to help blender become “mainstream” do the following:

*learn to code (i believe they are always looking for knowledgeable coders)
*submit things you want to change over on blenderstorm
*donate money or buy something from the blender shop (the foundation doesn’t run on M&Ms… any more)
*report bugs to the bug tracker
*write/make a tutorial, even if someone else has(documentation is lacking because only a few people are documenting.)

There is plenty of stuff in blender I could bitch about, especially if start comparing it to Maya (which I use at work)… but then I remember that it is open source and I actually feel happy again. :ba: When Maya plays silly buggers I go ape shit, our company invested a load of money in that piece of software, it should work… Blender has a lot of leeway cuz it cost me naught.

instinctive: howdy. Personally, I think blender needs more desktop publishing features. :smiley:

Anyway, you make some good points about panels, naked buttons, etc., and unless I am incorrect buttons panel cleanups and rethinks are part of the 2.5 cycle. There are different ways to approach the problems, and they are being discussed.

Documentation is a tough nut to crack, and diverting developer resources will not fix it. As someone who’s “sort of” into documentation (second book coming out in September!) I can tell you that it’s not an easy task. TPTB will need to heavily recruit people outside of the dev community to do this, and, let’s face it, without a paycheck behind it, it’s not nearly as “glamorous” as dev work (i.e. I will dev for Blender for free, but I won’t document for free). So, what to do? I think they would need to pony up $ for official docs, and then pay a maintenance fee on top of that to maintain them.

User pref is certainly different, although it fits within the paradigm of the rest of the app. Of course, you don’t have to pull down the top window – you can set your main window to be a user pref style, and therein could lie one solution. Give users a “User Prefs” option in the File (or Edit) menu, where they expect to see it and have it set the main window to User Pref, just like it changes on file save, etc. Of course, you’ve stated the worst case scenario on a Windows box, and I wonder how many people actually experience that level of annoyingness. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a button in User Prefs that saves out the current pref state while ignoring any library data (objects, materials, etc.) in the current file. Those things make sense to do, both from a “user expectations” standpoint and from a basic functionality standpoint.

I too miss the scale feedback in the 3D view. Annoying.

Image browser will receive better integration. This was more of a “build and test” let’s put it into 2.46 for fun and integrate better later. Remember that there was not going to be a 2.46, until a small group of people started pushing for it. Originally it was going to be called a “tech preview,” and, while it has been billed as a “full release,” it is clearly a placeholder.

For physics purposes, units are meters. Check the default gravity acceleration values. It could be stated explicitly, though.

Not exactly sure why Blender needs to beat you over the head that lib data is multiuser. I’ve done large projects that had all kinds of data (multiuser, single, linked, etc.) and never ran into a situation where I was confused or had a problem with it. I’m wondering what problem this would solve?

On Layers, I remember looking over your layering system. I don’t recall the details, but I know that it would be useful. The way that layers have really evolved over the last few years, though, really goes against how many people think of layers (a la Photoshop). They’re grouping tools only, and any new system needs to take that into account. Personally, I think that a good informational addition to the layer buttons would be well received now (i.e., just providing more info, not active functionality). I know that the Plumiferos crew uses a patch with color coding on the buttons.

I think the real reason that all layer proposals (including those that are already coded) have been shot down is that the layer system has its nerve endings through almost every portion of the sources (as you know), and I’d be willing to bet that Ton has that on his mental list of “things to really ponder at some point,” meaning that until he does so, no one else’s solution will be looked at seriously. Guesswork, of course, and I make that previous statement in no way in a spirit of complaint.

On having solutions/patches rejected, I’ve found that as nice as everyone is who is involved with development here, it pays to be political and have some sales acumen. For example, the blunt “take it or leave it (and screw you)” type of personality, while fun to read on mailing lists when they rip morons a new one, will probably often wonder why crappier code than theirs gets committed all the time while they end up grinding their teeth, IYKWIMAITTYD.

Oooo – one last thing. I don’t think any of this is why Blender isn’t mainstream.

Blender is an open source project. That means people work on it in their free time. Personally I think it’s more important to develop new features such as the new cloth system then wasting time making the multi user data show up blue.

rexprime is right. especially about the tutorials. i think i’ll start some :smiley:

also about the coding. problem is, for me at least, i get to a point, right about at defining functions, where 20 new commands are thrown in, and i can’t understand em. but that battle is for another time :smiley:

Blender is simply amazing. i agree, because it was sort of patched together over the years, the work flow could use a little work. my only main complaint is the menus for selecting new screens as opposed to little buttons. i understand that this would take up lots of room, so i have no solution, but it’s just what i don’t like. Other than that, blender is a good friend :smiley: