• Wednesday , 3 June 2020

Andrew Price – Improving Blender’s UI

Code Canyon

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Is it time for an interface upgrade? This presentation covers the problems, politics and possible solutions to this UI debacle. Includes a full Q&A at the end.

About Andrew Price

Owner of BlenderGuru.com, and fulltime Blender tutor. I’ve written for 3D World Magazine and been featured in books, magazines and websites. My passion is artwork and teaching, but also marketing and problem solving.

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38 Comments

  1. Maligi Studio's
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    When is 2.8 going to release then?

  2. Will A
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    ive used many 3d software professionally and i have to say blender is one of the easier ones i have used. i found 3ds MAX a lot stranger and functions harder to find. i wonder if the people who say it's hard to use have anything to compare it to? if anyone has ever had to learn tekla structures you will find blender a dream to use.

  3. Henry van Megen
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Although he might not have had the results he wanted or the results which directly helped Blender, I think it's still good that he pulled the focus to the part of Blender which impacts the adaptation of the software the most.

  4. Gidz Paul
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    It is true. Blender has AWFUL UI.

    Don't get me wrong. I love FOSS and I love Blender. But the UI wise, it is not at all friendly.

  5. Bon Bon
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    38:48 And that's why Blender's UI sucks so much: because you THINK you don't need an UI team, or that the decentralized approach is the best. But from the user's perspective, decentralized approach is the WORST, because you don't know WHO you should talk with, while in the centralized UI team, it's easy and obvious. That's why we also have presidents, press spokesmen etc.: because we like to have ONE person who is representative for the entire group of people, or a company, or even a nation, and who would proxy our ideas to the right people behind the wall.
    And as long as developers would think that what THEY think is the best for the users, instead of listening to what the users (who after all will have to USE that program) think of it, the UI will continue to suck horse apples :q

  6. Michael Crumpton
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    I have probably close to a dozen of 3d modeling/rendering packages over the last 35 years, and Blender by far has the most obtuse and unintuitive interface of any of them. Many of the choices made in the design seem to be there to punish a user who has used other apps, by having interactions be the opposite of what virtually every other app does. I finally just decided it was not worth my time to plow through the UI. I download a new version every couple of years to see if it is any friendlier, but so far it does not seem to be.

  7. Anonymous Developer
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Best concept of UI team. I stand with you!!Awesome👍
    Blender community is one of the biggest community.

  8. Marek Holly
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    No need to reinvent the wheel. Softimage UI is the best what was done in history of 3D DCC ever. Minimalistic, and totally powerfull. No fancy icons, extremely well done key shortcuts. Just take inspiration. You will never regret it.

  9. Mohsin Majeed
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Great UI… I am waiting for this…

  10. Percy Blakeney
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Disappointing. Andrew came with research and critical evaluation and got in-fighting and personal anecdotes in response.

  11. bads.tm
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Current blender UI, it's not user friendly, I would say It needs to be more like other programs (like obs and most others) and still keep choice of old UI to user via settings or if preset (.blender files) has it's related code… For example You want to change user preferances, what it does: sometimes it will show a new window, sometimes it won't….

  12. Dragos Popescu
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    If those men represent the ''backstage'' people and developers of this software, I'm strongly pushed away from this community tbh. Andrew Price is the main reason over 40% of creators use blender, his tutorials enforce and keep blender users active.
    This presentation only showed me how easely a bunch of these blender monkeys can be brainwashed by mouthful Mr. Ton Roosendal.
    Dissapointed!

  13. mike95826
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Many years ago when I was working full time I gave Blender a try and said what is still said… This UI sucks, I don't want to take the time and energy to learn something this difficult if it just going to be a hobby. I just recently came back and with the help of many Youtube tutorials I am starting to understand the basics of how to do the simple stuff. Andrew, I think you are on the right track to point out to the "Blenderheads" that it should be a bit easier to at least get started.
    Here is my proposal. Create a "Beginners" interface on top of the existing one. Don't throw out the existing one but have a selection in the User Preferences that would allow user customizable menus with one pre-configured with the most used actions and materials for beginners. Having the ability of users to customize the menus would also help the advanced user speed up the work they do most. Of course, the classic UI structure (factory default) would be available with just one mouse click. I believe it is something that could be implemented over time so there wouldn't be an interruption of current usability.

  14. George McCloy
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Thanks Andrew ths answered a lot of quesrtions. I really would like to see a right click menu. Even with my handicape with only uring my righthand for a lot of stuff /i really love doing things in blender I'll give an exanple to use the shift +alt it was almost impossible, /here is how I over came that I use my right hand on my Laptop keyboard With the mouse pad buttons.

  15. alokdathanable
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Sometimes my arm taps a key and something weird happens without me knowing it.

  16. rbaleksandar
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Microsoft tried predictive UI with the initial releases of its Office and it failed miserably exactly for the same reason Andrew found out from the UX expert.

  17. rbaleksandar
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    UX research for something as mature as Blender in order to change it complete look and feel will take at least 2-3 years if done properly. But it will be worth it for sure.

    The UI of Blender gives this feeling (sadly common among many, many open source and free projects) to the user of being something that was stitched together over time without the parties, who did the stitching, ever giving it a thought if that layout, set of buttons, grouping of actions etc. is the right one.

  18. DEFCONSHARK
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    That poor guy in the front row with the blue shirt who raised his hand 4 times and never got the microphone though…..
    I feel sad for him.

  19. exploshi
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Andrew Price hates my right ear.

  20. Vorontsov
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    "Predictive menus" as you call them can, will & do work. For example you should take a look at Zen UI for Modo, it is a contextually based UI which is very clean and easy to use and your example about briding is not the greatest because why would you only have the bridging option when an even amount of edges is selected? The bridging option should be there based on the context and in this case the context being that you have edges selected, so the bridge tool appears.

  21. Out There Dave
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Very good, Andrew. It took a lot of courage to do that, and a lot of humility to take the criticisms. I hope that you continue to hold their feet to the fire, so-to-speak. As you are obviously a very rounded user of Blender, your thoughts and concerns are more valid, if not do-able, than a beginners. I must agree with most, if not all, of the things you stated about beginner users. I have attempted on numerous occasions to grasp the very basics of this software, and it has scared me to death, and given me a migraine headache every time. *It took me a while to figure out how to get past the "splash-screen", and after watching days worth of videos and tutorials..I'm still not sure I'm doing it right. 🙂 RESPECT for your courage, and for speaking for a lot of us who DO feel like our opinions would be dismissed, if we managed to find the right forum. 🙂

  22. Gökhan Ersümer
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    You can place context specific "predictive" menus to bottom of your popup menu. Problem solved 🙂

  23. Alex Taferner
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    looking forward…!

  24. Olf Mombach
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    My left ear enjoyed that video.

  25. Hairy Pixels
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    I've come at Blender as software developer and even so suffered through the massive learning curve of the nonsense UI. Blender was clearly developed by a large number of unrelated programers that don't necessarily understand good software design but were eager to develop functionality. The entire system needs a drastic overhaul with oversight from a team.

  26. Mr. Rich B.O.B
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    I love it…

  27. Inearthium
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Blender has already revolutionised what people perceive as possible with open source, but that would be nothing compared to what would happen if it actually had a user-friendly UI. It is sad that these people are holding themselves and their work back because of complacency, indifference and unwillingness to change.

  28. Holobrine
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    I think the predictive menus can still work when you work autonomously, but with a few changes:
    1. Don't remove options that don't work, instead simply gray them out.
    2. When the user clicks those options, it tries to explain why it doesn't work.
    This would work because the inapplicable options are still there and the newbie has a clue why they don't work.

  29. nori
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Perhaps blender devs should try commercial and successful 3d packages so they can learn the conventions that other packages use. The UI still hasn't improved a whole lot, but I think it's a little better.

    All in all good talk, lot of respect for Andrew.

  30. Joel Paik
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    At 18:38, the first three apply to Maya. Don't get me wrong, I love Maya, it's a great program. It's just that sometimes I think to myself when I'm working on it, "I could do this faster in Blender."

  31. Jihed Jaouabi
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Is the UI team for Blender is already built?

  32. Bad Factor
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    a good conversation, my XP is well not good as I want, but the last year i ll do more, i think Blender is too much focused on keyboard layout aso. so i think it's the most Problem of it, UI Design in main, well could be much better, i would prefer,fkr my cases, for example, if I click on a tool, i want to have this and this option from top to bottom layout. not that way, oh here is my Tool and where are my Settings, thing? bjt that's not all, i think Blender schould cut out the Blender render, and focused more on cycles render, that Game Engine part should be a stand alone thing! cause nobody needs that really, i guess! and if so, well that's fine, and im happy aboit what guys are doing with that, but especially as a 3d artist, i don't need a game engine inside my Working stuff. i saw the video before, from this cool guy who treated this issue/s on the UI, and he got really nice idears, but he fully right some points didn't work, especially his tab Interface Kind of thing, well in some sort of way, maybe! in fact i really likes that easy looking UI, from him! if Blender goes along this way/direction it would be really really good, i like the option where I can change the layout, for example from going to modelling view to the UV stuff! Blender is huge, in data, features aso, especially Game Engine and such types, so I would say Split up! so there is a Blender Game Engine Suit and there is a Blender Render Suit, u know! i would See it more lightweighten! some sort of an idea, u could do place a new site just for answering those surveys and u should could make a new UI Design for Testing, not in coding, i meant that, u can ask the World, and they have to Sketch up some images how Blender should look like and how things should work, drawn as a Image, just to make things easier to understand, but these are just my thoughts on it, i don't want Kick asses or something, so u know just thoughts!

  33. Daniel Beltzer
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Why are the developpers not listening?

  34. ikola one
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    veni, vidi, uninstalli. It's sad because Andrew's propositions are so good :/

  35. RoarPow Monkey
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    Keep your determination on the subject Andrew!
    I know you want to make Blender friendlier

    I would suggest that BlenderGuru team should aim to develop a User Friendly version?
    since the source code is completely open? Don't compromise your ambition! Your team already have the capacity for this!

    Those guys just probably don't want the program to feel cheap and disrespected given its already free to everyone! (quite understandable)

    Continue pursuing your plan and you will get more hearts! God Bless!

  36. RoarPow Monkey
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    This is so cool of Andrew 🙂 That was very brave!
    Thumbs up for stepping up man!

  37. RoarPow Monkey
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    I agree with the guy that said i dont care about the complex UI because it feels more rewarding once overcome.

    How about improving on more comprehensive tooltips? that's a very easy low-hanger fruit! its so easy, very uncomplicated to implement, whats keeping this from happening?

    in this way it would be easier for initiates to navigate around the interfaces by themselves. dont know a tool? just hover over it and not just know its name and brief use but also the possible and common things it can do. it doesn't matter how big the tooltip mouseovers are as long as the program tries to be friendlier (in simple ways at least) despite its intimidating complexity.

  38. Jonathan Stewart
    August 13, 2018 at 07:54

    I've started teaching myself Blender again, after trying and getting frustrated twice before, and I've got to hand it to anyone and everyone who attains proficiency in it. It is very daunting, even in it's most recent incarnation. Sorry you were shot down about the interface at Blender Conference 2013, because your design is basically a much better one than the one in use now. Of course it will need work, but the idea that simplicity is somehow unprofessional is absurd — in line with a seaman refusing to move from sails to motor driven craft because motors are so much easier to use than sails, and therefor sails are so much more professional and manly, purely because they are more difficult to master. Right, sure… Let that seaman tug at his sails and complement himself on doing it the hard way, but I'll use the motor, if I have a choice, and reach my destination a long time before he does — and that's the whole point as far as I'm concerned. In using software, the old Cunard Line ad that "getting there is half the fun" doesn't apply. Take texture presets, for instance. Having them is a great idea, especially if, say, double-clicking on one pops up an editor window that allows infinite modification of that particular texture, while a key plus center-button (or right button) mouse click brings up an editor that allows creation of a new texture from scratch, or even import one from Photoshop/Photopaint/Gimp/etc. So a beginner could dive right in and start having results while at the same time an experienced user could have all the flexibility and options conceivable. I've been using Photoshop, Word, Illustrator, etc. for years and there is no question as to their flexibility, but a person with only rudimentary computer skills can sit down with any one of them and start getting results immediately. Perhaps Blender could come with a choice of a couple of interfaces: one for the guys who know it as it is and one for the rest of us. No one's time would be wasted. Both interfaces could allow for the same level of complexity, but the simple interface would allow new users as well as experienced users to get to work and arrive at a final result quicker and easier — which is, like sail vs. motor, the whole point — in my opinion. Having the interface you designed, or something very much like it, as an alternate, user-selectable choice, if not the default mode (which is my vote!!) would make everyone happy.

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