[Bf-committers] Sum up the long outside viewers post

Jean-Luc Peurière bf-committers@blender.org
Fri, 14 May 2004 01:34:38 +0200

Le 13 mai 04, à 14:07, Ton Roosendaal a écrit :

> So, yes, we can all still learn a lot, and should be as open minded as =

> possible for anyone who's interested to point to improvements, to 
> better methods to model, animate, or render. But such efforts go from =

> inside out... meaning getting good developers involved, getting user =

> feedback & proposals into structured design, getting companies 
> interested, getting more artists using Blender... all nice challenges =

> I look forward to and don't mind to make a humble contribution for. :)

I think there is a lot of misunderstanding and misconceptions in this 
debate. Having worked quite a lot with UI/GUI stuff i feel I can add 
some points here.

People speak about UI, GUI, buttons/icons without priorly defining what 
they speak of.

So let's do it :

- First there is UI, for User Interface. In UI terms there is no 
differences if a command or an action is entered via clicking on a 
button, or hitting a shortcut. What UI defines is how command and 
actions chain themselves and how they make a good workflow. Once in 
command user feedback is part of it. modes, how you select, move ... 
- Then there is GUI (G stand for Graphical, but this includes other 
things). GUI is how things are drawed but also grouped and placed on 
the screen, how they are accessed and so on.
- finally there is the quality and quantity of tools and functions 

The first 2 notions are often considered as one but they are 
differents. To further confuse things, if a good UI is a good UI, for 
the GUI, you must consider also the user and its level of knowledge of 
the software.

 From my point of view, offering the best possible UI is mandatory, and 
make the difference. Offering a good GUI for all is rather more tricky 
for the reason listed above.

Blender UI, if extremely unusual is mostly *very* good. There is some 
points to reconsider IMHO, but that doesn't change the fact that 
workflow is fluid and quick. What is important is consistency, similar 
actions or command are done the same predictable way. The only worrying 
point is that being quite
unusual, the entry step is big. This can solved partially by a good 
"getting started" tut. The ginger man one is not bad on this aspect.
Trying to mimic an other app lead nowhere if it's not a full clone. 
Blender has its own way and should try to build on, as it has some 
clear strong points. However, using standard terminology is important.

Now on the GUI side, things are a lot more confused. Having started 
with 2.28 on blender, I can say I was very relieved to discover soon 
after the 2.30.
Interface <2.30  was cluttered with load of icons and buttons in the 
sake of (false) efficiency, confusing labelling, illogical grouping and 
so on.
Things are still  far from perfect either for the newbie or the expert 
but much more logically placed. However work still to do is impressive.

This is not the place to making a full proposition, it would be too 
long but some points worthy to consider IMHO :
- the user pref view mix non related things
- view cannot always be splitted or joitned, and there is no visual 
feedback of that
- menus are good for the novice. But menus in each header view is 
overkill and take valuable estate. The usual solution
   is to have ONE menu and show where is the focus (but this has othert 
implications so may not be desirable)
- some mode are very unfriendly (eg Face mode where vertex groups 
selection tool is missing)
- shortcuts are just that, all functions must be easy to access another 
way, either panel or menu.
- When a panel and a menu exist, either both presents same options or 
the less important must go (eg render menu)
- buttons should be consistent in size and labelling with a defined 
layout (5 columns seem the more flexible with button nomal size being 2 
- differents types of buttons have different widgets (eg radio button 
are not easily identified as a type)
- same type is drawed the same way and size everywhere
- icons are only good as mode or tool control and selection.
- visual grouping without gluing buttons together
- interface must be streamlined in function of relative importance, 
there is no need to have seldom used thing at first level
- a degree of user customization is needed (eg chosing some panels to 
always appear)
- shortcuts are sometimes strange
- button panel header should be able to draw vertically ( I know there 
is some problem here wih frame indicator)

finally, having tools of varying quality is unavoidable due to the OS 
devellopement, so some documentation about
tools which have some shortcoming or limits would be great.

my 0,03 euros