[Bf-committers] Actuall usability of some tools and new features

Jon Sandström sjon at student.chalmers.se
Thu Nov 19 15:25:28 CET 2009

I wrote a proposal that adress your second statement (and more) some 
time ago to the taskforce-25 list. It didn't get too much attention 
then, but i'll include it in this mail as nothing has been done, and i 
did not get very much feedback.
here is the original mail:


The buttons window (properties) has seen some major improvements in 2.5, however, even more can be done to improve readability and navigation of the interface. The biggest problem is that blender has to show a lot of data, but there is an easy way to solve this which is already practiced in the interface to some extent. The trick is to only show data which is of interest to the user. currently blender gives the user the ability to hide unneccesary data by for example collapsing tabs.

A more efficient way to work is to give the user the ability to show the requested data and then hide it automatically when it is no longer of interest to the user (Imagine having to close the windows start-menu manually every time after opening it). An easy way to extend this behaviour in blender is to automatically collapse all tabs when a new tab is opened. This way the interface will stay clean, and a minimum amount of scrolling is needed. (see mockup:

sometimes however, it is desireable to show multiple tabs. this can be done in two ways:
1) shift+click - this opens the selected tab without closing the ones currently open.
2) pinnig - all tabs that are pinned will remain open untill unpinned. This is basically a more flexible version of current behaviour.

this workflow will require an improved design of the "hotspot" area in the tab headers. currently the triangle is used to open and close the tabs, while the rest of the area is used to move the tabs. since the "open/close" hotspot is the one most frequently used, this should have the largest area, and a new third area could be used to pin the tab open (again, see mockup:
http://img156.imageshack.us/img156/5245/mockupr.jpg )

when the user opens a tab we can assume that he/she wants to see all its content, and therefore blender should if necessary scroll to a position were the entire content of the most recently opened tab can be viewed

if tabs are automatically closed, it will be easier and faster to find desired data. this behaviour can co-exsist with current behaviour (pinning) so i cannot find any arguments not to implement it

if anyone with the knowledge, time, and motivation required, could try this in action i would be very thankful. i'd also like to hear your thoughts on this, and maybe someone can find some arguments against this approach. If you like/dislike it, please let me know  :) 


Damir Prebeg skrev:
> I know that our programmers are making great efforts to make our beloved Blender better but I think that some UI changes and additions are not necessary a step forward.
> 1. Translate and Scale buttons under Object Tools panel are impractical and almost unusable.
> Example: When I click on Move button, selected object will start to move instantly. Unless I hold the Shift key, by the time my cursor reaches middle of the screen, moved object will go outside of 3D view (btw, same happens with Duplicate button).
> Those buttons are having some purpose only if I manually type the value for translation or scale. I see now the second purpose for them: to show via tooltip what's the keyboard shortcut for move and scale function.
> 2. Ok, I'm not happy but I can live with a decision to abandon horizontal layout. But current vertical solution requires way to much of scrolling because I don't have big monitor so that's a big problem for me (I'm still among 30% of people that is still using 1024x768 resolution). Excluding active programmers, we are all beginners with 2.50 and for a
> beginner it's hard to know in witch window some option is located when
> he must scroll down to see all options. This problem will make blender
> learning curve even steeper. Or not, if someone donate us all 30'' monitors.
> 3. Well, we can't go without any scrolling, that's for sure but I don't completely understand scroll bar functionality. In some windows scroll bar is visible and it will scroll even if nothing is there (dope sheet for instance). In some windows click and drag of that gray dot on scroll bar ends will resize window content, but in some other will not.
> 4. For me, In render buttons window/area (and not only there), It's hard to distinguish what's just an panel title, and what's an option. And I think I'm not the only one because I have seen some requests in the past to make panels more distinguishable.
> 5. Almost last but not least, I'm not sure that replacement of the main menu (space key) with search is so bright idea. Let's imagine that Bill has suddenly decided to remove start menu button and usual Win key function replace with Run dialog...
> In that same search menu, let someone try to scroll to see all commands while slightly moving the mouse cursor. That's a quite impossible task.
> Well, as I've said, that's not all but this mail is already too long and I hope that someone will have patience to read my bad English.
> Damir
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