[Bf-education] Blender's great weakness.. and the solution!

Dolf Veenvliet dolf at macouno.com
Sun Nov 4 17:11:15 CET 2012

Ok... so...

This discussion has been going on for quite a few years already. And
there's definitely two well defined camps.

Personally, I don't think that one has to be completely at odds with the
other. There is very little to lose by allowing people to make "modified
versions" of blender (I am not saying there should be an official basic
blender version at all). You don't have to go along with it, and I think
the official blender version should always be the full one, and that
official documentation should focus on that as well. That said. I see no
harm in helping people create their own version for whatever purpose they

Here's an option... how much would it cost to hire a coder to make this
possible and could a kickstarter campaign or similar pay for it?

Kind regards,
Dolf Veenvliet

On Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 4:53 PM, Carlos Santana <csantanad at gmail.com> wrote:

> Also it would split tutorial base and add a layer of complexity
> to handling documentation / wiki / instructional material, and increase the
> confusion of people not aware of the feature and its meaning("is blender
> lite another install?" and "please help cant find (UI hidden in lite)
> button ! " noise).
> Also you are saying hide physics and such? what if thats the reason i want
> to start using blender in the first place cause i saw a gorgeous steam
> train engine animation?
> What if people only see the lite version of the ui and say, "Well this is
> too basic for my company to use"?
> How will "your new steaming hot feature is going to be hidden to most
> users" affect developers gumption?
> Who decides which features goes to which side of the watershed?
> Should we hide node materials too? then what happens to cycles?
> Why not simply swap Lite for Mobile?
> Have a Mobile only sub set that is a simplified version of the ui that
> kicks in when in a corresponding platform is detected.
> The best way to tackle complexity is through documentation: effort in a
> lite version should be redirected to the wiki,  imho.
> And who knows, maybe an add-on that would let devs link any interface
> element to a wiki entry.
> The point am trying to make is that centralized information outlets are
> better than adapting to a user s level of knowledge when it comes to the
> learning curve, The wiki has seen some terrific amount of work and that is
> what should be supported when talking about helping new comers.
> Regards,
> Carlos Santana
> On Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 11:08 AM, John R. Nyquist <john at nyquist.net> wrote:
>> I would respectfully disagree with the idea of implementing -- and
>> teaching to -- a simplified version of Blender's UI. I've tried that with
>> other software that's had simple/advanced versions and if you start on
>> simple, the switch to advanced is jarring.
>> I prefer the approach of showing what you need to look for (initially). I
>> find people, and especially kids, very good at zeroing on those things once
>> they're shown (just as Nigel has done). The other elements that they are
>> not currently using -- while they may be visual noise/texture at the
>> beginning -- are there in their usual spot for when the learner starts
>> expanding their knowledge.
>> I've been approached more than once by new users who say something like
>> "I'm pretty good at Photoshop how long would it take to learn Blender?".
>> Blender might be one software program, but it has the complexity of a dozen
>> Photoshops! Modeling, texturing, rigging, animating, lighting, compositing,
>> rendering, video editing, game programming, and more. Each one of those is
>> very deep on its own. 3d in general is a very broad topic, each topic a
>> discipline of its own. Who knows what will peak the student's interests? I
>> look at young masters like Jonathan Williamson and Andrew Price, both are
>> great Blender artists (and instructors) but each excels in different areas
>> (Jonathan in modeling and Andrew in compositing). I'd be hesitant at hiding
>> functionality and encourage guiding.
>> The youngest person I ever taught blender to was my 8-year-old using the
>> Blender 2.4x series (supposedly a more difficult UI than today). In a short
>> time, he was able to model a pretty good Garfield (the cat) using
>> mostly primitives, with some simple materials and textures. I was surprised
>> at how productive one can be with just the basics.
>> On a funny personal note, just Friday I was handed a very large manual
>> for a real-world system. But the owner showed me the 10% that was relavant
>> 90% of the time. That little bit of guidance made all the world in the
>> difference. I may need the rest of the manual someday, but to do what I
>> need to do I know where to look. I feel like that is our job as
>> instructors.
>> Regards,
>> John
>> PS: My opinion does not let UI designers off the hook. Continued
>> refinement is important (and time-consuming to design!). I think Blender
>> has an amazing UI in its ability to be reconfigured (even without getting
>> into Python).
>> --
>> John R. Nyquist
>> Nyquist Art + Logic
>> 864-NYQ-UIST
>> http://nyquist.net/
>> http://AstraItinera.com/ <http://astraitinera.com/>
>> On Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 2:56 AM, Ton Roosendaal <ton at blender.org> wrote:
>>> Hi Nigel,
>>> Thanks for the suggestion. You actually confirm what we know already for
>>> long, and it's a feature on our roadmap. At the last Blender Conference I
>>> mentioned it in my keynote as one of the targets for the coming year.
>>> Now there are two ways forward:
>>> 1) Join the educators list:
>>> http://lists.blender.org/mailman/listinfo/bf-education
>>> I will CC this message to get feedback or help from other Blender
>>> educators. (You have to subscribe to mail to the list).
>>> Since all buttons in Blender are defined via Python scripts - an average
>>> scripter can reduce 80% of the UI quite easily. The trick is to define what
>>> should go... but it's a quick solution worth investigating.
>>> 2) The developer/final solution
>>> The main problem with the previous approach is that changes in the code
>>> are hard to keep in sync. You basically just take an existing version, and
>>> hack it for a training purpose. Obviously - for beginner classes you don't
>>> need the latest of the latest always. Last year's Blender was also awesome!
>>> A better solution would be if we can find a way to manage "Blender
>>> Configurations" more easily or automatic even. A bit like how custom
>>> keymaps now work - these get synced with new releases quite well. Such
>>> configurations could not only be needed for an "Educational Blender" but
>>> will also be useful in studios for special optimized UIs for game level
>>> makers, or character animators, name it.
>>> Related to that: on our old 2.5 todo is to enable horizontal toolbars,
>>> also to be used as custom 'shelves' where you can drag tools into. We
>>> should also allow bigger icons (32 pix or more) for tools, ways to use own
>>> pictures for it, and good drag & drop support for such tools. (Like:
>>> picture of monkey, drag in 3d window, adds a monkey).
>>> With all that, a trainer (or author of training material) can make a
>>> config for UI tailored for special workshops or classes.
>>> -Ton-
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Ton Roosendaal  Blender Foundation   ton at blender.org    www.blender.org
>>> Blender Institute   Entrepotdok 57A  1018AD Amsterdam   The Netherlands
>>> On 3 Nov, 2012, at 22:50, Nigel Ward wrote:
>>> > Hello
>>> >
>>> > You’re a busy man, I imagine, so I’ll keep this short..
>>> >
>>> > I’m a teacher of ICT at European School 3, Brussels. I teach Blender
>>> to pupils aged 13-16 and tell them this is simply the very best, most
>>> sophisticated and most fun free software on the planet. The most fun? Well,
>>> with sophistication comes the challenge of achieving a level of competence
>>> beyond which the rewards overcome the frustration of being lost in the
>>> thousands of options that Blender offers. In my opinion this complexity is
>>> by far Blender’s greatest weakness (you would call it Blender’s greatest
>>> strength, of course). I know that in reality my pupils will only be able to
>>> work with Blender for a few hours in my school – enough for them to glimpse
>>> the potential of the program and for one or two to want to take it up as a
>>> hobby, while the rest experience more frustration than anything else.
>>> >
>>> > I’M WRITING TO PROPOSE THE SOLUTION! If there was ever a program that
>>> should offer the option of switching into a ‘beginner’s mode’ in which most
>>> of the options would be simply hidden then Blender is that program. I
>>> propose that Blender should have a ‘beginner’s mode’ button or menu item
>>> which, when clicked, would hide say 75% of the controls in Blender. For
>>> example, no scene, particles or physics panels, no weight paint mode or
>>> vertex paint mode etc etc. I’ve been using Blender for more than a hundred
>>> hours and 80% of Blender’s controls have so far just been ‘noise’ for me –
>>> I would far prefer the option of having a simplified interface where the
>>> basic controls are ‘in my face’ and where I’m less likely to make
>>> accidental changes by changing some setting that I don’t yet understand.
>>> Since all I am proposing is the hiding of certain options the programming
>>> effort to make the change would be limited. Choosing which options should
>>> be hidden would not be too difficult – I’d be happy to make detailed
>>> suggestions.
>>> >
>>> > Thanks for taking the time to read this message and for leading such
>>> an amazing project as Blender.
>>> >
>>> > Nigel Ward
>>> >
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Bf-education mailing list
>>> Bf-education at blender.org
>>> http://lists.blender.org/mailman/listinfo/bf-education
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