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

John R. Nyquist john at nyquist.net
Sun Nov 4 17:19:19 CET 2012

I agree with you that the official version of Blender should be the full
version, and the documentation should reflect that. I also agree that there
is no harm in people creating their own branches for their own purposes (in
fact, I believe that is good for Blender), but I believe the thrust of this
discussion is the desire to put this functionality into the official
version of Blender.


John R. Nyquist
Nyquist Art + Logic
http://AstraItinera.com/ <http://astraitinera.com/>

On Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 9:11 AM, Dolf Veenvliet <dolf at macouno.com> wrote:

> 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
> want.
> 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
>>>> >
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