[Bf-funboard] Menus and toolbox intentions

Ton Roosendaal bf-funboard@blender.org
Thu, 7 Aug 2003 14:18:39 +0200


Well written, a good read. Thanks! :)
When i got 3ds demo'ed I immediately noticed the comprehensible layout  
of their hotbox version. It felt more comfortable to grasp...

The only thing that - I thought - is in Maya hotbox, is that you can  
create gesture shortcuts for it. This I could never reproduce with  
trying out Maya... did you ever try the Ken Perlin 'pie menu' for  
writing at pda?


Would be cool if we can find usage for this as well...


On Thursday, Aug 7, 2003, at 10:26 Europe/Amsterdam, Matt Ebb wrote:

> I thought I'd send this in a separate email since it's about more  
> general
> ideas.
> From some of the responses I've read, I feel I haven't been clear  
> enough
> about my intentions for this project with the menu and toolbox. So  
> I'll lay
> it all out in the open for debate lest I confuse people or seem like I  
> have
> hidden agendas ;) Warning: large semi-rant approaching!
> Right now, Blender's menu and toolbox are quite disjointed. Neither of  
> them
> contain all the functions available, they are organised differently to  
> each
> other for no visible reason, they contain different sets of functions,  
> are
> not organised very logically, and so on. It seems that there's not  
> much of a
> guiding design to how they are, and if there is, at least I can't see  
> it :P
> So I'd like to make their roles clearer and more functional.
> In other software there are a few different philosophies about how they
> should operate. Usually, the main menu bar is used as a big organised
> structure of all the different features in the application. The Apple
> philosophy is that every feature in the app should be accessible from  
> the
> menu bar. I tend to agree with this idea for reasons I've mentioned  
> before:
> easier and more accessible for newbies to 'explore' the app and  
> discover and
> experiment with features, easy way to learn hotkeys, easy to find
> 'forgotten' features since you can use spatial menory and the structure
> helps to find what you're looking for - if you forget a hotkey, you're  
> in
> trouble, but if you forget a menu item, you can think "well, it's an  
> editing
> funtion so I'll check in 'edit'... *checks* ... oh there it is!".  
> Because of
> these things, one major aim of the main menu is to have an emphasis on
> logical organisation. It's more important that the structure of the  
> menus is
> clear and well organised, then it is to be efficient (there are  
> alternatives
> such as hotkeys for efficiency).
> Now a lot of software nowadays has a toolbox type thing in addition to  
> the
> main menu, for accessing features. While Maya's radial hotbox layout  
> is a
> good idea, I think the implementation is a big mistake. Maya's hotbox
> (screenshot:  http://mke3.net:9000/blender/ui/misc/maya_hotbox.png) is
> basically just the main menu arranged in a circle. Since the idea of  
> having
> a hotbox that appears right where your mouse is, is to have super fast
> efficient access to features that doesn't get in the way of working,  
> simply
> repeating the menu again seems to me like a *huge* waste of potential  
> and
> speed. Rather than having better access to the features that the user  
> needs
> to access quickly, time and time again, with Maya's hotbox, the user  
> only
> saves about half a second (the time it would take to move the mouse  
> away
> from the workspace to the top menu bar), since the user has to  
> navigate the
> same structure as the top menu anyway. I'd even be willing to bet that  
> on
> MacOS, there is no advantage to the hotbox over the top menu bar,  
> because of
> fitt's law (http://www.asktog.com/columns/022DesignedToGiveFitts.html)  
> and
> that the menu bar may even be faster. I don't understand the choice to  
> just
> replicate all the options of the main menu in the hotbox - the more  
> options
> that are in the hotbox, the more crowded (and difficult to find items)  
> it
> becomes. Who needs fast split-second access to menus like 'Help'??
> Another approach, which I'm much more of a fan of, is what 3DS Max  
> uses (Ton
> mentioned this before). Max uses a 4-paned contextual menu for its  
> toolbox,
> which gives relevant options what whatever kind of mode you're working  
> in at
> the time. Screenshots here:
> http://www.discreet.com/images/products/3dsmax/3dsmax5_beta/hi-res/ 
> PolyModeling-Frog.jpg
> http://www.discreet.com/images/products/3dsmax/3dsmax5_beta/hi-res/ 
> PoseAnimation-Abix.jpg
> I personally think this is a much better approach, since it really  
> takes
> advantage of the fast access with the toolbox, and gives you direct  
> access
> to the tools themselves - no need to navigate through layers upon  
> layers of
> menu structure.
> So, for Blender, I propose this:
> * Use the top main menu as a well organised and structured list of all  
> of
> Blender's features that will feasibly work in a menu
> * Change the toolbox into a combination of Max's and Maya's:
>   - Display context-sensitive features that can be accessed directly  
> with
> one mouse click
>   - Also have one or more *additional* buttons/options that will  
> replicate
> (perhaps in a manner similar to Gimp's right-click menu? I don't know)  
> the
> main menus as well
>   - Use radial (pie menu) layout as much as possible (articles at
> www.piemenus.com)
> So... any opinions? :)
> Matt
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Ton Roosendaal  Blender Foundation ton@blender.org