[Bf-funboard] UI talk + session at bconf

Paweł Łyczkowski pawellyczkowski at gmail.com
Mon Sep 23 12:33:09 CEST 2013

Some of my thoughts and ideas, not necessarily thought through:

 >Where do the toolbar, redo/tool panel, scene statistics, job progress 
and warning messages, .. fit?

I think the scene statistics, job progress and warning messages fit well 
at the top of the window, and that undo and redo should go there as 
well, as it is there in other applications. I like the way how Blender 
handles it's UI space by splitting it. It's unique, but that's ok. But 
there is no reason to be unique without a valid reason, and that's why I 
think some standards should apply, like the top bar with undo, redo and 
other global stuff.

And, since Add is not a global command, but affects the 3d view, it 
should go in the 3d view bar.

Also, I don't think there is a valid reason for the top bar to be a 
window - I saw my students being easily confused by that. It should be a 
genuine bar.

Speaking of standards - LMB to select, LMB + shift to add to selection, 
LMB + alt to remove from selection, and RMB for menu would be nice. But 
that's a bit off-topic.

 >How can we communicate better which data is being edited in each editor?

How about a big button on top of the toolbar in the texture paint mode, 
where you choose which texture you paint on?
How about the image editor working a bit like a mini-app? So no 
automatic image opening when you click a face, or click an object etc, 
but you manually double click an image a texture uses, or press a button 
that's on the right side of it, and the image editor opens it, or you 
click Open from the image editor, and you open an image that is already 
loaded into Blender, or from disc?

I also find that this "fake user", and not used data vanishing when 
closing Blender, is not very intuitive. More intuitive would be if the 
data, along with unlink (the X at the moment), would have a delete data 
option (with a "Are you sure?" confirmation).

The fact that a texture and image and image file are separate entities, 
and all can have different names, is also a bit daunting... Simplifying 
this would be nice - for instance - auto-naming:

When you create a new image in a texture that is named Wall, instead of 
the name that is automatically proposed - Untitled, or Untitled.001 etc 
- you could have Wall or Wall.001.

 >Do we keep the Object > Action > Setting workflow for all tools, or 
should we deviate in some cases?

I don't think that a single global toolbar is a good idea - the way the 
tools work now is very efficient. Except an undo - a global undo that 
records everything, even with view changes (see Mari) would be great.

 > Should material, texture and modifier tools exist, or do we keep that 
out of the toolbar?

I would keep it out of the toolbar, it's quite cluttered as it is now 
anyway, especially when you add plugins - my own toolbar with all the 
sections open is a mile long.

Which brings me to my next point - visual toolbar with icons for 
conserving space. It's a standard in UI design, and it works. Here is a 

http://db.tt/WlnZWSKJ (top-left)

I also love customizable UI's. Adding more customizability to the 
toolbar would be great, because all commands/tools are used by someone, 
but a single user uses probably a fraction of all commands/tools.

So ideas: Hiding never-used commands from the toolbar with H and 
mouseover, unhiding all with alt-H (with icon that states - "some of the 
commands here are hidden")? Adding some buttons as favourites to the 3d 
view, maybe as floating icons? - 
http://www.lion-gv.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/silo.jpg Or as a 
non movable (that ignores scrolling) quick bar at the top of the 
toolbar. It would also contain vital buttons for the modes, like the 
brush, color and brush properties for the texture paint mode, and brush 
and brush properties for the sculpt mode.

Or even a full customize mode, where you organize the toolbar as you want.

I know you can rearrange the sections, and open and close them, but I 
feel that it's not an optimal solution. I never really do that, because 
it gets reshuffled again in the end, for instance by turning plugins on 
and off, or updating them.


Again, global toolbar is not a good idea IMO.

+1 for better tooltips. More instructions shown in the 3d window while 
using tools would be also good. For instance - when using circle select 
etc, some text explaining what the keys do when using this tool - mouse 
wheel for range and MMB for deselect (what's up with that anyway? should 
be LMB to select, LMB + shift to add to selection, LMB + alt to remove 
from selection. Using up MMB button means that you can't orbit while 

 >In general, how can we make it easier for users to find the 
appropriate tool or editor to perform some task?

Good, not too small icons with good tooltips would help. Also, more 
visual attention to some menus. Mode change menu looks the same as pivot 
center menu? It should be more prominent. And maybe not in form of a 
menu, but a switcher with big icons, with the active menu lit up, like 
that - https://db.tt/pG4D7aUf

Other than that, commands in menus are enough IMO.

 >Do we add buttons for viewport navigation without shortcut keys?

Would be good IMO, some small icons on the 3d view, for the ones showing 
something in Blender without proper mouse, or for those learning that 
want to check what are the shortcuts via the tooltip.

 > Mockups

I'll see if I'll have time.

 > Which UI elements should be added to top level of the UI?
 > Which UI elements should be removed from the top level and where 
should they move to?

How about a simple plugin that records time and used commands/button 
presses? Volunteers could use it during their normal workflow and submit 

Paweł Łyczkowski

On 22-09-2013 15:57, Brecht Van Lommel wrote:
> Hi all,
> I will be doing a UI talk + session at the Blender Conference. There
> has been a lot of discussion about this topic, people proposing ideas
> and making mockups, so it seemed like a good idea to do something
> related to that.
> The plan is to do two things. First I'll talk about the current
> Blender UI design. There's a wiki page about that here, trying to look
> at the big picture, hidden trade-offs and issues that aren't discussed
> as much. It may be interesting in general for people who like to think
> about Blender UI design and make mockups:
> http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/User:Brecht/UI
> After that we can do an open session to connect developers and
> designers interested in working on the UI. I think we'll try to do
> this on friday, so that further discussion can happen during the next
> days of the conference too.
> One thing I would love to see from designers is a mockup or sketch of
> what the full Blender UI should look like, addressing some of the
> questions raised in the page linked above. It doesn't have to look
> great, but it's interesting to see where everything fits, what is
> removed, what is added, etc. Such mockups can be presented or
> discussed in the session.
> Thanks,
> Brecht.
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