While this is an obtuse workflow, it may help some who are used to SketchUp’s (and many other programs) 2D workflow. FWIW, I think this could easily be made into an addon.
Many of us are old enough to know Mr. Green Jeans from Captain Kangaroo. He always had a pocket full of gadgets. Fast forward half a century and we see Apple stealing that same idea: Namely a smartphone that has a lot of “Mr. Green Jeans” apps-- each which do a single thing simply and need no training. Just open it up, spend a minimum amount of time, and then close it.
I have a similar philosophy with my addons for Blender. I don’t want to create the all-in-one workflow appliances like Hard Ops, Fluent, and many others. Just a simple one-trick pony that does one thing, and does it well.
Perhaps a more modular approach may work-- but then you end up with the problems SU has, where no one has the same set of modules (plugins) so collaborating becomes difficult.
I like the idea of progressive disclosure more: you are exposed to more and more functionality as you use/need it. The problem is it never worked for MS, so it really has to be rethought. Perhaps a UI focused on clean minimalism along with video toottips might help-- or maybe even some AI thrown in to watch what your doing and make suggestions.
It’s a large task for any company.
If Blender were to remain a single software, it might work something like this.
When you launch Blender it asks something like “Personal or Professional Use?”
If professional is chosen you get the Blender we see today, all features available. This choice is saved, but can be over ridden in preferences.
If you choose personal then you are asked to select one of Blender’s main functions. Whatever function you choose, the other main functions are hidden.
And now the tricky bit. The creation of the educational stairs. Each function will ideally be presented in bite size pieces that lead logically one to the next. When you’ve mastered one function you click a More button and are given access to the next level of power. Ideally there would be a questionaire which helps you determine whether you’ve really mastered the level you’re currently on.
The educational concept here is simple. We can climb to the top of a 100 story using the stairs because each stair is only 8 inches high, and leads seamlessly to the next stair. The concept is simple, but the implementation is not, as it requires some careful thinking about how to sequence the information, and no sequence which is selected will be perfect for everyone.
Again, the main challenge I see is that all this thinking is a good bit of work, and what will be the motivation of the design team to do it?
That is a good solution-- though the devil of course is in the details. I would like to think Blender could have a number of different levels-- for different workspaces. There’s a UV workspace and a sculpting workspace and a shader workspace-- two of which I am most familiar with, the other (sculpting) I have only a little understanding of.
As expected, a “teacher” of Blender jumped in and incorrectly tried to argue Blender is (in his own words)
If a person is proficient in other 3d package, learning Blender is one of the most pleasing experiences you can have in the 3d industry in general
The abject love for the Blender program is no different from the same love for SketchUp. There are fans in both places. And, just like in this forum, I tried my best to use logic to defeat his claims like:
Schools will never choose Blender over other packages if Blender is not profesionally used, only IF it’s just used as a small toy for small things, the same way they use Sketchup today
So, Blender has a stereotype, as does SketchUp. Neither are correct. SketchUp, as we all know, is used by professionals every day. It can be easy to learn and it can be very complex as well. Overall, I’d say SU is easier to learn, whereas Blender is easier to use once you know it. That’s my opinion. I like direct access to the topology of the geometry.
Hi again Chipp,
First let me say I’m glad we’ve found some common ground to explore together.
Your example of schools may be on the right track. Perhaps the challenge could be defined as finding those who are both skilled enough to edit Blender AND seriously interested in making Blender more accessible. A project for some computer science lab at a university perhaps, something like that?
Question for you. Does the Blender legal framework prevent anyone from creating a business out of providing a modified version of Blender? If not, that might be another source of the required motivation.
Another question. In your opinion, what feature of Blender would be the most likely to be of interest to inexperienced users? Instead of conceiving of a total overhaul of Blender, perhaps the target could be narrowed to providing easier access to a particular function? And then a success there could be used as a showcase to build interest in building further accessibility?
As expected, a “teacher” of Blender jumped in and incorrectly tried to argue Blender is (in his own words)
Yes, defending the status quo is super common on every software forum. I usually make the mistake of jumping in to a big debate, which typically accomplishes nothing more than generating additional resistance. Off the top of my head, I’m guessing the right people won’t be found in the heart of Blender culture, but somewhere out on the edges. They’d have to know Blender well, but not have it be part of their identity.
Just randomly brainstorming here, I’m sure all of the above can be improved upon.
If you follow that thread, you’ll see I’ve made a number of recommendations, including the one you propose.
Still, one primary goal is to see UX be given priority at the highest levels and not be treated as only a UI exercise, which has been somewhat successful.
It would be great if one could easily configure Blender’s interface at the UI level, using something like a JSON prefs file, then it would be a simple matter to conjure up a more beginner UX version, while still maintaining the core Blender application.
FWIW, it is possible to fork Blender, change it, and create a for sale copy-- as long as the source code is GPL’ed as well. Still, that’s a much harder thing to do and doesn’t really solve the progressive enhancements a prefs based set of JSON files could achieve in only a few clicks.
With regard to features, this non statistically significant poll I created this evening for my mostly Blender YT audience has some interesting points, especially in the first question.
Yes, I see now you’ve succeeded in stirring up a good bit of conversation rather quickly. I may jump in in a bit, but you’re doing pretty darn good already, not sure I’m needed.
Still generating random ideas here, hopefully something will be of use.
Wondering if the Blender forum might be used to find the right people, as opposed to selling the idea to the membership at large? I love selling ideas myself, but in 20 years of forum use have noticed that I’m often generating more resistance than I am harvesting converts. It’s sort of the culture of male dominated technology forums, if one person says X, the next person is most likely going to say Y. If the first person instead says Y, the next person will say X.
Anyway, it may help to think through the question of who has the resources and motivation to tackle this mission, and then go looking for those kind of people, people who don’t require much persuasion. The best I can come up with for targets at the moment is university students and faculty.
I like your JSON idea a lot, but can’t contribute much on how it might be implemented. My experience is with perl and web apps, so I get the concept, but don’t really have any idea how this would be done in Blender.
Ah, I see, thanks for that. More random brainstorming…
One thing I’ve noticed is that people tend to respond much more to tangible things than abstract ideas. Abstract ideas have a sort of “maybe someday” quality which folks understandably don’t take as seriously.
So, as example, imagine that a company identified a single feature which is most likely to appeal to new comers, and then used Blender’s source code to craft a brand new newbie targeted app that only did that one thing, and did it well, as you’ve suggested in your comments above. Making it a sellable product could provide the needed motivation.
This might serve as a kind of demonstration project which would provide the Blender community with a tangible example of how Blender code could better serve newbies.
Doubt this is the best feature to target, but here’s an example to illustrate. At the moment I’m interested in creating new poses for MakeHuman characters. I’d rather spend $25 for software that made this easy than dig through all the info that I’d need to consume to do this in Blender.
Animating MakeHuman characters would be even better, but that would undoubtably be a lot harder to make easy.
Also, Blender really needs a feature which would stop me from typing so much. I’m outraged that such a feature isn’t already in the software!!! What were they thinking???
My wish is that this is a worthwhile task for the leadership of Blender.
Couldn’t agree more.
I agree, and I think the best chance for success is to try and convince the Blender Leadership to think of the user experience as a core value, just as they think of EEVEE and Cycles rendering systems as core values.
Think of it as a giant ini file that describes what controls to show and where to put them. Or a python add-on. The key point is the developers only need to provide the “hooks” and UX designers can do the work of creating the interface without having to do much programming. This makes for an agile and iterative UI process.
Ok, sounds good, but um… What is their motivation? I get why they want to add advanced features, because as power users themselves they will benefit. They would essentially be directing resources towards users which don’t yet exist, thus denying time to those who do. Well, I’m arguing with myself now.
Well, that certainly seems worth a try, a place to start at the least. I can’t honestly say I have a better plan.
The key point is the developers only need to provide the “hooks” and UX designers can do the work of creating the interface without having to do much programming.
Ah, I see, thanks. Yes, it seems such a system would dramatically boost the number of folks who could work on the project.
Another pondering, does this basically boil down to finding funding? Isn’t it a case of either finding volunteer coders who are willing to drop their current projects in favor of this one, OR, finding funds to hire coders to do what you suggest above?
From my personal design thinking perspective, I tend to always focus on the WHAT and FOR WHO, followed by the WHY and HOW and finally the WHEN and HOW MUCH. As you may have surmised, I have a long and boring talk about this.
If the problem can be stated clearly and defined as a key strategic goal, then perhaps a company like Apple may contribute to the development fund to specifically address this issue. Many companies have already made sizable contributions-- MS did just last week.
I’m hoping the discussion prompts Blender Leadership into looking more closely at User Experience design (not Interface Design) and to consider the ways it will help make Blender a better product.
I’ve got the future slums set, I did this top one in SketchUp (and Keyshot) was a real frustrating struggle and the Lower one in SjetchUp and Photoshop,
I’m going to see what I can do with the same kit in Blender after holiday, I’m still not able to get the same toon shader vibe as SketchUp in Blender have you faired any better ‘
So it seems we should seek to better understand who is contributing, and why they are doing so.
My guess is that the best way to persuade Blender leadership would be to present them with new money which comes with the condition that it be spent to serve new users, or perhaps more specifically, those with limited 3D skills.
Or, if new money for this purpose could be found, perhaps a hired team could just grab the Blender code and proceed to work, independent of whatever opinions and priorities the Blender leadership may have. The cool thing about open source is that going on bended knee to authority figures to beg a favor may not be necessary.
I haven’t done much with this yet - I’ve used the Freestyle function to export renderings with lines on the edges for YouTube thumbnails, but haven’t really tried for a full-on “style” experience yet.
I know Chipp has an add-on that does this (Sketch Style Add-On), but I haven’t had a chance to look into creating my own yet. Sounds like a fun tutorial idea ;p
Maybe this will help?
I was just reminded of a Mac (only) 3D app that, to the best of my understanding, seems similar to Blender, but is more accessible to novices.
It does cost $100, but there is an unlimited time trial that offers all features except saving projects. So you can check it out as long and deep as you want without paying anything.
I’m posting it here because the design of Cheetah may provide some ideas of how Blender could better serve the novice market.
I was able to import a SketchUp model in to Cheetah3D, and I see Cheetah3d definitely can animate characters, and anything else.
Given that I’m a Mac user, Cheetah3D is totally free for learning purposes, Cheetah3D looks more suitable for novices than Blender, and my current focus is bringing animated characters in to SketchUp scenes, looks like Cheetah3D will be my next nerd adventure.
I had already tried it two or three years ago, but that was at the very beginning of my 3D life, so I didn’t get very far. Should go easier this time…
I’m a bit confused about where this discussion has gone - this is a SketchUp forum, and this particular topic, while designed to discuss Blender, generally contains mainly SketchUp users that are trying to learn the program (other than Chipp, who develops Add-Ons for Blender).
If you’re looking to make changes to the Blender program, I’d think the Blender forums would be a much better place to start this discussion - there aren’t really ANY people of influence on the base Blender program in this discussion…
Hi there Justin,
I’m not looking to make changes in Blender actually, because honestly my best guess is that it will be years or never until Blender becomes a happy place for me, and people like me.
My career history and genetic disposition just make me incurably interested in “making things easier” discussions, and Chipp’s articulate earnest posts triggered that part of my brain. I blame this whole thing on Chipp, totally Chipp’s fault!! Just kidding…
Your point is taken though, and I’m happy to let this one go. I’m not actually sure what the topic is here now, but whatever it is, please proceed. As my posts above suggest, I’ll probably be vanishing in to Cheetah land for awhile.
Yeah I have that plugin it’s really great!
My bad. I’ll try better to stay on topic.