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GUI Graphics Open Source Upgrades

Blender 2.57 Released — and It's Easy To Use! 221

Posted by timothy
from the will-believe-it-when-elephants-dream dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Past Blender releases, as capable as they were, had learning curves somewhere between straight up and down and 90 degrees. The release of Blender 2.57 changes all that. No longer are simple features 'non discoverable.' It has more or less a completely redesigned user interface that is clean, sensible and newbie friendly (hey, I'm using it!). It has a handy tab interface for Actions/Properties such as Render, Scene, World and Object etc. Plus, it's fast and CPU friendly. I'm running the official Blender standalone binary on Fedora 14, with 2GB RAM , Radeon X1300 (free drivers) and a cheap CPU Intel duel e2200. No more more slow GUI, no more 100% unexplained CPU, just great stuff. Kudos to all who made this possible."
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Blender 2.57 Released — and It's Easy To Use!

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  • by thomasdz (178114) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:20PM (#35823424)

    Well... it may be easy to use, but does it blend? ...oh, wait...nevermind

  • by identity0 (77976) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:21PM (#35823430) Journal

    "Easy to use"? Last time I used Blender, it was so unfriendly and hard that I thought it should have the "L" taken out of the name...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Deus.1.01 (946808)

      I thought the same about 3D max but less so about Maya(which was the first 3D modelling program i ever tried)

      3D modelling programs are so feature rich, any gui will seem counter intiutive in some degree.

      Its really about practice, i spent maybe 3 months toying with blender and i felt i had a pretty good feel for it.
      But when i first started it looked like a complete mess...then again i had the same feeling regarding 3Dmax...the difference was my encounter with 3D max wasnt very rigorous.

      But really....if you k

      • I've put serious learning time in on at least 5 different general-purpose 3D graphics packages, including Blender. Blender is, hands-down, the hardest to learn and use of any I've tried. It even beat out a hoary old beast from the late 90's I had to use for a course, which was chosen purely because it was ancient and therefore cheap.

        There are those that use the excuse, "It's professional grade, and pros don't cry about difficult to use tools." Well, sorry, but that only flies when there are no alternatives.

        • by KDR_11k (778916)

          The thing about even the old interface is that while it's hard to learn it's pretty quick to use once you're there. I hope the new one remains as quick to use.

      • by Fizzl (209397)

        Well, I learned with 3d studio max (whatever version was new in -97).
        It took around one year of self learning to get in grips with the features to actually produce something nice, but I made steady progress and it was always enjoyable to learn new things.
        Since then, I have also learned some Maya and some NURBS specific package I forget now.

        I have tried to learn blender several times. The starting curve is just too steep. It is not fun. I once waded through the newbie guide and managed to do some basic model

    • by MrNemesis (587188)

      It's now only 40% hard to use.

  • You're A Newbie (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dylan_- (1661) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:23PM (#35823450) Homepage

    Perhaps it really is now "easy to use". I doubt it. Many moons ago I downloaded Blender to give it a shot. I installed it, messed about for a while and was totally lost. Nothing made sense in it; I could barely figure out what I was supposed to be looking at or how to draw the simplest object. I gave up cursing the UI as completely impossible and arcane.

    Some time later I decided to try it again. This time I didn't even try to figure it out, I just read the Complete Newbie tutorial and did exactly what it told me to do. All of a sudden Blender made sense and seemed quick and easy to use.

    So, my recommendation is not to treat Blender like other packages, where you can figure it out by clicking around for a few minutes. You're a newbie. Do the tutorial. It will definitely save you a lot of annoyance.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695)

      Right, niche markets demand niche applications. Some tasks just aren't 'easy' by nature and if you dumb down your GUI ( and perhaps features ) to accommodate the average user, you alienate your true market.

      I have always felt that production 3D work has been one of those markets.

      • Right, niche markets demand niche applications. Some tasks just aren't 'easy' by nature and if you dumb down your GUI ( and perhaps features ) to accommodate the average user, you alienate your true market.

        I have always felt that production 3D work has been one of those markets.

        Easy != dumbing down. See XSI.

      • by w0mprat (1317953)
        "Dumbing down" is what you do when you can't make an interface good, but desperately need to make it usable. I've seen plenty of good interfaces that are discoverable for a newbie, but all the advanced features you could want are intact and not hidden away. Lord knows pro's even need help sometimes, we can't remember everything and usually it's something critically important. A newbie will lose interest and go do something else, we've got workt to do.
    • I've heard this before about the old UI.

      People told me how incomprehensible it was, but once they learned it, how incredibly thoughtfully laid out the UI was.

      I hope that the new UI still has that spirit. FYI, if you are interested in 3D and want a tool that is really easy to use, try Google Sketchup.
      It's pretty awesome.

    • by gaelfx (1111115)

      That almost exactly what happened to me. The first time I used blender, I was horribly mystified by everything in it, and I ended up making a lot of things that were utterly horrible to look at, from any angle. Later, I discovered all of the free tutes out there and I followed a few of them, and even ended up developing a couple of (very simple) models for an open source game I was playing at the time. The tutes did a great job of helping me learn my way around the app, and I was seriously surprised at how

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I think the same goes for things like GIMP. If you just try clicking around, you will probably get totally lost. However, if you just read some tutorials, and google for answers when you get stuck, you'll find it's not that hard to use. People assume that just because they can't figure something out by clicking around, that the UI is bad.
      • People assume that just because they can't figure something out by clicking around, that the UI is bad.

        One of the key properties of a good GUI is 'Discoverable'. So, yeah.

        The old Macintosh User Interface Guidelines from the mid-80's are now technically obsolete, but UI designers should all have a copy for inspiration.

    • given an OBJ file with an existing UV map how exactly would i with the new Blender actually paint on the OBJ??

      lets say you have test.obj and test.png to work with

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tasha26 (1613349)
      Yeah, can't jump straight into it, you have to follow some structured tutorial (e.g. Lynda.com). But it's free, imports most popular formats and replicates most functionalities you'd find in a $600-3000 commercial package. I even made a donation.
    • by caywen (942955)

      I agree. Blender is one of those apps where you won't just jump into it and figure out how to produce anything without some dedication and research. I've spent a great deal of time borrowing Blender books and watching endless YouTube tutorials (there's quite a few, highly recommended). You take what you learn and apply it as much as possible, and it becomes part of your vocabulary. Yes, it takes significant effort.

      Is it worth it? Absolutely. Once you actually know your way around the tool, it has a way of b

    • by Trilkk (2007802)

      Blender is like Vim - it does not make compromises for usability versus power.

      For professional purposes it does not make sense to create a program that's easy to use. Accessibility has zero value in this equation - the people just trying out thinking they can be the next Pixar would not achieve anything anyway. The people with willpower to become experts will only care whether it's powerful or not.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      the problem I've had with blender is that the UI IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING. I do on/off graphics for fun and learning, but with blender the ui is changing too often.
      sure it fills a lot of tickboxes, but it's hard to find the basic stuff you'd like, grouping, axis locks, lathe objects and such. it doesn't help that they're changed constantly from ui to ui and the default colors hurt the eyes.

      anyhow, so most of the time i'm using a buggy modeller from 2002 or so, that's available for free and outputs a format I

    • Perhaps it really is now "easy to use". I doubt it.

      Which part of redesigned don't you understand? Which part of active development is so hard to comprehend?

    • do the tutorial

      Can't, all the tutorials are for the old interface.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Every release of Blender claims it has a great new UI, that *this time* the UI doesn't suck balls. Blender is like the abusive boyfriend who keeps promising you that this time he won't hit you, that he's really changed this time--only to go right back to the same old abuse as soon as you take him back.

  • Not just a gui (Score:5, Informative)

    by alcarinque (1534085) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:36PM (#35823572)
    It was not only a re-design of the gui, that's just a sub product. They have redone all the underlying api to improve animation capabilities and facilitate extensions and adding of new features. Check the release log http://www.blender.org/development/release-logs/blender-257/ [blender.org]
  • by LetterRip (30937) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @06:41PM (#35823612)

    I think the original poster over states things, while certainly a lot easier to use and learn. There is still definitely a learning curve and a few counter intuitive hotkey and mouse button choices.

    • Is it easier to learn than 3D Studio Max? Is it better suited for common workflows in the long run?

      That an app is hard to use is not a problem. That an app is harder to use than it needs to be is.

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:34PM (#35824508) Homepage
        3D is just hard. If the program has any depth at all, there are a huge number of functions, details and methods that need to be covered. Most of the newer 3D programs include several different ways of interacting with an object - mesh manipulation, NURBS, sculpting, several ways to texture or paint the object, different aspects of animating, then placing things in a scene, integrating it with video / still / whatever output. Lots and lots of things.

        Then you have restrictions generating from decades of previous programs - users that are used to manipulating things in particular ways, limitations of data containers, limitations in the ability to transfer data back and forth in a work flow.

        Not to mention that working in 3D gets complicated fast. Not too many spherical cows in CG land.
    • by wjousts (1529427)

      For real. Easier to use than previous versions of Blender isn't a particularly high hurdle. I remember starting with a Blender tutorial some time ago that started by breathlessly explaining how the windowing system worked and confidentially stated that "soon you'll be wishing all your applications worked like this". I still laugh when I think about that.

      I'll give the new version a whirl next time I get an itch to try my hand at 3D again (and then quickly give up when I remember that I still have no talent).

  • by ari_j (90255) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:35PM (#35824068)
    What's with the recent phenomenon of anonymous supposed newbies posting release announcements for software, claiming it's easy to use and posting all sorts of information about how well it runs on their systems? Why doesn't someone with some real knowledge post the release announcement? Should I personally be announcing the 2012 General Motors line-up?
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:46PM (#35824150) Homepage Journal
    Has anyone made a PPA of this for Ubuntu 10.10? Or should I wait for 11.04 before looking for a PPA?
    • by SheeEttin (899897)
      https://launchpad.net/~cheleb/+archive/blender-svn [launchpad.net]

      That's a PPA for Blender SVN (which I've been using since like Blender 2.5 Alpha 1, and Blender's generally been 100% usable).
      If you just want the release package, pick one from that PPA's previous builds, here [launchpad.net]. (Make sure you pick the right architecture, version, and target Ubuntu version.)
    • by grumbel (592662)

      If you wanna use it now just grab the binary from the Blender page, no compilation required, just untar and run.

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:46PM (#35824156)

    1st of all: Blenders UI has been OpenGL accelerated from day one. It has allways been one of the fastest GUIs in existance. Way faster and more responsive than any other 3D Tool UI anyway. The GP is talking bullshit on this one.

    2nd: Blender has never [slashdot.org] been [slashdot.org] particularly difficult to use for any 3D Kit with a simular set of features. In fact, it's UI design (non-overlapping, customizable, document/task based configuration, etc.) has served as a benchmark for quite a few recent creative tool UIs in the industry (Modo 3D, latest CS releases by Adobe, etc.)

    3rd: The UI has been updated, yes. But it's more an evolution than a complete redo, from a user standpoint anyway imho. Simply because Blenders UI has allready been pretty good for quite some time now. ... Allthough the arcitecture actually is a complete redo. Python driven, new Icons and new panels. However "OMG I'M USING IT! IT FINALLY WORKS!" is way overboard, exaggerated nonsense. Blender has been a kick-ass pro-level 3D Tool for approx. 7 years now. And yes, that also goes for its usability. Anybody not familiar with other professional 3D Toolkits and the learning whoes associated with this field, please stay out of this on this issue. Thanks.

    4th: There is no mention of the new tools and features, which are actually worth mentioning. F.E. a particle system that rivals that of Lightwave (the industry leader in this field) with particle path editing and other goodies, Smoke and Volumetrics rendering, NLA with an extra new NLA UI, etc. This has Blender closing in on competing programms even further and will shake up the industry once again. ... Can't wait till they finally get full Renderman compatibility. That will kick some serious shit. ... Anyway, Kudos to the Blender team for this great release.

    As for the GP: Mostly Rubbish or stuff that no one wants to hear. "OMG I'm running Blender on XYZ with 2 Gigs of RAM. UNBELIEVALBE!" ... Idiot.

    • by LetterRip (30937) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @08:02PM (#35824274)

      There is no mention of the new tools and features, which are actually worth mentioning. F.E. a particle system that rivals that of Lightwave (the industry leader in this field) with particle path editing and other goodies

      Lightwave is not an industry leader for particles. I'd put them 5th or 6th. Rought order would be Houdini, Maya, XSI, 3DSMax, Lightwave, Blender, Cinema4D.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      OK, You are definitely a Blender Fan-Boy but I don't blame you for it because Blender definitely is very capable... but user friendly UI, come on, No way... I have used 3ds Max, Carrera, Bryce, Cinema 4D, Houdini and LightWave (some being demos) for a hobby and I use AutoCad and Inventor for my living and I have to state unequivocally that the Blender of 5 years ago learning curve was as steep or steeper than any of those I mentioned, of course IMVHO. Blender very capable = yes Blender intuitive= No Way

    • I'd have to disagree with some of your points.

      When you say Blender has one of the "fastest GUIs in existence", I would assume you are including the viewports. If you make a torus with 200 segs both in width and height, Blender will be chugging to edit such a high density object. Selecting ring and edge loops takes at least a second in time (if that doesn't sound like much, believe me that time adds up...) 3dsmax will edit such a mesh with ease, any sub-object selections are nearly instantaneous. Also, yo
  • by sabernet (751826) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:50PM (#35824176) Homepage

    I tried the beta, the UI is(or rather 'can be') very Maya-ish. They actually have a 'Maya' mode. All in all, the ability to jump in has greatly improved.

    Just a disclaimer, I royally HATED the old UI and was sick of people jumping down people's throats for saying how utterly inaccessible it was. Yet now I have to say they did a really good job. Windows can be broken off or split, everything and the kitchen sink isn't all crammed into the lower half of the screen and the shortcuts actually can be set up to make sense..

  • Great... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bradgoodman (964302) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @07:59PM (#35824234) Homepage
    As a "novice" Blender user (by "Novice" I mean I have only been working with it for a couple of years) - I will say Blender is the most complicated program I have every used in my life. I have always attributed it complexity, and counterintuitiveness to its unfathomable complexity and clusterf*ckery of features and options. As I'm glad to see a bit of an overhaul to make things easier - I am completely dreading having to re-learn it all. I guess on the flipside, I don't really know it all - hopefully it will be easier to learn this time around!
    • Re:Great... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by binarylarry (1338699) on Thursday April 14, 2011 @09:12PM (#35824772)

      Blender is easy.

      3d art applications are just hard in general. There are tons of options, 3d is hard to grok for newbies.

      Newbies can easily get blender since it's open source and free, thus there are many newbies like you running going "OMG blender hard." As someone who cut his teeth on 3ds max, I found Blender hard for the first hour (adjustment period) and it was all downhill from there.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As someone who cut his teeth on 3ds max, I found Blender hard for the first hour (adjustment period) and it was all downhill from there.

        I don't think that phrase can be used in the way you're trying to use it - unless you mean Blender seemed hard at first, then it became impossible to use.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      I will say Blender is the most complicated program I have every used in my life.

      Have you used Maya, Lightwave, or 3DStudio Max? I mean my Samsung Galaxy S is the most complicated phone I have ever used in my life, but then all I've had before are feature free Nokias.

      3D authoring simply comes with a stupidly vertical learning curve.

      • by muridae (966931)

        I have played with Maya (animation lab on campus), Rhino (demo ages ago), and Blender, and have modeled with just code in POV-Ray. I probably used the other big name software, back when demos were easier to get. At the time, Blender was the worst of the lot. I didn't doubt that if I put some time into learning it, all the keyboard shortcuts would become obvious. However, I didn't have the time nor desire to do that. I needed a capable 3-D modeler that didn't hide simple functions like differencing objects,

  • I would be happy if the new version is going to fix the mindbogglingly confusing GUI that Blender has. The version migration from 2.56?? to 2.57 is not exactly very suggestive for fundamental user interface improvements. If it actually would be then somebody really missed out on a great opportunity to create a, say, 3.0 release? People use Blender in spite, not because, of its user interface. Amazing!
    • According to the page that was linked to [blender.org], 2.5x does have a redesigned GUI. They use an unconventional version number scheme where 2.50-2.52 were alpha versions and 2.53-2.56 were beta, which explains why such a major change seems to have appeared with a minor version number update - it didn't, but you probably never used the 2.50-2.56 versions.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I disagree, one of the best pieces of advice I read was, keep one hand on the mouse and one on the keyboard. A few good tutorials later (I remember the first involved modelling and texturing a castle), the alien Blender interface seemed so streamlined compared to the lengthy menu navigation in Gmax, which I was also testing out.

  • At the level of complexity expected from Blender, who cares if it's easy to use? The important question is if there's documentation, if it's easy to integrate with other tools (their COLLADA support is lacking), and if it's easy to develop into a pipeline. In the real world, you might not use the "render" action all the time, so who cares if it's right there in front of you?

    • by jackbird (721605)

      Aside from Motionbuilder, and (under the hood) SketchUp, are there ANY applications where COLLADA support isn't lacking?

    • by tyrione (134248)

      At the level of complexity expected from Blender, who cares if it's easy to use? The important question is if there's documentation, if it's easy to integrate with other tools (their COLLADA support is lacking), and if it's easy to develop into a pipeline. In the real world, you might not use the "render" action all the time, so who cares if it's right there in front of you?

      If you follow trunk then you know Blender does integrate with OpenCollada. Right now Debian support is disabled due to Debian not providing an official [/non-free] version of OpenCollada to incorporate. Read the Cmake Files it explains in the comments.

  • I'm amazed no one has talked about this. It wasn't in the previous versions (2.49s).

    It's really useful to test and develop different scripts that will save your life. Specially to make your custom import output scripts.

    The overall UI change might look hard to old users but it's not that big of a hassle to accommodate and it actually looks more user friendly and still very customizable.

  • I mean if you are at ground-level and climbing 90 degrees is straight up or down... maybe 45 degrees? just a nitpick like the spelling/gramer [youtube.com] nazis.
  • by doti (966971)

    if it changed that much, wouldn't it be more reasonable to call it 3.0 instead?

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