Bforartists 2 Manifest

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Reiner's picture
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Bforartists 2 Manifest

Hi folks,

The Beta of Blender 2.8 is close. And i am already back at work and at preparing everything for the new development cycle as you may have noticed. Time to define the development goals for Bforartists 2.

Bforartists 1 was once started to fix the UI issues in the Blender 2.5x series within the given bounds. And we have been very successful with what we did. Bforartists is much more user friendly and accessible than Blender. And we have lots of happy users already. Thanks for your support !

Blender 2.8 was then the long promised and long awaited development step that should solve and fix most of the UI issues in Blender. Blender has even introduced icon buttons in the tool shelf. Something that was plain impossible when we started with the development of Bforartists 1. So they obviously learned from us. They have now also official learning videos. Which is also a good thing.

All in all Blender 2.8 is a big step forward in terms of usability, and should have made Bforartists obsolete in best case.

So why a Bforartists 2? Why should we even continue with Bforartists when Blender 2.8 is so great now?

The answer is simple: Because it is not so great. Because they have again managed not to manage it in quite a few areas, and made even steps backwards. As expected and predicted before three years already. It was the same people involved with the same odd ideas about UI and usability. And so the output is as expected still flawed. And can be improved in many areas.

And that's why we continue with the development, and why there will be a Bforartists 2.

To name a few points: 

Blender 2.8 comes still with Right Click select as the default. Ton will not let go Right Click Select. Never.

And they have made it even worse in this regards. The hotkeys for the tools in the tool shelf are hardcoded now. 

There is no way to work with left click select and perform the tool with left mouse button too anymore. The tools in the tool shelf are now hardcoded to action mouse. And when you switch to left click select, then using the tools becomes right click select. And vice versa. This means that they force you to use both mouse buttons now, no matter if you choose right click or left click select. 

That's worse to what we had in Blender 2.7x, which was already bad enough with RMB select as the default. Just try to paint a annotation or grease pencil stroke with right mouse button, or just extrude that way, and you will see what i mean. Annoying.

Another problem was the lots of wasted UI space. Blender Solution: waste even more UI space, and make scrolling paths even longer. For example, they list everything underneath now in the Properties editor instead besides each other.

Or that you have to look at too much places and that you get thrown to death with all tools and their settings at once. Blender solution: they introduced even more places to look for the needed tools and settings. The Header of a editor is now divided into three sections. And we have now more visual noise than before. Not fewer.

They introduced new icons. Monochrome. A really bad design decision that makes readability worse. Monochrome icons is a good solution where the icons are big and where you just have a few ones. A mobile phone for example. But not with a 3D app, tiny icons, and over 1200 different operators in the UI. Color plays a big role to distinguish icons.

And oh the double menu entries. We fought an eternal battle here already with the 2.7x code. And they continue to throw them at us. They display now every tool setting in both, the new header and the properties editor. I have still no idea why Blender devs needs everything double implemented.

And then there is again the documentation. The Blender manual is still a unsearchable and in big parts useless mess. And also the 2.8 manual will follow the old patterns from what can be seen at this point. It is already online, but is in most areas still the old 2.79 manual. So i personally don't expect a big change here.

What bothers me personally is how they massively start to commercialize Blender at the moment. More and more campaigns comes up to collect money. Merchandising is growing. Lots of new addons are commercial addons nowadays. And you can be sure that this functionality will then never make it into the Blender trunk. Blender earns its part with every sold addon, it is connected with the Blender market. So why should they?

All in all Blender is a business model nowadays, not this far away from the game engine Unity or Unreal for example. You get the base software for free, and then you pay for the needed functionality, and even for important tutorials. Well, the GPL doesn't forbid to sell your work. And it's not even a bad thing to collect money for further development. But for me how they do it at the moment is drinking wine and praying water in regards of gpl, freedom and open source. This is most probably another area where Bforartists can become important in the future.

Bforartists is more important than ever, and far away from being obsolete. There is lots to do. And we will! 

Roadmap:

We will merge the 2.8 code into Bforartists once the Blender 2.8 Beta is out. Means fingers crossed that the 2.8 Code is finally in the Blender master then. This merge will most probably kill nearly all of our old changes. The code base has changed too massive. And so we need to start over again in most areas.

Next step is to go through all old commits to check if they are still valid and if and how they fit into the new code. For example, we most probably need to reimplement our toolbar. A fuzzy task since lots of things are connected with this toolbar. And that's just one issue. Another one is to remove fragments that may still exist after the merge. The old Wireframe colors code needs to be removed. All in all thoudsands of commits are waiting here.

Then we need to make Bforartists working again, and to remove all the flaws and conflicts. As told above, some functionality has changed. Some stuff is now hardcoded. And conflicts with our Bforartists keymap. The addons needs a fix, and so on.

The time frame to finish this chapter is hard to judge. We have lots of things already done. For example we don't need to rereate the icons. But i cannot say if and how our old code integrates into the new Blender code. I expect to be busy for around half a year or more up to this point. But i wouldn't be surprised when it's a year or two instead. That's development.

And then let's have a look what can be improved. A few points have been already told. We need to revert some bad decisions. Like to make the panels more compact again and to remove the empty space, remove double menu entries again, reduce the places where the user has to look for tools and settings. There was a request already to make the annotation and grease pencil tools more accessible. And so on.

As you can see, there is lots to do. We cannot promise that we have a working version when Blender 2.8 goes final. But we do our best to create the best possible Bforartists 2 version for you.

- Reiner

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davis's picture
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Sounds like a heap of work

Sounds like a heap of work ahead. Biggrin - I was just playing around with the Blender 2.8 beta a bit and I would suggest to really work with it for a while and use it as is on a larger project form start to finish. - The workflow has changed quite a bit from Blender 2.7 and not to the worse as it seems. In order to avoid "fixing" things that are different from BfA V1 but actually make sense within the new interface it would be good to have a thorough understanding of the vanilla Blender 2.8 first, before jumping into making improvement plans.

I think they actually did a good job at cleaning the interface up. It's all tugged away in menus now, but functions are very easy to locate if needed and out of the way if not. - As for the icons they also seem to work in the size they are at the moment. Although they could definetely benefit from color coding them in groups like it was suggested on this forum once.

Just some thoughts, let´s see how this all progresses and see what the final 2.8 release will actually bring us.

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Reiner's picture
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Thanks for your thoughts and

Thanks for your thoughts and your comment. I have already my fun I-m so happy

 I have of course toyed around with Blender 2.8 already. That's how i stumbled across the above named quirks. And i am not as happy as you are.

But it will take quite a while to just create a working version before we come to possible changes and improvements. So there is still lots of time to evaluate which change makes sense and which  not. And we will not do changes just for the sake of being different. The changes must make sense.

We will see Smile

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Draise's picture
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Looking forward to this. I

Looking forward to this. I wish I had or was a hardcore developer to work with it. I like the new 2.8 features in general, but I do miss the key core improvements Bforartists had:

  • Properties in the properties shelf
  • Minimalized header menus
  • All tools in the toolshelf
  • Minimalized and compacted panel menus on first open
  • Icons everywhere including in menus and popup menus
  • Minimalized Lclick workflows
  • No double entries and misnamed items

It looks like I will either stick to Bforartists 1 for a while now in the studio pipeline or start adapting 2.8 in the pipeline and see how I can help with BFA2. Timeframe sounds long, and with reason. But with that said, I can't wait. Blender needs a healthy opensource competition, and personally I do agree, if it wasn't for this fork, the UI wouldn't have gone where it has tried to move in 2.8. The winners are the end user, students and all artists - and to see the fruit of many BFA concepts transition to the next generation of the sourcecode of Blender has been a real pleasure. "I have worked that way already!" ah-ha moments.

Curious thoughts on the comment on the whole commercialization and sponsorship of the opensource financial model they are implementing to get things ahead. Yes, money make the world go round, that's how we interchange effort to other needs - but curious to see how Blender is moving to those models to stay afloat. Interesting. 

One thing I like about BFA is the library of already included addons for free, which give a powerful tool out of the box without needing to purchase nor customize. That too... is key.

So..gung ho! I'm still all onboard, and will be for a while yet. 

 

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-Draise

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Yes it's a bit demotivating

Yes it's a bit demotivating to know that we will not have a Bforartists 2 when Blender 2.8 has its first final. But don't forget that Blender 2.8 is still in Beta. It will still take months before we have a first productive version of 2.8. And that's just the beginning of the 2.8 series. They plan to add much more. 

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Reiner's picture
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Hm, now it's getting

Hm, now it's getting interesting. They want to implement a new LMB keymap ... and make it even worse XD

https://lists.blender.org/pipermail/bf-blender-cvs/2018-November/116345....

https://developer.blender.org/rBbf7af31e9f7c0177c1d390ab77804f8d556e0e56

 

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Draise's picture
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Crikey.... I kinda just wanna

Crikey.... I kinda just wanna wait till the dust settles then.. ... see where to pick up the pieces. I spent a few weeks merging as you know... and it was a pain in the butt, but now I have a new technique so maybe I can sort that out later. It's curious they are doing all the experimenting for us to a degree. 

I just hope out of all  the keymap editing and disucussion they get sick and make a good easy drag and drop keymap editor like in SI and start out minimalistic like BFA in essence.

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They have already a

They have already a minimalistic keymap. And i don't know any plans to improve the input editor. 

We will see. We might even end in using the first Blender keymap in our first reincarnation of BFA2. Too much changes, our own keymap is currently broken.

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