An Open Letter to the Blender Foundation

Yeah I should clarify, the designer should have user tests/feedback and things like that on his hand, not just personal opinion. Should probably be clearer since everyone is not familiar with this process.

Normally you would let the beta or even full version have a check box where you could collect user data to see how they use it and to see where you need to improve. In addition to that you would probably need user tests and questionaires etc. But the problem with this approach, and the reason it by no means is perfect is that you never hear from the people that just never checks these boxes, and never answers questionaires. So you risk shifting the focus too much. It’s very difficult, and by no means a perfect workflow yet. But none of these things take anything away from the main point of this topic, if there should be a focus on it UX.

My day job is creating an application mostly used on an iPad that goes on oil rigs. You learn a lot, such as that many people don’t give feedback by themselves, they just stop using it. User testing would show that their gloves make them touch things they shouldn’t etc. etc. There are many things a user focus gives you, usually improving an experience and retaining more people.


Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more.

Really? Do you think linking this makes your case stronger? Here is a random article coming from my point of view that UX and UI are interlinked and not as distinct as UX people insist

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No, my 40 years designing products, user experiences and user interfaces make my case stronger. If you’re interested, see my whitepaper on design methodologies and design thinking at

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Lots of arguing in this thread, but all I know that my impression as an outsider is that the developers of Blender (volunteers or otherwise) seem disorganized when it comes to Ux/Ui with no clear central guidance on vision or direction, no structured procedures for making Ux/Ui changes and no procedures at all for the gathering and documentation of user feedback.

This may very well be wrong, but I’ve seen very little evidence against this so far.

It’s now been over a year since Ton Rosendaal said the following:

“Having Epic Games on board is a major milestone for Blender,” said Blender Foundation founder and chairman Ton Roosendaal. “Thanks to the grant we will make a significant investment in our project organization to improve on-boarding, coordination and best practices for code quality. As a result, we expect more contributors from the industry to join our projects.”

I feel this supports my view that Blender puts the technical aspect in front of everything else, but regardless of its technical excellence, a feature that the user doesn’t know about, or doesn’t know how to use, is the same as that feature not existing.

I agree with this open letter and I do hope that what Mr. Ronsendaal said will extend to Ux/Ui as well (does anyone know if anything of it has been documented yet?).


@chippwalters I didn’t read this thread, just your initial post. I just wanted to say I agree :wink:


I mostly agree with you on this thread and the open letter, as you can see from my previous comments on this thread.

Why I preface with this? Because of what I’m about to say: Alberto is not a troll. He might be very strong headed and/or opinionated, but he’s sincere on what he says.

That said, I believe this open letter could have been more effective by tagging and/or sending it directly to the lead Blender devs (or even Ton himself).

Small note

I do think that you used an authority fallacy in order to make your opinion have more value, even though I do agree with you on most of the points you raised.

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I think that It’d be more effective to improve tools and workflows in Blender than focussing on the UX.
I’m thinking about the new sculpt brushes that really make things easier, or tools like “Extrude Manifold”, which is very intuitive (especially if it deleted backfaces) or the new “add object” tool.
Im sure there are lots more places where improvements make everything easier for beginners and long term users alike (eg stuff like lattices in the graph editor or better presets and defaults) and I believe that these should be the focus.

I believe UX should never be lost from focus. Even though (like someone else on this thread) it’s preferably to keep adding more features than “losing” time on figuring out the best UX, if you can’t even find those new features or if you can’t figure out how to use those new features, you might as well not have them.

But… (and there’s always a but): “perfect is the enemy of good”. What I mean by it is: we ALL would love for Blender to have the best UX possible for beginner and for advanced users at the same time. But, with the current resources the BF has, I believe the time of the current Blender devs is very limited and it is of better use on adding features. Yes, Blender’s UX is not as beginner friendly as it could be, but it’s not the worst either.

Now, if the BF could allocate some resources that would allow the current devs to keep working on adding features and hire a UX designer that designs guidelines for any new feature in Blender while keeping Ton’s vision of what Blender should be, that would be just perfect.

@chippwalters Excuse me for coming up with this (let me know if it’s off-topic):
Tangentially related to all this, but the BF is looking to fill a position for a developer community coordinator. I believe such role would really help on giving Blender a more well defined path of progress by “herding” the devs in a coherent direction and it would pave the way for making big progress on Blender’s UX.

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I’ve never used C4D, but it seems their keymap is fairly unintuitive compared to Blender.

For example:
Command / Blender / C4D
Move / G (grab) / E
Rotate / R / R
Scale / S / T
Extrude / E / D MT
Bevel / Command + B / M S

In Blender, it seems more shortcuts are the first letter of the command, which improves shortcut recall. Move with G is slightly unintuitive for beginners though because most people expect it to be M (first letter of move).

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I remember that you recently made criticisms of new modifiers stack, so I can’t help but relate this thread to those criticisms you had made recently. I also know that you use the modifiers worklfow a lot in your work. How much does it have to do with the opening of this thread?
It would be good to know what are the main parts where you find weaknesses in usability, otherwise this is very broad issue and everything makes it look like Blender is full of shortcomings and has nothing good to highlight.

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After reading the whole thread and following it, I think this is going no where, and I’ll explain why:

1.- It seems that there is a massive underestimation and discredit of any person that disagrees with what was presented here initially.

2.- It seems there is not a clear target, @sybren you agreed with the initial letter, do you think in my answer is visible that I understood correctly what Chipp wanted to say but I don’t agree with what he proposes or is my answer showing that I misunderstood it?

In general I see several topics being discussed and they are drifting from one thing to another, once again I may have been misinterpreting all the thread, but I don’t see a clear topic, just a diffuse idea of something related to UI and/or UX depending on who you are and what you understand.

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One of the most difficult things in my day to day work is to avoid suggestions from becoming something that leads to a defensive stance, and “pride”. There are so many people in my line of work that have too much pride to ask questions if they don’t understand something, that immediately go to defense if someone asks them something, or take any new suggestion as criticism of what’s there already. What good comes out of that? We all love Blender in here.

My interpretation of a lot of feedback in this thread is just that. People get defensive. Noone is saying what’s there is bad, Blender is fantastic, but if it’s hard for new and existing users to know where to find and use something, what good is that? It could also be that it ISN’T hard to find and use things, that’s part of what UX does, it gives power to the user. I’m a developer, I know first hand developers shouldn’t have this power, we just don’t know how people use it, there are so many amazing insights with UX. But as with everything, there is good UX and bad UX. That has nothing to do with the open letter though imo.

And contrary to what is said in this topic, it’s not just about new users. It goes for existing users too, so changing the UI as some seem to think this means is not necessarily a good solution, because for existing users that means relearning everything, and the new UI needs to be really good then. I’m new though, so I’ll step back for people that know more. I’ve personally recently learned, and taught someone else that never used any 3D software, so that’s my just my take on everything.


As an artist who has used Blender on/off since 2004 and started using it pretty much as my main application since last year I can say: From my perspective you are absolutely spot on.

IT will be a slight pain to relearn UI that has changed. And quoting Brad Peebler from (then Luxology) TheFoundry about changing only the slightest thing in a 3D software - regarding Modo development: “Whatever you change, how insignificant it may seem - you will break someone’s workflow with it.”
There’s no way around it, sadly. I think luckily in this case 2.8 already changed so much that now is the best time to commit to investing even more time in research in this area. While the release is still fresh enough.


It’s hard that we are all at once overly critical blender users and blender advocates… It depends on what people want to think in each debate.

What happens is that this thread does not say anything that has been said a thousand times. And it seems that we have to accept the “Guru” opinion of someone and we can’t disagree in something. And basically that is what is dangerous, that somebody is not capable of defending his position with arguments. If someone is not able to defend their opinion with arguments and the first thing they do is disrespect any user who doubts… we can expect some kind of improvement? Based on arguments, logic and reasons not, because he doesn’t have them. Based on user? He doesn’t seem to hold anyone’s opinion in high regard, so I don’t think so.

Do somebody really think that there have not been dozens of people with wonderful ideas because they were experts? An at the end it turns out that they were not such wonderful ideas. Remember the last Guru that propose a change in blender UX/UI… or the famous hotkey preset. There are already three damned presets (Industry, Max, Maya) that tried to turn blender into something better for new users and they always fail because nobody is interested. Let’s try a new one? Cinema4D? Ok, it is waste the time of the developers, not mine.

Max/C4D begineers find “easy to start” learning the software because the don’t use the keymap at all, they don’t care about the keyboard, they use the icons/buttons in the toolbar, and there are no “modal” tools in the basic toolset, at least that’s what my experience tells me.

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I agree that name calling and disrespect has no place in discussions. But you have already decided what this UX focus would lead to, decided that is bad, and that’s everything you talk about in this thread. I’m sure you have plenty to contribute with, but you have to take a step back and read what is actually written, not just assume it’s about someone coming in and changing all the keymaps or icons. Because that’s not what a UX focus is.

This is a discussion based on having a user focused design and development. It has nothing to do with keymaps. I have been reading and looking at upcoming features, backlogs, genuinely interested in Blender, seeing what’s coming and what’s happening. A lot of the discussion there are developers talking about not wanting too much menu options, my question is there, shouldn’t that be something that can be tested on paper, on a user. It shouldn’t be up to rendering cycles genius Brecht to say what’s the best UI option for a new shader feature.

Moving user in front, means bringing this up. We shouldn’t be hung up on examples, because that’s not what the open letter is about. But if you want some, ping me.


At no time have I said that this approach is bad. I have said and several times that it is not new (I think that at the fourth or fifth time I should not say it anymore), it has already been spoken many times and that I myself agree with it. But that much of what is said is based on fallacies because blender doesn’t have a horrible first use, it is used by kids without any help.

Let’s not mix what you want to read with what I’ve said. Basically I didn’t get into the background discussion and just defended other users so they could speak freely without being disrespected.

The reality is that blender doesn’t have a big UX problem now, it has small but minimal usability details. Because the problem with blender was basically the left click and the modal system, and that’s been fixed.

How long have you been using Blender yourself, Alberto?