Named Attribute Nodes in Blender 3.0

Wholeheartedly agree with everyone above.

I love Blender more than any DCC. It’s an absolutely wonderful program and I’ve been lucky enough to use it every day for the last few years. The developers are incredibly helpful and responsive, and I honestly think this is just a misunderstanding.

I will say that it’s really disconcerting that “Get/Set Nodes” were removed after them being an integral part of the 2.93 rollout that introduced us all to geometry nodes. The 2.93 rollout of geometry nodes was a prototype build so that we could all get acquainted, test the system, and see the response of the users. Now, with the next version up, the arguably most integral part of the system has been dismantled and erased under the guise of shareability. It’s a bait and switch, but I would say that this probably still comes down to a misunderstanding.

When users created posts, polls, comments, etc… to ask Blender artists the users overwhelmingly asked to keep these nodes. What is worrisome is that all feedback was ignored, or at least deferred by developers in the form of a status update…

It’s very concerning that Blender isn’t taking into account the opinion of the vast majority of artists who are actually working with these systems daily. Instead a feature that was working great has been deleted and has been swept under the rug with a statement saying “We hear you. We’re sorry, here’s a deferral to wait until 3.1 to rehash this entire argument again.” This is only concerning because it’s been clear from the beginning how the artists feel about it…

Blender artists would like both, the get/set nodes, and the other sandboxed version that protects artists from making their geo-nodes setup not shareable.

It makes the most sense to leave a “Warning: This geometry node system might have issues with shareability due to a custom attribute”. Then people will know there are shareability issues with their geometry nodes setups, and people who want to be safe will know they are being safe by not using custom attributes.

Cutting out things that make Blender more flexible is not the direction to go under the guise of shareability. We all want shareability, but not at the expense of losing the nodes that were given to us during the prototype build of geometry nodes.

Saying that we’ll come back to talk about this at 3.1 is saddening, but I had a feeling this was going to be a fleshed out battle, and I’m confident Blender will not choose to ignore the vocal majority on here.

Everyone has been clear about this from the beginning. If the get/set nodes were in 2.93 it makes very little sense they wouldn’t be able to be put in 3.0, but if it takes until 3.1 then it is what it is!

I appreciate all the amazing work you wonderful developers do!

You all work very hard and I am forever thankful for your service!

18 Likes

@dfelinto
The inventors of the the field design expressed concerns over this decision.
The whole community expressed concerns over this decision.
Yet you don’t even consider merging these back in time for 3.0?

:persevere:

12 Likes

One issue that hasn’t been adressed yet is more logistical: every get&set node is its own patch that may end up in months long review limbo if it isn’t being done by core team members. For example more niche attributes like the ones used for the skin modifier or curve tilt may be super awkward to control for months until they get their own nodes.
The same kinda applies to shareability too: as of right now, I don’t think there is even a proposal, on how node trees will fit into the asset manager (which has been in development for years), so while we lose lots of functionality now, we will get the convenience of sharing being maybe less painful in like a year or two the earliest.

imo the whole shareability thing is very hypothetical anyways

3 Likes

With share-ability being the primary reason for not wanting custom set/get attribute nodes, isn’t it just easier to make some official guidelines for publicly shared node groups?

The guidelines could state that no shared node groups could contain any custom attributes, or if they did contain them, then the attributes would have to be pruned/deleted via an attribute remove node at the end of the group node network.

Then it would be just like creating a local variable within a function in traditional coding. A custom attribute would only be seen and used within that local group node tree.

Maybe I am missing something, but isn’t a policy like this easy enough to implement, especially if the concern is about including higher level node groups to be bundled with Blender in the future? Each node group is then a black box unto itself and won’t pass on any custom data to its’ outputs.

Sure, there could possibly be custom named attributes created earlier in the network having a naming conflict with a custom named one inside the shared node group, but this is a very corner case and should be up to the user to resolve. After all, there is an error system built into the nodes that would warn you about the conflict. Beginner users who are using geonodes wont run into this problem if they are using shared node groups, as they are very unlikely to create custom attributes themselves in the first place.

5 Likes

After thinking quite a lot about this, what I said before still stands, but I think there is a fundamental flaw in this.

Share-Ability si not something that should be defined by the software, it must be defined by the tech artist / TD that is using the node tree, and that artist must learn to properly do this.
GN has never been planned for new/only artist, but for tech artist, and this has been explained to me and to us all many times, and this move seems to be to protect the artist.

Trying to protect the final user from a bad TD limiting what the tool can do is not a good plan at all.

It’s like putting the band-aid to the child before the wound is there, allow the child to make a small wound so he can learn to avoid bigger wounds in the future, and then show him where can he take a band-aid and how can he use it, don’t be over protective, that’s BAD

In the end after many thinking on this is:

Share-Ability must not be defined by the software, it must be defined by the Tech User / TD, it’s a responsibility.

21 Likes

Here’s an interesting one:

We already have a long list of pros and cons regarding Get/Set (Named Attributes) which is overwhelming in favor of it being added (added back?).

I don’t think it’s even an issue of “if”, but “when”, since even Dalai mentioned in his post, that they are considering this, it’s just a matter of time & deadlines (Last 2 sentences are important):

What I’m aiming to say here: at this point, we should try to give strong reasons why it should be added in 3.0 instead of 3.1 (“when”), because the other battle is long over, (the “if”). Or at least I hope…

This is (kind of) hinted here:

Also, I think I understand why the huge focus on “share-ability”. For most of us (single user) it’s a smaller concern, compared to a team (multiple users). And remember that the development focus is for Blender Studio. They probably rely heavily on this concept.

That being said, I still agree with this statement:

2 Likes

This has been the pitfall of most of the recent controversial decisions. Blender Animation studio is a flawed benchmark of production needs. The original Attribute based GN design (which they had to backtrack from) was also supposedly modeled on their needs, and the reason we still have dashed lines is partly because the feedback on them from animation studio was “mixed”.

Overall, the illusion that the Blender development is somehow “community driven” or “community oriented” started to fall apart very rapidly recently.

Blender seems to be going back into the old pre-2.6 pattern of design:

  1. Find a small issue
  2. Artificially turn it into a big problem
  3. Invent monstrous solution which does more harm than good to address it
  4. Implement such solution

It’s been that way from the day one, where relatively minor issue of selection/action separation was addressed with monstrous solution of using right mouse button to select things. A solution which did way more harm than good to Blender in coming years, and became one of the major obstacles for the widespread adoption.

Same happened with datablock management, where a trivial task of deciding which datablocks should be cleaned up resulted in monstrous fake user workflow.

Or of course more recently, a minor issue of distinguishing node connection types, already partially addressed by the node socket shapes received a monstrous solutions of drawing some node connections with dashed lines.

And now, relatively minor issue of shareability and name space conflicts, which can be addressed in numerous ways will most likely be addressed by a monstrous solution which will once again hurt Blender in months, perhaps even years to come.

11 Likes

My main concern involves share-ability because I’m in charge of producing our in-house tools to work better and faster, so I understand this concern, but since I’m conscious I have to properly create the tools, but I don’t want the tool to be limited.

For example, because of pipeline reasons I may want to have an attribute that stores some studio-specific information that I don’t want a user to change from the UI at all, that information must not be visible, nor touchable, from the UI, without internal named attributes I cannot do that AFAIK

And yes, I totally agree that this must go to 3.0, this is because 3.0 will be the first release where Geometry Nodes will be presented as a grow up tool as it is right now, and that’s a fundamental part of the workflow that is being removed, people will learn how to use GN now, so this, being a basic part of the optional workflow, should be in 3.0

12 Likes

It doesn’t have to be this drastic. The community is more emotionally involved and in general has more users which is why the community can react fast to a change or a topic.

The teams from Blender side is smaller in comparison and it being an organization means that they inherently react slower (because chain of command, the need to be organized, formalities, documentation etc.)

So it’s kind of unfair to make such a statement.

The community is however highly involved and people care about what happens. So as long as that will continue, then things tend to stabilize in the end.

2 Likes

I did major part of UI/UX design for one of the most successful commercial rendering engines today. And that engine succeeded from significant part because of the UI/UX as that’s what separated it from the others on the market at that time.

I can not even remotely imagine ignoring such widespread controversial feedback as long as I was in charge of that aspect of the software. Even if the minority of users were dissatisfied with some new features or changes to the existing ones, there was always a way to iterate on the design to satisfy at the very least 85%+ of users. Never once was it the case that such iteration made the design worse, it always turned out only better.

If 50% or more of the public userbase would be dissatisfied with a design, I’d definitely consider it a failure and it would not even once cross my mind to let such design make it into a final product in unaltered state.

11 Likes

Important news

@Ton spoke

I am the person behind the decision and take responsibility for it. Good design is about thinking in restrictions in the first place. It’s not to frustrate artists but to create tools and habits with future-proof designs we can work with for another decade.

Further we carefully listen to feedback and are open to learn. My strategy is to do things first really good (strictly according design), then explore the options of this design space well (proof of work), and then allow users freedom to hack around with it (on top of it).


Personal opinion:

“future-proof designs we can work with for another decade.”

That is precisely why i am so worried, there are important arguments in the recap that are proving that this is not a future-proof idea :slightly_smiling_face:

5 Likes

Yes, we are all on the same page.
It’s Ton’s duty to take the responsibility for the decision, which is why he took it.
But it’s the team that can convince (him) of alternative solutions, since they have the technical understanding.

At the same time, I wouldn’t want this to become a long process (years instead of weeks).
I have mixt feelings about this. Don’t really know how to react…

It’s Ton so I will probably get flak for merely disagreeing with him, but still, I couldn’t disagree more with this phrase:
Good design is about thinking in restrictions in the first place.

My experience has been that if the design doesn’t consider the true, final vision of the tool, but just a limited version of it, both the development process and the final product become much worse.

If you finish a version of the tool with a limited design, which doesn’t cover use cases which the tool is expected to be able to handle in the future, then at some point during expansion of the tool use cases, you may come across many limitations which will either require complete fundamental change of the tool architecture, which will take a lot of time and development resources, or some hack which will drastically reduce capabilities of these new features that enable the new use cases.

If you approach the design with the true vision of what the final product is, instead of some limited intermediate step, chances of laying out the good foundation increase significantly.

Almost feels like they’ve became hostages of their frequent, regular release schedule :expressionless:

To TL;DR this perhaps chaotic post - Good design should not be about thinking in restrictions in the first place. The very first place should always be vision of what the final future product should be. And there needs to be at least one person with such vision.

7 Likes

I think I can understand the reason why the geometry node team prefer connections over named attributes, the use of named attributes can make the graph looks “broken” in consideration of the way field works. But the problem with attributes is that it’s a so fundemental thing for proceduralism that you cannot just get rid of it totally or tell people not to use it.

Using connections can make the graph looks more straightforward in some cases, but in some other cases, it also make things more complicated and nearly impossible to accomplish.

For example, to create something like a hair system, you instance a bunch of polylines on a point cloud and then you try to add some noise effect to the lines that the strength grows from roots to the tips while each line still have a different seed. The easiest way for this is to create a ramp attribute based on the index and save it on the polyline before instancing, then apply the deformation based on the attribute value after. But this kind of task is hard to achieve just with connections (you can do it though, just not get the easiness and precision).

So from the view of an asset builder, it’s better to have attribute get/set nodes directly in the graph, the current design may be enough to solve immediate problems, but when the nodes get more and more complex (like a physical solver) someday, it’s gonna be a nightmare to manage hundreds of attributes via explicit sockets. By all means, someone need to use attributes can use workaround like breaking the whole graph into multiple geometry-node modifiers or even multiple objects, at the cost of readability of course, so yeah, this restrition cannot elimiate the use of attributes and only make attributes hard to use where it’s really needed.

5 Likes

Also, most sharing of procedural tools like GN trees would happen within a studio team.
It’s definitely that way with other well known procedural DCCs. A team will always set
naming conventions etc to prevent issues with their own pipeline. That’s where the responsibility
should be and anyone working on commercial projects knows that

2 Likes

I don’t think so, specially now with the Asset Browser, there will be a lot of community node groups for high level interaction for non-tech artists.

That said, that’s not a reason for this, TD’s should learn to arrange the node tree properly to share it, no need to limit the tool.

4 Likes

Surely, “future proof” is more about being Open and Flexible – IMO the real task is to make sure built-in attribute names are well defined with strong naming conventions, everything is consistent and tools are small with few side effects. Unix OS is like that and look how long that’s lasted – like 50 years – pretty future proof if you ask me. There’s a reason other tools like RM and H have adopted Unix like engineering conventions and have also lasted so long

1 Like

You know what hurts most about this post?
It feels that, what has been a discussion until now (admitedly, one-sided), now it’s not even a discussion anymore.
It felt until now that there’s a chance. Now I don’t feel like even trying :confused:

Keyword: “feel”; because deep down I still hope things will get better.
I still want Blender to be as procedurally strong (flexible) as it can be.

3 Likes

Indeed, very good points.

If the designers are so afraid about name clashes, why do their variables names are so obvious? why not using an unlikely prefix for example?

Note that removing the attributes nodes do not resolve the nameclashe issues, they can still occur on modifiers output, so this is not really related to the topic and is not a valid argument for removing the named attribute access within function scope.

I feel like they are trying to resolve old programming problems of variable shadowing & globals, re-inventing the wheel of already well-established concepts that simply got resolved with good practices guidelines and usage conventions.


About this:

One of the argument of the community is the following:

Is the serpent is already eating it’s own tail?
If there’s attribute input within object/collection info nodes, then the redesign is already breaking its own rules.

As hans explained, an attribute input node supported in modifier interface is even more share-able than attribute sockets


In my opinion, the design of @HooglyBoogly is a very good compromise; by informing users about globals being read/written in the interface, all possible share-ability issues are clearly presented to the users.

I did extrapolate the design a bit , here is my two cents:

7 Likes

Datablock selectors break encapsulation, and that is a clear shareability problem, but I find it weird that the conclusion drawn is that therefore doing it with attributes is ok.

In my opinion this just highlights that in fact, just like attributes, datablock selectors should also be part of the interface and be overridable on the modifier level.

This is not an argument against named attributes, if they clearly appear on the interface, like your example shows, they are definitely more help than trouble. But I think the way datablock selectors work right now is broken and should not be the motivation to handle attributes in a similar fashion.

3 Likes