Sunday, April 25, 2010

Operator panel

One of the best new features in Blender 2.5 is the concept of the 'operator tweaking' which means that the user can change tool settings after the tool as applied and see the results immediately. Basically the equivalent of 'what you see is what you get' (WYSIWYG) editing. With the toolbar open, the bottom bart of it contains these settings. This is nice, because it fits with the non-overlapping UI model. 

The problem arises though when the toolbar is closed, because these settings are no longer accessible. This turns out to be a rather large issue, because many tools effectively become unusable, with no way to control them. For this reason I think adding a 'floating' panel makes sense. It should only appear when the toolbar is closed, and should not be blocking, ie it should not steal the users input.


  1. Isn't it already covered by the "F6 panel" (don't know hw it is called exactly)?
    To me it looks like what you're requesting.

    Eg. add a mesh from the mesh menu, and press F6 to tune its settings.

  2. Hi, should have clarified this. No, the f6 panel is blocking, modal and not easily accessible and only available via an obscure key command. But apart from that, yes, it is like the f6 panel, except you'd need a way to optionally close it when the tool is no longer relevant.

  3. I must defend the F6 panel a bit =). Yes It's blocking but only if you hold the cursor over object your working with. When you get used to it you automatically move the cursor to a non-blocking position and then press F6 (or alt + MMB which I have changed it to). The big advantage with this is that you don't have travel as far with the mouse as you would if you use the toolbar.

    I still like your idea, though. And I don't see any problem for these two metodhs to co-exist.

    Speaking about blocking... Isn't the current implementation of the 'operator tweaking' in the toolbar sort of "blocking"? The tools and the operator tweaking does not fit in the toolbar even on high resolution. That means that you either constantly have to resize the 'operator tweaking' panel or use the scollbars.

  4. And why not send the whole tweaking task to this pop-up-when-needed floating panel, totally removing it from the toolbar? Compared to other softwares (any, also not 3d's) this tweaking panel "down there" in the toolbar seems quite obscure anyway.

  5. Gustav: Blocking means that it interrupts the user input. The 'f6' panel does this - ie once the panel pops up you can only interact with that. It's modal.
    The small size of the operator panel in the toolbar is annoying, but nothing to do with blocking.

  6. lsscpp: That would force an overlapping UI though. One of the main UI principles in Blender is to avoid this as much as possible. Also, when the toolbar is open, the operator panel wastes less space when it's part of it rather than on the side.

  7. Billrey: I don't think thats a bad thing since you only open the panel when you want to interact with it, and disappear automatically when move the mouse outside the panel.

  8. "Gustav: Blocking means that it interrupts the user input. The 'f6' panel does this - ie once the panel pops up you can only interact with that. It's modal."

    No it does not interrupt the user input, because it is only activated when needed and it goes away again as soon as it isn't needed anymore... If everything like that is evil, the space bar search menu is baaaad too, and so is the add mesh menu.

    But it might be possible to combine it with the old floating panel way of doing things.