Blender Fork Bforartists searches for volunteers

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Tiles
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Blender Fork Bforartists searches for volunteers

Post by Tiles »

Hey everybody :)

Haven't been active here for a long time. But now i have started a really big project that migth be of interest for you. And this project has reached the point to call for help. The point to ask for volunteers, to organize the pipeline, and the point to start the development. And i know that there are a few very good programmers around here. So i thought i chime in here too :)

Here you can find the webpage for the project: http://www.bforartists.de" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

What is Bforartists?
Bforartists is a fork of the popluar open source 3d software Blender. And is, similar to Blender, of course also open source and under the GPL V3 license.

A Blender fork? R u MAD?
No! I know exactly what i am doing :)

I am 3D graphics addicted. trueSpace once brought me the fun with its fast and easy workflow. It was always a joy to work with trueSpace. Blender then killed this fun nearly with its complicated and hotkey centered workflow. And it's time to do something against it before i loose the whole fun at 3D. I now have the needed time since my other projects that i wanted to do are all finished, and i have the skills. So let's start it.

Yes, i was in the past one of the folks that said that a Blender fork is something impossible. But Blender has produced this much unhappy bunnies over the time that i changed my mind. I am very optimistic to find the needed forces now.
To fork Blender is of course nothing that a single person can do. And that's why i call for help.

What is the general goal of the fork?
To create an easy to use 3D Software package for hobbyists and advanced 3d graphics artists. Which is the opposite of what Blender is. Blender is known as one of the hardest to learn and to use 3D Software packages.

Why should i support Bforartists, and not Blender?
The million dollar question. What makes the fork so special and valuable that you should join? Why not simply contribute to Blender? Blender is so much bigger and well known, has an established community, and has even paid developers ...

The main reason is that Bforartists has completely different development goals, and a completely different philosophy than Blender. I want to switch the usability philosophy by 180 degrees. Away from super complicated hotkey centered workflows that promises speed gains in miliseconds range, towards a self explaining and intuitive graphical UI that can even be used with one hand when necessary. With a development focus at a good usability, and not at throwing in yet another killer feature with bad usability. With a target audience of the hobbyists and advanced artists. Working with Bforartists must make fun in the first place.

I want to simplify the workflow here and there. A good example is the delete quiz with its more than a dozen entries. When i press delete, then i want to delete the selected element. And not play jeopardy what kind of delete i have to do now.

Another important point is that i want to give all those useful things a home that either gots declined because the responsible module owners didn't even understand their value. Or because of wrong understood open source philosophy. Open source should offer freedom, not restriction.

I want to bring all forces at one table. One of my observations is that the Blender developers becomes very picky lately. Even fully functional patches that makes sense gets declined because they could "possibly" make trouble in the future. While half baked features still makes it in.

We will make Bforartists, not movies. Doesn't mean that we will never collaborate with some artists. By coincidence i am one. The concept to connect the development of a software with a real project, like a movie or a game, is not a bad one at all. But our primary focus is at developing Bforartists. Not making movies.

I also want to implement a few more things that are standard since many years in other 3D packages, and where the developers never saw a value in. Stuff like a simple reset view. Or scaling of a selection to world coordinates. Or libraries for the different kind of objects that we deal with in Blender. Light libraries, object libaries, material libraries, etc.

And last but not least because i want to offer an all in one solution. Manual, tutorials, downloads. Blender has outsourced the documentation and tutorials and even the community to the users. And so the new users have a hard time to find useful beginner material.

On top of that you will find a friendly community without censorship. We take critics serious, we don't censor it away. Note that this is no charter for trolling, flaming and bashing, which is not tolerated.

What exists at this point?
The whole infrastructure. A website with forum, bug- and issue tracker, wiki area, chatroom, etc. . So that we can go directly to work now.
A manifest that explains why i have started this fork and defines the general direction. http://www.bforartists.de/content/manifest-0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
A roadmap that already defines some main goals. The detailled list is something that i want to figure out with the whole team then. At a one by one issue base. http://www.bforartists.de/content/roadmap-0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
A Bforartists UI Design Document that shows and explains the changes for the new graphical UI. http://www.bforartists.de/content/bfora ... n-document" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I also made some first changes at the repository to justify the copyright issues and to port the project over to Bforartists. The existing Blender icons are replaced. There are first changes at the CmakeText files to create a Bforartist.exe file instead of a Blender.exe file. There is quite some work waiting to become the whole project blender free though. And that's already one of the issues where i would be happy about help. For example, the bforartists.exe still wants to start a blender-app.exe at the moment, and refuses to start therefore.

The modified files can be found in the Bforartists developer forums.

Where is the Repository?
Here at Github. https://github.com/Bforartists/Bforartists" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; . But the repository is currently empty. First we have to port the baby. See point before.

Is the job paid or unpaid?
Unpaid.

Bforartists is open source. And purely volunteer driven. I want Bforartists to stay completely money free for more than one reason.
But note that i would have no problem with user crowd funded development. When the result fits in, then i would accept also such commits. Please contact us beforehand to clear if the commit would be accepted or not. It's just that i don't want to, and cannot be responsible for any money involved here. Bforartists is a pure private, non commercial initiative. Not a company that can hire employees. And so any crowd funding must happen without any official or even inofficial Bforartists support.

Who can help?
Everybody who is willing to, and supports the general development direction. See Manifest and Roadmap.
Blender is developed in three languages. C, C++ and Python. And so is Bforartists. In detail the project needs:

- C / C++ / Python Programmers
- C / C++ / Python Programmers
- C / C++ / Python Programmers
- QT specialists
- An Icon artist (or two or three or as many as wants to do the job. Nobody says that a icon set should be unchangeable. But note that a set should be done by a single person because of consistency)
- Manual writers
- Tutorial writers
- Bug reporters
- Bug fixers
- Forum Moderators
- Users
- C / C++ / Python Programmers!

And not to forget all the specialists that i forgot to mention here. When you think that you are of any value for the project, then please join. We simply need everything :)

What is Bforartists not looking for?
- People who thinks that Blender is just fine as it is. When you think that all is fine with Blender then you are at the wrong place.
- Developers that are pure ideas and advice givers. Ideas are fine. But we are not short of ideas, but doers. You can write down your ideas in the tracker as a user already.
- Trolls, bashers, and similar disturbing folks. I will not tolerate any of them here. I want Bforartists to become a friendly developer and user community.

What work is waiting?
There is a wide range of posibilities. We have five minutes jobs. Like to fix an easy bug, or to fix a typoe in the manual. And we have jobs that lasts months and years. Like developing the graphical UI. So it all depends at you and your skills, and where you want to help. The most important points are defined in the Roadmap.

How can i get involved?
It's super easy. Just register at the Bforartists page, and tell the Admin, that's currently me, that you want to be a developer. There is a chatroom, you can write a pm (see messages when you have registered), and you can write a short message in the forums to do so.
Once you have the developer role you can write in the developer forums and do modifications at the wiki. The rest is conversation and development.

Will the fork be a success?
For me personally it's already a success. I have my fun with the project. And i will most probably go on, no matter how much people joins and helps.
The success as a software depends of how much people are involved. Bforartists is a code monster. And can simply not be developed by a single person in a useful manner. So the question of success is a question that the volunteers have to answer with their feet. When there are enough volunteers, when the concept can convince enough people to develop and to use Bforartists, then the project will succeed. It's that easy.

About me
One of the most important questions with such a big software project is always if the initiator is suited for the boss role, and is of any help for the project at all. Or if he is not just one of the usual dream dancers and ideas givers without any clue and without any further value for the project, like you can see so often at MMO projects.

First, note that i am not really keen at the boss chair. To lead a team of unpaid volunteers is a hells job, and can easily eat you up alive. I have been there, i know that part from experience already. So when somebody else wants to take the chair and lead Bforartist into the given direction, then i don't really have a problem with it. Especially since my health is not the best anymore, and is limiting me.

Anyways. Playing the boss just for the sake of being the boss is definitely not my goal. I know a thousand things that makes more fun. But somebody has to channel the forces and to organize the baby. My primary goal is to develop an easy to use open source 3D software.

So what makes me valuable? In short, I am an allrounder. A jack of all trades. And if it were not for the sheer amount of work, then i would do the fork alone. I do everything needed. And i mean everything.

My background is game development. I develop games since 15 years now. With various tools and languages. And i make everything at my games by myself. The range goes from games that can be finished within a week up to games where you normally would need a whole team for. My longest game project took me three years to finish. And it was not the only game in this scope. And so i have a ton of experience in really all needed aspects. I am webdesigner, serveradmin, 3D artist, programmer, musician, sound fxer, storywriter, UI designer, Level designer, manual writer, etc. in one person. I need it? I do it. And i finish what i start.

I may not be the best in all areas. That's the price for being an allrounder. But my background and experience makes me to quite a good UI / UX expert since i know it from all aspects, and not just from the limited view of a programmer for example. UI / UX is very important in games. And is one of the first things that you have to learn to do right. When a user cannot play the game within the first 20 seconds then he is gone. And same counts for applications to some degrees. I can exactly tell you what sucks at a workflow. And this from all angles. As a user, as a programmer, as a UI designer. And i cannot only say what sucks, but also provide a solution to the problem. And even implement this solution then.

I have already developed two little Blender plugins with Python a while ago. So developing for Blender is nothing completely foreign for me.

Also worth a mention is that i had my adminstrative fingers in more than one community already. I was for a long time administrator of a german developer community around Clickteam's Multimedia Fusion, called Clickzone. And i am still one of the admins of the german 3D graphics community page 3D-Ring. http://www.3d-ring.de" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Still not convinced? Then have a look at my portfolio. I support the hobby game developers worldwide with freeware graphics since 2001: http://www.reinerstilesets.de/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The only thing that i currently really miss and have to learn is the needed C knowledge to modify the code. And while this is the thing that is most required for this fork, C is not my first programming language to learn, and will most proably not be my last. I don't expect any problems here that couldn't be solved. The monsterbig codebase worries me much more. But i hopefully get a helping hand in case i get really stuck at my way.

Gotcha! You say you cannot program yet! Dream dancer !!!
No, i did not say that i cannot program, i said that i don't know C yet. I know how to program. You cannot develop games for 15 years without to write code at one point. And i did it with various languages and tools over the years. The language syntax and the tools changes. But the concept of a programming language stays the same. A function is a function, no matter in what language.

Also don't forget, C is also not the only required thing for this fork. The concept is both, changes at the code base, and a all in one solution. We have a Wiki to fill, Plugins to write (Python), a community to manage, a page to maintain, advertisements, organization, and and and. It can easily happen that i don't even find the time to write code, dependand of how much volunteers joins and how big the community grows, means how much organization work needs to be done. But that's something that the future will show. For now i definitely plan to learn C and to contribute to the code base.

I have a few more questions!
Don't be shy and ask. I will do my best to answer them :)
Free Gamegraphics, Freeware Games http://reinerstilesets.de

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Draise
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Re: Blender Fork Bforartists searches for volunteers

Post by Draise »

I started reading your UI documents, quickly skimmed over. Skimmed over your intro, website, etc.

I like where you are going, but obviously will try contribute later... read everything in detail.

But initial gut thoughts: great idea. Blender is very powerful as is, and actually not that bad as a UI and workflow (compaired to others *cough autodesk cough*), but yes, having started to learn it - and coming from a great UI and workflow of Softimage and trueSpace, I probably... will see how to get involved.

Blender as is still isn't quite cutting it for me - I'm not profeccient in it enough maybe - but seems like a nice project, and yes, using the Blender base (with all the awesome code it already has) will help you jump leaps and bounds very quickly to get a new artist friendly 3D authoring software.

Even just fixing the UI with those icons and tabs are a great idea, better default layouts, shortcuts, using the latest addons for sticky keys, better pie menu defaults, etc.... and/or making a way better "outliner" for scene management, alternative scene managers, etc, or even just build onto or represent a "nodify" everything in the node editor system like the LE or ICE/Schematic View in trueSpace or Softimage - which some have started with python for Blender already - just making it a part of the workflow... would be more than enough to improve it!

You could really improve quickly by incorporating addons that many others have made to improve Blender already, make sure they work really well together, pick and choose their features, and incorporate them into the build - like Bmax tools, which I thought great (icon and label driven common tools panels).


I have too many ideas right now, and I haven't even read all your stuff.. I shall quieten up now - read when I have the time. Interesting incentive.

I know Si-community.com can be a bit pessimistic about anything - and everything - bitter even, having the software killed like it was.. but few there are long time professionals who work with professional software with cutting edge workflows and techniques. They can tear your ideas apart, or put them together again and improve them - considering some of those people are Eric Mootz, and the creators of Fabric Engine - and the Softimage Community really helped Redshift3D build up a strong foundation before anything else. Concerning UI and workflow and data management, rendering pipelines, etc, they have excellent ideas - and Softimage has some excellent UI workflow things that.. I really miss in both trueSpace, Blender, Maya, Max, and any other software I've dabbled in for the kicks of it. I'd post your incentive there also. I'm sure you've gotten the Blender community behind you also, as I've noticed you are relatively active there. ;)

Actually, talking of node power, splicing Fabric Engine (which is partially Opensource) into Blender would be awesome, it's a python syntax with C++ kerneling and GPU accelerated algorithms.. Damn ideas!

Great incentive.

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Re: Blender Fork Bforartists searches for volunteers

Post by Finis »

An ambitious project. I hope you succeed.

Have you any input from Blender users (like a poll) to determine if this version would be popular? I don't want you to do all this work and then only a handful of people use it. I think it will be popular since many people don't like the interface but some real opinion data would be better than guesses.

Also consider continuing development. If you intend for Artist's Blender to continue forever, which main Blender probably will, then AB will have to include at least some of main Blender's future improvements and new features and have an organization to oversee continued updates and development beyond the participation or lives of the original crew.
Death to the parasites.
Send in the scoops.

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Re: Blender Fork Bforartists searches for volunteers

Post by Tiles »

Thanks for your feedback :)
Actually, talking of node power, splicing Fabric Engine (which is partially Opensource) into Blender would be awesome, it's a python syntax with C++ kerneling and GPU accelerated algorithms.. Damn ideas!
Unfortunately close to impossible because of the GPL license ^^

Regarding the other questions, i haven't reached the point yet to search through the available plugins if they are of use. I battle with getting the thing ported at the moment. I want of course to include the official blender plugins. But behind that point i don't know yet. Feel free to make a list of plugins that you want to include :)
Have you any input from Blender users (like a poll) to determine if this version would be popular? I don't want you to do all this work and then only a handful of people use it. I think it will be popular since many people don't like the interface but some real opinion data would be better than guesses
I have. The same text is also at Blender Artist and the german community Blendpolis. And the feedback is sobering so far. Nobody has joined yet. They all just brought more or less their concerns at the table that this project is about to fail.

I hope to change this when the first commit goes online and i start to change some things. Words are cheap. But we will definitely not reach the masses in the nearer future. At the moment i work alone. Which isn't really a speed bonus neither. But i will continue :)
Also consider continuing development. If you intend for Artist's Blender to continue forever, which main Blender probably will, then AB will have to include at least some of main Blender's future improvements and new features and have an organization to oversee continued updates and development beyond the participation or lives of the original crew.
Well, Blender is open source. So i hope to borrow the vital parts from there then. My intention is UI and usability. Not to change the core functionality. This will of course just work for as long as my changes are not too big.
Free Gamegraphics, Freeware Games http://reinerstilesets.de

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Re: Blender Fork Bforartists searches for volunteers

Post by Draise »

I joined your forum.

I'll try to make a list of things I personally would "dumb" down among other items and addons to add or improve on (I have a small collection) - after.. reading your extensive UI docs. I feel I might be useless other than making tasks and lists and icons and testing workflows - or reviewing what is out there already - research.

On a side note, I hope someone does splice Fabric Engine into Blender - it's a great bridge between larger apps (build a rig in one, will work in the other through the splice, etc).

Good luck with the compiling!

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Re: Blender Fork Bforartists searches for volunteers

Post by Tiles »

Great. I made you to a developer now. Have fun :)
Free Gamegraphics, Freeware Games http://reinerstilesets.de

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Re: Blender Fork Bforartists searches for volunteers

Post by bitkar »

i can offer perspective of a trueSpace hardcore fan. I tried blender and I HATE the UI and i cannot work in blender. So if I figure out how to work in that, you know you are going thre right (trueSpace) direction. I can find bugs very well usually too. I dont know how much time i will have for it, but i think i can get some.
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Re: Blender Fork Bforartists searches for volunteers

Post by Tiles »

That's nice to hear. Every helping hand is welcome :)

As far as the UI goes, that's just half of the story. Blender has some very specific and partially really complicated workflows. I am not this sure if i can change those workflows at all. But i will do my best to make the UI a bit user friedlier :)
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