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mbaldwin
09-20-2002, 06:20 PM
I had tacked the following onto a previous thread just before it died(maybe I killed it with my long post!).
One of my huge wishes for the next rev of Lightwave is for User Interface issues to be addressed. Isnowboard has touched upon the UI with his request for expanded keymapping functions. In the last 3 revs, there's been a bunch of suggestions, but very little has changed in interface during that time. I'd love to see progress with the next release.
Am I just being an off-base loudmouth, or do other users wish the same thing? I'd like to know. Examples follow from the other thread:

[URL=http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=21167]

mbaldwin
09-20-2002, 06:25 PM
bah.
here's the durn post:

for some reason, the select by surface option is greyed out in the polygon statistics menu. I've seen this throw people off before, cause virtually every gui I know treats greyed-out items as non-selectable. Not in this case, for some odd freaky reason only known to Newtek.

If you click the greyed field 'surfaces', you'll get a selectable list.

Which is a good example of why I wish Newtek would annoint someone "usability czar" for the interface. bring some of the same great energy to GUI issues that William Vaughn has brought to community issues. There seems to be a whole cargo load of interface inconsistencies and missed opportunities. Each one seems a trifle: the sum of all has a real slow down effect on using lightwave.

example(s):
--why when using surface gradients doesn't the initial gradient bar offer the user both a start value and an end value? set one at 100% and one at 0%? Better yet, have that be a user-definable preference that, once set, shows up whenever you're in the surface menu? Also the gradient values don't always transfer cleanly between different parts of layout that use them. An example would be using gradients in the texture displacement field. if you copy these values to a standard surface gradient the values get busted, and you have to manually re-enter them.

as long as we are talking surfaces, let's look at the info(i key) pallet.
1st, most of lightwave's modeler treats a layer with nothing sellected as everything selected. hitting the i key with nothing selected gives you a warning message instead of bringing up the information pallet. once you're in the information pallet, you have a short-cut for assigning new surfaces. But its a type entry field, instead of a pull-down menu of all your already-defined surfaces. If you know the exact wording of how you named surfaces you can type it in, but this leaves too much of a chance for error, and defeats the whole purpose of a short-cut in the first place.

I'll stop for now, but I wish someone at Newtek would build a master list of all these little quirks--I've seen them floating around the boards for years, but they never seem to get tackled. And while I may be extremely off-base, they don't APPEAR to take a lot of programming hours to fix.

But fix, Newtek, Please Fix!

thanks!

-m.

MK2
09-20-2002, 06:54 PM
Agreed.

There are millions of options and features but some of them are badly designed.

Make a box. Select a point and hit i for Info. Edit a little... now wait you forgot another point it would look better if it is a bit moved also... why cant i use selection tools while the Info Box is open or why not rotate the perspective view? Wheres the dropdown menu for surfaces and why is color not called part- or wireframecolor?

Yes these are the things that have to be redesigned.
I dont say these tools sug, what i say is there is way more potential in these things if someone would take responsibility for the overall design of the software and thinking about all these little glitches.

mk

Labuzz
09-20-2002, 07:41 PM
Agreed. UI is very important...

CIM
09-20-2002, 08:01 PM
Most of the problems mentioned are due to LW's architecture, not some interface designer slacking off. When LW's core is changed, you'll see the tools--and how they work change.

takkun
09-20-2002, 09:02 PM
I would love to see a website where people could post feature request and others could vote yes or no if they would like it in an upcoming version. One highly debated issue is integrating modeler and layout, I'd like to see how many say yea or nay.

mbaldwin
09-21-2002, 05:38 AM
"Most of the problems mentioned are due to LW's architecture, not some interface designer slacking off. When LW's core is changed, you'll see the tools--and how they work change."


I would guess Newtek doesn't have any interface designers on staff, slacking or not--otherwise we would have seen changes these past years. Also, CIM, you act as if the core is as immutable as stone. Surely it is changable in minor ways to allow for improvements in UI issues. I guess it all comes down to priority and cost.

I would also suggest that many of the kinks in LW's interface have several sollutions--Some elegant sollutions that would take massive amounts of cash and coordination, other smaller fixes that would be a step in the right direction. I guess the spirit of this post is focused on the latter. I'll try to bring up more examples, if it would help.

while I'm also a proponent of some sort of merger between applications, I'm wanting Newtek to be dilligent with this CURRENT interface. The planetary collision between Modeler and Layout would present a whole new host of design inconsistencies, I'm sure. It would be both reassuring and helpful to see Newtek in the habit of stomping out UI glitches prior to that seismic event.

LyonHaert
09-21-2002, 09:07 AM
hitting the i key with nothing selected gives you a warning message instead of bringing up the information pallet.

yeah, and if you have a model with a very large number of points/polys, and it treated no selection as selecting all of them, then there'd be a pause before the list of thousands and thousands of points/polys showed up, and another pause before all the point/poly numbers show up. and what the devil would you do with a list of that many points/polys anyway? you can't even tell the point/poly numbers apart when you select that many. you sound like you assumed it would treat a zero-selection as a total-selection like other tools, but it doesn't sound you allowed for the possibility that there's a reason it gives you a warning instead.


once you're in the information pallet, you have a short-cut for assigning new surfaces.

then it's not a shortcut, is it? in what way is the q button (assign surface) not easier? if you've already selected the polygons, hit q and boom, select (or create) the surface.


for some reason, the select by surface option is greyed out in the polygon statistics menu. I've seen this throw people off before, cause virtually every gui I know treats greyed-out items as non-selectable.

non-selectability is not the definition of greyed-out items. in most cases, it actually means 'not active.' however, with lightwave, greyed-out list items in lists like that (and the Layer browser) tend to mean 'empty' rather than 'not active'. whatever surface is selected from that drop-down menu will be greyed out if there are no polygons that are assigned that surface, always. when you first open the statistics panel, Surface is set to (none), which is always an empty set.

try this: open the the statistics panel, then make a normal, plain box. it'll of course say Surf: (none) at first and be greyed out. now change it to Surf: Default, and it'll be black, meaning that there are polygons that qualify for selection with that method. now press q to assign all polygons of that box a different surface ("aksdyghq" for all i care). look again at the statistics window, and even though it says Surf: Default and was black text a moment ago, it's now greyed-out again.


why when using surface gradients doesn't the initial gradient bar offer the user both a start value and an end value?

it provides only a start key and no end key because it's illogical to assume where you would put your end key. if they had programmed it to always include a default end key, 99% of the time you'd probably end up moving it and changing it anyway. same concept with a default end keyframe in a scene. most likely you'll delete it first thing. so they don't include one, and instead let you do your own work and decide whether you want one or not.

Select a point and hit i for Info. Edit a little... now wait you forgot another point it would look better if it is a bit moved also... why cant i use selection tools while the Info Box is open or why not rotate the perspective view? Wheres the dropdown menu for surfaces ... ?

one of the all-important elements of good workflow in LW is thinking ahead. this means selecting what you know you're going to work with and assuming a view that will work well. the Info panel is not a mainstream tool, as far as i know. as far as positioning points go, it's not meant for pulling points around, but for precise mathematical placement. and you probably won't run into that too often. why you're hell-bent on the Info panel, i really don't know. it also wasn't meant to be a be-all, end-all for changing point/poly properties. the Change Surface panel (q key) is what is meant to be used for assigning surfaces. the textbox in the Info panel is more for informational purposes (notice word relation here).


... and why is color not called part- or wireframecolor?

my gosh, perhaps just putting "Color" and expecting a user to know that it's for (or at least figure it out) is somewhat logical. or perhaps putting "Sketch Shade/Color Wireframe Shade Color" is just a bit excessive. have you ever designed a program and had to deal with such choices?


I'm also a proponent of some sort of merger between applications

there is 'some sort' of merger between to two sides: it's called the Hub. and frankly, i happen to love how they've modularized LW. this especially includes the concept of 2 separate applications. if Modeler and Layout were combined, i imagine they'd have to combine object and scene files into one type of file as well. that would be messy, and trying to keep the modularized scene/object system within one Modeler+Layout application would be very messy.


that's all i've got to say for now.

MK2
09-21-2002, 04:05 PM
my gosh, perhaps just putting "Color" and expecting a user to know that it's for (or at least figure it out) is somewhat logical. or perhaps putting "Sketch Shade/Color Wireframe Shade Color" is just a bit excessive. have you ever designed a program and had to deal with such choices?

Hey wait, i dont wanna harm anyone with that. I was just thinking about the Newbies... they are asking such stuff all the day and they dont understand why there is the name of the surface and color under it but if they change the color nothing happens... or if sketchmode on... why doesent it render in LW with the colors?
I dont have to justify myself here. But if you really care... yes nearlly for every project we do, iam the interface designer. and as allways i have to think about the most stupid user. What does that mean? It means that some Ppls even dont know how to start a program. Click on the Icon... nothing happens... ok double click it...nope faster... ok you see...now enter your name... now hit the Enter Button... yes you have to do that... now hit the Button with the Arrow on it...but there are 20 Arrowbuttons on the Keyboard... and so on...

one of the all-important elements of good workflow in LW is thinking ahead.
So you know allways exactly what you are going to do? Nope, tell me what ever you want i dont belive you... how about an artistical approach on an object? Arent you the one who showed an "accident" wood surface? This should not happen if you know what your doin....

I took the Info panel as example because mbaldwin took it... i can talk about other stuff if you like.
Scene Files and Mesh Files in one File? Yes, that would be great because you can make an animation with IK, But in modeller you can change the size of the Bones to fit your new model and use the same anim on a new bonesetup....

I just think the thread is about what can/should be improved. Iam sure you also have some things that you would see to be improved, why dont you post these? Or why dont you just show an otherway how the Info could be modified... all you do is just sayin that nothing should be changed because we (me and so on) dont know how to work...

mk

mbaldwin
09-21-2002, 06:50 PM
Lyonhaert,

I'd agree with MK2 and his response. You seem to be over-defending Newtek with your post. Believe me, I have no ill-will towards the product, or you for that matter. In fact, It's informative to know that you are one person that wouldn't change much about Lightwave. I guess that's an answer to my original question.

But you present explanations that wouldn't have to be the only outcome of change. Regarding the info pallet, there's no reason that massive amounts of points or polys selected would have to bust the info pallet. It's all in the design execution: points or polys displayed in layer folders, an abort key command that stops the computation and display(hell, introduce that feature through the whole interface!). As for what would be the use for all that info, I can think of many. How about expanding the info pallet interface to contain a super 3d calculator gizmo? Tell Modeler you want to randomly select 20% of points in your file, calculate distance between geometry, etc.

Regarding the info pallet's surface short-cut: that was my point exactly, so give me some love, baby! It currently does not provide enough functionality to be extremely useful, so I never use it. You ask, "in what way is the q button (assign surface) not easier?"--well, it is. I'm a believer in helpful redundancy though. It's a time-saver and improves the flow of the application.

Regarding the greyed-out select by surface item(statistics). I've seen it come up with Newbies on these boards and I've seen it when I'm teaching lightwave. It's still a small sampling, but it appears to be a block for people. Heck, there's a lot of poly statistics in the same floating pallet that when greyed out are non-selectable. I can see where it's confusing.

But I'm quibbling over details. My original point was that you can jump into the app anywhere and find rough edges, The info and statistic window are just where I happened to land. Moreover, I haven't seen much buffing and sanding being done by Newtek since 6.5. I would love more attention paid to making tools that function well, then leave you in a useful place afterwards. That's why having 2 gradients already on the map display would be better than one. Isn't that the definition of gradient anyway?--the transition between 2 or more destination values? If you are telling me that most other LW users only use one entry point, then I guess we'll have to disagree.

My workflow has more hot keys than lice on a monkey. LW's fundamentals work well and I can really get humming some times. It's the cumulative effect of the slowdown's I'm talking about. And would love to hear What kinks and possible sollutions other members might have.

More on some possible fixes that don't even involve the apps later.

mbaldwin
09-21-2002, 07:02 PM
hey, also for inspiration, check out the music application 'Live' at www.ableton.com. It's a computer application that's designed to be played like an instrument! With that sort of performance pressure, Ableton really had to apply a game-designers aesthetic to the functionality of the app. It holds together well. Download a demo and have fun!

It's hardly an apples-to-apples comparison, but maybe it's a useful brainstorming exercise for Newtek: what if LW was use as a realtime application? Maybe to provide visuals to a rave party? Forgeting about the limitations in this scenario regarding computation times, what UI changes would be made for the sake of urgency and flow?

rock
09-22-2002, 06:50 PM
Agree with all the posts above. One example is the layout 1-level undo. Another is the rendering of only the camera view. You should not work differently in modeler and layout. There are a lot of little things that Newtek needs to address.

In software, usually when the interface is not well thought out, the underlying technologies are also not well done.

Rock

CIM
09-22-2002, 07:28 PM
One of the reasons LW is used so much is because it's so well thought out. Sure, it has some interface problems, but so do all other program--most way worse than LW.

There are scripts for the one undo and only camera view renders already, so stop bitching and use those if you have to have them.

LyonHaert
09-23-2002, 07:27 AM
MK2:
one of the all-important elements of good workflow in LW is thinking ahead.So you know allways exactly what you are going to do?you took me out of context and then exaggerated. i gave an example of thinking ahead, and no variation of omniscience was mentioned. and as for the question, my answer is yes. before i open a tool dialog or whatever, i already know exactly what i'm going to use it for and what i'm going to use it on. you probably do, too, or else you have a really, really, really good concept thereof.

when i opened that texture panel in the surface editor that day i created that wood texture, i knew i wanted to mix a few fractal layers together with different types and settings, so i did that. it somewhat resembled wood, so i refined it. however, texturing with procedurals is quite different from using the info panel, as i'm sure you're well aware of.

I took the Info panel as example because mbaldwin took it... i can talk about other stuff if you like.and i'm sure there are some items you would bring up that i would agree with. and in no way did i intend to imply that you did not know how to work in LW. however, the info panel is awkward to criticize because it is relatively insignificant in comparison to worthier subjects. multiple undos in layout, for example, would be nice. on the other hand, there are workarounds to everything.



mbaldwin:
as far as redundancy goes, i usually tend to agree. but, as far as the surface textbox in the info panel goes, i'd also be ok with its removal. i just don't use it.

Regarding the info pallet, there's no reason that massive amounts of points or polys selected would have to bust the info panel.i didn't really say anything about it busting. i only mentioned that it slows down (even with just 2300 points, on my PC anyway). my main point was that it is not useful to manage so many points at once. and you don't need an abort button if you select reasonably manageable groups of points ;)

That's why having 2 gradients already on the map display would be better than one. Isn't that the definition of gradient anyway?--the transition between 2 or more destination values? If you are telling me that most other LW users only use one entry point, then I guess we'll have to disagree.yes, at least two keys in a gradient is the definition of a gradient. however, i think it is best to let the user do that defining, because the possibilities of gradients are numerous enough that choosing an arbitrary final key would fit only a fraction of those possibilities. my comments on single-key gradients is more hypothetical than anything else, but it is still a possibility. the only thing all possible graidents share is that primary key.



in general:
as far as newbies having trouble with some things: been there, done that. i used to be a noob, too, but i have always respected LW's steep learning curve and its rough edges. i love it, actually. it's rebellious, unconventional, unorthodox. LW is the underdog, and that's just one of its aspects that makes using it so enjoyable for me. yes, i'm one person who would not change much about LW's interface.

but, among the few things i would change: a way to tab around to different open panels. following the previous suggestion, and using the statistics panel as my example, a way to select a particular row of statistics and a key for the - and a key for the +. and probably a key for enacting the drop-down, too (for selecting which surface/point-group/part). i'd probably want to do this with the keypad's arrows (num-lock off), and would be quite useful if these were treated separate from the actual arrow buttons.

gee, i guess it's kindof obvious that i'm a kb shortcut junkie :)

anyway, i need to go do some actual work now. i'm spending too much time here, ahahaha. what would i do without arguments? :wavey:

mbaldwin
09-23-2002, 04:01 PM
Lyonhaert,

No argument intended! In fact, I have the same jones for a way to cycle through menu options via a hot key. Any tool with a pull-down menu would be a good candidate. It would provide a handy short-cut for the professional, and would also provide the side benefit of exposing less-known tools to those still learning the application. I admit I'd even experiment more with the falloff controls(everything under the modify tab) if there was a quick way to get to it.

I also share your fatigue with the endless debate on merging the apps. It's almost pointless to discuss the merits of 1 app or 2, cause the success of the merge would have everything to do with how it was executed. It also confuses the real issue, I think, which is making the 3d workflow less rigid. LW works great if you follow Newteks intended progression, but if you want to adjust geometry to your camera match, or tweak points/polys while working on a Layout deformation, It's hard to back up into modeler efficiently. Hell, make 7 different applications if it's more useful to the enduser. But this is all speculation. It will be interesting to see what direction Ntek takes with their product.

CIM:
'mean and green' is right. you're consistently mean and dismissive. I can only imagine the word 'green' refers to your novice status in the world of productive conversation. I mean you no ill will, but your alpha male behavior is a little tiring, so stop urinating in the corners of every post you frequent. No one is asking you to mark your territory.
I would love to hear some constructive specifics to your replies, but instead you keep baiting with phrases like 'stop your bitching'. Sure, there's 3rd party workarounds to LW limitations, but as expressed elsewhere, it's a double-edge sword. Also, the point of this thread was wanting Ntek to coordinate better as a general contractor and make the interface work better. I'll say it again, I like Lightwave. I might even like you if I met you, that is if you weren't trying to pick a fight.

DotPainter
09-24-2002, 02:24 AM
I think that some of the interface issues have to do with the way some features were originally plugins that were incorporated into the app as built in plugins. Some apps like Maya, of course have a very deep scripting language that allows for smoother integration of plugins vs Lightwave's system. For example, messiah is supposedly completely built using its scripting system, which implies a powerful set of low level features accessible from the scripting api.

Actually, it is interesting to note the number of features that are really just pre-bundled plugins vs the number of features actually in the core itself. Many people have their own preferences, etc and I am certainly not against that, however, there are some valid technical issues that come about due to this situation. Many have to do with intellectual rights to the plugins/apps themselves and how that affects future development of a particular feature. For example, depending on how a plugin is aquired, it may still be the intellectual property of the owner, who is solely responsible for its upkeep.

And as for the overall app itself, it is only because modeller and layout started as two totally separate apps that we have the separation today, that along with the fact that the individual developers were the ones doing most of the work maintaining their respective pieces. So, I cannot necessarily agree that the separation of the two was due to some high brow design concept from the software engineers at newtek. People should remember the history of the app and try and understand the technical impact of this before feeling somehow personally slighted by someone else's ideas.

So what it comes down to is that this app we all love has been put together from separate pieces and there is no "core" to speak of. This is the real reason so many things work the way they do. A core implies that all of the basic components: rendering, modelling and animation are all parts of a library of routines that can be called on at a higher level to implement a particular piece of functionality in the application (I mean more than generic math functions like tan(), sin() and etc). I believe that if Newtek does change the way Lightwave is put together and creates a true "core", it may be to make it easier on everyone, both plugin developers and end users in the long run. Not saying that they would or should, but if they do, that may be the likely reason. :D

vorlon
09-24-2002, 03:04 AM
I just downloaded menithing's menu layout, he organizes the interface much more streamlined than the default, very useful. I basically used meni's interface as a starting point to further customize to my needs.

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