Blender - getting auto focus curves of selected channels and auto-hide unselected channels functionality
Meanwhile the thread I started at blender artist proposing better workflow for animators has grown into something productive.
Severin has implemented one of the features that I proposed. it got a lot of support from another ex-Maya animator Fahr.
The feature is to add the "Auto-focus curves of selected channel(s)" functionality in blender. It works like this:
1. First you enable it from the "view menu" (new entry)
2. Then you get this new behavior. Every time a channel or multiple channels are selected, Blender auto-focuses their curves.
The other ex-maya animator Fahr also requested that we add to the feature another useful behavior from Maya and some other 3d software- The ability to also "auto-hide unselected channel curves".
You see Blender by default makes the user manually hide the channel curves they dont want to see. As a result by default it shows all channel curves and you have to do a lot of manual clicking if you want to only see the channel curves that you are working on. When other channel curves are visible, they get in the way because you can accidentally select another curve or its keyframe while working. It also creates a lot of frustrating visual clutter in the graph editor. In contrast Maya shows only the curves that are of the selected channels.
So what happened was that Severin actually implemented those two features as one.
You can grab a blender build and try it out for yourself here:
I proposed some changes of course:
The patch was however met by a lot of opposition from two die hard blender animators/developers. I suggested that we split this into two auto-view features that are optional. And what ensued was a long conversation that turned the proposed new feature patch into a design task.
Trying to salvage what we have, and following on a suggestion from blender artist I proposed that we add both the auto-view behaviors and also have the same functionality triggered by holding a modifier key (as Cessen and Bassamk suggested). If you are an animator using blender and have in the past used Maya, surely you know why this feature is extremely useful and why forcing a modifier key would mean that it is no longer automatic. If so, please take the time and write down what you think at the blender artist thread. We need suggestions as to how to solve this problem.
Sometimes politics is part of it and you have to be careful. For example if you post any links to videos showing how a feature works in another 3d package, that is met with a lot of disapproval on the blender bug tracker. They take it as a literal request to make blender be like the other software. Instead what needs to be the case is explaining why feature X and Y is very useful and why it makes other software a better tool for the job. I tried to do that and it didn't seem to change their minds.
Solution to the fake user problem with Actions
At least that is something that I managed to get Aligorith to address and change with a lot of help from the blender artist community and some of the other blender developers. So in the end, blender devs do listen to their userbase. Even if we tend to get annoying and melodramatic at the forum some times. :)
X-sheet dock design - an alternative way to manage layers. Layer tagging
I took the time to create a quick mockup and explanation as to how it could work:
In any case, I always find it fun to make proposals to open source projects. More often than not it is very important the way you make it. Having a mockup certainly helps a lot to communicate the ideas. Having other software case examples does as well.