The 2.8 Release is going to be a big step forward for Blender. If you follow Blender Development you already know how features like Eevee, Workspaces, and the Asset Management Engine will greatly increase how useful Blender will be.
There is one feature that hasn’t been talked about as much, and that feature is Application Templates. This was introduced in the 2.79 release and allows developers to configure blender to do something specific really well.
Read this post if you would like to know more about application templates.
Blender Pro is an application template that was created to not only make blenders interface easier to use, but more importantly make it more efficient for advanced users.
This is still in development but can be installed into Blender 2.79. The rest of this article will describe how it it currently works as well as explain goals for future development.
The 3D Viewport
The 3D viewport is one of the most important space types in blender, so displaying as much of it as possible allows you better focus on your design.
There are two shelves docked on the left and right of the interface. These interfaces are typically accessed with the T and N keys, and allows us to store the majority of of the commands and properties that need to be accessed.
The Main File Header
In 2.8, Blender will include a header that allows you to access common file commands like open, and save. As well as tabs to switch between different work spaces.
The main file header is still in development and will be available in 2.8
The Tool Shelf
The Tool Shelf currently stores tools for the current selection mode, but the tools that are displayed in Object Mode are not used that often because most of Blenders commands are accessed with hotkeys.
These tools have been moved to the header giving the user one location to find all of the available commands, and the hot key associated with it.
While in Sculpt or Texture Paint Mode these interfaces will still be displayed, as they are very useful.
Now that the tool shelf is free while in object mode we can display common types of data. This is information that you would typically access in the properties interface or in the outliner.
Scene – The scene tab displays all of the scenes in the file and the ability to create, remove, and edit the properties of the active scene.
The background images have also been moved here as well.
World – The world tab displays all of the worlds in the file, the ability to switch the active world, and the ability to access the common properties of the world.
Since the process of including an HDR world environment is time consuming there is a simple command that allows you to select an HDR and have it automatically create the node setup.
Layers – Layers are going to be completely redesigned in 2.8 so this is going to change drastically, but for now this displays the layer manager add-on.
Objects – It’s helpful to be able to see a list of all of the objects in your scene, but this interface also includes the ability to add objects using the standard add object menu as well as accessing your object library.
Groups – The Groups tab allows you to select a group from your library and append that to your scene. You can also create groups in this interface by selecting the objects you want to make a group and clicking the Make Group from Selection button.
Once a group is selected in the list you will be able to see the list of objects assigned to that group in the list below.
Materials – All of the scenes materials are displayed here as well as the ability to add one from your library. Once you select a material from the library you can use the assign the material by selecting an object.
For more information about the library management features. Read this article:
The Properties Shelf
The properties shelf is located on the right side of the 3D viewport and can be accessed with the ‘N’ Hotkey. By default, the majority of the properties that are stored in this interface are settings for the 3D viewport.
Since these aren’t accessed on a regular basis, the viewport settings have been moved to a dialog box in the view drop down menu.
Since we have removed a bunch of interface elements from the properties shelf we can now use this specifically to hold the properties for the currently selected object.
These properties are typically stored in the properties space.
As you can see in the image above the number of tabs that need to be displayed has been reduced. This was done by combining the modifiers, particles, and physics interface.
Particles and Physics are applied to objects just like modifiers, so including them in the modifiers tab simplifies the interface.
There is still more development that needs to be done to include all of the needed settings, but with a bit more work the interface can be displayed in an intuitive way.
Some modifiers can be assigned a texture. Rather than having a separate texture panel, the properties for the texture can be included in the same interface.
Use Dialog Pop-ups
In order to not overwhelm new users and to streamline the interface for advanced users. Pop-up dialog boxes are used to store properties that aren’t accessed on a regular basis.
For example the Render settings that typically take up a good portion of the interface, have been moved to the render drop down menu.
Moving them to a dialog box cleans up the interface.
Moving Forward – The Next Steps
Blender Pro is in very early development, and will continue to be developed along side 2.8.
This article just covered the default work space. There still needs to be work done for the Animation, Scripting, Compositing, and Texturing spaces.
Check back on this website for future updates, and please let me know your thoughts about this. If you have any ideas or something that you want included in this project then let me know.