I recently started a Blender theme for Softimage users and the Softimage community as well as the Blender community, have been very supportive. I can only imagine how frustrating is to board a new software like Blender without help on it´s natural workflow, you can easily get lost in the interface, specially if you have to memorize an average of 100 shortcuts to make things run smoothly.
I´m creating this post with the aim to collect uniform feedback so we could agree on a better development for the Blender Softimage Theme (Softimage MOD theme). I didn´t want to name it otherwise considering Softimage MOD tool is still available from CNET (and yes, you can still use that one in 2017 with the exception of export restrictions and render). Softimage MOD tools on VALVE still has a healthy keyword seach on google and up to date can be associated with Blender´s Softimage MOD theme. In a social´s era, that is what we need to keep the hashtag #LongLiveSoftimage running.
There are two angles I want to present to you and this will better define our goals and aims:
The first model
Softimage MOD theme can be used with any version of Blender with native shortcut keys and it has an enhanced performance with the mouse interaction, elements and settings.
This approach has modified certain shortcut keys to avoid conflicts with Blender´s native shortcuts and functions, and has created new ones as alternatives to invoke special functions and menus. This is 80% cosmetics (colors, panels) and 20% modded keys and interaction.
Advantages: We can keep up with all versions of Blenders and this is quicker to develop and improve. Simply apply the theme, setup the keylayout, run your scene and you´re basically ready to start on Blender.
Disadvantages: I´m doing a lot of guessowork in the source code, and I´m reaching far deep into the Blender community to ask for stuff that should and could be improved. Blender 2.8 will bring new API and stuff that 2.79 is deprecating. We are not ready for newshortcut keys or alternative GUI calls. 🙁
The second model
Softimage MOD theme could be directly implemented into Blender to run as part of a distribution. This would require a dedicated GIT branch and some powerful approvals from the up floor (a.k.a the Blender Insititute). And the reason for that approval is because modded copies of Blender from “bad” people were being sold in certain countries as “new software” (2012-2015) and they even trained people to cash in on those modded Blender version. That´s bad ethics. Deep and sad stuff. We don´t want that.
What we want is to add functionality to the code, implementing good workflow practices like we are accostumed on Softimage. People really needs to know that SI was a very friendly and intuitive program at the time. But now Pie menus, sculpting tools, alternative external input devices and data have grown over time so we want to take advantage on Blender´s core code with the speed and friendliness of Softimage. Core key functions will be overwritten and basically we would identify the software strenghts on each of it´s layouts immediately upon opening Blender.
Advantages: We can re-develop stuff from the ground up. The api in Blender is well documented and up to date. A dedicated GIT is needed and programmers could dig and KNOW what they are doing once we consolidate a team to do that. Basically we can re-write some of the source code to enhance Blender.
Disadvantages: Finding solid C++ programers to do this stuff for the love of art. Even if this gets funded through a Patreon account (most likely we would need to collect money monthly with goals) chances are that the more people in the programming crew the more this project could delay months until a stable install. Version 2,8 is just around the corner and new libraries (graphical and processor ones) will be implemented and all the effort would get lost or deprecated in branch 2.79.
Conclusions: Let´s start the debate! Please comment below on what is the best alternative to have an alternative open source software capable of Realtime viewport options, PBR native shaders and (soon enough) 2D animation tools for production ready. Thank you very much.
Finally here´s a quick demo on how this is working at the moment (poster pic is for a NPR contest here):
SOFTIMAGE MOD THEME 1.0.0 LOG
2017/10/14 – Tackled the icon.svg set. Added code for Trex primitive and other necessary icons for UI.
2017/10/13 – Application template installed! Now you will choose XSI MOD theme from Splash screen (default behavior on Blender 2.8!)
2017/10/6 – Redesign UI icons.
2017/10/2-5 – Reset shortcut keys. “X” is binded in too many parameters internally to be rewired. Transform shortcuts reverted to Blender´s default.(A.k.a: Blender works that way, RNA-wired: RNAW).
2017/9/30 – Shader tree and nodes colors made to match XSI theme.
2017/9/27 – First test package for addon implemented. Keys, Layouts, Splash interaction works.
2017/9/21 – Softimage MOD splash screen added.
2017/9/20 – Testing cascading menus
2017/9/19 – Camera lens correspond to that of XSI
2017/9/18 – Shortcut layout X-C // V cannot be mapped.