Confusing Link/Append interface
Closed, ResolvedPublic

Description

Hello,
I would like to get a more formal discussion going on how to address the following situation: the Link/Append workflow has been modified (the Append checkbox has been removed from the operator panel), but the panel and the button still show a Link/Append label.

As an alternative to bringing the checkbox back, I would propose to name the button and the panel according to the action chosen (Link OR Append). This will solve confusion and frustration for users not using the File... menu.

Any feedback is appreciated.

Details

Differential Revisions
D770: Separate operators for Link and Append.
Type
Design
Francesco Siddi (fsiddi) updated the task description. (Show Details)
Francesco Siddi (fsiddi) raised the priority of this task from to Needs Triage.
Francesco Siddi (fsiddi) set Type to Design.

Adding you both (Jonathan + Campbell) to discuss this, I think this is something to try to fix before release.

I don't support the decision taken time ago about removing the option to Link or Append. It only worsened the issue.

Additionally, it would help communication if we could have the Link/Append button in the file browser to actually display "Link" or "Append" if this is the case. If this is too complicated maybe we could try to find a way for the UI to help in that case. Bring back the Link | Append in the shape of a radio button? So is more prominent.

Open to ideas!

I think I missed some commits somewhere, what was actually changed with Link/Append? I just tested against 70a4942 and neither Link or Append (from the File menu) show anything in the Operator panel. It doesn't even register an operator: http://cl.ly/XDJy

Thomas Dinges (dingto) triaged this task as Normal priority.Aug 27 2014, 5:43 PM

@Jonathan Williamson (carter2422) Some time ago the "Link" checkbox on the sidebar was removed when Linking/Appending. If you use the shortcut to Link, or the shortcut to Append, the File Browser looks exactly the same and there is no way to tell them apart.

When we had the "Link" checkbox, you would know what you were about to do.

I vote to revert this change, bring back the checkbox for release, until we propose a better UI for Linking/Appending (also related to the Asset Manager project)

Oh well that's super crappy.

Seems to me there's a few options:

  1. Add radio button for choosing link or append
  2. Make panel and button context-senstive to the action chosen, such that it always correctly displays the right label
  3. Make Link and Append separate operators

The third option is pretty bad I suspect, since it'd likely add code duplication (assuming here). I feel that option 2 may be the best. At least in my own workflow I have never, that I can remember, used the checkbox to switch between link/append. I always specify the exact option I want from the menu or hotkey.

Actually, the third option is the most straight forward in the code. the duplication would only consist of a single function, as the exec and poll functions for the operator can still be used.

Alternatively, I think it might be possible to additionally set the operator name to Link only if linking and Append when appending. I suppose that is all that would be needed from the UI side.

I would prefer if the link option be brought back, it was very flexible and imo, clearer that way and the reason it was taken out never seemed really valid (some user not reading the manual)

best regards

Ok, I wrote patch to separate the operators in case the consensus is to not bring the link option back.

Let me know what you guys propose, I'll take a look Wednesday (in 3 days) latest.

Personally I prefer the Separate Operators option as these are really quite different tools that are not as interchangeable as they seem (in my opinion). For example, when linking there are currently settings displays that don't apply to appending, such as setting Relative or Absolute Path. This just muddies it.

Thanks everybody for discussing this! I think what @Jonathan Williamson (carter2422) suggest is a good enough solution (which is what @Andrea Weikert (elubie) implemented).

Personally I prefer the Separate Operators option as these are really quite different tools that are not as interchangeable as they seem (in my opinion). For example, when linking there are currently settings displays that don't apply to appending, such as setting Relative or Absolute Path. This just muddies it.

Somewhat true. I would like to point to something I observed with Fusion 360. Rhino 3D is great has many tools but for nearly each tool option they have a separate tool entry bloating up the menus. Fusion in contrast by logic combines tools into well lets say an ueber tool. And in my workflow I started to appreciate this a lot. Less searching - less scrolling ...

Link and append to a certain degree do different things. Appending is more an import function - while link just creates well a link, imports nothing.
But a linked data you can make local in Blender as well. Now currently I work a lot with Revit and architects and they either import DATA or link it dynamically into the scene. Both commands are called out differently.

Personally I would prefer link and append to be fused into a single command, but I am sure listing them separately will work well as well.

However what maybe should be considered is the order in the menu.
Currently it looks like this:

new open recovery stuff
save save as
preferences factory settings
append link
import export
external data

and I feel this might make more sense
new open
save save as
link append import export (should be one block because it deals with data transfers)
external data
preferences factory settings

preferences factory settings etc are buttons I always need to move my mouse over when I go to the export menu, something I do a lot because I heavily work in different cad applications while working on the same project.

preferences are really the least often used and thus should be at the end of the list.

hewi added a subscriber: hewi.Sep 4 2014, 2:30 PM
Andrea Weikert (elubie) closed this task as Resolved.Sep 4 2014, 7:40 PM
Andrea Weikert (elubie) claimed this task.

Closed by committing D770.