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Blender 2.8: Naming Conventions
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Description

In Blender 2.8, we are making some slight changes to naming conventions used throughout the app.

Rationale

By default in Blender, we use the English language. In any language, words have certain meanings.

Language is a communication tool, and the only way language can work, is if we adhere to the same meanings. Using wrong or misleading language serves nobody - it only makes simple things unnecessarily difficult to understand and learn.

So, we want to favour unambiguous, plain and standard language. In Blender, there are some examples where we simply aren't using the correct terms for things, and we want to fix that.

Here's a list of the changes:

Draw -> Display

Status: Done
In the context of information shown to the user, eg. Draw All Edges, Draw Type, Draw Method etc.

Draw: (Oxford) Produce (a picture or diagram) by making lines and marks on paper with a pencil, pen, etc..

Display: (Oxford) Show (data or an image) on a computer, television, or other screen.

The word 'draw' for displaying information is fundamentally confusing in a graphics application which includes actual drawing tools. The word 'display' is clearer and unambiguous. This also means changes for common word combinations, eg:

Draw Type -> Display As
Status: Incomplete
Display As [Wireframe] is unambiguous and clear, whereas 'draw type' is not.

Properties (N key) -> Sidebar

Status: Done
It used to be ambiguous if you were referring to the Properties area vs the Properties Editor. For this reason, we've changed the convention so that we use 'sidebar' for the N-key area and 'Properties' for the Properties Editor.

Group -> Collection

Status: Done

This reflects the merging of the old Groups and Layers into something new. Blender's old Groups wouldn't actually behave like a grouped item in the scene, and so the term was misleading. 'Collections' makes it clear that items are simply part of a collection.

Translate & Grab -> Move

Status: Done

In the context of the tool in the toolbar that lets users alter the position of items.

Translate: (Oxford): Express the sense of (words or text) in another language -or- convert something or be converted into(another form or medium) Translate can also mean, in formal terms: (Oxford) move (a bishop or, in Scotland, a minister) to another

Grab: (Oxford) Grasp or seize suddenly and roughly -or- obtain or get (something) quickly or opportunistically

Move: (Oxford) [with object] change the place, position

The 'Translate' button in Blender could never translate between German and Spanish. The word is ambiguous and not plainly clear.

Using 'Grab' to mean moving something from A to B is simply not correct.

'Move' is both more plain and clear.

Before/After:

Manipulator -> Gizmo

Status: Done
Shorter, more standard term.

Grease Pencil -> Annotate

Status: Done

Annotate: (Oxford) Add notes to (a text or diagram) giving explanation or comment

Gives a better idea of what the tool is for, rather than a reference to an object. This name also had to change because of the new Grease Pencil objects in 2.8.

X-Ray -> In Front

Status: Done
Blender 2.8 has an actual X-Ray feature now in the Shading popover which lets you look through objects. However, objects also have an X-Ray option which simply displays them on top of other objects. Using the same term for two different things here is confusing, and 'X-Ray' is not a good description of displaying in front.

Lamp -> Light

Status: Done

Lamp: (Oxford) A device for giving light, either one consisting of an electric bulb together with its holder and shade or cover
Light: (Oxford) A source of illumination

A sun can't be a lamp, but it is a light. 'Light' is a better generic term here.

Spin -> Lathe

Status: Not Yet

Spin: (Oxford) turn or whirl round quickly
Lathe: (Oxford) A machine for shaping wood, metal, or other material by means of a rotating drive which turns the piece being worked on against changeable cutting tools.

The Spin tool in Blender doesn't spin at all. 'Spin' implies movement. This is simply not the correct term. 'Lathe' is the correct term here.

Duplication -> Instancing

Status: Done
In the context of Particle instances, Collection instances, and the old DupliVerts/DupliFaces, which also creates instances.

Instances are a unique feature that saves memory, which isn't communicated by the term 'duplication'.

Before/After:

Actually duplicating objects and items should still use the term 'duplicate'.

Subsurf -> Subdiv

Status: Done

As a shorthand for Subdivision Surfaces, Subdiv is correct, Subsurf is not. 'Subsurf' is especially confusing because it sounds like Subsurface Scattering, which is something very different.

Center Points -> Origins

Status: Done

This is not a name change. Just to point out that we aren't being consistent here. Sometimes we refer to the origin point as 'center points', although mostly we refer to them as 'Origins'. We should use the same name everywhere. 'Center points' is also a bad name because, obviously, it's most often not in the center.

Circle Select -> Paint Selection

Status: Not Yet

Circle Select does not select circles. It doesn't even let you drag a circle around items to select them. What this tool is, is a way to paint selections, so that's what we should call it.

Border Select -> Box Select or Rectangle Select

Status: Done
Oxford: Border: 1: a line separating two countries. 2: the edge or boundary of something

Border Select does not select borders. It selects everything inside a box or rectangle.

Shape Key -> Morph Target

Status: Not Yet
The term 'Shape Key' is not a good word. It implies keyframing, which isn't what it does. This feature allows you to define a set of shapes to morph between. So, 'Morph Target' is a better term.

Border -> Region

Status: Done
This applies to Render Border, Clipping Border and other related features.

These features are not about rendering or selecting borders, but creating region for selection or rendering.

Ornaments -> Extras

Status: Done
Oxford: Ornament: A thing used or serving to make something look more attractive but usually having no practical purpose
An ornament is a superfluous, useless, decorative element.

Details

Type
Design

Event Timeline

There are a very large number of changes, so older changes are hidden. Show Older Changes

Oh, I didn't saw it. Cool stuff. 👍

I agree with all of these. Very good choices.

Any special reason why the Sphere primitive is called "UV Sphere" instead of just Sphere like in every other 3D app?
Quite confusing..

There is a reason. Currently, Blender ships with two types of sphere primitive, a UV Sphere and an Icosphere. These are mathematical terms for ways of creating spheres in 3D geometry. In the future, we may add a third type of sphere, Quad Sphere, which is a way to create spheres out of quads.

That said, it’s possible we could combine these primitive types and present them as options. The user would then select Sphere in the menu, and in the redo panel be presented with various sphere types.

Alright then. It's just that people might think it's somehow directly related with UV mapping.

And yes, combining these is a good idea, c4d did that too and it's pretty neat.

In 2.8 there's a "Camera lock" subpanel of the "view" panel in the sidebar, but as I understand it, two of it's tree options don't involve the active camera at all but just the view, I find it a bit confusing: "Lock to object" and "Lock to 3d cursor" under "Camera Lock" seem to imply the camera is the one to be locked. Maybe "View lock" would be better, since the only option actually involving the camera ("Lock Camera to view") does mention it, though maybe some other more comprehensive name could be found.

Tomas: yes that makes sense.

Blender's Shape Keys sounds like another item fit for change. Here's how other software names them:

Unity - blend shapes
Maya - blend shapes
Godot - blend shapes
3dsmax - morpher (modifier)
Unreal - morph targets
Modo - morphs
Lightwave - morphs

Re: Border Select -> Box Select or Rectangle Select

Would we also rename other operators that use the word Border?

  • Clipping Border
  • Render Border
  • Clear Render Border
  • Clear Viewer Border
  • Zoom to Border

Re: Shape Key -> Blend Shape

The rationale for renaming isn't quite correct since Shape keys can be used as key-frames (disable 'Relative').

Also, the term Blend is a bit overloaded in Blender, also, you can: blend blend shapes in a your blend file :) (See Blend from Shape operator).

Don't have a strong opinion here but if we rename at all, I'd choose a name with least confusion with other areas of Blender (Morph Target?).

Hi. Just a quick suggestion.
For selection tools, "Rectangle Select" is correct, but when it comes to Render/viewport visibility, the most common used name is "Region".
So maybe you should consider renaming those to: Render Region, Clipping Region, Clear Render Region etc...

By the way, those are very useful operators, maybe they should be more exposed in the UI.

EDIT: About the Shape Key, if Blend Shape is not possible, I'd be okay with, Shape Morph or Pose Morph. 👍

Yep, I agree that rectangle select is a standard name for it, but in context of all the others listed, "Region" is the most appropriate name.

The reason for this is that while selections usually offer more shapes (circle, lasso, paint, rectangle), clipping, render, viewer and zoom regions are always bound to be rectangular, so it doesn't need to be said explicitly.

Morph Targets are also fine, and avoids the double use of ‘blend’.

Render Region I think is ok, because the fact that it is a rectangle is implicit. You would not be able to use other shapes for that anyway :)

For selection, we offer a few ways to make selections based on different shapes, so the fact that it is a box or rectangle is important.

One very unfortunate name in 2.8 is "Ornaments" in Overlays pop-over menu. Ornament refers to something very specific: https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1920&bih=1058&ei=6jqzW7LsFIWQrgTfjpToAw&q=ornament&oq=ornament&gs_l=img.3..35i39k1j0l9.2998.3656.0.3943.11.11.0.0.0.0.125.732.5j3.8.0....0...1ac.1.64.img..3.8.727.0...0.6uDX_eHTVbA

What that toggle actually toggles in viewport is referred to as "Helpers" or "Dummies" in other 3D packages. For example "Camera helper", "Light helper" etc...

If "Helpers" or "Dummies" would be too ambiguous, then "3D Icons" would be yet another appropriate name for that toggle.

Ludvik: yes, I agree - 'helpers' is a better term here I think.

An ornament is something decorative but usually useless.

I would suggest that the word "Movie" (ex. Movie Clip Editor) in Blender was changed to ex. "Video" or just "Clip".

A movie is a feature-length fiction film you would go to the cinema and watch, not a source clip.

So when using it like this: "Sequencer > Add > Movie" and then you actually add a "video source clip", is like saying a "word" is a "page-turner"

(Unless of course, your source material is a movie :-) ).

The problem with the term "Helper" and it's synonym "Assistant", is it is very vague and sounds like it might do something (allow you to perform tasks more easily, interactive or expose functionality).

In this case they don't, they only display extra details.

Campbell: You are not wrong, but think of the context.

Overlays -> Ornaments sounds like you can add useless decoration in the viewport, whereas Overlays -> Helpers sounds like exactly what it is, in that context. You already know it's an overlay.

You could also call it 'Visual Aids' although that also sounds like Visual AIDS, which is bad.

Another option is 'Extras'. A few well known apps use this term.

Technically they are handles from the Oxford Dictionary Handle: (Noun) The part by which a thing is held, carried, or controlled. which is what they do after all.
They provide a way to select or manipulate abstract objects that have no real geometry or representation of their own

It might also sound vague and uninformative though, and may falsely suggest bezier curve handles. Manipulators is another possibility, though it may also allude to gizmos

Other possibilities, Trims: Decoration; especially, decoration placed along edges or borders or Adornments
I'd be totally fine with either helpers or ornaments

I think either of these is fine, and all of them more descriptive than 'ornaments'

  1. Helpers
  2. Handles
  3. Extras

Side note for the recent units commit: meter, centimeter is only the correct spelling in the US, everywhere else it should be metre, centimetre...

A meter is a device for measuring things not the metric unit of length.

From Wikipedia:

"Metre is the standard spelling of the metric unit for length in nearly all English-speaking nations except the United States and the Philippines which use meter. Other Germanic languages, such as German, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages likewise spell the word meter.

Measuring devices (such as ammeter, speedometer) are spelled "-meter" in all variants of English. The suffix "-meter" has the same Greek origin as the unit of length."

AFAIK we use US English in Blender? We also don't call it 'colour' or 'randomise'. Likewise, we should stick to 'meter' and not 'metre'. Same for 'centre' vs 'center'

As a native British English speaker I wouldn't mind making all of Blender British English. Oi mate, ello ello. Nah, just having a laugh. I think we should stick to US English.

Meters and Centimeters is what I am used to. In fact, this is the first time in 27 years of my life that I got to know that "metre" and "centimetre" are actually valid words, and not a typo. I fact, even google doesn't think so, and considers it a typo :D :

Regarding the "Ornaments" discussion. If "helpers" causes issues, then let's try "3D Icons". That's also very descriptive.

Ludvik: I guess you are not British then. In any case, Blender uses US English, and so our spelling should follow US English spelling. It's that simple.

Ah, if the convention is US English then that's fine. A little annoying but fine :)

Campbell: You are not wrong, but think of the context.

Overlays -> Ornaments sounds like you can add useless decoration in the viewport, whereas Overlays -> Helpers sounds like exactly what it is, in that context. You already know it's an overlay.

Even in this context, we toggle gizmo's which are interactive (and not *exactly* an overlay).

You could also call it 'Visual Aids' although that also sounds like Visual AIDS, which is bad.

Another option is 'Extras'. A few well known apps use this term.

Prefer 'Extras' over 'Helpers', while vague it's not misleading,

Although it does have the down side of suggesting showing the camera or lamp is something 'Extra' (not something that's default which users expect to always see).

Part of the confusion AFAICS is this option is hard to summarize, it's basically this meaning (when negated):

Disable most non-rendered guides which interfere with viewing the final result except for those which are needed for editing & animation (selection origins for eg).

It's a light-weight way to disable overlays, without making the view-port unusable. However we name, it's an approximation and not something you can fit a dictionary definition. An issue with using general terms is we could have buttons named the same elsewhere which do different things.

i think "Extras display" will be more fitting.

Ok, 'extras' it is then. Updated.

Renamed:

  • ornaments -> extras
  • border select -> box select

We should also rename the Cursor to Center entry in the Snap menu (Shift+S), to something like Cursor to World Origin, or just Cursor to World but it's less descriptive. But currently Cursor to Center is confusing, as it suggests the center of the objects, or selection, it's not clear.

@Campbell Barton (campbellbarton) I could go ahead change it in the menus but I guess the operator itself should also be renamed, if we agree on a name.

bpy.ops.view3d.snap_cursor_to_center()

Pablo: completely agree with those.

“Cursor to Center” is such ambiguous wording. Which center? The fact the it turns out to be the world origin you’d never guess.

Suggestion to change Spin -> Revolve

  • Revolve (oxford): Move in a circle on a central axis
  • Revolve is a verb, whereas Lathe is a noun

Should we rename 'operator' to 'command' ?

Noticed some of the UI docs refer to commands, but AFAICS this wasn't proposed/agreed on, (P835 for reference).

They'd still be operators in the code bpy.types.Operator, bpy.ops.*, etc

@Campbell Barton (campbellbarton)

I think we should use the term 'Operator' when referring to the internal implementation.

We should use 'Command' as a term for actions, like Remove Doubles. Subdivide etc, which take effect immediately. We can then use 'Tools' or 'Active Tools' to describe something that stays active. Both tools and commands use operators under the hood to perform modifications.

rndmnm added a subscriber: rndmnm.EditedNov 26 2018, 6:03 PM

I'm actually strongly against "Lathe" .
First of all, the word it self isn't as understandable as it may seem. Someone using english as second language might actually not learn this word for years, as it is only used in context of woodworking or machining.
Second of all, I think words should be used in a 3D modelling software context. In this case the tool is creating a Surface of Revolution- a mathematical term. Therefore most CAD software (Fusion, AutoCAD, Solidworks) uses the name "Revolve" for those tools.
Even if "Revolve" might not be a simple enough term for the tool, it still sets a precedent to "Spin", as a middle ground for CAD users and artist .

@William Reynish (billreynish) ok, so "Operator Search" should be renamed to "Command Search", "Repeat Last Action" -> "Repeat Last Command" ?

@Campbell Barton (campbellbarton): I would think so, yes. Although with those things they really are referring to the underlying operator in a way. It's debatable. No particular strong opinion.

@rndmnm: We could go with Revolve instead of Lathe or Spin.

@Campbell Barton (campbellbarton) this space before "Only Origins" is it an intentional one, or is it a Design bug?

If it was intentional, in the design "point of view" it would be better to align it just like the others.
IMO though,
Greeting.

Chiming in on the Spin / Lathe question.

Appreciate it's difficult to come up with an unequivocal name for what the tool does. Currently I see it's called 'Screw' and this seems worse than 'Spin'. Screw implies tapering and directional movement perpendicular to the axis along which the modifier operates and an implicit confusion with an actual screw (which the tool doesn't create). Screw (Spin/Lathe) doesn't create 'screws'.

Not entirely keen on Lathe as that's a piece of machinery that you use to 'turn' a cylindrical block of stuff into a desired profile. It will be obscure to someone without an engineering/woodworking background and isn't quite right anyway. Also 'Turn' wouldn't work as it will be confused with rotate. There's nothing about the modifier that applies the desired final profile to any object in the scene.

What the tool does is take a desired final profile and an axis of rotation and creates a cylindrical version the profile around that axis. So perhaps 'Cylindrify' would work? Appreciate it could be difficult for non-English speakers at first but it does go well with Solidify. And yes, you can choose less than /more than 360 degree rotation but I think that's splitting hairs.

Also the current Icon implies two axis rotation and translation which is a confusing visual metaphor. A dotted axis with the classic vase / face illusion would be better as that's a thing I think most people would recognise qv. http://www.kidsmathgamesonline.com/images/pictures/illusions/facesorvase.jpg

@Adrian Giddings (cunabula) Currently it's still called Spin. There's a 'Screw' modifier but that's something else.

'Cylindrify' is ok, although it's not a real word in use afaik.

'Lathe' is both a real and normal word, and pretty accurately describes what the tool does. It's also the standard term for this kind of operation. Even Wikipedia refers to this as 'lathe', see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lathe_(graphics)

The goal for these name changes, is to use real and standard words for things, rather than obscure and wrong ones.


I wonder if Only Origins would be more explicit if it were named "Positions Only".
"Only Origins" may falsely suggest we are changing object origins, by leaving the geometry static and moving the centers only.

"Positions Only" reflects much better what the option does, since scaling or rotating don't affect object scale or rotation, nor its geometry; only its coordinates in the scene.

Can we rename Select Sharp Edges to Select by Edge Angle? It should also probably be under Select by Trait as well since it is selecting according to a trait. It has nothing to do with edges that are Sharp, and having two meanings for the same word gets confusing.

Could we rename Brush Curve into something more functional? Currently it is just Curve, and in other 2d software it is referred differently like 'hardness' or 'shape' etc.