Thursday, May 3, 2012

Motion Paths GUI Cleanup

Over the past few months or so, it has come to my attention that the Motion Paths GUI had a number of issues which were confusing many people. For a few weeks, I've had a set of half-completed changes sitting around in my local repository for improving this situation, but had been stalled by a combination of the shorter release cycles and a heavy workload. However, last night I finally got around to finishing up this work (for a break/change), and committed it to SVN.

Highlights of the Redesign:
  • Cleaner distinction between "settings used for baking" and "settings used for displaying". As per the original goals for the 2.5 Properties Editor and Toolbar, this has meant that settings affecting the next bake are presented as part of the relevant operators instead of being displayed in the Properties Editor (beside the "In Range" settings).
  • Active display of the frame range of the baked path that the active entity (object/bone) is using. This should hopefully help to clarify why the path may stop getting drawn (the "cache" wasn't built to include those components)
  • Calculate Paths operator now prompts about the range to bake. This should be easier than going through a whole bunch of different objects/bones ensuring that they are all set to use the right ranges. When combined with several bugfixes, most notably, the bugfix which means that existing paths don't need to be cleared before being recalculated with a different frame range, this makes using paths much easier.
  • "Update" button is a convenience feature to avoid going through the popup baking settings. (EDIT: after writing this, I found a little bug here which I'll look into when I get time over the next few days). 

Now, there are some rough edges that need refining and which I'm not satisfied with yet. For example:
  • I haven't found a nice way to deal with those checkboxes yet. Nothing quite looks right.
  • Names of things probably need a second look.  
Anyways, this was just a quick writeup to draw attention to this. Please take a look, and let me know if this is better/worse or where some tweaks are still needed.



  1. Having just started using these removed buttons recently, I initially found their disappearance to be a downgrade and annoying, but I get what you want to achieve - the action buttons in properties carry over from the 2.49 habits we want to break.

    My first thought was why remove the buttons and give no clue as to how to show the paths - that is why I went to the paths properties in the first place. That could be a common complaint as animators find the buttons gone. Once you get the idea of what operator you need to search for it's not too bad as it isn't really something you access repeatedly for long periods. Searching for operators by name is something I know about but isn't really a habit I have gotten into using.

    One thought I had was to have a checkbox in the properties to "display paths" which would trigger calculating them when turned on and remove them when turned off.

    1. Hey,

      Thanks. That was very useful.


  2. There is actually a bugreport in relation to this:

  3. Hey, I've made a little patch in the tracker (see above). Maybe you can have a look?