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Old 26th April 2010, 03:11 PM   #1
vortizee
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Default My unordered list of annoyances and suggestions

Interface:

Mouse scrollwheel works on scroll bar but not window with scrollbar.

The Windows method of shortcuts (underlined capital letters) does not work on Macs. The Enter key is not treated like the Return key for selecting a default dialog window option.

Hierarchy View contextual menu doesn't have a Delete, making deleting items a multi-step workaround. Hierarchy View parents such as Groups without object children aren't easy to select because Group Mode is required. That's too much trouble to go through just to clean up a hierarchy by deleting these remnants.

One should be able to name anything, including a group, directly in Hierarchy View, instead of going through the process of opening the Objects Property Window or selecting Group Mode. Double-clicking the name should select the text for renaming (with an Undo for mistakes).

Open an object or ac3d file to inspect it, close it and the dialog, "There are unsaved changes..." invariably appears. If there are no changes; no operations where anything is moved, there's no need for the nag. Inspecting 20 files becomes a pain because of the constant dismissal of this dialog box. If the file to be saved is identical to the opened file, there are no changes.

It's hard to find an item in a long hierarchy list. We don't need to preface each group by the word "group." Some other identification feature should suffice. Suggestions: blue widget triangle; white if the group is empty.

You cannot drag multiple items to move them or place them into an existing group although you can select multiple items. So it's drag one-by-one, one-by-one... and it might end up above or below the intended location because no underline cursor appears to indicate where it will end up.
Duplication:

When an item is duplicated, it appears outside its parent group instead of its current group. When an item is merged with another, either the first or second - by design - should control the hierarchical destination of the merged object; probably the first object selected.
Selection:

One can select an object within a group, deselect it by clicking it again. Select all objects within a group by clicking on the group, but NOT deselect it by clicking on the group again.

Selecting an object directly in 3D that is part of one group doesn't show in the Hierarchy View where the group open-close widget is closed, so it becomes difficult to find it in Hierarchy View. An object selected (or surface or vertex) when clicked in the modelling window should indicate the position of the parent object in the Hierarchy View by some method.
Hiding & Locking:

You can Lock an object and show its wireframe or hide it, but not lock it while showing it with its texture. This third lock mode would be useful. The locked object is fully visible but not selectable, operable or clickable in any way.
Welding:

The dialog box specifying how many vertices have been eliminated needs to dismissed - an extra useless step. Better indicate it somewhere in the toolbar, where it should persist until the next operation makes it obsolete. Welding 20 vertices becomes a pain by this useless extra step.
Combining Surfaces:

Click to select two surfaces to combine and it is easily done with the 'c' key shortcut. In fact, with a well-aimed click you can select two surfaces then hit the key to achieve your objective almost instantly. But if you mis-click and select only one of the triangles then hit the 'c' key you'll get a dialog box stating the obvious, which on a Mac can only be dismissed by clicking its "Ok" button. Far quicker would be a self dismissing message with a sound effect, which wouldn't interrupt a long series of combine or weld operations.
Object Alignment and General Snapping:

One should be able to align an object to another object by aligning one of its vertices with one of the vertices of the other while keeping the other's position fixed. All the app needs to do is move the object (x1-x2, y1-y2, z1-z2). Both objects currently move; frequently an undesired effect. Snap can be improved in the following ways:

Snap one object to another by selecting two vertices without moving the second object.

Snap one vertex to another without moving the second vertex.

Snap by distance without moving the second object's vertices.

Snap a group of vertices to one vertex of another object as follows: Select group of vertices; click one to drag the lot near another vertex. While clicked, if the distance of the vertex being dragged approaches another vertex really close, the objective is to snap those two together and not follow some grid or another limitation.

Alternatively, right-clicking one of a group of vertices shows an option to snap the group by this vertex to another vertex: "Snap by this vertex?" Select that and the cursor changes to indicate the new mode entered. When another vertex is clicked, the whole group moves by the amount of difference between the two vertices.

Snapping while keeping the second item in a fixed position is more important than moving two items together. This alone could be a massive timesaver.
Drape:

Draping a surface to an object projects each vertex until it collides with the surface of the object aligned to. This is the method used to join or cut two pieces: find the intersection along one orthogonal axis. This could be called a Drape operation. The Drape menu opens up a window of options: +X. -X, +Y, -Y, +Z, -Z. Each vertex is projected along that orthogonal until it collides with a surface of the object to be draped. The process is abandoned if any vertex doesn't intersect a surface.
Shrinkwrap:

Drape can also operate without a source surface. This would be more like the Union command on complex objects or a Create Convex Surface Object except that it would create concave surfaces too. An object is created of surfaces defined by the external vertices of a single complex object or group of objects: like throwing a bag of plastic around a bunch of objects then sucking the air out of it.
Texture:

Where an object is textured and a surface is deleted and recreated, the texture is sometimes lost. It should be able to figure the texture by the vertices that define adjoining textured surfaces. The algorithm should examine whether the vertices share textured surfaces and interpolate the texture mapping according to the shared vertices, at least start the mapping where those points lie in the texture map.

When examining the texture mapping of multiple items and one is in error, there is no way to select the item to remap it from the texture mapping window. You have to examine the texture of each item separately - an exhaustive process. In surface texturing mode, it would be nice if a contextual menu could select the surfaces in 3D mode that have been selected in the texture mapping mode.
Boolean Operations:

Let's just look at the Subract operation. Where a subtract operation is required, too many vertices are created more often than not. One way to avoid that is have an option to create intersection vertices only in lines connecting two vertices of the subtractor. This is, more often than not, the goal.

The choice of triangulating direction is frequently suboptimal. Basically, one of the intersection lines formed by connected vertices must find a vertex in the subtractee to triangulate with. The best choice is the most perpendicular vertex to that line that doesn't cross another intersection line. It often turns out that the third vertex selected leads to very fine triangles, which means an exhaustive combine, delete, re-triangulate.
Some of these may be impractical to implement. There may be better ways of doing things I've suggested that I don't know about. All I'll say is that I could have saved 200 hours in the last year if some of them were implemented.
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Old 27th April 2010, 12:02 AM   #2
vortizee
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Default Re: My unordered list of annoyances and suggestions

Virtual Axis:

Currently a surface or a vertex can be easily moved orthogonally, but when an it lies in a plane that is rotated, there is no way to move it perpendicularly to that plane other than by using Extrude by Normal. If one can move it by x,y,z axes, why not Move by Normal?

The way to do this is to use a modifier key to define a temporary set of axes by the normal itself. The virtual Y is the normal. Virtual x and z can be defined by being perpendicular to it but at what rotation to determine the origin? Read on:

The X or Z axis needs to be determined by examining the lines forming the plane's surface. The X axis direction (of rotation about the Y axis) is made perpendicular to one such line by suggestion (the line being highlighted). Moving the mouse may change the suggested rotation of the virtual X-axis by selecting another line defining the surface as that to take perpendicularity from. Commit the virtual axis by a right click and the virtual Y and X axes are defined, thus defining the third axis too. Now the surface of vertex can be moved orthogonally to the rotated plane.

Deselecting the surface cancels the virtual axes.
Extrude Vertices:

This could benefit from a virtual axes direction too. Extrude out or in by dragging one of the corners could be limited to the plane of one of the surfaces adjoining the vertex or surface defined by a group of selected vertices by similar methods described above.

This is not good enough. We should be able to extrude the vertices in or out by a distance, as dragging a corner of a selection of vertices would not result in a consistent distance where a shape is bidirectional (L shaped) and rotated. For example, this method would expand a shape along a rotated plane by a defined distance from each vertex, along a direction in-or-out averaged by the perpendicularity of two lines in the desired plane of expansion (ignoring any other lines not in the plane).
Hierarchy Highlighting:

Right clicking a group or object in Hierarchy View could give that object or group a highlight color in the Hierarchy View, signalling some importance defined by the user as required.
Hierarchy Hide:

When a Hierarchy List becomes unmanageably long, selecting a large number of objects and groups for Hiding in the hierarchy list could make it easier to manage navigating the list. They should collapse into a "+" widget. Clicking that cancels the collapse. Collapsed lists are temporary and ignored by the Save and Save As commands.
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Old 27th April 2010, 10:35 AM   #3
vortizee
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Default Re: My unordered list of annoyances and suggestions

Hierarchy Window Widgets:

Stare down a long list of objects in the Hierarchy Window and it's easy to tell what's hidden or not because the 'eye' icon differs markedly. It glares at you when an object is not hidden, and it's barely there when an object is hidden. The same cannot be said about the Lock icon: the difference is in the loop of the lock, with minimal contrast - it doesn't stand out. For consistency, the lock icon needs to be as dark as the eye icon signalling Unhidden or Unlocked, and as ephemeral as the same when signalling Hidden or Locked - i.e., barely there. But why not go further? Color, subtly used, could enhance the message.
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Old 27th April 2010, 11:15 AM   #4
Andy
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Default Re: My unordered list of annoyances and suggestions

This is very useful and interesting feedback - many thanks!
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Old 27th April 2010, 11:47 AM   #5
vortizee
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Default Re: My unordered list of annoyances and suggestions

My pleasure. I love this app.
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Old 27th April 2010, 12:15 PM   #6
vortizee
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Default Re: My unordered list of annoyances and suggestions

Hiding & Locking Redux:

"You can Lock an object and show its wireframe or hide it, but not lock it while showing it with its texture. This third lock mode would be useful. The locked object is fully visible but not selectable, operable or clickable in any way. "

This could lead to confusion when a user tries to operate on a locked object that is not hidden or wire-framed unless the object signals its state in the main window. The obvious solution is to signal this state by a different color for the object's surface lines and vertices, such as red.
Overlapping Vertices:

A single vertex and multiple vertices in the same point of space look exactly the same when, in fact, something different is happening at that location. One way to signal multiple vertices exist at one point is to draw a box around such points. Other methods are a different color (default purple versus blue) or size of displayed vertex. If boxed or sized-up, it could lead to a very busy display when the object is viewed from a distance, which suggests a further operation (cancel at a distance).

Color seems to be the simplest solution and adds a further advantage. When you drag one vertex near enough to another (assuming the suggested-before snap takes place), the change in color becomes gratifying feedback that both vertices are now co-located.
Maybe you shouldn't have encouraged me.
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Old 28th April 2010, 10:47 PM   #7
WombatBoy
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Default Re: My unordered list of annoyances and suggestions

I like some of these a lot!

Some of the first ones about the scroll wheel and the moving multiple items would help tremendously. I find myself sometimes trying to move 20 objects through a list of 200...

Also, the ones with duplication and merging. Sometimes I then need to move the merged/duplicated object, through 200 like above to get back to the animation group where it came out of.

Even a few of these (like the scroll wheel and merging ones) would be amazingly helpful
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Old 28th April 2010, 11:46 PM   #8
vortizee
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Default Re: My unordered list of annoyances and suggestions

Extrude Vertices Redux:

...This is not good enough. We should be able to extrude the vertices in or out by a distance, as dragging a corner of a selection of vertices would not result in a consistent distance where a shape is bidirectional (L shaped) and rotated. For example, this method would expand a shape along a rotated plane by a defined distance from each vertex, along a direction in-or-out averaged by the perpendicularity of two lines in the desired plane of expansion (ignoring any other lines not in the plane).
Actually, this is nothing but a Bevel with negative numbers and zero Out but along a virtual axis. I should've spotted it instantly.
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Old 30th April 2010, 02:50 AM   #9
luuckyy
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Default Re: My unordered list of annoyances and suggestions

Quote:
Originally Posted by vortizee View Post
Currently a surface or a vertex can be easily moved orthogonally, but when an it lies in a plane that is rotated, there is no way to move it perpendicularly to that plane other than by using Extrude by Normal.
Actually you can, you have to select your surface and then use the '+' or '-' keyboard keys (you can set the distance of each move in the settings).
But a proper manipulator would indeed be much more convenient.
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Old 30th April 2010, 04:08 AM   #10
vortizee
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Default Re: My unordered list of annoyances and suggestions

Yes, you can, but you'd be guessing how much to move it in the x, y and z directions so that the move is equivalent to a move-by-normal. I suppose you could use trigonometry to work it out but who would bother?

I'm hoping to inspire the author into a payware upgrade. Minor UI annoyances are a must fix as far as I'm concerned, but things like better snapping, virtual axes, drape and shrinkwrap are things I'd be willing to shell out and thank him for the added modelling power.

I believe snapping is broken. It should be move one to another and not both together. Snap anything to a carefully placed object or point in relation to the origin and that careful placement is ruined. Where accuracy doesn't count, like making a teddy bear, it doesn't matter, of course.
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