Just installed InstaMAT to give it a go and compare vs Substance. The immediate obvious downside of the UI - no way to detach panels and put them on separate displays.
I mean, come on guys. It is 2024. Who on earth is even using single display in graphics / design these days (apart from Blender community)?
I have 3 large monitors in front of me and have to use InstaMAT just on one of them with tiny panels all crammed into a single app window.
Would be super nice to have detachable floating panels like in most graphics apps. So we can have full screen Canvas node graph on one display, large 3d viewport on the other, large image viewer on the third display, large material library panel etc. A permanent ergonomic UI layout instead of constantly bouncing, resizing views and switching panels around.
Welcome to the forum @voidcoder . It was an intentional design decision to remove dock-widgets, we had them at first. We preferred to create a more integrated and well-design UI and start from scratch, this was a much more complex development effort than just using dock widgets and compromise with ugly window frames everywhere.
With that being said, we plan on adding some dockable parts.
I think the better well-designed UI with single app window claim is rather questionable in this context. It is not like these have to be mutually exclusive. You can certainly keep the current design as is for those who are happy with it. And have a little detach button above panels for those who want to move them to separate displays like in Substance or pretty much any other design / graphics app out there.
The trouble is with this single app window approach there is a lot of distraction having to constantly bounce between different views. The most annoying one is having to constantly swap centre stage between viewport / stage / img viewer for larger detailed view. Then depending on what is currently in the centre stage also constantly swap the smaller preview in the side panel between the same 3 views.
It is just such a giant waste of time compared to simply moving your eyes to permanently visible large detached views which doesn’t require any user input or loss of current editing context.
We live in the era of 8K+ texture maps and procedural city geometry generation. I just don’t think a tiny preview panel in the side bar does it any more. You have to have permanent full screen views on separate displays to survive.
Another good example where this doesn’t work are the Graph Object Editor and Graph Variable Editor panels. You have to select current input or output in the Graph Object Editor panel then switch to Graph Variable Editor panel to change its properties. If you have to go through tens of those this is turning into a nasty chore as you keep bouncing between the two panels hundreds of times to tweak the properties. Surely having the two panels permanently visible side-by-side would be a much better approach, not?
Just my 5c …
Thanks for your thoughts on it!
Design and UX is highly subjective. Like the few other companies that are highly opinionated and committed on that topic in the space, we really believe in our design decisions. These decisions are never done lightly, or brushed over.
Like I said in my previous post in this thread, there will be docking/undocking to some degree. Everything being a dock widget is just never going to happen with Abstract products.
Everything being a detachable dock is probably not even needed. Just allowing to detach the Viewport, Canvas and Img Viewer from side bar will make the UX miles more useful. So that if you say have Canvas in the Centre Stage you can then have Viewport and Image Viewer in resizeable ext. docks rather than in small windows at the top and bottom of the left side panel where they are now etc.
Perfect, then I’m sure you’ll be happy with what we have planned
Side note, I live your nickname
Adding some specifics on this one -
I typically like to have to shader/viewport window open at the same time as the viewport itself. Having the ability to have them both open would be great. Maybe the viewport options should be on the other dock - the one with the properties/details.
Another is the ability to add the histogram window into an adjustable dock. I usually don’t like having a large histogram window. I’d also consider eventually extending this to have different types of info views.
You can already have the viewport and e.g. canvas open at the same time. It can like together with the image viewer on the left, or on the right below the graph object inspector.