The main issues for me are:
- Nodes that do too much and what they do (or part of they do) has nothing to do with their name
- Abysmal naming of parameters
Here’s the thing, houdini’s been in development for a lot of decades, yes the naming of nodes is odd, but one can argue that the other dccs got it wrong
However this odd naming scheme is directly responsible for steep learning cuve, so perhaps global alias presets for tab menu, so when you search for something that is named as expected it’ll offer a closest match to user set list of aliases for a given dccs? Other than that put in a lot of time into learning the houdini nodes and after a looong while it’ll all start to click.
- Parameter pane that is literally looking like a UI prototype, with exception of some recent work
This is an odd one, because it has to account for a lot of things, but my main issue with it is that it’s packed into a tab with in a tab with in a tab with in a 600x400px box. Static object collision dop is a good example of poorly organized ui, a very high frequency of use node.
- Viewport in general, including selections, gizmos, etc.
This one is a jumbled mess of user requested features that were just piled on over the years, with what feels like, no second thought as to how it should function overall and if all the features are needed to begin with. In my opinion, the selection tools should be separated into three different tools, a brush selection that defaults to visible only, the shortcut should toggle between 0-n-n radius when invoked and scroll wheel resize if needed, where 0 radius would be essentially laser selection state, it would default to add to selection, with shift as a modifier to remove from selection.
Other two secondary selection methods would be rectangle with select visible and non visible geo, same selection options as brush, with ctrl+shift mod while held down to area select fully contained, same for lasso. I’d probably remove secure selection and work around it, till it’s not needed*.
Gizmos are objecs part of the scene, not sure what would happen if they were to move to screen space, or at least hidden and controlled by screen space gizmos / second overlay ui layer or something similar.
- Animation Editor
Ugh… I wouldn’t know where to begin with this one, it’s feature rich, and a lot of nice options, but interacting with it is just ugh… and if they were to fix it it would still be ugh, if the bezier curves redesign is anything to go by, vastly better, but interaction is just ugh, since the issue is probably deeper than that node. I mean the elegance of bezier curve drawing has been solved in the industry, and an extra dimension doesn’t change anything in the ui mechanics...
- Autosave that doesn’t work
It does, but I’d say it’s unfinished, basic, and potentially highly dangerous...
- Overall dated look, including, yes, icons, overall elegance
Actually the icons are unique for every op, very detailed and great if viewed at 256x256px, the problem is they are often 16x16 or 32x32px, so in my opinion only the main ui icons should be redesigned… so toolbox, operation toolbar, display options, path bar, menubar, pin, link, etc., coupled with slight flattening / decluttering of the ui, without gradients, bevels, etc...
But the biggest problem with Houdini for me, besides the UI quirks is the documentation. This, combined with horrendous naming of nodes and parameters is literally the worst combination.
Again, they named them first
and changing the names would have a domino effect that would grind everything to a halt… Perhaps a Houdini Next 1.0 beta fork with better naming, ui, etc
I was doing something recently with volumes in VOPS, nothing worked, needed to add a node at the end to make it work (don’t remember what it was, can look it up). And honestly, the documentation on it was the most useless thing ever… and focused on something like reading from a file, where it had absolutely nothing to do with it.
The naming after a while is fine, but the docs often seem incomplete for some things. For me it’s often the case of easily missing the entity mode in various nodes, which could lead to pointless time wasting trying to figure where the issue is, which could easily be solved if entity was a color coded, iconified, button strip, and as a bonus it would remove the dependency on multiple nodes for each entity, instantly decluttering the tab menu, reduce the amount of nodes that need to be typed, searched for and remembered, similarly vop nodes as bind get etc could be made into one with options for local(bind) and file (external) modes, etc., reducing the amount of nodes needed to begin with, although that would affect vex code as well… so maybe not.
I feel like SideFX should pause feature delivery until they figure out the viewport, basic selection tools and quirks mentioned above, fix the UI things mentioned above and rewrite ALL of the docs. The docs are not written for humanoids, they are written for programmers with a lot of experience with how 3d works behind the scene.
The UI design "features" can take up a lot of time to design, develop and test, and lot is probably an understatement, and it’s highly dependent on the ui designer knowing the Houdini inside and out, as well as the ramifications for any given change, but the above mentioned things should be fairly easy to workout and fix…
However, with all that said, Houdini is still a kick ass software. Unmatched. And the speed of development is simply amazing.
echo 'However, with all that said, Houdini is still a kick ass software. Unmatched. And the speed of development is simply amazing.*'