Houdini design update

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GOgraphR
Design above functionality...
I wish fewer people used the word "design" when they refer strictly to looks.
good function + pretty looks = great design
design =/= aesthetics

I understand where the confusion comes from, especially since so many "designers" nowadays make pretty buttons and UIs but have no training/skills in actual design.
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As with most softwares I see some weaknesses in Houdini here and there, but ortherwise I think it`s pretty neat and I`m from a design background. Zbrush, 3DCoat, Mari and Nuke, on the other hand, are extremely unpleasing both to the eyes and from a usability standpoint.
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GOgraphR
What about such an old tool like a hammer and a chisel. Since its "invention" they are still the same. No New UI, no new paradigm. And they still have no undo, and are NOT procedural at all.

I dunno man, I get what you're saying but there are countless types of hammers and chisels, old and new, jackhammers, staplers, nail guns, steam hammers, hammer drills, dead blow hammers, rotary hammers, anti vibration hammers, titanium hammers, rock climbing hammers, moon rock hammers, magnetic hammers, fiberglass handled sledge hammers, scaling hammers, weld chipping hammers, various orthopedic hammers, split head hammers, rubber gripped hammers, power hammers, pneumatic hammers, soft face archeology hammers, micro indention hammers.

Same with chisels. So. Many. Chisels.
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having designed plenty of interfaces myself, i can tell you that simply saying "ux bad, make it better" is entirely worthless and a waste of everyone's time.

if there are specific parts of the ux that are not working well for you, mention those specifics. submit RFEs. sometimes there are already fixes for the issues you're having! scale issues at 4k resolutions have known solutions that the devs or other users could inform you of, had you bothered to ask!

there are absolutely ux problems in houdini that still need addressing but as a whole, houdini's node networks are the best i've ever seen. try dropping nodes and switching inputs, rewiring networks, etc. in substance designer or nuke or fusion or maya or literally any other node graph out there and you'll see what i mean.
MOPs (Motion Operators for Houdini): http://www.motionoperators.com [www.motionoperators.com]
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timurproko
I have a wealth of experience in UX/UI design spanning over 15 years...

For the sake of clarity wouldn't it be fair of the UX guy to post his UI design of Houdini 19.5/20? It can't hurt. Perhaps the visual concepts offer valuable insight for the company?

Houdini is similar to the hanging gardens of Babylon. A complex and mysterious garden of artistic, mathematical, and poetic opportunities spanning time and eternity- but in this case, dawning on the rising suns of an era of computer science deep-fried into a cauldron boiling with emerging complexities wrestling modern tactile demands.

... as a Houdini fetus cowboy I cannot imagine a more impressive piece of software on the planet, man. I have complaints, but I also grumble constantly about weeding my substantial and glorious gardens while enjoying the results from an impressive late Ohio spring to an early Ohio Fall. Lovely, these gardens. Tough, tho. Tough.
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toadstorm
having designed plenty of interfaces myself, i can tell you that simply saying "ux bad, make it better" is entirely worthless and a waste of everyone's time.

In my opinion, it's not a complete waste of time.
Writing and communicating UI/UX RFEs can be more challenging for various reasons,
and I can imagine one may opt to use the limited time allocated for RFEs to address urgent matters, such as production-critical bugs, instead of focusing on UI/UX improvements.

Although it's not ideal, I'm ok if users simply express their complaints regarding UI/UX.
SideFX could take a tiny bit more proactive approach to improving UI/UX, as they already do in other departments.
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The video from the FMX conference shows that there haven't been many changes in Houdini 20 in terms of UX/UI, which is a bit disappointing.
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Houdini is full of speed bumps, I spam sidefx support with UI/UX RFEs. Most of the issues are related to reduced usability, often caused by confusing, unclear or inconsistent design and usage patterns, or just poorly maintained features. Many of the issues can be solved through improved UI design choices, and many are low hanging fruits. UI does not seem to be a priority.

I find it hard to sell working in Houdini to less experienced colleagues, they don't really buy the "give it some years, and the UI will grow on you" vibe.

Some recent highlights:
- Add support for rearranging multiparms lists
- Tab menu overflow (sub folders is not a solution)
- Group inspection and visualization (without entering selection)
- No support for drag and dropping known file types into the network editor
- Subnet input view and template flags
- Subnet input count (Make this optional without creating an HDA)
- Node multi input has no support for inserting at index
- Changing size of comment box text without exploding comment box size
- Monospace font for comment box?
- Geometry spreadsheet: Auto extend column width to match content
- Geometry spreadsheet: Remember column width between Point, Vertex, Prim, Details
- Geometry spreadsheet: Proper dict values inspection.
- Visualization configuration panel: Make configuring it a two click max.
- Selection config pattern (so crucial yet so bad)
- HUD Sliders (abandon ware)
...
B-System for Houdini [ae43ae43.gumroad.com]: instance editor, blender like interface.
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wanglifu
The video from the FMX conference shows that there haven't been many changes in Houdini 20 in terms of UX/UI, which is a bit disappointing.

I would expect that if there are any ui changes they will not appear in the build used in feathers video. though I do not know anything
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I find it hard to sell working in Houdini to less experienced colleagues, they don't really buy the "give it some years, and the UI will grow on you" vibe.

Some good things in your list, but I gotta take a tiny exception to the notion it takes "years" for the houdini UI to not be a stumbling block to using the application. That is nonsense. Unless you've never used a piece of 3D software, it doesn't take more than a week or two to come to grips with it.
That sounds more like those co-workers simply don't want to use it. I mean, 3DE and XSI, and a bunch of other tools have/had horrendous UX, heck some internal tools at big VFX companies whose UI looked like an amiga in the 80s.
But none of them actually couldn't perform their job, a lot of the time making the highest end VFX out there, due to the UI.

Could/should things be better? Of course. Does the UI/UX actually make it hard/impossible to do your work? Not a chance, and
if it is, then maybe it's the concept of houdini they are struggling with, not the actual UI.
As Henry mentioned, go drop, merge, swap inputs, yadda yadda, in any other DCC that has nodes, they are pretty much 80s schematic trash in comparison.


L
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From aescethic point of view i wish that rest of GUI catch up with nodes that are greatly designed. Now rest of UI feels like it is for some nerds that know how to code but not for artists. And UI have this old UNIX spirit that mayby was cool 20 years ago but now it's NOT.

I hate those retro fonts that were used in DOS and sh*t. Sadly there isnt any work around for this. Try to use onscreen HUD sliders instead. Man.. that looks sooo ugly and not functional that every animator is scared right away.

Personally i like Unreal Engine 5 UI also Nvidia Omniverse one is good. So something betwean those 2 would be ideal for me. Clean, easy to read, well arranged, simple functional design but with modern stuff like highlights or animated niuances for better feedback. All with better (and faster) help integration.
Edited by oldteapot7 - May 10, 2023 23:27:01

Attachments:
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GOgraphR
What about such an old tool like a hammer and a chisel. Since its "invention" they are still the same. No New UI, no new paradigm. And they still have no undo, and are NOT procedural at all.

I dunno man, I get what you're saying but there are countless types of hammers and chisels,


I restrained from referring to spoon and Fork, for obvious reasons...

General problem seems to be that a Tool like Houdini is supposed to be used by multiple groups. So where I struggle, you would be comfy with, and vice versa. So whom to listen to? It's a lot like life...


oldteapot7

And UI have this old UNIX spirit that mayby was cool 20 years ago but now it's NOT.

Aaah, quite like my all day file manager. I still use mc on my machines. Overview, P&C, and integrated commandline. Just perfect!


toadstorm
try dropping nodes and switching inputs, rewiring networks, etc. in substance designer or nuke or fusion or maya or literally any other node graph out there and you'll see what i mean.
Yeah, I use nuke-clone Natron (it's open source) and I always hit shift-R when I should do Shift-Y...


But all this taken into consideration what's considered "intuitive" and whatever label you want to use needs computing capacity.
I am not able to buy every year top notch hardware just to be able to do a hobby. I'd rather accept hours for a render than not being able to render at all...

As mentioned before:
Just my $0.02

enjoy life
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The problem is that the they just don't want to deal with with issues like the Skeleton SOP and the Curve SOP using different hotkeys for toggling transform handles. Speed bumps like that make learning the software complicated, and tedious to operate. Not to trigger the maximalists here, but blender has somehow managed to make hotkeys consistent across all it's contexts. That is a successful on-boarding strategy.

Houdini is by far the most robust and flexible DCC for technical artists, but what does that help me if the guy that's going to spend 100s of hours animating cringe at the thought of working in it?
B-System for Houdini [ae43ae43.gumroad.com]: instance editor, blender like interface.
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smuseus
Houdini is by far the most robust and flexible DCC for technical artists, but what does that help me if the guy that's going to spend 100s of hours animating cringe at the thought of working in it?


No-one is going to be spending 100s of hours animating in Houdini kinefx at present.
It still has layers of abstraction to go, but it's being dealt with.


L
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Ok-ok-ok, please SideFX just give those guys couple of optional skins in Color Settings and they'll be good.

However, improvements to the text / VEX editor could be appreciated.

citizen
I wish fewer people used the word "design" when they refer strictly to looks.
x10, thanks for pointing that out.
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