McNeel: what about an open source branch of the Rhino interface

I’ve been using Rhino for many years and I think it is great as is. It has a straight forward logical interface. I’ve been trying to learn ZBrush for the past 3 years and I am struck by how cock-eyed the inteface is because it seems to been a hodge-podge of disjointed 3rd party ideas that developed over time without any clear direction. Those 3rd party ideas got sucked into the interface and now ZBrush has an interface that is a whole lot of black boxes on top of one another. Many of those black boxes have their own strange hotkeys and strange round about ways of doing things. Skinning Rhino with an opensource interface is no better than allow every man an his dog to slap their own body on an Aston Martin DB9. Some ideas will be good and some will be terrible. Doing this will allow a really good product to devolve into a loosely fitted, badly maintained hodge podge of nonsense…

I have yes. ZBrush has THE MOST CONVOLUTED @$$ about face UI on the face of the earth. The silly thing has 3 different save buttons in 3 different places. I finally got a 3rd party plugin (after 10 years) to use my SpaceMouse in ZBrush. Zbrush has its upsides but the UI sure isn’t one of them. How in the world are you supposed to remember that ALT SHIFT CTRL etc works differently depending on the specific command - ALT SHIFT Click LEave ALT Click CNTL…nah…RHINO ROCKS…I can set buttons up, macros, hotkeys, whatever I want consistently without having to remember odd key combinations to do basic things.

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my point is everyone has their own ideas about what a good UI is.

I’m just asking for the opportunity to do what I want rather than live with a consensus. Or what the developers think is good enough. if you are writing code it kindof means you aren’t actually using the product day in day out. probably at a desk with a bunch of monitors.

I admit often I express a frustration on this forum and often Pascal or whoever teaches me something or reveals some hidden functionality or guides a workaround. I’m still learning 10 years on.

to those saying hide the toolbars and create macros are missing the point.

is there a hotkey to momentarily hide the gumball so you can select a point behind one of the grips?

can I dock the command history somewhere where it doesn’t occupy the whole screen width?

where is the assignable 4th or 5th mouse button menu that pulls up osnaps so we don’t have to waste space on all the checkboxes?

it seems like a most obvious thing to want to orient the gumball to a surface normal of selected point. I realize this is likely scriptable with a cplane… but really like pushing and pulling a pont normal to the surface seems like it should be built in.

“I’m just asking for the opportunity to do what I want rather than live with a consensus.”

Now this is THE statement of the year. …For many many reasons…

No you are missing the point - Too much democracy leads to chaos - when each and every person has the ability to do whatever they want then NOTHING moves forward while everything moves sideways.

ZBrush is a perfect case in point - the UI is totally cock-eyed because each and every person did what they thought best. DNA is structure - life dies not exist without structure (even though we don’t always like it)


You can have a customized copy of a software as you want without affecting anyone else, this is the point you are missing… You can also have a democracy moving all in the same direction by scrutinizing the few most valid options or weighting or in other ways. Democracy (the real one, not the party oligarchies in which most of us live) consists of everyone being able to participate, not of everyone making decisions.

This structure was shaped by evolution, that is, a process of optimization. Without changes, without testing, without mutations, you cannot find the best solutions or adapt to external changes.

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OK you win - I’m not going to go around in circles.

would you consider sharing the name of the plugin? I would Love to be able to use 3DConnextion in Zbrush.

with thanks

My few cents on open source:

  • it is far from a democracy, it is a dictatorship of few
  • it isn’t magic pixie dust for project organisation, it requires a huge effort to become even remotely organised
  • community needs management too

Code doesn’t write itself, software still needs to be designed and engineered. Communication between developer and user needs a lot of attention, communities wither away without attention.

You need a vision, a mission. Processes, guidelines, expectation management, pampering, blood, sweat and tears. Just like running a business. And on top of all that all involved still need to maintain a living.

That said I am a huge supporter of open source.


You forgot to mention that on the top of this there still will be people not satisfied with changes or final result.

That was essentially implied in the first point :slight_smile:

Honestly no dark theme in late 2020 is troglodytic.


Of course - no problem. It is called ZConnexion and it is on Gumroad. I found that the best way to use it is to create a batch file that 1st launches the EXE and then starts ZBrush. You have to kill the EXE after you exit ZBrush to put the Spacemouse back into its normal state.

_PackageManager, install colorscheme. Use _SetColorScheme.

I tweaked the viewport background color and gridlines still.


Thanks a lot. Very curious how well it works?
On a Mac here at this time so can’t try it.

best regards

Works really well - exactly like in Rhino.

Nice! That’s so much faster and simpler. I remember you had to change windows theme to actually get a full dark theme withing Rhino!

I can still see some annoying whites like the checkboxes, bars, and some buttons. I also went into Tools > Options to tweak some colors and my eyes burned! The whole menu is pure white.

Nevertheless this is a great improvement from what we had, keep it up!

Adding support for color theme throughout Rhino is an ongoing process.


The attempts at open source must now run into the 10,000s. At most, maybe 10% of all the efforts out there are successes. So many more run out of steam.

Rhino is challenged by ever-increasing sophistication in technical features by its rivals. The interface works fine really. I’d far prefer the developers use their finite resources to keep up with actual feature enhancements. I don’t too much care what the shop looks like, I just want the tools.

That’s my 10c as a vanilla user.

Let’s break the term ‘user interface’ apart a little, since it is so often used quite sloppily.

What happens inside the viewports works just fine, mostly. Selection, display modes, snapping, Gumball, … all well and good. With a few exceptions.
What happens outside of the viewports - the skin - is partially ok, partially it shows it’s age.
Icons are fine. They look good actually, but nonetheless I rarely use them. The command line plus that brilliant autocomplete feature are the central hub. Aliases and keyshorts are the trick to work speedy. Never break that please!
The eye candy would be nice to have, like dark colors and an even flatter look, and maybe a nicer and tighter layout in the panels. Yet the show goes on with or without it.

Basic idea how toolbars can be populated, the panels docked and converted to tabs etc. is ok, too, BUT this just don’t feel tight and snappy on windows, and the layout breaks on a regular basis. Much has been elaborated about this, so the problems are well known. Old codebase.
Hopefully that will be fixed, better sooner than later, and a clean way to store and reload UI layouts introduced.
Does that mean for McNeel to burn money for 3 years to even get started? However, that 3rd party plugins would need to be reworked should not be the reason to never tackle this. On the long run, everyone profits from a more elegant window codebase.

Honestly I doubt that open sourcing this would be so much better than if McNeel did this. Legacy problems aside, I think they do a fairly good job with the UI in general, and once that hypthetical refurbishment is done, setting up a nice panel/toolbar UI on top is the fun part. See Grasshopper.

Well, that’s very disappointing and unfortunate. :sob: