V7 tone-of-voice, British Cycling

I suppose rhino V7 is coming of age, and will soon be thrown out of the nest into the wider world to seek its fortune…?

Traditionally we (the general we, as opposed to the royal we) get asked if it’s ready to ship; I’ve got five covid-minutes spare, so may I list a few reasons that I think its not…?

I’m not talking about huge crashing bugs, more a tone-of-voice, a bit of frayed knot sort of thing.

The British Cycling Training thing, the Toyota windscreen wipers thing…

So, in 2003 a new Performance Director was hired by the British Cycling Organization. He took the team from an extremely under-performing unit (having never ever won the Tour de France, and winning only one Olympic gold medal since 1908) to five years later winning 60% of the available gold medals in Beijing, and setting nine Olympic records, winning seven golds in London four years later. From 2012 through to 2017, the team won the Tour de France five times out of six.

You can read about how this huge change happened here: You searched for british cycling - James Clear

But in short, the technique is not only looking at the big picture, but also improving tiny 1% areas, so hundreds of these small areas get tuned up, and the accumulation of improvements leads to a huge lift in the performance of the team, or product.

Everything is examined, and fixed, until everything is as streamlined and smooth as it is possible to make it.

“They tested different types of massage gels to see which one led to the fastest muscle recovery. They hired a surgeon to teach each rider the best way to wash their hands to reduce the chances of catching a cold. They determined the type of pillow and mattress that led to the best night’s sleep for each rider. They even painted the inside of the team truck white, which helped them spot little bits of dust that would normally slip by unnoticed but could degrade the performance of the finely tuned bikes.”

It’s the mindset.

I’m driving a Toyota through the city in the rain, and I stop at the lights. The windscreen wipers stop, and go into an intermittent mode of operation. When the lights change and I accelerate away, they go back to their set speed, all without me having to do anything.

So what?

So someone in Toyota thought that it would be a small improvement that would make the experience of driving their machine in the rain just a little bit smoother, just a tiny bit easier and guess what, it does. I really appreciate it; I appreciate that the worlds biggest car company has people within it that look for these little things and act on them. Will I buy another Toyota because the windscreen wipers are sensitive to rain vs velocity? – All things being equal, actually yes I will.

It’s the mindset.

So if you’ve read this far you can see where this is going…

Rhino has a slew of small things, many of which have been there for years, that could be tuned up.

It also has many bigger things that should be tuned up, and are more important. For example, I wouldn’t buy a vehicle that had thoughtful windscreen wipers if it didn’t also have anti-lock brakes, electronic traction control etc

But, all things being equal, many of these 1% instances could be surely addressed, and they would all accumulate and make a tangible difference to the feel and usability of the product.

Here are a few examples; there are plenty more, and maybe there should be a “Don’t Ship!” or a “I hate it when…” list that we contribute to.

This might not only contain big things like “blocks are hopeless, let me count the ways”, to small things like:


  • When you click on existing text, then the properties for that text are displayed. This display is identical to the pop up dialog that appears if you double click the text to edit it.

The display of the text in the dialogs is fixed – you can change the size of the text block in the model, but you can’t change the display of the text within the actual dialogs themselves. This is a problem and very frustrating, since the font is much too big.

The display of the same text pasted into the notes panel is much smaller, and works very well, which is just as well since you cant change that either. 1%

Square Pipe:

Not an option for the pipe command. Howls of derision from certain people when I suggested it might be ok to make this an option for V7. I use a python script (thanks Mitch!) to do this, but it’s a hassle running a script all the time – it should just be a natural option within the pipe command. I mean why not? No kittens would have to go to hospital if this option was added; it obviously can be done, otherwise it couldn’t be scripted, so why not add it? 1%

Hole command:

Why does this command only accept a single object to make a hole in? Honestly, if I’ve got six objects lined up, and they all need the same hole cut through them, why can’t the command just cut the hole in all the selected objects? 1%

Wire Cut:

Once again, why will this not allow multiple objects to be cut at once? 1%

Trim vs split:

Consider a line from A to B, with four lines crossing it but these four line being above the original. In the top view, we can clearly see the virtual intersection of all these lines. Trim will edit these lines no problem, split refuses to unless you use the “point” option.

Why? If the trim command can see the virtual intersections, then why cant split?

These two commands, at least how I use them, seem to pretty much be the same thing, and could perhaps be just one command? 1%

There are heaps more. Some people wont see any value in all this, but if the tools you use day to day, whether software or cars or chef’s knives or paint brushes or pianos make your work go smoother with less stress ( a sharp knife vs a blunt one!) then your day to day life will be more stress free, and you’ll generally have a much improved quality of life experience…

Years ago Apple ran a series of “nothing can stop me now…” advertisements for, I think, the first black & white Macintosh ; I never bought one because the software I needed wasn’t available on that platform, but if it had been, I would have been down to the Mac shop in a heartbeat…

Rhino has heaps of that same “nothing can stop me” stuff built into it from day one; its why I still use it years later, and why I want to see it be the best it truly can possibly be…All those 1%’s add up.




Agree with the Kanban philosophy, but just what are all those 1%s a measure of?

C’mon Jeremy. Don’t you recognize a figure of speech for "small, incremental improvements? :grin:

The team actually specifically has a section on “papercuts” to deal with all these small incremental issues that addup- exactly what you call out here

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And there are currently 38 open Papercuts items in jetdrains. So 1% for each of those and today’s discovery is Rhino could be 43% better just by sweating the small stuff. That’s nearly half the pie (in the sky).

I don’t think that what you are talking about has ever been part of McNeel’s business strategy. They seem to believe that “Perfection is the enemy of Good Enough” and their idea of Good Enough is well below that of their users. I think that their “big brains” (as Pascal is fond of calling them) get their greatest satisfaction from developing new concepts to a level where they can see the way toward a wonderful customer friendly tool and no satisfaction at all in discovering and developing those details. Apparently they seem to think that providing scripting and programming tools that are “pretty good” but not outstanding in themselves justifies leaving the customer satisfying “surprise and delight” details as “an exercise for the customer”.

While this attitude might have been justifiable in the good old days when Rhino’s development department consisted of three people in a locked room that Bob passed gruel to under the door and their customer base was you and me, I believe, like you, those days are long past.

McNeel has added quite a few “big brains” to develop quite a few great new concepts, but evidently to date none to specialize in improving the usability and workflow detail improvements you describe. There are some areas of development where exposing half-completed ideas to customers is the only practical way of figuring out what customers actually want and need, but there are too many examples where there’s no evidence of ever coming back to incorporating the improvements once they are recognized. And then there’s the areas where twenty minutes of common sense tryout by the most workflow naive developer would reveal obvious things they’ve overlooked.

I suppose the fact that we keep buying their upgrades and keep using their product is their indicator that “Good Enough is Good Enough”. Even though we are embarrassed and guilt-ridden that we are addicted.

There are actually 181 items tagged as papercut (which admittedly is a pretty arbitrary tag). 117 have been resolved leaving 64 as open.

I followed the link on the pinned Papercuts header:

Which referenced 38…

But this is getting away from the op’s important point.

Youtrack issues start out as visible only to mcneel staff by default and we have to explicitly set them to be visible to everyone. This is done to make sure we aren’t showing everyone issues with private data like email addresses or 3dm files that users don’t want others to see.

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The idea for this category is great and I also always found a lot of value in perfecting the toolset with small tweak and enhancements - almost as important as brand new shiny tools. Flawless and flexible tools are a tremendous productivity boosters and it is only something that can happen over time, with the user feedback based on real world experience and the willingness to listen and implement these changes by the Developers. Rhino team used to be good about it and we keep seeing a lot of these smaller improvements all over the place, even though they may not be widely advertised - you will just know about them if you noticed the issue before in many cases.

But I have to say that the “Paper Cuts” category, which was designed specifically for reporting and addressing these “small but powerful” tweaks, looked like it has been missing attention and being poorly monitored for a while now. I had several suggestions posted there (like this one) with zero answer (and I am happy to hear “it’s a bad idea”, “too difficult”, “nobody except you wants it”…) But no answer is discouraging from taking time the next time we had an idea to improve the tool - and in most cases the ideas come from spending countless hours working in Rhino - something hard for devs working on the code to do themselves.

All in all - I agree with @rabbit that these small tweaks can be very powerful and prove that the team moving Rhino forward still cares to strive for the unachievable perfection : )