The Blender Model Repository and BlenderNation: open-source merger?

2009-05-15-005937_1280x800_scrotAs some might know, Blender is an open-source 3D content creation application – it’s cross-platform, a pioneer in the free 3D application market, and I use it. Not only do I use it, love it, and hang out in the #blenderchat IRC channel on freenode, I host the Blender Model Repository, taking over from Andrew Kator long time ago when he suffered legal issues. It’s been running stable for the past year or so, every so often getting new model submissions, and users finding it a useful resource.

Even if you know nothing about Blender, help me in this open-source dilemma, please read on.

Recently, Bart Veldhuizen over from BlenderNation.com started beta-testing for a new resource sharing system known as BlenderNation Links. BlenderNation, for those that don’t know, is the central news website for all things Blender related. It’s the central hub that Blender development and community news goes through – outside the official blender.org website, which is a bit more boring and just says “hey guys, new version” – as do most official websites. (Just joking!)

I was recently pleased to be given the opportunity to beta-test the new system. Well, this new BN Links categorises things as “individual” items – a model repository, as one might expect is not just one individual item, but instead a whole other resource system. The thing I’m wondering about is “how do I make the repository’s resources just as accessible through the BN Links system?“.

A while back I wrote the second part of my open-source analysis article, called “The Open-Source Market – Limitless and Forever Expanding?” (click it to read the article – it might interest you) One of the conclusions I came up with there was that in the short term, open-source should have plenty of choice and competition, but in the long-term, it must realise the synergy is what is needed to ensure its survival and continued growth. This is a perfect example of this concept in real life. There are two resource sites, one obviously much larger and more popular than the other, originally offering slightly different things. BlenderNation focuses on news, and has a small tutorials/resources section, whereas the BMR (Blender Model Repository) focuses on…hosting models and tutorials. Now BlenderNation wants to increase its focus on tutorials and resources, thus duplicating the BMR’s function somewhat. Is this, perhaps, the time to synergise?

Firstly, let’s get the facts down:

  • BlenderNation is much more popular and well known than the BMR. It also has a cooler name.
  • The BMR is a hub for models. I have no legal right to give all my models/let them be published on BN Links.
  • Competition is good, but function replication is not.
  • I do have the legal right to “link” to each individual model, but such manual addition is tiresome, and will have to be constantly updated as new models come in.
  • The BMR does have a built-up reputation for those that know it. It’s not very nice to say “hey guys, we’ve uh, disappeared – check out this cooler site
  • The BMR is running on depreciated technology – sad but true. Whoops, did I just say that? But hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  • The BMR is a bit like a music collection with some missing metadata. Some files are hosted elsewhere, some don’t have preview pictures. This means that links die out.
  • The BN Links system, from what I’ve seen, seems a lot more flexible and makes it much easier for users to find what they want, which is great for the community.
  • I juggle a lot of projects. BMR maintenance is somewhat of a gypsy on my todo list.
  • I’m human – try ask someone else to delete a section of their site so somebody else can run it. (Ok, that sounded very selfish and attached)

Well. Here’s where you guys come in. To what extent can I realistically share resources, how should this be done, and tell me – is this the time to synergise?

Please leave a comment. Even if you know nothing about Blender.

Dion Moult

I've been developing software for well over 10 years, work as an architect (not the computer kind, the regular sort), and am classically trained as a pianist. I try to do the right thing when I get the chance in my field, such as through contributing to open-source communities and promoting sustainable living.

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One Comment

  1. Hey Dion!

    Bart from BlenderNation here ;) I created BN Links because I found that although the Blender community offers an overwhelming wealth of resources, there is no central, easy to navigate system to access it.

    It is not my goal to replace existing object libraries or tutorial collections – instead BN Links should be able to generate more traffic to high-quality Blender resources.

    The way I see it now, we can:

    1) Instead of linking to each individual objects, link to object categories. Not so cool for the users, but certainly more maintainable for you.

    2) Discuss an interface that you and others can use to send information to the BN Links database in an automated fashion.

    The second option probably sounds more like the synergy you’re talking about, am I right? It would take a considerable effort to realise though; I first want to be sure that BN Links is viable before I can commit the time to such an interface.

    On an even longer-term vision, something I’ve always wanted to facilitate is an in-Blender browser for tutorials, models and materials. Using a central database and a standardised (XML?) interface could achieve that.



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