Hello again


#1

Hi, my name is Oluseyi. I used to contribute to Pencil about four years ago (but it feels closer to a decade), but I dropped off to go work on my own animation editor project. I’m still working on that (alongside a day job, parenting and trying to get into grad school), but that’s not why I’m here. On a whim I looked up Pencil to see what was happening, and I was happy to see continuing activity. That’s great!

I’ve been lurking for a while now, about a week, and I started to feel like I had let the community down when I left. I’m not yet sure what form any participation of mine might take, but I wanted to let you know I’m impressed with the project’s survival and I want to know how I can help.

Oh—Pencil doesn’t compile under Qt 5.8 for the Mac. It’s a bug in Qt itself, so any would-be Mac developers, for now, use Qt 5.6.

Ciao!


#2

If I may, the most pressing issue facing the project appears to be the question of what it aims to be. Sure, effort can simply be expended ensuring the current version doesn’t crash, but I think everyone agrees there are functional shortcomings that also need to be addressed.

Here is an old post from @gordie, nearly 4 years ago, in which quoted me about the need to revise and update the original vision for Pencil for a modern software environment.

Here is a thread from January and February of last year trying to clarify a product roadmap.

Here is a Roadmap wiki page on the github project, but its focus is entirely on technical implementation, not the “product” vision.

Who is the targeted Pencil2D user?
Beginner? Advanced? Expert?
Student? Hobbyist? Professional?
Individual working alone? Teams—and if so, how large?
What workflows does Pencil2D aim to support, and how should it fit in with other software packages?

These questions will help define the “core” Pencil2D product, and then people’s pet features can be added on as extensions/plugins, so nobody has to feel that the thing they really want to work on isn’t supported.

Those are just my thoughts, as an emotionally invested observer and fringe participant.


#3

So because I’m not sure if I really know what you’re talking about, other then things they need to add, or fix, what makes the core product weak?

It’s already better then other programs

Well as just a user, I’d like pencil2D to keep it’s easy learning curve, simple customizable layout (but maybe with undo/redo buttons), and low computer requirements. And as long as I can use it to make a full animation I’ll love it.
It’s already the best free animation program I’ve seen yet, I even like it more then OpenToonz. (Ironically Pencil2D crashed less. The learning curve didn’t help)

I am a beginner, but I think Pencil2D can be used by for beginners and experts if they keep fixing bugs and adding to it.
It already works well for individuals, and if I had a group to work with I think we could use Pencil2D if it had some visual bugs fixed.
I’m not experienced with groups yet, and I don’t know the different workflows of other animators, so I have no opinion.

It it helps, my workflow for long animations (they’re all bad, don’t ask) is
idea>thumbnail sketches>VERY rough animatic with sound in pencil2D>background and layout in gimp>import to Pencil2D to do the rest>rough animation>line>color>shading>export. I don’t have a after effects program, so what I do in gimp and Pencil2D is what I have.

I’m sorry if I don’t understand and my wall of text means nothing.


#4

@oluseyi_s Hey man, glad to see you around. I do remember your posts briefly, although I began taking interest in Pencil2D near the time you left so we never crossed paths.

What you say is true, however we took a stance regarding that broad idea that is Pencil2D, and so far we’ve been collecting data on what Pencil2D should be in the future. So far it is clear we want it to be a simple, minimalistic and easy to use animation application for moderate production. It is clearly geared towards “tradigital” animation, and I think we could incorporate some interpolation concepts to improve on the software to ease the workload on the user.

So far people like Pencil2D because of this, some even have put OpenToonz aside to favor Pencil2D as users. We have a large user base of hobbyists and animation enthusiasts. And professional animators have used it sparsely to entertain their own work.

I’ve spoken with animators from all venues and some have given feedback, mostly would use it if it was more stable; but what you speak is true. We need to define if we want to take this further as a tool for professionals or just allow it to be a tool for people who are initiates to the medium. Either path has a very distinct set of steps we would need to take in order to make it plausible though.

Also we’ve migrated these kind of discussions to the github repository, because very few people visit this forum to help out. I also wanted to have a proper roadmap but we’re still getting there, so if you’d like please let us know what you think by posting on this github thread here:

Honestly there’s barely few devs now. Most contributors have left too and we only have help from a few guys from time to time, so i’ll tell you what I tell everyone. If you’d like to help out and can commit even a few lines of code at any given time, it would help the project enormously.

Even the most minuscule fix will help shape the program for the better, and it has worked until now. This of course meanwhile we decide for a proper goal to focus everyone’s efforts.

Thanks a lot for thinking of the project again and hopefully your own project is going great! :slight_smile:


#5

Hey @fuzbrain, thanks for your reply!

So because I’m not sure if I really know what you’re talking about, other then things they need to add, or fix, what makes the core product weak?

As a prospective developer with limited time to spare for this project, the question of what to work on is very unclear. I think this is reflected in the way contributions have been made, with developers working on relatively random features that they find to be personally interesting. On some level, that’s just Free Software/Open Source—the scratch-your-own-itch ethos at work. But on another level, the lack of clarity makes it harder for less experienced, less dedicated devs to join the effort, picking up a small bug or feature request and building confidence by delivering it.

I like to think of end user-oriented software in terms of task flows or user journeys: if the most core journey to be prioritized was to create a new project, animate a simple sequence and export a video with sound, how complete is that? How well does the user interface communicate each step and the options? Maybe there are subtle changes that I missed, but when I built and launched Pencil last week, it looked exactly the same as I left it four years ago. Maybe all that’s missing is better on-boarding, both in the app itself, for users, and in the repository for developers?

I guess I’m really just trying to assess what Pencil’s biggest needs are and what I can or should help with, given limited time.


#6

(Looks like the forum ate my reply. If this turns out to be a double post, I apologize.)

Hey @morr! First off, I’ve got to really give you a ton of credit for helping to keep this thing going. From what I can see, you have really been carrying the torch here on the community side, and that helped me make the decision to reach out. So, thanks!

What you say is true, however we took a stance regarding that broad idea that is Pencil2D, and so far we’ve been collecting data on what Pencil2D should be in the future. So far it is clear we want it to be a simple, minimalistic and easy to use animation application for moderate production. It is clearly geared towards “tradigital” animation, and I think we could incorporate some interpolation concepts to improve on the software to ease the workload on the user.

Where is this collected data being published? Maybe it can be surfaced a little better, so that new/curious people can find it more easily.

Also we’ve migrated these kind of discussions to the github repository, because very few people visit this forum to help out. I also wanted to have a proper roadmap but we’re still getting there, so if you’d like please let us know what you think by posting on this github thread here:

https://github.com/pencil2d/pencil/issues/540

Yeah, I saw that thread; it was unclear what any decisions/resolutions were, though. Github Issues is really a poor place for that kind of ongoing discussion—for one thing, it tends to get buried. For another, Issues is oriented toward problems or requests that have code fixes and can be cross-linked against pull requests. Something more forum-like is better for philosophical/vision debates, where the thread can be pinned. I checked out the pencil2d.github.io pages, too, but those are even more of a ghost town.

None of this should be taken as criticism. Running open source projects is HARD!

Honestly there’s barely few devs now. Most contributors have left too and we only have help from a few guys from time to time, so i’ll tell you what I tell everyone. If you’d like to help out and can commit even a few lines of code at any given time, it would help the project enormously.

Gotcha. I’ll see what I can do.

Thanks a lot for thinking of the project again and hopefully your own project is going great! ?

Thanks!


#7

@oluseyi_s

Hey man, sorry for taking so long to respond, I’ve been busy as you could expect.

Regarding the “data” it was nothing fancy, however I materialized and shared this among developers a few weeks ago:

It’s sort of a Live document where I’ve been rounding up feature requests from a lot of people, including myself. I’ve already discussed that these features will be transfered over the Github tracker for better visibility and to allow us to establish a roadmap of sorts for the following development stages. Before I begin with this process though I still need to organize the list to remove duplicates and preparing the heavy features with images to make robust proposals for the systems that would require most work.

I agree that Github is not a good place for USER discussion, however so far only volunteering devs have been contributing to such discussions I was speaking of.

For user discussion and community handling we have the forum (which is rather dead) and the Facebook product Page (which you can visit here: https://www.facebook.com/pencil2dsoft ) which is where I try to share almost every kind of news related to Pencil2D along with sharing users work on the tumblr Blog (http://pencil2d-software.tumblr.com/)

Thanks a lot for keeping your curiosity and care for this project intact, hopefully soon there can be a major improvement on how Pencil2D development is handled. For now we have to do it one step at a time.