I’d like to start this topic by stating that this is not a rant, but rather my opinion which I’ve based upon some common sense.
So the thing I want to talk about is the very “hot” topic in the community about merging Natron into Blender or getting support from the Blender Foundation.
I’ll make it clear right now that I’m in opposition to that, and that’s what this post is about. I’m not trying to change anyone’s minds. I’m just trying to convince you to think on both sides of the spectrum.
For those who aren’t aware of what I’m talking about, there have been two specific topics that have been popping up every now and then in the community that have to do with Blender. I’ll briefly talk about them.
The first one is: “Natron should be merged into Blender”
The second one is: “Natron should ask the Blender Foundation for support”
I’ll talk about the second one first since it also covers why Natron can’t currently get financial support. The reason is that Natron doesn’t have any foundation, organization or accounts to enable reception of financial support.
Natron’s code is owned by Inria and the original developers. For setting up a foundation, the source code must be bought from the mentioned entities. (EDIT: I got this part wrong because I forgot that Natron code is already GPL)
Now moving on to the Blender Foundation (referred to as BF hereafter). The sole purpose of the BF is to support the Blender Project and to keep it free and open source. Furthermore, when contacted with the question of supporting third party projects, the BF always states that their purpose is to support the Blender Project only.
The BF also isn’t in a financial state that would enable them to support third party projects. Sure, they’re getting a lot of funding from the community, but all that funding is provided by the Blender Community to be used for development of the Blender Project. As the Blender Project grows, it becomes costlier to maintain and develop, and therefore, their funding goals always keep growing.
That is the reason the BF won’t be supporting not just Natron, but any project other than their own, at least at the time being.
Now I’ll move on to the first topic. This should be easy, both to explain and to understand. Blender is a generalist software. Natron is specialized software. What that means is that Blender is designed as a complete CGI and VFX pipeline software. Natron is designed with only one part of the VFX pipeline in mind, which is compositing. Both Blender and Natron need to be their own separate software. Both of them have their own place in the pipeline.
The reasons why Natron won’t (or rather can’t) be merged into Blender are:
- Both software have their individual engines and source code which are completely different. To merge Natron into Blender, the source code of Natron will have to be completely rewritten to match Blender’s source code and standards.
- It wouldn’t make any sense to merge a specialized software into a generalist one. The reason Blender has a compositor is to enable the user to be able to do basic effects and tweaks to their renders before exporting them or to create small and light composites. Natron is targeted towards professionals and people who specialize in compositing.
If Natron was to be merged in Blender, then 90% of Blender or more would be pure bloatware for specialists only looking for a compositing software. Sure it would help a very small amount of generalists, but how much? A few minutes. It won’t be a matter of life or death if generalists have to close one software and open another software to continue work on a project. That is how things are actually done by almost everybody because software like Nuke isn’t merged into Maya or 3DS Max. On the other hand, professionals and specialists who are looking for a pure compositing software will shy away from Natron.
All I’m trying to say is, if you think it’ll be significantly convenient (emphasis on “significantly”) to have Natron inside Blender, you may be right in your specific scenario, but for a lot (and I mean a lot) of people, it won’t be as much of a convenience, but rather an inconvenience because of the reasons I mentioned above.
The inconvenience of having to switch between software is something that people can just get over with, the same way I did as a generalist.
The BF, also won’t approve the merging of Natron into Blender, because Blender already has a compositor built into it, which they plan on updating in the future; and merging both software will create a lot of confusion between both Blender and Natron users, so as to which one to actually use. The learning process gets even harder when it comes to new people who want to use either Blender or Natron or both.
To conclude, Blender and Natron should be their own, separate software for many rational reasons.
Thank you for bearing with me, if you really did. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this topic.