Natron UI (Re-)Design Proposal

I like the theme but there’s a lot of space being wasted around buttons, tabs and things like that.
Also, the UI doesn’t represent any sort of standard UI format. Why would there be a Quit option in the left sidebar?
I like how you’ve made the nodes but pretty much nothing other than that (in terms of layout) makes sense to me. It looks like you don’t have a good idea of how compositing software should look and work.

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Take a look at Blender 2.8x User Interface and see how tightly packed the elements are and yet they’re fairly easily distinguishable and readable.

In compositing software, don’t be liberal with space you give to UI elements that don’t make sense to have that space. That precious space is better used for the important parts like the Viewer or Nodegraph.


Compositing software don’t really need to look good. They just need to work properly.
By making the software look good, that also steals performance that the software can use to do other important things like process renders.
In my opinion, you should just take the current UI and make improvements to it instead of designing an entirely new one from scratch.

@El_Artista Thank you for the advice. I will be creating a third design (3.0) and that will be much more similar to Natron’s original (something like Blackmagic’s Fusion 16 redesign). If you have time, please visit the Github page of the project, where I’ll be putting the designs.

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Hi all, this is interesting to see UI needs update. Natron AFIK was targeted to be flexible enough for Nuke users and it makes a lot of sense. Because nuke is hands down the de facto in compositing industry and the interface was designed by research and there are good reasons behind nuke looks like this.

  • The WORST layout possible for a compositing node grid is a horizontal button based layout like Blender. Because it blocks the noodles and confuses the connections. Blender devs and users are also agreed on this point.
  • For UI, OFX standard must be maintained.
  • I personally have not found any flaw in the current layout design.
  • There are more important rooms in UI rather than an overhaul. Like: Roto animation glitches, pyside updates, pyside documentation and QT library updates overall.

I would suggest, if you folks are investing time then bug fix should be the first priority NOT an overhaul layout design. This will destroy the whole user community and will be a pure waste of time at the end. Thanks.



BTW these long thread should be considered for PR and DEV for QT5 and QT for python (pyside) if someone interested. The way QT is forwarding should be a concern for older dependent apps and should be patched with updates ASAP. KDE is also chopping these jobs first. QT movement is kinda unpredictable for now due to COVID.

Also VFX Platform has released CY2020. Which should be maintained for cross compatibility:

Best Wishes Folks!


@cgvirus I would be interested in doing so, especially during the summer. And I will be learning Qt over the summer holiday anyway. I understand the lesser importance of design compared to issues with the code base/Qt. But I believe that a redesigned UI is really important for Natron to be seen as a professional tool (much like Blender with 2.8, the updated UI was an important reason for a lot of people to switch).

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Hi @Songtech-0912 Glad to hear someone is engaging in QT.

  • Natron is already a goto tool for Nuke users as a free alternative. Blender is now shifting towards that as a Max/Maya alternative. It’s quite clear why Blender had to change their UI to a standard.

  • I myself work in Blender compositor bugsquad team and I can say Blender compositing UI is going to be reconsidered soon due to it’s limited old UI paradigm. There are some discussion already going on in phabricator to make it as much vertical as possible and other crucial fixes.

  • It’s not only the layout/style but also there are certain OFX standard compatibility issues in account when it comes to Natron/Vinci/Fusion (OFX Hosts) etc. Fusion has suffered a lot from not considering that from it’s very beginning (apple-shake era). Also Natron as a OFX host supports mostly all Nuke OFX which is a balance between studio tools.

  • Redesigning UI is only important when it is not effective with current input and output devices.
    Yes, when VR will become standard we may need to but not actually have to (Thanks to QT) may consider some new paradigm.

  • Currently the density of Natron UI is productive and efficient enough from our research sample of 200 actually.

Hope it clears the logic.


Its good to hear that Blender’s compositor will be getting a redesign. Is there any planned roadmap for that or any devtalk thread where I can read about it?

Natron also has the ability to “imitate” other OFX hosts in the preferences so in theory, it should also be able to work with OFX tools that are native for other software but I haven’t tested this so can’t say for sure.

About the Natron UI redesign part, I think there are some areas where the UI could be improved for better user experience and efficiency, but I think a new detailed post about that would be better so I can just get into the nitty-gritty where I think improvement is needed and so others can also easily find/reply to the post

Its good to hear that Blender’s compositor will be getting a redesign. Is there any planned roadmap for that or any devtalk thread where I can read about it?

Currently scattered in devtalk and job boards.

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We need a nice cross-platform ffmpeg GUI to extract image sequences (.png, .tiff, .exr)
with and without alpha channels and also able to remux audio into an existing video.

This would be a very useful project for a lot of people…

You could take this as a basis: GitHub - swl-x/MystiQ: Qt5/C++ FFmpeg Media Converter

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@all After extensive work, I’ve created an improved variant of my two previous designs. Here it is:

For more details, visit the github repo.
In addition, I’ve also made a redesign of Natron’s website:

You can check out a demo here.
Please tell me about any improvements I can make. I would greatly appreciate your feedback.

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@all I’ve created a survey for gathering feedback about my design. I would greatly appreciate it if you could do the survey.

Survey link:

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Super excited for QML/QT. QML in QT 6.0 are awesome.

I’m not, Widgets are far superior to QML. If the majority wants QML, fine, but I will not be part of that.

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Any specific reason?
And start development with 6.0 instead of 5.12. Because QT 5.15 is already mentioned in vfxplatform CY2021 draft, And after 2-3 years we will be left behind again. It’s difficult to upgrade every few years, so it’s better to start with latest and greatest.

Qt 6.0.0 Initial schedule:

  • Alpha 14.9.2020
  • Beta 1 1.10…2020
  • RC 17.11.2020
  • Final 1.12.2020

Any reason for QML?

QML is ok for mobile and “web apps”, not for desktop software. I see no reason to move to QML. Also, the work needed to port stuff to QML will be major, we have better/more important things to worry about.

Regarding version, I would use 5.12 as that’s the last proper LTS for v5. I don’t care about v6 yet, it will take a long time before that’s considered stable. (Qt always breaks something anyway on minor releases, and I don’t think it will be better on majors). We will not be left behind, moving from v5 to v6 will be trivial.

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@all Here are some announcements about the state of the proposal:

  • Based on survey results, a majority of members in the Natron community believe that a UI redesign would be beneficial

  • However, most community members also do not consider a UI redesign a priority

  • Many members stressed the importance of designing the UI for a compositing workflow rather than just for “flashiness”

Based on this feedback, this is what I’ll do, going forward:

  • Put more effort on improving my website (re)design

  • Improve intercompatibility between my UI designs and Nuke’s/Natron’s current UI

  • Fix excessive spacing, oversized components, and unorthodox placement of some UI elements

  • Conduct further user testing and feedback on Typeform

  • (Possibly) start work in Qt if there is enough support from the community

I greatly appreciate your feedback, and I will implement your suggestions as soon as possible.

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Haven’t joined this discussion yet, but my thought about the website is that new design proposal is overall ok although not much difference to current other than white theme. Would be good to get links to this discussion forum, Facebook and Github visible in first sight to engage with community. I don’t think anyone spends much time at website or make decision to use Natron or help development based of the site.

Important is that website shows that the project is alive and that there is a user community. Of course full site update can be good as a display of project not being buried, as I have myself stopped by at the site before and first impression was that nothing had been going on.

I don’t know if there are other good community sites, as I don’t really use Facebook, but seemed like there was a Natron users Facebook page with quite large number of members. The one with videos of Natron “Pirate“ who’s YouTube channel Rodlie linked in funding discussion. Those videos were really good beginner tutorials to learn compositing and I liked a lot (note: haven’t really watched yet), but would be great to have also shorter ones, like max. 10mins to get more views. There was others of course in YouTube, but the pirate had just Natron channel which I like. Maybe editing shorter faster paced clips from same material? This is quite off topic though.

Actually have to edit: Seems like there are more tutorials in YouTube than I had thought. This channel is also having lot of Natron and bit more advanced with combination of other software like in real production environment.