Blender 2.5 Alpha 0 is out and ready for download. The servers seem to be pretty much hammered right now. While the “Alpha 0” part may not inspire a huge amount of confidence, Blender in general is a pretty solid piece of software, so it seems reasonable to expect it not to blow up in your face.
- Much better UI organization (and appearance). Properties are logically and consistently presented. Lots of context-sensitive controls and functionality.
- Easy to customize UI on-the-fly (e.g. add commonly used features as buttons to the main tool palette) — although I haven’t figured out the keyboard shortcut customization (or maybe it’s buggy)
Much easier to find commands (the “spacebar” menu now lets you search for commands — so you can get to any command by hitting space and then typing the first few letters of its name).
- Tool buttons have tooltips showing you the tools keyboard shortcut and Python equivalent (unfortunately it looks like it’s the Python equivalent that’s used for mapping keyboard shortcuts, which makes sense from an engineering point of view, but isn’t very user-friendly).
- Fullscreen mode on Mac
- Multiple window (and hence monitor) support
- According to the release notes, there’s also cloth and smoke simulation and improved particles (I’d never used Blender’s particles before and it’s a testament to how much things have improved that I was able to get particles up and running in a few moments without looking at any documentation or tutorials).
My experience of Blender 2.5 thus far (pre-alpha) is that it’s quite stable and a lot more usable. The new version includes a 64-bit OS X version (yay!).