First stable Blender 2.5 series arrives
After several years of redesign and development work, the Blender Foundation and its associated online developer community have announced the arrival of version 2.57 of their open source 3D content creation suite, the first stable release in the 2.5 series. According to the developers, this major milestone is not only stable because it's "mostly feature complete, but especially thanks to the 1,000s of fixes and feature updates we did since the 2.5 beta versions were published."
Blender 2.57 features an updated graphical user interface (GUI) layout that includes a new icon set and graphic design, new customisable keyboard short cuts and internal architecture changes, such as updates to data access and the tool system (also referred to as an "Operator"). There is now a new method for extending Blender via Python Scripts; these are distributed and stored as 'Add-ons" that users can choose to enable or disable individually.
Source: Blender.org Modelling updates include optimisations to Sculpt mode and the addition of a Solidify modifier which is used to non-destructively add thickness to thin meshes. The paint brushes used in Blender have also been updated. The animation editors have had "a complete refresh", adding a new graph editor and support for multiple objects and F-curves simultaneously, as well as a scene-wide dopesheet, a redesigned Non-Linear Animation editor and new functionality for shape animation, driver, expressions and keying sets.
Physics changes include a new fluid-based smoke simulation engine and an updated particle system, while rendering changes include volume rendering, ray trace acceleration system optimisations and a first version of Color Management.
The developers say that over the next two months they will "keep working on finishing a couple of left-over 2.5 targets", noting that if all goes well, the upcoming 2.58 release will be the final in the 2.5 series. After that, development on the 2.6x cycle will begin, targeting new updates every 2 months.
Details about the latest stable release of Blender, including a full list of new features and changes, can be found in the in the release log. Blender 2.57 is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and FreeBSD (32- and 64-bit) from the project's official Get Blender download page.
Blender is released under version 2 of the GNU General Public License (GPLv2) and sponsored by the non-profit Blender Foundation based in Amsterdam. It has been used to create several animated movies, such as Sintel, Big Buck Bunny and Elephants Dream, that are available for free download. Based in Amsterdam, the Blender Foundation sponsors the development of Blender.
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