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Blender is a very versatile tool that excels in many diverse areas, and does remarkably well even for uses beyond it's main scope, but as much as we all love it, we have to admit that it is not some sort of glorified universal jack-of-all-trades. There are just some tasks that it is not very good at, or can't outright do, and there may be more adequate tools for certain jobs.

Some times users are struggling with tasks that would be a lot easier to accomplish with some other software package, alternatively or in parallel with Blender. So in the process of answering some workflow related questions is it OK to recommend said software to the user within the scope of the question or should all answers refrain from mentioning other applications and focus exclusively in Blender based solutions only?

  1. Is it acceptable to recommend software to totally replace Blender
  2. Is it acceptable to recommend software to work in parallel with Blender? (As part of a more complex workflow with import/export interactions, or as is often the case with texturing with image editing software, or illustration/logo design/bezier-curve-related type of work and Inkscape)
  3. Is it still OK to recommend commercial software, even if it is or not free/open source?

I ask this because I have often done it before, but I have recently been called out on it, and it actually got me thinking if it was the right course of action.

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    $\begingroup$ As a frequent blender user, but not limited to it, I'm quite aware of its shortcomings and strengths. In my opinion It would be a disservice not to point in a different direction or a tool that does a better job if you know of one. $\endgroup$ – cegaton Jun 25 '16 at 1:08
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A very good question.

Seeing as how this is blender.stackexchange.com answers should primarily be about blender. We have closed question asking how to do X in maya or 3Ds max, like wise answers using maya or 3Ds max would be very odd (and probably down voted heavily).

That is not to stay that you can never suggest other software to do a particular task. There are lot of examples where blender is simply not the best, and we do have recommendations there for other software.

To your first point, I would say no. We certainly don't want people coming to BSE and just getting an answer "use X, blender sucks." However if "totally replace blender" is referring to just a specific part of a workflow that is probably ok.

Point two: absolutely! 3D, video, graphic design, etc are big jobs, using diverse workflows including many different software packages. There is no reason people here should think they are limited to just blender (in instances like this), especially if the question is using different software.

Point three: sure. I for one much prefer free (as in freeware) and even more so free and open source software (FLOSS), but there is no reason we should not let it be known about some good proprietary software, just because we have to pay for it. (There are paid blender addons that get mentioned in answers.) There is such a HUGE offering of software related to and used with blender that it is very likely that someone may not know about piece X.

Saying all that, I want to caution you when writing answer recommending other software.

  • First off, you have to still have a good answer. Just writing "blender can't do that, use [link to other software]" will not be considered a good answer, and will be converted to a comment. (It is fine to leave a link as a comment.)
  • If it can be done in blender explain so, if not then just say that blender can't do X add the link(s) to the other software and say a bit about it. I understand that you don't need to say much about each software, but BSE answers should not just be a collection of links.
  • Use restraint when jumping to recommending other software. If someone is having trouble with the sculpting tools, we should not send him to Zbrush. Any modeling question should be answered in blender not maya, 3ds max, ryhno, sketch up, cinema 4d, lightwave, and others. While mocha pro may be is better then blender's tracker our questions asking about tracking should use blender.

In short, answers should focus on blender, but in context external software recommendations are ok.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, that's mostly what I figured, just wanted to be sure. I generally strive to answer exclusively using Blender; when it is considerably advantageous, I recommend other software always as a side note. If Blender is totally incapable of said task I try explaining why with links to references and point to other software, commenting commercial ones. Thanks for the thorough answer $\endgroup$ – Duarte Farrajota Ramos Jun 19 '16 at 1:38
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    $\begingroup$ @DuarteFarrajotaRamos sounds like you are doing great! keep it up. $\endgroup$ – David Jun 19 '16 at 2:59

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