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Can we have a service for uploading .blend files on the Ask Question page?

This would be useful for many cases, in particular for new users. Many questions simply need a .blend to describe the problem/question (see Policy for linking to blend files), so we are constantly sending people to external sites such as Pasteall.org.

For example:

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enter image description here

is an unofficial solution

  • Built just for this site
  • Stores files on google drive
  • Files don't get deleted
  • Open source

see more

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    $\begingroup$ Accepted to put on top :) But in case an SE people happen to read this, an integrated system would be nice imo ;) $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Aug 21 '15 at 19:04
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An average image posted in a question or answer has roughly 500kb. Sometimes a few images are required to explain an issue or answer to illustrate the steps of a solution. The size of a single .blend file can be easily exceeded by posting multiple images.

Having that said, I think we should ask on SO-meta or the community manager whether another different file type (.blend) could be accepted for upload. On the sites mathematics or physics the special needs for rendering math expressions were introduced quite early,

The major problem is that the our sites quality will be diminished when the randomly hosted files to which we link will timeout.

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This would be a very nice addition to the site. Particularly if we could set it on the Ask Questions page so users can attach a small sample file if their problem is too wordy/hard to explain.

There are many pros to this. The main ones being that we get centralized location for users of the site to upload their test files and we reduce the cases of link-rot.

This site is supposed to be a collection of self-contained answers. Having users come to a question weeks or months later and finding dead links would be rather bad/inconvenient at the very least. It would also be nice to not keep asking users to attach files to their posts or recommending file sharing services.

Obviously, there will be many wrinkles to iron out, such as accepting arbitrary files, attribution etc. We already have a strict policy in place for blend files and our moderators and avid users will no doubt watch these very closely.

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A good (partial) solution to this would be to write a userscript (For Greasemonkey, Chrome/ium, Safari, etc).

However, we would still need to get the word out (and users would need to install it) otherwise it would be useless.

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    $\begingroup$ I think part of the idea behind this is to make it obvious for new users. IMHO this would probably end up only being used by long term users, because for single use uploading to pasteall will probably be easier than downloading some addon that will probably only be used once or twice by the average user. $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Nov 17 '13 at 8:10
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Perhaps we could just integrate pasteall.org somewhere?

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    $\begingroup$ This could be a solution (indeed, that was my original question) However a drawback to this is that pasteall only keeps files for a limited period of time, potentially breaking older posts. (See this) $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Nov 18 '13 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, true. That does kinda rule pasteall out. $\endgroup$ – JamesNZ Nov 18 '13 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ @gandalf3 hmm.. an idea would be that maybe something could be worked out between pasteall and SE. That's what they did with imgur for images. $\endgroup$ – iKlsR Nov 24 '13 at 22:54
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There are multiple problems with this kind of service:

  • The Blend files must have appropriate attribution, and could be used to base work of by someone else.
  • Some Blend files are huge, and there's the issue with baked caches that are also massive in size (a simple smoke cache can take around 600 MB).
  • Those Blends must be available forever, taking that space away from the hosting server for its lifetime.
  • The server infrastructure must be reliable enough that a catastrophic failure won't erase old Blends.

These points stated, there are multiple ways to implement this service:

  • Use Blendswap.com, not exactly a simple exchange service, but this could help ease out the burden. However, taxing their servers could degrade their service seriously.
  • Use a hosting infrastructure like Google App Engine. Cheap, reliable and has nice availability. Problem is, the solution must be implemented from scratch.
  • Torrenting. Seriously, this is a nice way to share these kind of files. A seedbox is unexpensive, and has almost every need for this kind of service.

So there are the alternatives i've found until now.

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    $\begingroup$ The same rules that imgur has in place can be applied as it relates to attribution and file sizes would of course be limited. I hardly doubt anyone would want to download a > 10MB file anyways. BlendSwap requires an account to download and I also highly doubt anyone would want to torrent blend files. Currently, the best solution atm is to use pasteall. A built in solution would be nice. $\endgroup$ – iKlsR Nov 21 '13 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @iKlsR Perhaps we can have a link to pasteall for the time being, then look deeper into getting a dedicated service when we graduate? $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Nov 21 '13 at 23:06
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https://bitbucket.org allows public and private repositories. This also is great for distributed team blender work. It only stores the diff of blend files and you can have a ignore file for the files that you don't want to put up. Here is a great video on this subject http://cgcookie.com/blender/2013/08/20/using-mercurial-version-control-with-blender-projects/

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, however the diff features probably won't be much use in this application, since most files will only be uploaded once. $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Nov 24 '13 at 5:43

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