For those interested in 3D modeling and graphics, you will want to check out the first alpha release of Blender 2.5. Blender 2.5 is bringing major changes to this free software 3D graphics application. With Blender 2.5, the user-interface is being redesigned and bringing rewritten components like a new file browser, customizable tool shelf, support for multiple windows, and customizable keyboard shortcuts.
Beyond a new look for Blender 2.5, the rendering code in this new alpha release has much faster ray-tracing, support for volumetric rendering, and a new interface is being worked on to begin supporting renderers external to Blender. Furthermore, there is a new Operator tool system, data access for .blend
files have been changed, and with the animation system now everything (as in every single object) can be animated.
Continuing with all of the Blender changes, there is also a new fluid-based smoke simulation engine, the particles system has been redone, and there are many
other changes and new features beyond everything that we have already mentioned.
While in development, this version of Blender is 2.5, but when it's officially released as stable in the middle of 2010, this major overhaul of this graphics software will be called Blender 2.6. Before that, another three development alpha/beta releases are planned in the 2.5 series.
Details on the first alpha release for Blender 2.5 can be found in the Blender Foundation announcement
and then the more detailed Blender 2.5 development log
. This should be a very interesting release and serve as a major advancement for free software in the 3D graphics/animation world.