Blender remote control with Actions.app

Blender Actions Buttons
Blender Actions Buttons

As much as I love shortcuts to take the strain of the mouse I sometimes wish they weren’t quite so obtuse. I don’t play piano and so struggle spreading a hand over some of the combinations Blender uses. Alt M for example is doable but hardly comfortable, while others would require a punishing regime under a trainer to achieve. To this end I decided to tryout the excellent app for iPad called Actions I had the app hanging around on the iPad and never really found a use for it so I thought here is a use.

It should be noted that Blender isn’t a native OS X app and so doesn’t handle system events in the same way as native apps do, it is a self contained little package running under a wrapper, which is why it doesn’t have a proper menu either. This causes problems for apps like Actions. In fact out of the box Blender will not recognise any of the event triggers from the app at all, or at best see a single character. Bad news, well not really as there is a way to make it work, you need to get the Flows add on. Yes it is an in app purchase but it isn’t expensive and it makes the whole app much more flexible, and not just for Blender.

The secret is to send the modifier key first with the HOLD option selected then add a step and then send the modified key. In this way Blender sees it as a standard key press. In the example below I have the recipe for the Merge Vertices to Center command. You see the first step is the  ALT (option) key ⌥  on its own set to HOLD – the next step sends the M, the next sends the RELEASE for the ALT ⌥ key, then 1 then I send A to deselect the vertices.

Blender Actions Recipe Merge to Centre
Blender Actions Recipe Merge to Centre

Without the Flow addon Blender would only read M but with the Flow it sees the whole stream. It works very well and I am adding more recipes as I see the need. It is perfect for combining multiple keystrokes into a single big button on the iPad.