Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Confirmations And You

I got into an interesting debate with a colleague last year about the use of confirmations in tool writing. He was passionately of the mind that the user should be solely responsible for clicking a button, and if they didn't mean to click it then they should face the consequences. Now, most people will agree that there are few tools in our pipelines that will cause issues if a button is pressed when the user isn't ready, it's usually no big deal. There are some though. One example would be sending a shot to be rendered.

Let's look at an example where the user has a button on a shelf that will send their currently open scene to be rendered, on the farm or elsewhere. As soon as he or she clicks the "Render" button, the shot is saved, archived, render is set up, and it's sent to the farm to be magiked into a video. If the shot is ready to be rendered then this is certainly a great solution. One simple click and they're off to play golf. However, what if it's going on the dark side of an 18 hour shift and the shelf buttons have become blurry enough that the user clicks the button by mistake? Let's look at why this is an annoyance in production.

First off, there is now an asset being created that is of no real use. The user will to spend time alerting the powers that be that they need not use this asset for anything and it should be deleted when it's finished being comped. Next, the powers that be must track down this asset and delete it so it doesn't get confused with a proper deliverable of any sort. On top of all this, the process of rendering and comping this shot will inevitably take up resources that would be better served doing anything but an irrelevant task. In the big picture it's not a huge problem by anyone's standards, but it could have all been avoided by requiring one extra click.

I won't argue that there is a time and place for a confirmation box, but when the potential for screwing up is wasting people's time and resources then I think it's right to use one. A tired animator or rigger can save themselves and others time and money by being given a chance to say "No!".

Today I was coding something and a similar situation occured where I was making a decision to include a confirmation or not. This is how I was reminded of the passionate fellow who argued never to use them. I laughed for a minute, then added my confirm dialog, with gusto.

Thoughts? To confirm, or not to confirm?

Monday, May 24, 2010

MEL Script: Makes A Quick Set Driven Key

This is a tool I use from time to time that enables me to quickly bridge a set driven key between two objects/attributes that I can then edit. It's much faster for me to grab a node and edit a curve into the values I want than it is to use Maya's default Set Driven Key creation GUI or even the default MEL commands. This lets me quickly create an SDK and edit without all the fuss. It's not something I'd use when creating Set Driven Keys on a massive scale, like in the case of an entire rig...but instead for when I just need a couple of them here and there.

The 'GET' button will grab the selected attribute from the channel box, or you can type in your 'object.attribute' manually. Hit the 'Make SDK' button to create. Sourcing the script will launch the GUI.

Get it for free here: jgMakeSimpleSDK.mel

Friday, May 7, 2010

MEL: jgViewportBackgroundColor - Change/Save/Load Viewport Background Colors

This is a script I use from time to time as a quick and easy way to change your Maya viewport's background color. You can use the slider to adjust value or click the color image to bring up a palette and choose a new shade.

If you want to get back to your favorite color quickly, there's a save and load feature as well.

Simply source in Maya to use.

Download the Mel Script Here: jgViewportBackgroundColor.mel

Thursday, May 6, 2010

MEL: Zero Out Selected Controls

Here's a really simple script I threw together for an animator that zeros out all visible and keyable attributes on objects. It ignores visibility and scale, and any non-scalar (numeric) attributes.

Great for getting a character back into his or her neutral position.

Download Here: jgZeroOutAttrs.mel

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

MEL Script: Select Connections

This is a small tool I wrote to give you easy access to connections and connected nodes coming in or out of a specific attribute. I'm constantly working with thousands of set driven key nodes and I need fast and simple access to specific ones so this script/gui gives you just that.

To use, first select the node containing the attribute, then hit 'Load Attributes'. This will populate the list with all the visible/keyable attributes on your object. You can then select as many as you like from the list and press 'Select Connections'. There are also checkboxes you can turn on or off to only select incoming or outgoing connections.

It's available for download here: jgSelectConnections.mel

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