Yes, that is true. Stuff that should be inherently and implicitly iterable, is not, when accessed from MAXScript.
I had to find out the hard way, so here I am sharing my findings and solutions so that you don’t have to waste time on this nonsense issue.
The problem I bumped into some time ago was when I tried to access Management Object Searchers in my code (for finding various HW IDs and serial numbers). When you call a dotNET iterable (or a collection) in MAXScript, you automatically assume you can iterate over its contents, just like with an array, for example.
Somebody at Autodesk decided that this isn’t the behavior you’d like and instead made you having to jump through hoops and obstacles to get to the object contents.
Anyways, lets look at this problem on a rather simple example of using Hashtables in MAXScript:
Ever since I read this blog post on the Area, I was intrigued to get this working in an IronPython environment (that’s pretty much all I know, in the “serious programming” area). Unfortunately for me, the article mentions C++, OLE and COM. Which are my least favourite technical subjects.
So, now when I finally really needed this solution (more on that some time later), I had to ask on the Autodesk forums.
Luckily I got an answer. But first off, huge thank you goes to Larry Minton, an Autodesk Engineer, without whom I wouldn’t have been able to get this thing going.
Now, about the problem. If your facility has a render farm and you happen to work off of your local storage, you have to point your assets to a UNC path where they’re stored so that all the machines on the network can find and load them when rendering. There are many ways of doing this and usually your pipeline TDs had figured this one out prior you even starting any work on the project. Unfortunately for me, I’m the only pipeline TD here. So I had to figure out a way of re-pathing my assets in 3ds Max scene files prior to rendering.
In February, I wrote about calling the JSON variant of the Shotgun API from the IronPython 2.7.1. Now it is time to upgrade the pipeline tools to the latest versions of both IronPython and the Shotgun API.
There are, however, some steps you have to take in order to make things work without issues.
Naturally, you still have to follow the steps described in the february article. In addition to that, however, you also have to modify the Shotgun.py some more. On lines 52, 53 and 54, remove the relative module paths. So, basically just remove the dots from the “.lib“. For some reason, IronPython is having issues with relative imports outside of packages.
After that, everything should be running smoothly again.
Here are a few screenshots from the IronPython console as well as from the MAXScript Listener in 3ds Max 2013.
duberPython (utilizing IronPython engine 2.7.3):
As you might know there has been a significant change in the latest Shotgun API that’s somehow transparent to the CPython users, but presents a rather significant roadblock for IronPython users (including our duberPython bridge, that is based on the IronPython engine).
First, let’s discuss what’s changed in the API so dramatically that it breaks IronPython compatibility. It’s the introduction of a JSON formatting that requires a few specific CPython libraries that are not available in IronPython. The effect it has on CPython users is a faster data transfer to/from Shotgun, but other than that, the API looks to be unchanged from a user point of view. You still keep calling the same methods and you’re getting back the same objects. From IronPython point of view, you’ll hit a roadblock as there are a few modifications you’ll have to make to the Shotgun modules in order to make them run in IPy without issues.
I don’t think I have to praise regular expressions here, however, I wanted to point out one extremely useful case where regular expressions were pretty much the single most useful, fastest and not so obvious choice in my 3ds Max pipeline.
The thing with 3ds Max is that regular expressions are foreign to MAXScripters and they don’t usually use them. I too am more used to regex in Python or IronPython than MAXScript. However, since we do have access to .NET in MAXScript, we can use its Regex class inside MAXScript.
Why I’m mentioning this and why could it be useful to you? I bumped into a little issue with my pipeline’s handling of rendered files. They assume to be exactly the same as I set them up in 3ds Max, which is logical and correct. However, since I started using Deadline’s SMTD script for submitting my files to the render farm, which takes care of handling the path remapping and storing, it also accidentally took care of letter casing. So, in the end, my render files were being saved all upper cased: “\\SERVER\PROJECT\RENDERS\ABC.EXR” instead of what I set in the Render Dialog: “\\SERVER\Project\Renders\ABC.exr”. The reason was simple, I used simple MAXScript substituteString() method to re-map my local paths to my server, UNC, paths and I converted everything to upper case just in case I got a mismatch:
substituteString (toUpper srcPath) @"D:" @"\\RAMMSTEIN\__UNMANAGED_PROJECTS__"
Here’s a video demonstrating the power and practical usage of Shotgun (data) brought over to 3ds Max natively via our Python plugin, duberPython.
If you’re used to scripting your GUIs in Max with the standard rollouts via “createDialog …”, you might be a little confused and lost when you first try to use a 100% .NET Form object instead.
Whatever your reason might be for using .NET Forms instead of standard dialogs, you’ll still want to:
- Create the main form and define its properties
- Define other UI controls, such as buttons, checkboxes etc…
- Define event handlers for specific control objects
- Initialize and display the entire Form with all the controls and functionality tied in
All this is done a little differently in the .NET realm than what you’re used to in MAXScript. But before you start, check out Paul Neale’s great .NET tutorials on his site. Paul provides some great info for anyone trying to use .NET controls in their scripts.
Now, there is one thing I bumped into, you can actually use .NET objects in MAXScript rollouts, however, you cannot use regular max controls in .NET Forms! So, trying to assign a standard button to a .NET Form will result in an error.
You might think that this creates a burden on the TD to actually skin and customize the .NET controls to look like native 3ds Max GUI elements. You can do this, of course, but it’d really be a lot of additional work to hassle around with color classes, HWNDs etc… you actually don’t need to worry about this as there is an Assembly available in standard Max installations. It’s a little .dll, found in the root of Max, called MaxCustomControls.dll. This Assembly contains some of the more exotic controls, such as SceneExplorer, but it also contains a complete Form control that has already been modified so it reflects your 3ds Max environment, including all the colors, themes and even an initialization method for showing the control as a part of the max process/window.