View Full Version : Script/plugin management project - looking for input

01 January 2012, 10:06 PM
Together with a mate I've been thinking about making a (free, open-source) script browsing/management tool for 3dsmax. It should provide a standard, central framework for browsing, installing, uninstalling and most importantly updating scripts and plugins. Think Eclipse software update or an app-store with automatic update notifications. It is aimed both at end-users (easily getting & installing updates) as well as developers (easily pushing out updates).

We've been doing some experiments and basically have been pondering it over the course of a year. Now, we think that it would be a good idea to make it multi-platform (or at least prepare it for it). So we could easily make a version for XSI as well. Since we've both mainly been 3dsmax oriented in our work, I thought it would be good to ask around for some input. So here are a few main questions!

1. Do you think it would be useful to have a tool like this for XSI?
2. What would be requirements and must-have features? (can be specific to XSI)
3. What is currently your main source for scripts from other devs?
4. How do you keep track of updates of scripts you use?
5. Any other thoughts on this project?


ps. I've created similar threads in other subfora as well, I hope that won't be considered as spamming. :)

01 January 2012, 07:37 PM
Do you mind i post this in Softimage forum like xsibase, asking for people to came here?

01 January 2012, 07:41 PM
Do you mind i post this in Softimage forum like xsibase, asking for people to came here?No problem, that'd be great! I guess there's a bit more activity there on XSI than there is here :) And they can just reply there as well, that's fine.

01 January 2012, 08:28 PM
Thanks. I already posted here.;action=display;threadid=46294;start=0

My answers:

First i have to tell you i am not an expert in this area so some of what i say might be incomplete. I also wouldn't talk only about scripts it will be rather restricted.

Softimage have plugins called addons that many peple make but also .js,python, vbs scripts can be installed like plugins or the pasted the code and run. There is also Ice compounds.

Softimage has a plugin manager which lists the installed scripts and the plugins.
I should also note the concept of workgroup to install the plugins if the user wants, for example if you install an new version of softimage and point to the workgroup directory it will use all plugins already there next time it starts.

1-Depend of what will do. update modifications and a news system warning of release will be nice.
2-Must include Ice compounds, it is the future - ice compounds also can be installed by addons but most aren't so those don't appear in plugin manager they appear in icetree only.
I don't know if the plugin manager will have extended functionality in the next Softimage release to handle Ice compounds that aren't addons. Maybe it should.
3- an unoffical repository , and, then maybe an hundred of individual websites.
4-Checking forum with news from the author or go to the respective website.
5-not for now.

For example this 30 sec video is installing an addon plugin in workgroup directory:

01 January 2012, 09:00 PM
That's some very useful info! I should probably look more closely in to the plugin manager, workgroup installation and Ice compounds.

Here's a bit more info on the plans for the tool, in general (from the C4D thread):
The script hosting itself is not centralised. The end-user has a single place to get updates (the management tool), but the scripts themselves can come from anywhere. The current idea for the 3dsmax tool is as follows:
1. The developer hosts the script/plugin and creates an update site with some version information (through an authoring tool we'll provide, quite simple).
2. The user refers to that update site in the "management" tool to get the latest version of the script.
3. The management tool then periodically retrieves update information from the update site and updates the script when necessary.

In addition to that, anyone can make repositories, which is basically a collection of update sites. So you as a user can make your own repository to bundle your favorite scripts, or a developer can bundle all his/her scripts. These you can publish, or use locally as you wish.

01 January 2012, 10:33 AM
Hi Pjanssen,

Bullit's post is pretty much spot on, so I'm not gonna repeat whats already said... Here's just a couple of thoughts on the project:

I think, with plugin manager and addon system in general, your tool probably makes a bit less sense for softimage than it does for some other packages. I almost said "softimage is a software that doesn't rely on plugins" but than I checked and realized I have some 25 xsiaddons and as much scripts currently on my workgroup. Still, most of them are very simple workflow enhancements that will probably never get modified. A news/update system would be welcome for a couple of big ones, though.

With that said, it seems to me (from a really(!) quick look at the max subforum thread) that a lot of things you are planing regarding installation are already there in some shape or form in xsi. Or WERE there. If you look for a plugin called Legacy NetView Database, you'll find what once was exactly the type of a "webstore" that's needed (if you're asking yourself what happened to it, look no further for an answer - autodesk happened). It was web-based, accessible from XSI directly and all the scripts could be executed/installed within a matter of click.

That type of an interface would be extremely useful now as it would help centralize xsi's scattered web situation. What i don't like about your idea is a complete lack of backup system. is for two reasons my preferred resource canter: 1. its a very simple/clean tag-based repository; 2. it provides a description, a link to the related textual source, a download link and a local backup in case author's site is down for whatever reason. This is very useful for scripts that are older than say 2 years when you really need them but the original creator/url is nowhere to be found.

Again, I dont have a clear idea what exactly your plans are, so maybe I'm making a wrong assumption or two.

If you do go for it, make sure you keep ICE compounds in mind. Definitely the future of xsi and one of the areas where management/distribution could be improved tenfold. For example, compounds have a category tag that organizes them inside softimage, but outside, they are a mess. Also, browsing for the right one can be hell sometimes. Every compound has a description, but its inaccessible and often useless - unless you stumble upon a right compound or know exactly what you're looking for. A search system through indexed names, authors, descriptions, instructions, screenshots, links etc. could go a long way in making much needed order in there...

01 January 2012, 07:17 PM
That is very valuable input, thank you!
Right now the plan is only to provide a framework and tool, for both end-users and developers. So there are no plans for setting up a hosting service. This would bring in other components such as costs too. And the idea is to make this entirely free for use.

As you describe the XSI situation it would seem that this project would indeed not be as useful as it would be for 3dsmax and possibly other 3d packages...

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