View Full Version : max sdk vs. maya sdk vs. xsi sdk

03 March 2005, 09:29 PM
Hi all,
I've been learning max sdk for a while and I have a very bad opinion about its documentation and design. I also came to the conclusion that it is no worth using C++ at all and its enough to precompile a maxscript file. I'd like to know however, how does max sdk compare with mayas or xsis? Does anyone have any experience with them?

03 March 2005, 05:37 AM
Max SDK is very powerful and covers most aspects of the package. It is WAYYYY better than Maxscript. First reason for creating in SDK as opposed to Maxscript is for pure speed. Most often we implent the utilities in Maxscript to allow designers and animators to play with it before we dive into SDK for robust code. So if sticking with Max, you must know how to do this.

On the otherhand, MEL Script for Maya is a very nice alternative to their API system. MEL has very powerful features that makes it workthwhile than Maxscript for final product deployment.

So in short Max SDK is very powerful and MEL Script is very powerful for final product. But Maxscript will also do the job if it is not much of a CPU work. Being said that, I have not used Max 7 yet. So all information I am telling is in comparison with Max 6.

Anyone know of any major improvements in Max 7's Maxscript? (In terms of speed features etc...)

03 March 2005, 05:54 AM
so far for 3d app c++ api's the best one i've found has been the c4d one surprisingly. some very good and fast libraries of commands, well designed structure and the reference documentation is well written. however on the downside it is only a reference documentation, not a "this is how to code", or even that many examples of how to use each function, so a certain level of experience is required (though the sdk comes with examples of most things and it's pretty easy to pick up... hell if i could do it, anyone can).

second to that it's maya's, simply because of the structure of the program and the way it handles things. though if you plan to code for it you really should get david goulds book for it as the documentation is patchy and it's search functionality is very weak.

xsi's is last of all, softimage don't appear to want to be very open about many areas of the api especially anything remotely related to tool creation. on the other hand if your'e dealing with character work then it's not so bad (and for ca programming i'd put mayas api at the top of the heap). the documentation for xsi is at first pretty, and it's nice that it has an example of using each and every bit of code, however there's not a great deal of structure so it's hard to find what you're after, there's no class/object reference with each example and the search functionality is very weak (though not quite as bad as maya's).

if we're talking scripting then things are really reversed. XSI has imo the best scripting, if simply because it allows you to use virtually any language, so you should feel right at home straight away. maya after that, mel is very powerful. c4d then, and finally lightwave (though not having ever coded anything for max i'd suspect it would most likely be around c4d for scripting and at least better than l-script).

03 March 2005, 04:55 AM
I can't really compare APIs because I only know Maya's. But I have to say that if you learn the Maya API the whole 3d world will open itself up to you. There are no limits to what you can do other than tinkering with the Maya core. The documentation was sketchy up to maya 4.5 but now it is a pleasure to peruse. It has a great little search engine.

The API puts alot of the onus on you to error check but once you develop a sytem it is a piece of cake. The nodes are very fast. When you combine the API with Mel you will feel as though there is no task too complicated. There is only one book that I know of regarding Maya API ( Complete Maya Programming - David Gould). It is very good and he is in the process of writing another one.

Having said that, I'd like to learn a little more of the Max SDK. What is it you don't like about its design?


03 March 2005, 05:46 AM
Having said that, I'd like to learn a little more of the Max SDK. What is it you don't like about its design?


Have a look at max sdk docs and tell me if you can make heads or tails of it, or better still, visit max sdk forum ( and read some of the posts (especially what industry veterans say about it).
There are too few examples in the docs and posting in the forum remains unnoticed (discreet used to have a guy whose task was to visit the forum and help solve some problems but it is no longer so - they provide some support to those who pay for their 'sparks membership programm').
I've got quite a bit of experience with maxscript and I can say that on everage to achieve some task in maxscript you have to write 1 line of code whereby in c++ you have to write 5.

03 March 2005, 09:17 AM
I've used both the Max and Maya SDKs in the past. Not sure which I prefer - they're both very different. It's a long time since I used the Max SDK tho - I can imagine as they've added new features to the app, the SDK could easily have turned into a complete mess.

The one really good thing I remember about the Max SDK compared to Maya is the boatload of examples you get with it. They're proper real 'I actually do something useful' examples (or at least they were when I used it :)), not the crappy little hello world things that you get with Maya.

03 March 2005, 04:52 PM
The one really good thing I remember about the Max SDK compared to Maya is the boatload of examples you get with it. They're proper real 'I actually do something useful' examples
You are right here, but it is not a convenient thing to browse through dozens of plugins, each with a several pages of code, to find the application of one small callback object etc., which is often deeply hidden in the plugin context (you often need to analyse the whole plugin in order to understand a couple of lines of code you are interested in)

03 March 2005, 06:01 PM
Alias also supplies a folder full of examples which you can the tweak for your own purposes. The examples cover everything from deformers to shaders to geometry. For example they supply a template VS project where you have to write the compute member function of the plugin in order to modify an incoming mesh.


03 March 2005, 12:34 AM
Creating an Import and Export plugins are probably the easiest task I have ever done. Both Max and Maya have come with enough examples for the past 2 to 3 years.

But there are other areas that are very messy to dig in Max (not impossible, but a little troubled). This is mostly because Discreet's poor development there. Also, Max is mostly used in Game business where things doesn't go beyond polygonal tools and export utilities. Maya on the other hand requires tools written in many aspects.

Max defenitly has a film/special effects plugins (in house that is) written but not large base exist for Discreet to put more interest in. That is what my guess is to why they leave it like that

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