View Full Version : How good are you at MEL?

04 April 2003, 09:20 PM
I just bought a book on MEL's scary as hell. There's a lot of math involved (trig, and it looks like some physics and calculus)

I was wondering if any of you Maya experts aren't experts in Maya. It'll surely make me feel alot better about this.

attribute = {sin{frequency * frequency multiplier} * amplitude} + offset

*runs in a corner and cries himself to sleep*

04 April 2003, 10:25 PM
well, 1st it is the wrong forum ... and then MEL is so difficult as far as you us it .. if you use it for small procedures lake erasing objects or other thing to increase your workflow or to build your own small tools and complex animationcontrollers and other stuff. i bought the book "Complete Maya Programming" from David A.D. Gould .. and it is very easy to read and a good introduction for mel .. ;) .. so try better make small procedures and then try some more complex scripts ... thats the way i learnd mel .. (and still learning) ..

04 April 2003, 12:04 AM

It sounds like you have my book, MEL Scripting for Maya Animators (which I unqualifiedly recommend :D :D), and it sounds like you got hung up on the only chapter with a lot of math in it. :D

Have a look at the preface. It suggests parts that you may want to skip over at first if you're not comfortable with math. In particular, there's some pretty dense stuff in the chapter on particle expressions that you can skip without missing much.

MEL is as hard or as easy as what you try to do with it, and I think if you skip over the stuff that seems too tricky at first you really won't miss much. If it makes you feel any better, some of our pre-publication reviewers were not that comfortable with math either and at least one of them said "If I just close my eyes through this one chapter it's all OK." :D

However, if you NEED to write particle expressions, it's very likely that you need that math too, which is why it's covered that way.

By the way, if you don't consider yourself much of a programmer already you will NOT find David's book easier to learn from, although for those who have done some programming I think it's a good book.

-- Mark

04 April 2003, 06:52 AM
By the way, if you don't consider yourself much of a programmer already you will NOT find David's book easier to learn from, although for those who have done some programming I think it's a good book.

i definitely second that! :thumbsup:

as a complete MEL/scripting newbie, i bought both books and immediately found myself more attracted towards mark's book.

it seems much easier to understand the underlying principles of MEL, without having any programming experience at all using 'MEL Scripting For Maya Animators'.

Anyway, i think Gould's book is a must have too.

don't give up, it's just a matter of patience and discipline!
(at least i hope so) :p

04 April 2003, 12:47 PM
ordered your book 6 weeks ago......still waiting :(

04 April 2003, 02:08 PM
noooooooooooO!!!! :D

-- Mark

04 April 2003, 07:20 AM
I bought David's book first, myself. Being as I have already taken a class in MEL at my school. I would also recommend it for people more into coding and scripting.
I have heard nothing but praise for Mark's book as well.
Rest assured Mark, your book is next on my list. I look forward to it.

04 April 2003, 07:29 AM
Well, I've said this before in this forum, but the two books are different. They cover different material -- it's not just a matter of "advanced" and "basic."

David's book covers a somewhat deeper discussion of the internal structure of nodes and attributes, suitable for where he goes in presenting the API.

What we offer that his doesn't is more discussion about how to use MEL in production. Honestly, it's this production vs. tool-development emphasis that seems to distinguish those who like each book rather than beginner vs. advanced, although the beginner vs. advanced thing seems to drive the reactions of those who jump to conclusions based on skimming the books briefly.

Take the easy way out: buy both. They're cheap.

-- Mark

04 April 2003, 08:17 AM
Not that you think Mark gives me money for this post, but I have to say that Mark`s book pushed my Mel skillz from the 0.04 to 345.245 (relative) points. There were always these little things that took hours to do but with mel (and Mark`s valuable infos) it`s just a mouse click anymore. Mel almost crashed my brain, because I`m a GUI fan and an "artist" (whatever that means) but definitly no programmer, but once you understand the basic structure of Mel and what a variable or an array is, you are only limited by you Imagination.
Thanx Mark and all other Mel gurus in this forum

04 April 2003, 08:35 PM
I code in Maya daily, and most of the scripts I write deal with tracking down the right info/nodes and then performing a given operation on them. Most of it deals with creating scripts that allow a user to press one button instead of doing several steps through the interface. My MEL coding rarely deals with math. Lots of interface coding though. :)

If you are going to be doing scripting primarily as your day to day work, then it helps to learn linear algebra, some trig, and a lot about how the node structure of Maya works. If you are more of a casual coder, then you don't always need this kind of a background.

And if you break the math down, it isn't as scary as it looks at first. For example, you example of

attribute = {sin{frequency * frequency multiplier} * amplitude} + offset

isn't all that complex if you break it down. You are dealing with a bumpy sin wave. Frequency is how often the bumps in the wave occur. FrequencyMultiplier makes them longer or shorter horizontally (on a graph). Amplitude makes them taller or shorter vertically (on a graph). Adding an Offset simply makes it start at a different time. Once you go through once and figure out what each part does and why, then the next time you see an equation like that it will seem pretty basic to you.

Hope this helps,
Michael Duffy

04 April 2003, 08:53 PM
Mr. Duffy's absolutely right -- usually at most there's a little tiny core of math at the center of something and it's surrounded by a ton of user interface code and code that checks to make sure the script isn't about to screw anything up. :D

-- Mark

04 April 2003, 12:16 AM
I just learned the basics of MEL all by myself because I didn't knew that there existed a book which covered the workflow scripting. Damn. Well well, I'll buy your book anyway Mark! Thanks you! ;)

Hmm btw, why do you got a screaming dude with the nation flag of Sweden painted on his face? :P You're not from sweden are you?

04 April 2003, 12:41 AM
just thought the picture was cool. I have friends from Sweden, does that count? :D

-- Mark

04 April 2003, 01:30 AM
I just ordered your book from, there was a bundle package with maya programming book, that was a sweet deal.

Can't wait to read it, from website your book looks perfect for what I want to do right now :)

Cheers :beer:

04 April 2003, 07:52 AM
Originally posted by mark_wilkins
just thought the picture was cool. I have friends from Sweden, does that count? :D

-- Mark

But yes of course! :bounce:


04 April 2003, 12:24 PM
By the way, any of you who do like the book, please consider writing a brief review on communicating what you think! :-)

-- Mark

04 April 2003, 08:24 PM
Hi Mark,
since all my little MEL-Scripts now do the work for me I have so much spare time that I can hang around on amazon and write online recensions, but since you already have so many good ones there I posted one on the german amazon site (no the english recensions don`t show up there).
May the sales be with you

04 April 2003, 08:38 PM
:D Thank you! Kind words in German are most welcome!

-- Mark

04 April 2003, 08:51 AM
I just started fiddling with mel (well.. beyond dragging history from the script editor onto my shelves) a week ago..

I always found it very daunting but once I actually sat down and fiddled a bit I realised it's not half as scary as I thought it was..

I find MEL quite straight forward. (But I have a computer science background and I suppose anything will seem more straight forward than sml and prolog). I think the trick to most programming is not to concentrate on the parts that seem very theoretical and scary until you have found your footing, you'll feel much better equipped to deal with it then.

Anyway, I found the following website very good (thank you b-holm for pointing it out):

After the praise I heard for Mark's book, I will also buy that (at the end of the month once I've got my credit card bill:D )

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