Hello, friends of the 3D mouse…
This is about the further development of the CollieMouse alternative plugin for controlling the 3Dconnexion 3D mouse family (for PC only, at the moment).
Please read if it affects you (if you are an owner of a 3Dconnexion device, or you are planning to purchase one) even if it’s a long text.
Several years ago, I bought a Space Navigator, and I was not happy about the way it worked in C4D. So, I set out to develop a plugin of my own to provide the missing functionality, which became CollieMouse.
I originally published this as “donate if you’d like to see further development”, but the total revenue from that idea turned out to be a whooping 38, which is about $40. No, there is no zero missing, donations from generous people (for which I am duly thankful) did not even pay for the original Space Navigator, which I got on a sale.
Now, that was fine at the time: I programmed the thing for myself mostly, and it brought me great joy because now the Navigator behaved the way I wanted it to, and it actually became an invaluable tool. I hope that others had similar good experiences with it.
Over the next years, I kept CollieMouse up to date, adapted it to the new pivot handling in C4D, and added button support that allowed to execute any C4D function through a Navigator button. (A fat lot of good it does me, with only 2 buttons on the small device )
These versions were released for free, because donations didn’t do so well, so why bother.
However, recently I was informed that CollieMouse doesn’t work with the new(?) SpaceMouse Enterprise at all. And possibly other newer devices; I can’t check that for lack of hardware.
With the help of a person that owns such a device, I went out to investigate, and found that in the meantime 3Dconnexion had changed its interface. While CollieMouse used a raw input read, as in the code samples originally provided, 3Dconnexion now has a full abstraction interface with additional functions, and a setup GUI of their own that supports some interesting possibilities.
Also, it’s breaking the CollieMouse connection.
I spent a few days on what practically turned out to be a complete reimplementation of the CollieMouse 3Dconnexion interface. Right now, CollieMouse works with the SpaceMouse Enterprise, and supports both raw buttons and the new button assignment interface - including radial menus. It’s currently doing only test tasks, but I will be able to deliver a cleaned-up version which allows the assignment of ANY C4D function in the official SpaceMouse way, and will offer all the previous functionality of CollieMouse to the new (and future) devices.
Now, here’s the catch: I’m spending a lot of time on this, and I can’t even buy a SpaceMouse Enterprise of my own from the non-existing revenue. Which would be great to own because then I could do all the tests right here and reduce turnaround times. Also, I would like to have one
I don’t expect much (3D mice are a special hardware, and while I personally love it - come on, with CollieMouse as a driver you would love it too! - I can see that not everybody will want to have one, and therefore not everybody will need CollieMouse) but if I keep programming code I don’t need to support devices I can’t even buy without netting a fat total minus, that seems a bit, uh, over the top.
So, I require a bit of money to buy the thing, and I’m asking CollieMouse owners and fans to chip in.
Should you care? Here’s what CollieMouse can do or will do what the original C4D driver can’t:
- keep the horizon level without tricks (and offer more movement modes)
- observe the rotational manual pivot (great asset if you work in closeup on a mesh)
- assign any C4D function to buttons instead of only a selection
- assign other plugin functions and scripts to buttons
- supports the newest 3Dconnexion interface, which means:
- will be able to work with radial menus!
- is still in active development - good luck with the internal driver to get any attention ever again
Redraw functionalities are the ones from C4D so don’t expect speed wonders - it should mostly behave like the mouse camera movement. The plugin works with all cameras (default/view and camera object) as well as all perspective, parallel, flat, or axonometric views.
And to be fair, here’s what it won’t do:
- at the moment doesn’t support Macintosh (I got some pointers on setting up a virtual Mac but I am not sure this will work well with this hardware, so I can’t promise anything)
- will probably not or only rudimentarily support the LCD panel showing application symbols (I could do it but I would only be able to supply a small set of icons, so it’s maybe a lost cause)
- will not move objects but only the camera (although if I have more buttons on my device, I may feel motivated to introduce an object mode)
- will only work with the camera in views, not with horizontal/vertical scrolling in object tree or texture view. This is actually a limitation of C4D itself, it doesn’t
offer any API functionality to control these views.
- buttons can not be used as hotkeys (C4D’s API again doesn’t seem to have any corresponding functionality)
- CollieMouse will “grab” the 3D mouse device so you can’t use it in parallel in other applications unless you close the dialog. This is a conceptual necessity since I do not control the main C4D window.
What is actually needed? Including fees and taxes (VAT tax in Germany is murder), I suppose 600$ will suffice. That’s 30 people who give a twenty… I wouldn’t turn down a few bucks more for the effort, but I’m realistic.
If more money comes in, I will think about a context switching method, so you can have different button assignments for contexts like “modeling”, “sculpting”, “hair”, or “animation”. (3Dconnexion supports this, and I have tested it successfully already, it’s just a bit more work on the Preferences interface side). Or I may even add object movement support.
Will this be a Kickstarter? No, I don’t think the overhead for a proper Kickstarter campaign is justifying the outcome. We’re not talking thousands here, and by the time I did a presentation video, I could have programmed three new functions into the plugin.
How can it be done? Well, if you wish to donate a bit, pledge the sum in a private message (I need your email). I will send you the test version when it’s done, and you can check out whether it works on your device (buttons will only write stuff to the console for the moment). If it doesn’t, we can do some tests together, or you can retract your pledge.
I will announce once the target has been met. Then (and only then) I give out my paypal, and you send me the actual money. You don’t pay until the pledge is successful AND you had the opportunity to check whether the plugin conceptually works with your specific device, by means of the test version.
Then, I will send you the fully working version, unlocked - I don’t need or want your serial -, once I have performed the necessary tests with the newly purchased device. You can get a working beta before then, but it may write a lot of s*** to the console
Later on (maybe in a few months), I will post CollieMouse for everybody, just like the existing versions. No strings attached, I don’t want to make a living on this.
What happens if the target is not met, or if people renege on their pledge, or just don’t pay up/book back? Well…
If I see early on that the interest really is too low even for this mini funding, I will cancel the pledge call, and you pay nothing. You can keep the test version; it’s still good for controlling the knob. I may still offer the full plugin later with a serial lock (the difficult part is done so why waste it…) but it will definitely be more expensive. In any case, I will see how large the interest (and the willingness to pledge cash) still is, and adjust my planning for this and further plugins accordingly.
If I see the pledge going well, reaching the goal, and I buy the SM Enterprise and send out the plugin, and people are THEN asking their money back because it’s so easy to cheat on paypal, well, I guess I’m effed then.
Sounds fair enough?
Spread the word.
(Comments and questions below please, pledges per private message to keep matters and addresses confidential.)