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Developing a Scripted Utility

By Sathish Shanmugasundaram
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Software used:

Hello everyone, this tutorial will guide you to develop a scripted utility in 3DS MAX 9. This tutorial is for users with basic knowledge in max script or any other object oriented language. Here I explained everything step by step. Actually this coding is a part in my plug-in. Due to coding complexity, I cut short some and added only a few things. If time permits I will explain the rest.

It covers:

• How to develop a tool (with rollouts, buttons, check boxes etc) in 3ds Max.
• How to position an object over another objects vertex or polygon.
• Calculating local normals of vertex and polygons in an object and positioning another object according to it.
• By using basic coding, making copies of an object according to user selection (may be Instance, Copy or references).

What is Scripted Utility?

Max Script allows us to create our own Tools for specific purpose and embed them into existing max interface. The Scripted Utilities are tools appear in Utility panel > Max Script Utility. Scripted utility is an easiest way of developing tools, since they are special kind of rollouts that saves the developer some UI management work.

To create new script go to MaxScript menu->New (or)
Open Utility panel -> MaxScript->New script.

To run a script, go to MaxScript menu->Run Script (or) Utility panel ->
MaxScript-> Run Script and choose script to be run.

When we put the Script file into \Scripts\Startup folder then it will automatically executed when 3DMax starts.

After execution our utility is available at Utilities panel -> maxScript -> Utility dropdown list (See Fig01). When we select Object Placer the rollout will appear below dropdown list as shown below.

Fig. 01 - OpeningTheScript

Purpose of our utility - Object Placer

Object placer allow us to place copies of source object into the destination object's vertices and/or polygon's centre, Also aligned with local normal.

Fig.02 shows the final object placer utility. The contents are:

About rollout with Labels. Parameter rollout with following:
- Two Pick buttons for Source and Destination object selection.
- Two Check boxes for selecting Vertex and /or Polygon.
- A Group named Copy option with three Radio buttons for selecting copy type.

Fig. 02 - ObjectPlacerUtility

Fig.03 shows, source object Cone copied and aligned to Geosphere's polygons and another object box copied and aligned with vertices of Geosphere.

Fig. 03 - ObjectWithConeandBox

Before using this utility

Actually this tool is not the final one, as I said earlier I added only basic coding. But here I gave you technique of developing the utility and manipulating objects through script. You can extend this script at your own way (At your own risk).

1. Object positioning is based on local normal of a polygon or vertex in destination object and world up axis. So u needs to adjust rotation manually in some places.
2. Scale Source object in Sub-object selection mode (in polygon, edge or vertex).Better use vertex mode for similar result as normal scaling.
3. Source must be geometry object. Before selecting destination object, collapse it into Editable Poly.
4. Modify Source objects pivot for different type of arrangement.
5. When you use Vertex positioning, command panels may blink because it jumps between create and modify panels.

continued on next page >

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