Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Poser Python the missing manual

I've been playing with python in Poser a bit and found the E-Frontier version was just a list of objects and methods so I was very glad to see this new product available from one of the known experts on Poser Python, Phil Cooke (known as PhilC on Renderosity).
The "book" consists of:

  • A 388 page PDF manual

  • Over 100 python scripts

  • Graphics files for use in the examples

  • XML files for use in the interface examples

  • 3d models for use in the examples

The book cleverly hooks the examples and scripts into the menus of Poser and in the manual it explains how this was done.

I found the PDF manual to be a little variable. The getting started section is clear and gently drops you into the Poser python world. The intro to python gives a good descriptions of the different types of control statements such as for, if, while etc however the description about boolean operators is overly complicated and confusing. However someone with basic programming knowledge in another language such as VB or Javascript should be able to easily understand the python way.

The bulk of the manual (184 pages) is about creating graphical user interfaces for your scripts, Phil looks at three different techniques and mentions some of their advantages and disadvantages from simple input boxes to complex interactive forms. This section is full of detail with screenshots and clear explanations. If you wish to create UI components for your script then you should buy this book for this section alone.

The next section of the manual provided a mirror of the efrontier manual. Phil covers some topics here in good detail with screenshots and examples and there others are more spartan. I would have liked to have seen this section restructured by topic, e.g. hair, geometry, posing etc.

The manual finishes with an explanation of the utility scripts provided. The provided scripts and examples are easy to read and clearly documented. The example scripts are repeated in the manual with additional explanation.

Although it is possible to navigate the book via the bookmarks and searching, I would have liked to have seen a table of contents and perhaps a small index. The structure of the document feels disjointed as it it's been assembled from others rather than planned properly. An annoying characteristic is having a heading on the bottom of one page followed by the text that it relates to on the next, I also spotted at least one spelling mistake.

The manual specifically mentions that it is for Poser 7 but lots of it also applies to Poser 6. Phil has explained some of the differences for Mac and PC users and where Poser Python features are limited.

Despite it's annoyances and limitations this should prove to be a handy reference guide and indispensable if I need to make any UIs for Poser. I think given that it's a first version the price is a little high but I benefited from the US/UK exchange rate so think I did ok.

See these store pages for details and sample pages:

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