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In this chapter we share tips and tricks for creating your own style presets for RailClone. Sometimes you may want to swap segments dynamically based on other conditions in the array.
Through our years of experience we have come up with 5 keys that will make or break your documentation efforts. First off, we don’t care about XML, single sourcing, approval processes, stylistic consistency or revision tracking.
So, if you are looking for ways to outsource your documentation, or for the cheapest way to get your documentation done, then you might want to move along. In reality, your documentation should give your user just enough information to accomplish their task and nothing more. Delivering an atlas to your customer when they are stuck isn’t going to help them get anywhere very quickly.
You shouldn’t just use screenshots and pictures in all of your documentation, you should go totally crazy with screenshots.
We create ScreenSteps Live to help organizations create beautiful documentation without developers. Want to send a translation to ICanLocalize but page appears as being translated by a local translator? Now, you will see a summary of your project and will have to select the languages to which you want to translate and upload the resource files. An example pattern-based documentation that was created retrospectively from pattern applications on an industrial project is presented.
JavaScript is currently disabled, this site works much better if you enable JavaScript in your browser. Your stakeholders must understand the total cost of ownership (TCO) for a document, and your stakeholders must explicitly decide to invest in that document. If you regularly use the same styles in your scenes, it makes sense to add them to the built-in library browser for easy access, and If you work in a studio you can easily save library configuration files in a networked location so that artists can share and collaborate on a central repository.
For example you could create a truss that increases in depth as the length gets longer, or a corner segment that changes depending on the angle.Using the Conditional operator you are able to change segments based on spline length, the segment's position in the array, whether the spline segment is a curve or a line, the segment count on the X and Y axis, and the splines segment's material ID. Not only do we create a ton of documentation, but we also regularly work with customers to help them devise strategies for creating, distributing and updating their documentation. But before we get into the details of the 5 keys you need to know what we value in documentation. One extreme is the app developer who believes that their app is so simple that they don’t provide any documentation at all. Do you work on communicating with your customers for a few weeks then stop and say nothing for 6 months to a year? They are ticked by default, but you can untick any string that you do not want to send to translation. If you do not click on the button, translators will start sending you applications as soon as you create the project. It enables you to write a message and send it to all your translators and reviewers in one click.
In addition to the example documentation, the paper examines the approach taken, divergence of the documentation from the real system, benefits, liabilities, and applicability of the approach. In the first half of this chapter we focus on the the essentials of using the library browser to create and edit libraries and in the second half we'll demonstrate advanced tips that show how to support multiple renderers and trigger maxscript events to extend the functionality of the library. Best of all, the Conditional operator is very easy to use, it takes two segments as inputs and only returns one of them depending on whether the test conditions return true or false.If you want to test for multiple conditions, nodes can be nested to create a more complex decision tree. But if you care about your customers, you care about communicating clearly and you care about improving the way you run your business, then these 5 keys should help you out. The other extreme is the organization that feels like they need to teach you the history of their application going back to the early 1600’s for you to be able to accomplish anything.


You need to create documentation that is attached with velcro so that you can easily pull out exactly the information your customer needs and point them to it.
If you find that your help authoring tool makes it hard to add screenshots and images to your documentation, then get a better tool.
This section is aimed at users that would like to share their libraries either in the same studio or even for distribution online. This is achieved using a macro that inserts a different name into a material library's path depending on the option selected in the material selector dropdown. There's no limit on the number of conditional operators that can be connected in a chain, so complex relationships are easy to set-up and use. They claimed that the text descriptions they wrote worked just as well or better than having pictures. It can’t be something you finish because as long as your customers have new questions, as long as your product is changing and evolving, as long as you need to communicate with your customers you will need to create and update your documentation.
For this to work you need 3 ingredients:A material Library for each renderer you wish to support. In this chapter we'll look at how to use the Conditional Operator's parameters using a Ducting example.
You need a way of delivering exactly the instructions a customer needs to help them reach their desired destination. To open the library click on in the Style rollout.On the left of the interface is the navigator, use this to select, edit and open your libraries. Or worse yet, what if you use one of those awful help authoring tools that delivers all of your help in frames with the same URL for all of them?
The file names should be structured so that they share a common section that is the same for every file, plus a variable suffix.
Though this is only a small part of what this operator is capable of, even this small subsection of conditional rules provides a lot of options. System folders, which are represented in blue, denote the libraries that come packaged with RailClone.
In the examples shown below the common portion is _rc_picture_frames_ and the variable portion is standard, mental, or vray The names of the materials in the material library must be identical to those applied to the source objects. The following four steps demonstrates a simplified generic procedure for creating conditional setups using the length parameter.First of all, you need to turn on the condition which you want to test.
The library will search the library for a material of the same name as the one currently applied to the object.A code snippet added to the XML to create a macro that can be used to tell the library browser which matlib to use. This is where your custom libraries can be found.After a fresh install of RailClone you'll have one location already added called User's librarys. We'll look at how to edit and add locations a little later in this tutorial.A On the right is the Items grid. This value is arbitrary, but we recommend you maintain consistency by using the naming conventions shown in the table below. A Along the top is the toolbar, with several command buttons to navigate, save and refresh the library as well as changing the size of the thumbnail images.There may be times when you'd like to make a copy of an existing library. To do this select a library and then dragging it to any user folder while holding down CTRL. In this exercise we only need to worry about the vents which are wired to the second generator's Default Input.Wire a new Conditional operator between the existing Compose operator and the Generator's Default input.
You'll find these in the the Matlibs folder in the downloads for this guide.Now we need to create a macro that returns the values shown in the table above depending on the selection in the material dropdown menu. You can also move files between folders just by clicking and dragging in the navigator view, there's no need to open Explorer for basic file operations!Exercise: Creating a new LibraryThe first thing you need is a root folder. This is the path that RailClone's library browser will search in for library configuration files. As mentioned above, there's already a User folder set up, but for the purposes of this exercise we'll add a new directory.


Next lets prevent them from appearing in the final fifth by connecting multiple Conditional nodes in sequence.Create a new Conditional node and wire it between the existing Conditional node and the Generator's default input.
In this example the path is created locally, but there's no reason why this can't be shared network location so that assets can be easily accessed by multiple artists in a studio environment.
Right click on a preset and open the Properties.Activate Override Material and click onA  to select one of the material libraries in the matlibs folderIn the Mat. When combined with the first Conditional operator we will now only get a vent segment if it falls within 20% - 80% of the spline's length. Select the renderer part of the file name () and either type the macro name manually or click onA  and a list will open.A  Double click on RAILCLONE_RENDERER to insert the macro into the material library path.
This can be extremely useful if you want to optimise your models as you can use a higher resolution mesh on curved paths so that it bends smoothly, and a lower resolution on straight paths where no deformation is required. The path should read matlibs\rc_picture_frames_$(RAILCLONE_RENDERER).matNext select the Material to use from the library. This and any other folders found in the same location as an index.xml file are not displayed in the Library navigator. Select a material and Click OK.To test the file, set the material selector to Mental RayA  and open an object from the library, the material should use Arch and Design shaders. Here's howSelect rc_spline_type and open the Style Editor.As in the previous examples, this style features two generators.
This allows you to organise your assets by adding additional directories to separate models, maps and materials.Although you can easily create libraries entirely from the library browser interface, if you plan to share library files with colleagues, other users, or offer them for sale, it is helpful to understand how library files are stored behind the scenes. In this example we are replacing the material on the object with another of the same name from a material library. You can use any names, but we recommend adding a folder called objectsA for the .max files and maps for your textures. As we'll see later, it's also possible to trigger maxscript events from the XML file to add additional functionality to the library such as detecting the current renderer, adding new user paths and much more.Never save your own libraries in the same location as RailClone's built in presets. You will now have a different segment on the curved part of the spline.In the next steps we'll add a transitional segment between the straight and curved sections using the Generator's Corner input. When using Conditional operators with the Corner input, an important thing to understand is that the corner uses the spline section that precedes the vertex to determine the type. So in the corner pictured above when viewed from left to right, the first corner is of the type Line, because a straight section immediately precedes it, whereas the second corner is of the type Curve, because it is preceded by the arced section of the spline. We can use this to our advantage to create intelligent corners that add a different segment when they are at the beginning and end of a curved or straight section of spline.The existing style has a compose operator for the corner segment.
Change the type to Line, this will ensure that this segment only appears on the first corner.Connect the Compose operator to the Generator's Default input. This is because there is an image in the thumbnails folder that shares the name buttercup_001 - the name of the object we just selected. Other techniques for creating conditional rules based on material IDsUsing the Selector OperatorThis is not the only way you can create conditional relationships based on material IDs. The Selector operator has a mode that allows you derive the index value from the spline's material ID.
In this example there is little advantage to using this technique, but in the event of using multiple IDs the Selector operator can create the same effect as the conditional operator but with fewer nodes. This tells the generator to only create geometry if the spline section matches or is less than, or greater than an ID value. It is slightly different from the previous two techniques because each isolated section with a continuous unbroken ID is treated like a separate spline with its own Start and End segments.This can be useful for breaking a continuous spline into sections, each with the possibility of using the full range of a generator's inputs.




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