MEL How-To #00

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I've never done any programing before. What is the best way to start learning how to write MEL scripts? Would courses that teach C, C++ or Java help?

First I'll tell you my background in scripting and coding:

I started with learning BASIC on the Commodore PET machines, circa 1982. In 1983 I bought a VIC-20 and continued BASIC programming. I moved up through the C-64 and the Amiga, where I finally tackled learning C. Once I got into PC-land, I tried my hand at plug-ins for Lightwave, C++ and Java.

From there, MEL was fairly easy to pick up, but consider that was with 15 years of former scripting/programming experience.

MEL has a lot of qualities that are similar to the C programming language, and not as much similar to the Commodore BASIC derivative that I learned. Based on my experience, any knowledge of C helps a great deal when learning MEL. Any C++ extensions to the language, e.g. object-oriented coding, contructor/destructor methods, and overloaded functions, are not at all applicable to MEL.

My best advice, if you don't want to learn a whole programming language just to do some MEL scripting, is to dissect any and all MEL scripts that interest you and figure out how and why they work. I expand on this in another How-To. Add a lot of ‘print’ commands to your own scripts to follow what happens as the script progresses. And, of course, there's always the Maya Mailing List and the forums to ask questions when something doesn't make sense.

Have fun!

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04 November 2002