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Blender 2.49 Scripting 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
terrywallwork writes "A few days ago I received an email from Packt Publishing informing me of their new Blender 2.49 Scripting book. I was very interested in reading this book as there are very few Blender books that cover the scripting aspect of Blender 2.49 and Python. So I navigated my way to the packt publishing website and ordered myself the ebook version. They were having a special at the time and I ended up getting a full color ebook for less than £9. If nothing else the price is extremely impressive." Read on for the rest of terrywallwork's review.
Blender 2.49 Scripting
author Michel J. Anders
pages 292
publisher Packt Publishing
rating 7.5/10
reviewer terrywallwork
ISBN 1849510407
summary This book is for users comfortable with Blender as a modeling and rendering tool who want to expand their skills to include Blender scripting
The author is Michel Anders, known as varkenvarken on Blender Artists forum. He is an extremely talented Blender Python scripter and has written many very useful scripts for Blender. Knowing who is behind this book explains a lot about the way this books is constructed.

The teaching approach taken, is to present a series of tasks that need to be achieved and then present sections of scripts that demonstrate the most important concepts and Blender Python code, to allow the tasks to be carried out.

At the beginning of the book a basic explanation of some of the terms and concepts are gone over and a few very simple Blender python commands are demonstrated to do the equivalent of a Blender Hello World script. This beginning part of the book is the only part that really can be classed as beginner level, everything after this has a much steeper learning curve.

Many of the scripts written by Michel are very technically advanced scripts, the same also holds true for this book. Most of the scripts and techniques described within require a very good level of understanding. I debated with myself as to weather it is an Intermediate/Advanced level book, but one thing is certain, if you are a beginning Blender user and your Python knowledge is beginner level, you will struggle to get much from Michel's latest work. I think that to get anything out of this material a very good understanding of Python, Blender and Mathematics (especially vector math and 3D related mathematics) will be required.

Assuming you have the requisite knowledge all the bases of using Blender through Python scripting are covered, for example, setting up materials, ipo manipulation, texture setting, texture nodes and so on. But again very simple things are not covered. To me it seems that it is assumed that you will just read the Blender Python API docs for the very simple things such as how to do rotations and scaling on objects, deleting and adding vertices, etc. You will have to be prepared to get a lot of information from the scripts supplied rather than be spoon fed information.

So if you are very knowledgeable with Blender and Python you will likely find that this book is very handy as it covers ways of scripting and leveraging Blender Python scripting to do some very clever things. I do think it would have been very helpful to have a less steep learning curve but that's a matter of my personal taste.

I am not a Python expert and so this has probably affected my ability to properly appreciate this book, that said I can see that a lot of time and effort has gone into putting this book together, especially given thw fact the Python scripting books for Blender are so few and far between.

It probably hasn't escape most Blender users notice that Blender 2.5 is now currently in Alpha state and it uses completely different scripting model, so stuff learned in this book unfortunately won't transfer to Blender 2.5, as it uses Python 3 and has a completely different API structure.

This book would of been much more relevant if it have been released a year or 2 earlier. Still if you're used Blender 2.49 and need an advanced Blender scripting book, you now have one to read.

I really hope Michel does a Blender 2.6 version when it comes out, and maybe makes it slightly more targeted at beginners and experts, so my head doesn't hurt quite so much.

You can purchase Blender 2.49 Scripting from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Blender 2.49 Scripting

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  • by caywen (942955) on Monday June 21, 2010 @11:47AM (#32642866)

    With the excitement around 2.5, it's easy to forget that Blender 2.49 still very much alive and kicking.

    Still, 2.49 feels ancient, probably because it's UI is still kind of idiot-savant. It's horrendous at most things, but incredibly good at many things that matter. On top of that, it just looks very dated. 2.5 looks like it's on its way to cleaning most of that up while keeping the core strengths.

    As for scriptability, I'd really love the see the Blender Foundation detach RNA to the point where one can start to create bindings in other languages, like Javascript, C# (Mono), etc.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by tbcpp (797625)
      There's been talks about that, but one of the big issues is that the language then becomes non-standardized. So if you give me a script, I'll have to install whatever language binding you used, plus any libraries and modules for that language as well. That doesn't sound fun.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by caywen (942955)

        I think if Blender can adopt a Unity-like approach, where it has baked-in at 2 or 3 languages that serve 2 different audiences, then it might be workable. But I agree that creating add-on bindings would fragment Blender scripting and make life miserable.

        Given their current workload, my hope is that they will revisit it in 2.7 or so, after 2.6 gets stabilized.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mysidia (191772)

        Maybe not fun for people who want to use large numbers of other people's code/scripts a lot, and don't do their own scripting.

        Very fun and beneficial for people who want to write and use their own scripts. Of course it's worth it to them to install the bindings and modules they need.

        The alternative to providing multiple bindings might be that scripts don't get written/published in the first place, because people have trouble doing exactly what they want in the 'standard' language.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dotgain (630123)

        So if you give me a script, I'll have to install whatever language binding you used, plus any libraries and modules for that language as well.

        I see what you mean when a project is shared (for example included with Blender as an example project). I doubt this will be an issue for the majority of Blender users who have no intention at all of sharing their project files. Even if you decided to develop your own binding and language just for your own specific in-house task, as long as your work is proprietary

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Summary of review: "I'm a beginner and so I don't understand this stuff sufficiently to actually review the book. But I do really think really highly of this content that I don't understand... although oh yeah -- one of the few things I know for sure is that most or all of it is being obsoleted by the upcoming Blender API revision."

  • by auntieNeo (1605623) on Monday June 21, 2010 @11:51AM (#32642920)
    Is this review going to make it onto the "Book Reviews" sidebar? That Excel one has been there forever. Nothing against the author, but I'm sure I'm not the only slashdotter that shudders at every thought of having to code something in Excel macros.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      for object in readlines('/usr/dict/words'):
          will_it_blend(object)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PhilHibbs (4537)

      Heh, you should try OpenOffice.org basic.

  • £9 for a PDF? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by clone53421 (1310749)

    The cost of a book is tangible. Chipping, pressing, bleaching, cutting, printing, binding, packaging, storing, transporting, vending. It happens every time a copy is sold. When you buy a copy, that is what you’re paying for. A tangible good.

    The cost of a PDF is intangible. Writing, typesetting, marketing, webhosting. It already happened. It happened once; it’s paid for. Millions of copies can be sold with very negligible overhead. It’s nothing but a giant number. Ones and zeros. Costly to

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, because when you buy a book (or anything) all you pay for is the cost of reproduction. When you buy a car, it costs exactly the sum of its parts, plus the labor involved in putting them together. Not one dollar for R&D, not a dime for advertising, not one penny for any of the thousands of people working for the car company, except for the guys who physically put it together.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by clone53421 (1310749)

        Spread over the thousands (or millions) of units that are produced, that cost is relatively minor compared to the cost of producing the actual unit. It is natural to conclude that a digital copy should cost much less because you don’t have to pay for the physical object.

        A digital copy can be copied which essentially costs nothing, and so you can get even more volume, spreading that R&D and marketing over even more people and costing even less. That was my whole point.

        • by PhilHibbs (4537)

          Yes, but what if they don't sell thousands? As for millions, you must be joking.

        • Yes, because a book about Blender is sure to sell millions upon millions of units.
        • by revlayle (964221)
          Of course, they'll just charge what the market will bear. If they find out that 1000 people (very very ROUGH guess, especially since this book targets a slim audience) will pay £9 for a digital book, then £9 is what they'll continue to charge for a while. If it doesn't move, the price might change.
    • £9 for an e-book is borderline ridiculous in my opinion. I guess some people will buy that, though.

      You'd pay that much or more for something with the same information only heavier with no search function?

      • Well, no, but that’s beside the point. The heavier one, despite its lack of a search function, is actually much more costly to produce.

        • Well, no, but that's beside the point.

          No, it's not. You're buying information, not matter.

          The heavier one, despite its lack of a search function, is actually much more costly to produce.

          The digital one has more value.

          Don't get me wrong, generally speaking I don't think e-books should be more expensive than dead-tree books for precisely the reason you're stating. There's a potential here for authors to sell books more cheaply, sell them more cheaply, and potentially get a bigger lump of sales. But in this context you're talking about learning/reference and not entertainment. What you do with this book makes you more employable. You are

          • by vadim_t (324782)

            No, it's not. You're buying information, not matter.

            I'm buying information + matter. Matter has to cost something since it needs to be made, stored, and transported. Therefore removing the matter should reduce price.

            The digital one has more value.

            Disagree. In the general sense, a physical book has more value. It doesn't have batteries that run out, has no DRM (huge increase in value for me), can be lent and borrowed, and doesn't depend on third parties to keep working.

            • I'm buying information + matter.

              Heh. No, you're not. You're buying information. They use matter to deliver it.

              Disagree. In the general sense, a physical book has more value. It doesn't have batteries that run out, has no DRM (huge increase in value for me), can be lent and borrowed, and doesn't depend on third parties to keep working.

              Your book has mass, volume, cannot be backed up, and has no search function like what you can get with an e-reader. I do, however, agree about the DRM eating at its value.

              So it becomes a question of total value. Does a Harry Potter book benefit from searching? No. Scripting? Uh, yes. Value++. I'd happily pay that amount, possibly more, for an unrestricted PDF of a good scripting book because it'd become several times mor

              • by vadim_t (324782)

                Heh. No, you're not. You're buying information. They use matter to deliver it.

                Whatever. The matter is still an added cost over plain information, so removing the matter should cost less than information on its own.

                Some people would also argue that the physical book format has its own value, beyond providing some media for the information.

                So it becomes a question of total value. Does a Harry Potter book benefit from searching?

                Actually it would. Some people like trivia. Others want to find a specific quote, o

                • Whatever. The matter is still an added cost over plain information, so removing the matter should cost less than information on its own.

                  Right. The less matter means less mass, less volume, and increased value.

                  Actually it would. Some people like trivia. Others want to find a specific quote, or find evidence about whether Harry talks more often to Ginny or Hermione, and so on.

                  Okay, so to most users a search function in a Harry Potter book increases its value more than it would in a reference book. Okay, I'll accept that. The digital copy has more value than the dead-tree version. :)

                  IMO there are better formats for things like that than a book ...

                  This is really drifting off topic. Actually the HTML documentation that comes with Maya regarding Mel has some nifty features that make it far more useful than a PDF. But that's not what we're talking about. That's also not

                  • by vadim_t (324782)

                    Right. The less matter means less mass, less volume, and increased value.

                    No matter what you say, I consider it to have a decreased value, and will never, ever buy an ebook that costs the same or more as a physical book.

                    Okay, so to most users a search function in a Harry Potter book increases its value more than it would in a reference book. Okay, I'll accept that. The digital copy has more value than the dead-tree version. :)

                    Depends on for what use. For me, search is better than no search, but the loss of t

                    • I guess what I don't understand is why the 'matter' is that important to you when you can do more with the digital and maintenance is an issue. (Pretending, of course, that there is no DRM. Believe me, I understand your qualms with that.) I think that's why this conversation keeps going in circles. Although if it's entirely about the fact that they won't sell it without DRM, then I totally understand you and mostly agree.

      • You’re also begging the question... not all e-books have a search function. A lot of the time they just half-ass it and scan the pages with no OCR... then they expect you to pay the same for that as you’d pay for a real book. WTF?

        • by AndrewNeo (979708)

          Sadly, Acrobat has a pretty decent OCR function that works even while keeping the scanned text in bitmap format, and people still do that.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      £9 for an e-book is borderline ridiculous in my opinion. I guess some people will buy that, though.

      You cannot determine proper price of an item based on "per unit" costs, until you also average all one time costs over the total number of expected sales of that unit over time.

      And include the opportunity costs of having capital tied up. For instance, if you borrowed $2000 to publish a book, you will be paying interest to the bank for that time, and all that interest expense that occurs until you

      • Webhosting starts at about $100 a month.

        Not if you want to do it cheaply and are willing to learn how to create/maintain a decent website without shelling out big bucks, it doesn’t.

        • by Smallpond (221300)

          Is this a joke? How many authors want to spend their time maintaining websites?

          There's no reason to go to a doctor either. If you want to do it cheaply you just need to be willing to learn how to maintain your health yourself.

        • by PhilHibbs (4537)

          How much of your time does all that take, and is that time really only worth $100 a month to you? If it takes you less than 3 hours a month, then you're probably skilled enough to be worth more than $33 an hour as an IT admin. If it takes more than that, then that's time you could spend writing your next book instead.

        • by mysidia (191772)

          $100 a month is an extreme low-ball estimate on doing it inexpensively. In all likelihood, the hosting costs alone exceed it, without considering the costs of design of materials or maintaining content.

          Which... well, you know... the author of a book will spend as much as they need to spend on hosting. The author of a book on Blender is not expected to be a Web design expert, capable of performing graphical design and all HTML coding for their book's website.

          Anyways, the only way the hosting will cost

    • Re:£9 for a PDF? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Scrameustache (459504) on Monday June 21, 2010 @12:45PM (#32643554) Homepage Journal

      The cost of a PDF is intangible. Writing, typesetting, marketing, webhosting. It already happened. It happened once; it’s paid for.

      No, it's not paid for: It's borrowed and owed.

      Millions of copies can be sold with very negligible overhead. It’s nothing but a giant number. Ones and zeros. Costly to produce, but easy to replicate.

      £9 for an e-book is borderline ridiculous in my opinion. I guess some people will buy that, though.

      Millions of copies of a technical book on an (lets face it) obscure product? In magical-thinking land, sure, but in reality there's but a niche market for this item and if he's going to recoup the cost of rent, food and utilities he had to pay during the time it took to research, write and polish the book he has to price it where the numbers will add up to black ink at the bottom line.

      That being said, the line about how nine pounds is a fantastic price is just born out of a habit of seeing computer books go for ridiculously high prices.

    • by styrotech (136124)

      The cost of a book is tangible. Chipping, pressing, bleaching, cutting, printing, binding, packaging, storing, transporting, vending. It happens every time a copy is sold. When you buy a copy, that is what you're paying for. A tangible good.

      Even with a physical book, those per copy costs amount to a fraction of the price.

      A book will have a break even point in terms of sales numbers to overcome all the fixed and/or up front costs. Most books never reach that point - publishers hope to subsidize the ones that

  • Holy Shit!!!! I'm surprised they could afford color for 9£... I'm shit, a color eBook is usually 3 or 4 times as expensive as the black and white version.
  • Scripting is cool, is there a book out there that addresses Wire Framing techniques? I know that adding a skeleton is easy, and kind of cool; but one can only do a ginger bread man for just so long.
  • ... oh, wait, you said BLender.

  • It's a bit late to be publishing a Blender 2.5 book, especially since the Blender plug-in interface changes drastically in 2.5.

  • Will it blend?

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