This is the initial of several lessons on MEL. We’ll be starting from the especially beginning with this article, plus rapidly picking up speed in the future. By the end of this article you will have educated what a MEL command is and how to interpret its diverse parts, how to quickly mechanize simple tasks using MEL, and, lastly, how to build a small piece of custom UI.
What Is Mel?
Officially MEL stands for “Maya Embedded Language” plus could be described as “an interpreted scripting language to interfaces directly with Maya’s core libraries”. Besides being uninteresting enough to create you question reading this article further, those definition miss the point: MEL is a simple way to take your art to the next level. All you do and almost everything you see, in Maya is driven by MEL. Menu items, check boxes, sliders, heads up show, outliner, attribute editor, etc… Every one of it is created by MEL. When you check a check box, slide a slider, manipulate a manipulator, or do pretty much anything in Maya, a small bit of MEL is executed. This tight relationship between MEL and the rest of Maya means MEL is a powerful tool for doing such things as:
• Automating repetitive everyday jobs and reducing your ‘click-count’ – with MEL you can write a script that performs far extra clicks and drags than you could do in your typical 100-hour work week!
• Building tradition UI to suits *your* needs – if you’ve complained about the apparent stupidity of a few part of Maya’s UI, then MEL is for you!
• Leverage the power of modern computers to perform advanced arithmetic and invent the next great effect or tool!
• And much more!
I realized I’ve dodged the inquiry posed big and bold at the start of this section: “What is MEL?” We’ll get into some of the details later, for now it’s enough to know that MEL is powerful plus, as you’ll hopefully see by the end of this article, extremely accessible.
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