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Gui Lo
04-06-2005, 11:44 AM
I am not sure if I can phrase this correctly or clear enough so that you can understand my meaning.

There have been many comments and requests for the SDK of Lightwave to be fully(or more fully) open so that Plugins and third party developers can have full control over the app.

This sounds great but it can open a pandorers box. For instance if there are alternative renderers for Lightwave and alternative surface/texture editors then what do we really want the Lightwave developement team to do?

They can chase the features offered by third party plugins. Some threads here have even asked why LW doesnt have such 'n' such a feature that is offered by a plugin. Then when plugins are included and worked up inside LW, the developement team is called lazy.

It is not so surprising in view of the diversity of the uses of 3d imagery that we have seen a lot of modellers being introduced and at the other end we have renderers. As people find more uses for 3d imagery it must be getting harder to do a general purpose app that can fit all requirements. We have already seen that this is now not possible and the app developers are straining to keep up.

It must be a nightmare to balance the time needed to develop a feature against the frequancy/popularity of it's use.

Most of us accept that the dev team cannot do what it does and still provide stuff on the level of Worley Labs and others.

I think with the opening up of the SDK for the benefit of the third party developers and us users, The Lightwave dev team should consider what role it needs to play in the future.

Perhaps a possibility is to have the internal dev team to act as a central council that introduces new formats such as .rig. It would act to consolidate the expertise in the LW community rather than to compete with it. Plugins could be recomended to purchers for specialist projects. A plugin for character animation may have little relevance to an architecture visual company. So we may have more tailored packages if the plugin developers work together.

There is a sense that the dev team are more third party friendly and this is a good thing but rather than include certain plugins with the app I'd like to see recommendations with discount offers. Put it another way I would prefer to pay for features I know I will use daily.

I think in this way we do not wait for LW xx and look at the feature list. We see additions of new plugins available that may help us in our work. The frequancy of new Plugin releases would almost certainly be greater than the point releases.

Taken to its limit we could see that LW is like a games console and the plugins are like the games. The plugin developers can pay a royalty to NewTek and eventually maybe the core app could be sold at a very low price if not freely distributed.

Thanks
Gui Lo

Doran
04-06-2005, 12:32 PM
Interesting comments; there are few things that struck me with a violent disagree feeling but this next paragraph came the closest.



Perhaps a possibility is to have the internal dev team to act as a central council that introduces new formats such as .rig. It would act to consolidate the expertise in the LW community rather than to compete with it. Plugins could be recomended to purchers for specialist projects. A plugin for character animation may have little relevance to an architecture visual company. So we may have more tailored packages if the plugin developers work together.


While the Dev group (and Newtek as a whole) already fill the roll of arbiter of LW standards, abandoning feature development to the 3rd party would be a mistake. Yes, Worley labs make good plugins. They made good plugins even before they made Lightwave plugins... which is my concern. Sure, Worley Lab may be round for a very long time.. but what does the community do, if it comes to depend on a third party plugin as a major feature, after the 3rd party developer leaves the community? Newtek would be stuck in the costly position of buying up such abandoned plugins and then having to either farm them out for upgrade to others unfamiliar with the plugins or become over night developers of these plugins themselves. This upheaval would make new upgrades take even longer than they do now.

In the long run it makes more sense to maintain the new feature development in house, with an ear to the ground to assess community need.

Karmacop
04-06-2005, 08:53 PM
Just because the SDK was more open doesn't mean plugin developers could do anything, so there'd always be a need to update the core of lightwave. 3rd party developers wouldn't make every possible plugin they could either, so the dev team would still have a lot of things to do, and even if a 3rd party developer has made something doesn't mean newtek wont make their own implementation.

Gui Lo
04-07-2005, 06:11 PM
Hi Doran and Karmacop,
I do not mean for LW to abandon development but to look at new features and formats to help the community rather than chasing and reproducing what is already available from third parties.

If the developer leaves the community now you still have the same problem. At least if these companies are more involved and recognised then they are more likely to stay.

Gui Lo

WizCraker
04-08-2005, 07:41 PM
It almost sounds like you don't fully understand what exactly a SDK is used or ment to be used for.


A Software Development Kit, or SDK for short, is typically a set of development tools that allows a software engineer to create applications for a certain software package, software framework, hardware platform, computer system, operating system or similar.

There is the general defintion of the SDK. A SDK is created to allow developers outside the company to use features to enhance a software package [in this case Lightwave].

There are other types of SDK's like DirectX which gives the developers whom develop for windows access to the graphics hardware. Stick with me on this analogy. DX SDK gives access to the programmer to tweak there software to the abilities of the GPU at a high level. The old school way is to write the instructions in low level [assembly]. With the DX SDK the programmers don't have to mess with assembly to get access to the hardware.

Some of the above might of been repeated to clarify. The SDK in Lightwave in its current state does not allow plugin develoepers to fully utilize the abilities of the core code, therefore that is why we see limitations in 3rd party plugins such as FPrime not able to render hypervoxels. the current SDK is limited on what it gives access to the programmers.

The new SDK that NewTek is working on will allow the plugin developers to gain access to the core features such as Hypervoxels so what is seen from the 3rd party community is a more powerful Lightwave. However Just because the SDK opens up or has more access to the Core Code within Lightwaave does not mean that the development gets handed off to 3rd party developers.

Current renders are available for Lightwave through plugins. For instance if I choose to render in Pixar's Renderman I would either buy or use the free plugin to save the LW Scene out to .RIB format and then Render away. Or if I wanted to use Air which uses the Renderman specification. If I wanted Mental Ray then I would have to write a plugin to convert to the .MI format. The most misconception is that most users assume that a renderer is not available or can be used if it is not natively supported.

The new updated SDK will allow the portability to other renders as the full power of lightwave will be able to be converted. For instance at the current state since Hypervoxel access is only limited to internal Lightwave Render 3rd party renderers can't render them.

The SDK that is not closed off from the core allows the plugins to also be more integrated within LW. Take for instance the Windows Platform SDK's, or the MAC OS X SDK's, Two different OS's but the developer can have their single program compatible and integrated within the OS so there are not any handling problems. I mean integrated not like merged but playing nice.

I would suggest reading up on the theory and practical use of SDK's and how they help the software developer for the platform and or program they are targeting.

Gui Lo
04-08-2005, 09:45 PM
Thanks WizCraker.


The SDK in Lightwave in its current state does not allow plugin develoepers to fully utilize the abilities of the core code, therefore that is why we see limitations in 3rd party plugins such as FPrime not able to render hypervoxels. the current SDK is limited on what it gives access to the programmers.

The new SDK that NewTek is working on will allow the plugin developers to gain access to the core features such as Hypervoxels so what is seen from the 3rd party community is a more powerful Lightwave. However Just because the SDK opens up or has more access to the Core Code within Lightwaave does not mean that the development gets handed off to 3rd party developers.

I have never used an SDK and I am not a programmer. But what you described is kinda how I understood the Lightwave SDK.

I am not saying that all Lightwave development be done by third parties. It is a fact that third parties are addressing areas where Lightwave is lacking and these are incorporated in Lightwave itself.

IMHO it is a waste of time to reproduce features that are already available. That is why I think the in-house development team should develope new formats and develope new features so these are made accessable and data can be passed to third party plugins.

Like I said the market is diversifying and naturally each area wants Lightwave to cater for it. This cannot be done to the satisfaction of everyone. Already we see third parties adding features to LW in modeller, Layout and the renderer. IMHO the best thing to do is for NewTek to possitively encourage third parties to cater for these areas and for NewTek to develop Lightwave in a way that it has the tools and formats that third parties can use.

It is a lot of work for the marketing and testing departments but IMHO we should have and approval system for commercial third party plugins. Discount offers/free plugins posted on the website for specific areas like Modeller, Layout or Renderer. A bigger section of the website showing most used plugins, User voted best of breed or tips and tricks.

Most users and NewTek themselves have used third party plugins for quite some time. IMHO with more of Lightwave open to third parties through the SDK they should now be seen/used as a big part of the Lightwave.