Softimage 2015 User Guide compiled help file

It took a bit more work this year, but here’s a CHM version (210MB) of the Softimage 2015 User Guide.
The User Guide is available online , and you can also download an offline HTML version.

Update: If you don’t see any content in the right-hand pane, right-click the .chm file in Explorer, and click Unblock.

The CHM version has a better index. I was able to use all the index entries, not just the top-level entries. See the difference in the screenshot below?

This year, I had to generate the CHM toc and index from these huge JScript arrays of anonymous objects. It was actually pretty simple, I just needed one little recursive function to handle arrays that look something like this:

ixdata = [
{ l: '', c: [
{ l: '_ADSK_LicServers', f: './files/distrib_render_SettingUpForDistributedRendering.htm'},
{ l: '.motor (normalized motion) files', f: './files/mocap_SavingAnimationDatainNormalizedMotionFiles.htm'},
{ l: '.xsi_n.n (Linux environment script), editing environment variables', f: './files/configfiles_EditingtheEnvironmentScriptsetenvbatand.htm'}
{ l: '', c: [
{ l: '2-point constraints', f: './files/constraints_ConstraintsbetweenPoints.htm'},
{ l: '2D and 3D chains', f: './files/char_skel_WhatMakesUpaSkeleton.htm'},
{ l: '2D motion blur', f: './files/cam_motion_blur.htm'},
{ l: '2D paint', f: './files/compfx_paint.htm'
,c: [
{ l: 'also raster paint, vector paint', f: './files/compfx_paint.htm'},
{ l: 'background color', f: './files/2D_paint_GettingStartedPaintingonImages.htm'},
{ l: 'brush cursor', f: './files/2D_paint_GettingStartedPaintingonImages.htm'},

Linking an ICE compound to a help page

The short answer is that you can’t do it, not really. The best you can do is provide a URL in the compound properties
and then right-click the compound and click Open Netview on URL.

For ICE compounds, a CompoundNode property is loaded into the PPG when you inspect the compound.
This CompoundNode is like a proxy container for the actual compound, and it takes care of populating the PPG with the required controls, and finding the right help page. To do that, it just takes the name of the compound and constructs a URL like (Hmm, having just said that, I figure if you had a local version of the help, then you could stick your own help page there, and Softimage would find it.)

For shader compounds it’s a little better, because you can put something like this in your PPG Logic, and it will work.

#ppg logic start
from win32com.client import constants

def OnInit():
    Application.LogMessage( "OnInit" )
    PPG.PPGLayout.SetAttribute( constants.siUIHelpFile, "" )
#ppg logic end

hat tip: everybody on this thread

CHM version of Softimage 2014 User Guide

Click image to download
It’s not hard to do:

  • Download and install the HTMLHelp Workshop.
  • Download the local version of the Softimage User Guide.
  • Generate hhp (project), hhc (toc), and hhk (index) files for the HTMLHelp Workshop, and then compile the project. You can even download a utility that does that for you (well, everything but the compiling part).

    I used to do it with a few ad-hoc perl and python scripts, but that utility works great.

  • Or you could just click that image at the top of the page.

Compiled CHM version of the Softimage 2014 SDK guide

Here’s a compiled CHM version of the XSI SDK guide.

There’s no index, but you can always use Search with Search titles only enabled. If I can find my old python scripts, maybe I’ll get around to adding one (but it will just be an index of objects, methods, and properties).

This year I tried the Maxscript 2013 Help CHM creator, but really all that got me was the TOC for the Programmer’s Guide. I still had to add the Ref Guide TOC, and fix up the scripting errors, and remove the unneeded navigation buttons. I do all that with a few global search and replaces.

Compiled CHM version of the Softimage 2013 SDK guide

The other day, somebody asked whether there was a CHM version of the SDK help. There isn’t. So I downloaded a copy of the [aging and neglected] HTML Help workshop, installed the local version of the Softimage 2013 documentation, and compiled the SDK help into a CHM file.

Get the xsisdk.chm file here

  • You get full-text search.
  • I created the TOC manually, so it has only two levels. But clicking one of the sub-levels (like “Customizing with the SDK” or “Objects A to Z”) takes you to a page with more links.
  • I even added an index, but it has entries only for the commands, objects, methods, and properties. No C++. (I used a Python script to generate the index from some HTML pages in the help.)
  • Some pages will give a script error (because they have an apostrophe in the page title, and that title is used in a script). You can ignore those errors and continue on.
  • Some of the icons at the top of pages, like Home and Add to Favorites will pop up a browser page. I didn’t take the time to update every page to get rid of them.

I almost didn’t bother with the index, because I think you can usually get the same thing with the Search, as long as you enable Search titles only. It’s always bothered me that there’s no index entries like “children, adding” or “polygon meshes, creating” and that you have to somehow know the verb part of the method or command name if you want to find it in the index.

Here’s a few examples of using Search titles only:

Searching the SDK docs

For the searching the current SDK documentation, I would install the SDK docs locally. The local docs use a different search that works better.

To download a single installer for both the User Guide and SDK Guide:

Just the SDK:

Local search results are much better than the online search: