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Thread: Useful "outside" tools

  1. #1

    Default Useful "outside" tools



    Tools for use in making tools eh? what a strange topic you may think, but I have a few things whcih I use daily which save tons of time and I wanted to share and maybe find a few more tricks from others.

    Here's my top 3 for our current project:

    directfolders - this is worth its weight in gold. Somone on polycount reccommended it afaik and it has been so useful for speeding up moving files around and general opening of stuff in different apps as you work on it. Sure beats a ton of folder shortcuts on the desktop which I used to have.

    http://www.codesector.com/directfolders.php

    total commander - So useful for syncing folders, multiple renaming and so much other stuff I cant explain. 2 side-by-side file explorers for me is worth the price alone, a great weapon in the tech-ish arsenal, even if it's a bit like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer for lots of day to day stuff.

    http://www.ghisler.com/

    and finally, possibly the coolest one - apparently like some software on the mac, whatever that is... :P but it is seriously handy, you can associate it with any extension and give it different folders. I can run our engine with a tappity tap while keeping all my windows up and keep working, or use it to open up web pages, text files, run batch files any old thing really. A nifty tool for sure.

    http://www.launchy.net/

    Anyway, they have shaved days off the schedule if not weeks and I'd be interested to see if anyone else uses any of these sorts of things in day to day work.

    Cheers!

    cw

  2. #2
    Technical Artist MoP's Avatar
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    Hehe, exactly some of the ones I would have listed :)

    I use DirectFolders here, and Launchy too. Haven't really had to do any heavyweight file/folder work yet so I haven't touched Total Commander, but I have it lying around just in case :)

    One I quite like too is Clavier+. It's kinda like Launchy, except you can set up any hotkeys to launch any application or enter any string of text. So, if there's an app you need to run a lot, you can just put it on a free hotkey.

    The nice thing is, you can use the Windows key as a modifier, so for example I have WindowsKey + T as the hotkey for opening Textpad, and WindowsKey + C as the hotkey for Crazybump.

    Mostly I use the Quick Launch bar in Windows for stuff like Max, Maya and Photoshop, but for apps which I'm constantly popping open and closed, I like to have them on hotkeys.

  3. #3

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    I'll take a look at clavier, sounds interesting.

    Total commander is really cool for its multi-rename tool also. Often I will need to produce a variation of an asset or somesuch, or need to create a load of placeholders for some structure of data folders, it allows you to select a bunch of files and do a 'find/replace' rename type operation, it's really a nice timesaver, I hate copy/pasting filenames by hand now.

    In fact I had a maxscript to do a similar thing before I was introduced to totalcommander. That really was a square-peg-round-hole solution. :)

  4. #4

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    Not really a tool so much as a tip. And a really minor one at that, but I find it invaluable.

    I've always had the fifth (thumb) button on my faithful old intellimouse mapped to "minimise all windows". That lets me get at the desktop very quickly without having to find the icon or mess about with windows hotkeys. Our build tool is an automated batch thing and the viewer is similar- a file with a bunch of parameters in that pass the appropriate data to the game engine. I've got several of those set up to do different stuff and rather than clogging up my quick launch with lots of similar icons the shortcuts all live on my desktop with explanatory names.

    And of course lesser used programs can live there on the desktop and still be in easy reach. Things like DeBabelizer and Fraps that I use rarely.

  5. #5
    Studio2K studio2k's Avatar
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    Direct Folders are very interesting. Use to try is "Direct Folders".
    Thanks very in you whom introduces.
    Last edited by studio2k; 07-15-2008 at 03:25 PM.

  6. #6
    Administrator Adam Pletcher's Avatar
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    A few of my quick favorites:

    KillMax - Make a shortcut to this on your desktop, bind a key to it and stop waiting for 3ds Max to politely shut itself down.

    SearchAndReplace - If you have giant text/XML files (200MB or more, even) you need to search/replace in, you can't beat this tool. Fast.

    The Regex Coach - Great for hacking out/testing regular expressions

    ThumbplugTGA - Adds thumnail support for TGAs to Windows Explorer and file dialogs. Works on XP or Vista.
    Adam Pletcher
    Volition Studio Architect, Technical Art
    blog: Tech Art Tiki

  7. #7

    Default

    cheers adam - that killmax will be a handy one :D

    I was aware of thumbplug, but the others are new to me - much appreicated. :)

    robinb - good tips, I do a similar thing but all the build scripts are in a folder and my launch knows about that folder and its contents and I can execute them from it easily without a desktop full of stuff (maybe I have retention issues, but I dont like my desktop to get too messy)

    Interestingly, we have a number of ways to convert different data to game format, and I took my first stumbling steps into the windows shell (actually just fiddling in folder options in control panel) but its pretty easy to add right click options to certain file types this way, and that has also saved some time. :D
    good stuff I'm enjoying this so far. :)

  8. #8
    Studio2K studio2k's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Direct Folders are very interesting

    Direct Folders are very interesting. Use to try is "Direct Folders".
    Thanks very in you whom introduces.

  9. #9

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    Good list so far, I too make use of most those tools.

    I do a lot of database related work and I can't imagine working w/o DBDesigner ( newest version branded as MySQL Workbench ). http://dev.mysql.com/workbench/
    I recommend it even if you work with other database systems as a visual layout tool.

    I also work on mixed platforms every day which means a lot of moving back and forth between windows and os x. A couple tools I use to help with that are MacDrive http://www.mediafour.com/ which lets my PC/windows read and write to mac HFS+ partitions. The other way around is a bit easier unless you need to write data, which usually is the case. MacFUSE is a port of Linux's FUSE http://code.google.com/p/macfuse/.

  10. #10
    variable
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    Default http://koshigaya.de/?content=tools&view=5

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Pletcher View Post
    ThumbplugTGA - Adds thumnail support for TGAs to Windows Explorer and file dialogs. Works on XP or Vista.
    With regard to Thumbnail support; you guys should try Koshigaya ThumbnailSupport (apparently doesn't work with 64bit systems FYI)

    I've used a combination of ThumbplugTGA and some others which can cause random explorer crashes when trying to draw thumbnails. (Especially when working with Nintendo Wii format TGAs) I haven't had that happen since switching to Koshigaya.

    Koshigaya also has the option to print the dimensions of the image on the thumbnail (this comes in handy for quickly getting the file I need)

  11. #11
    undefined mike.howard's Avatar
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    Directory Opus

    Probably similar to total commander, though I've never used TC so I can't really compare the two... but a complete file manager that can completely replace windows explorer (might be worth the $$ for this alone), tabbed windows, completely customizable interface, and the list goes on and on... Definitely worth every penny.

  12. #12
    integer jhayes's Avatar
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    I made this thread sticky since it will likely be referred to a bunch.
    Jason Hayes
    Lead Technical Artist, Rockstar

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    Principal Tech Animator
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    I have to say I like the speed and accessibility of Direct Folders. Thanks for the heads up on that one.
    Randall Hess
    Principal Technical Artist/Animator
    TechAnim Blog
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  14. #14
    while loop Eric Chadwick's Avatar
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    Another option for Explorer thumbnails... ThumbView also supports DDS.
    Add thumbnail support for .cut, .dcx, .dds, .mdl, .mng, .pcd, .pcx, .pic, .pix, .png, .pnm/.pbm/.pgm/.ppm, .psd/.pdd, .psp, .pxr, .sgi/.rgb, .tga/.vda/.icb/.vst, .tif/.tiff, .wal, and .xpm in MS-Windows XP Explorer! Or plug in your own image formats
    And Process Explorer is a great upgrade for Windows Task Manager. Kill Kill Kill!

  15. #15
    Principal Tech Animator
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    I came across this tool on another tech artist or technical director's blog I can't remember his name, if I do I will credit him with it. However it is a great tool for when you need to copy the path and/or filename for a file.

    The tool is integrated into the shell so you just right click the file and it copies the full path/filename for that file. Now you can quickly paste the filename into your app and load or paste to email. It is one of the most frequented tools I use now.

    Path Copy
    http://home.worldonline.dk/ninotech/freeutil.htm
    Last edited by Randall Hess; 07-15-2008 at 06:44 PM.
    Randall Hess
    Principal Technical Artist/Animator
    TechAnim Blog
    @Meatplowz

  16. #16
    integer
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    Extremely simple but awesome program Randall. Direct Folders is wicked useful too, but I've just never been able to gauge how much I really want to add to it while having the quick launch bar. I've only just had 3-4 folders on there that I also have on the quick launch as well.

  17. #17
    Principal Tech Animator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kovac View Post
    Extremely simple but awesome program Randall. Direct Folders is wicked useful too, but I've just never been able to gauge how much I really want to add to it while having the quick launch bar. I've only just had 3-4 folders on there that I also have on the quick launch as well.
    Yea, I see what you are saying but I just noticed, while exporting an asset from max, it presented me with the browse to file save window, I used direct folder and it took me to one of my saved locations immediately with no browsing! The quicklaunch shortcuts cant do that. :) I have to say browsing folders and directories is my biggest pain and any little tool that can alleviate that, makes my work that much easier.
    Randall Hess
    Principal Technical Artist/Animator
    TechAnim Blog
    @Meatplowz

  18. #18
    integer
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    Doh!

    Aha, you're absolutely right Randall, I've completely forgotten about my main use of it (opening and saving browser navigation). I think I've gotten so used to doing it that I don't even realize that I'm using it when I do. *smacks self*

    Well, at least that's how you know you have a good program in your hands.

  19. #19
    Technical Artist MoP's Avatar
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    Eric: I hope ThumbView works on 64-bit systems, I was really annoyed when I found out that ThumbPlugTGA and that other one don't run on WinXP Pro 64bit.

    Oh yeah, and Irfanview for images, of course. I tried XNView for a while but didn't really like it. Irfanview is fast, and has some simple options for saving/altering images if I don't want to open Photoshop.

  20. #20
    variable NeilG's Avatar
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    Some useful tools here. Thanks all.
    A couple I might add that I find useful.

    http://lopesoft.com/en/index.html


    for customizing your right click windows commands.

    and baregrep is a nice simple implementation of grep for windows that has helped me track down things in a folder full of 100Mb+ text files

    http://www.baremetalsoft.com/baregrep/

    cheers,

    neil

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