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Request for a dedicated 'Marionette Primer' website


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Marionette was introduced with the intention that non-programmers could learn to use it without having any previous programming knowledge. Personally, I have not found that to be the case. This may be partially because Marionette is still very new and not fully documented, but even if it were, it seems like Marionette's current implementation requires quite a bit of programming knowledge as evidenced by many of the threads in this Marionette forum. It is not in any way user-friendly or intuitive for the 'programming newbie'. Watching any of the thousands of tutorial videos on Grasshopper or Dynamo won't get you very far with Marionette.

The written content and presentation on the Vw Dev Wiki has always been intended for a target audience of developers and programmers. It requires a good working knowledge of VS and Python to understand any part of it, and probably most Vw users have no need to ever visit it.

In addition to being very 'code heavy', the Dev Wiki is also very 'text heavy', without many pictures or diagrams. Graphically, it is the exact opposite of what the training material for a graphical scripting language like Marionette should look like.

Just providing a single-page listing the name and simple description of each node is not enough (especially since it's the same info that you get by clicking on the Node's OIP 'Description' button).

We need to have examples of how to use each node including what are its accepted inputs and its expected outputs.

The Marionette - Implement a Node page, which I believe is intended to be 'Introductory 101' level, is very heavy into required programming with lots of Python code. Personally, I did not find that page to be very intuitive or helpful; I became lost before I even started.

The six Introductory video tutorials posted here are a good start - and certainly more of these videos will be welcome, but...

What I think is needed is a separate, dedicated 'Marionette Primer' website along the lines of the Dynamo Primer.

Simply putting more info on the Dev Wiki is not the best way to further expand knowledge about Marionette.

Edited by rDesign
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

I'm glad you agree with how I want to do it as well :D

This is a REALLY clean and well done guide, functionally my plan for it was very similar, just a matter of picking a medium and then getting the time allotted for it which is going well. I really am sorry its taking so long to get these out, but we've had quite a bit of video content to create, Marionette is a major item on the list but there are a few things in the pipe before it.

Interesting side note; for the Design Summit, "Marionette" was the # item by a large margin that users wanted to learn more about. That helps me make my case for content creation.

Edited by JimW
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Awesome JimW! Thanks for the feedback.

I'm glad to hear that we're thinking along the same lines regarding how the Marionette tutorials / info should be presented: clean and simple, step-by-step.

Just having Marionette included as part of the Dev Wiki pages, to me, diminishes both its importance and approachability. It deserves its own spotlight (i.e., website) separate from the technical jargon of the Dev Wiki.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

I totally understand. The only real reason the dev page was getting fleshed out first was scheduling, we figured better some info than none. But you are correct, the Dev wiki will remain the location for info for users who want to delve deeper into customizing nodes, at which MarissaF is rapidly becoming a wizard.

I am going to propose to the bosses that the primer, -which will be more about the usage of stock nodes and their interactions- be housed either on the Knowledgebase or probably more appropriately, in the Vectorworks Help since its already a little more platform-friendly and can be more easily maintained than a collection of kbase articles.

(IDEALLY it would be nearly identical to what Dynamo did and have its own web page with a lovely checkbox system for completion, but that would require roping in the web team to the project and a number of other factors that may delay its release. Thats more a internal thing but just thought I'd share why my thinking was headed away from that direction. I don't think a website would NEVER happen but likely it wont be the first iteration of the primer, once the content itself is made the medium it is housed in can be updated as needed.)

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Personally, I like Dynamo Primer's 'GitBook' platform UI/UX much better than the current Vw Help File.

The Dynamo Primer 'Index', with its indented outline numbering, is much more conducive to browsing than the current Vw Help File 'Index', which is not indented and hides topics outside your current topic. It is very difficult to browse the current Vw Help File.

Hosting it inside the Vw Help would be acceptable as long as the browser compatibility issues with mobile devices on iOS 9 get fixed, and soon. I had to laugh at your statement that the Vw2016 Help File is 'already a little more platform-friendly', as this has not been my experience.

Edited by rDesign
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

That got filed as a bug and wasn't something that could be fixed rapidly unfortunately, did Chrome or Firefox on that device have the issue as well? (Nevermind just reread your older post and I had included that info in the bug) I only got it replicated on the built in Safari browser personally, it was also specific to Apple devices at certain resolutions, which was weird for mobile and slowed down my replication of it as I had to hunt down various iPad flavors.

Also we kinda have to try to future-proof things like this, WHEN the Help is updated, (not IF, which can be the case for custom page solutions and things like the kbase) then the Primer would then be updated with it and the Help itself is getting more and more attention and would likely be the best hands to place it in for the time being.

Since the main time investment will be the content creation itself and not the medium its loaded into, if there is enough interest (there will be) it may very well get its own page and web UI but I was just trying to be as open as possible about our thinking on the subject since everyone is having to wait.

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That got filed as a bug and wasn't something that could be fixed rapidly unfortunately, did Chrome or Firefox on that device have the issue as well? I only got it replicated on the built in Safari browser, it was also specific to Apple devices at certain resolutions, which was weird for mobile and slowed down my replication of it as I had to hunt down various iPad flavors.

Yes - Firefox on both my iPad and iPhone 5S had the issues that I oultined in that post. Chrome was installed on my iPhone and had the same issues; I'll install Chrome on my iPad to see how it works and post back my results to that thread.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Thank you, sorry, I only have android devices quickly at hand.

EDIT: Stole my bosses iPad and was able to confirm (Thanks Juan!). Seems especially bad if it goes to landscape, apparently its to do with how iOS is reporting pixel width and height of a display to the web UI we use for the Help. Even though I wasn't super clear on it, it looks like the Tech Pubs team is on top of it and its expected to be fixed.

Edited by JimW
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Nice intro Tim and agree, I have little programming knowledge and I was thinking I would have to learn Python to understand Marionette better as the terminology is mostly foreign to me.

But maybe I should venture into it as I did a little bit of C++ a while ago.

Await with anticipation but this is possibly on the bottom of the workload list (12hrs aday) and on top of ones idle time list (-12hrs a day).

Dynamo Primer.What a great site, Something else to play with.

Edited by Alan Woodwell
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  • 1 month later...

I'll second that request. I just started playing with Marionette last night and while I can see the power and potential, I'm stumped by some of the basics.

That 6 video series was very helpful. It gave me enough of an overview to try my first network, but we need quite a bit more.

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I love what Marionette can do especially when it comes to making parametric objects to which I have some ideas I'd like to try and make for the objects I need almost everyday in my work. My head often spins trying to grasp what I need and when I need it when putting together a network. So I very much second everything that is being put forward here on this particular thread. I'm a very visual learner.

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