New Power User Tricks in TouchDesigner

It might sound like yet another “omg new features in the experimental build” post…but it just goes to show you how much new and powerful tools are coming down the pipeline. Not only are there totally new features, there are a lot of quality of life improvements to heavily used workflows. In this post, we’ll dive into three great workflow improvements in the new experimental builds!

Infinite timers

How many times have you created a Timer CHOP and wanted it to just run indefinitely? If you’re anything like me, the answer is lots. The reason for this is that you often want an infinite ramp or second counter but with easy to use playback controls. This is contrast to using something like a Constant CHOP and plugging that in to Speed CHOP, which works but can be a lot harder to control. Often times, this would mean that you’d create a Timer CHOP and set the length to 99999 (I’m not exaggerating…) and have a great time while hoping you never actually hit 99999 seconds! No longer! Now there’s a new mode in the Timer CHOP with the parameter called Length Type. It has two options, the first is Fixed, which will operate your Timer CHOP as you’re currently used to. The second is the new Infinite mode. Hooray! But…there’s a few things to know. Let’s first switch it over to Infinite mode:

Once we do that you might be confused when you hit Start and nothing happens in the channels! This is because once you switch to infinite mode, you don’t have an end point to even have a fractional position in! So when you switch it to infinite mode, the next thing you’ll want to do is turn on the different types of counters you want to keep track of on the Outputs page of parameters:

Once you enable one (or all) of your counters, you’ll see the different counters will count up indefinitely. Useful, easy, great quality of life update for the Timer CHOP!

If you haven’t used the search dialogue, you’ve been missing out. It’s an incredible tool inside of TouchDesigner for being able to find just about anything in your project. You can access it using F3 on the keyboard or in the Edit menu at the top and selecting Search. You can type in keywords and it will search your whole project for that keyword. It could be in a script, the operator name, and more. It’s gotten a HUGE upgrade. I’ll let this holy screenshot show you:

You’ll immediately see a few upgrades. The search results are WAY better. Before you’d only get the first column of results and would have to do some manual investigation. Now you get the operator paths, the type of the operator, and where the search result actually is! Already amazing. The next think you’ll notice are the words Replace. If you’ve tried to do this before, this is exciting for you. We can now perform full on search and replace functions across the whole project right from the search dialgoue *mind blown*. Let’s take a look at this magic in action. I’ve create an operator named my_var and have sprinkled my_var through a few scripts. Let’s see what happens when I try to replace it with another_var:

It brings tears to my eyes. Developers everywhere rejoice. We’ll do a full blog post about why this is helpful and how you can use this to it’s full extent once this is in the stable build, but even seeing this work is amazing. Hitting replace not only updated the variables in my script but also updated my operator name as well.

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We’re making our 7 core project file templates available – for free.

These templates shed light into the most useful and sometimes obtuse features of TouchDesigner.

They’re designed to be immediately applicable for the complete TouchDesigner beginner, while also providing inspiration for the advanced user.

Custom Parameter Help

One of the most challenging things about making custom components and adding your own parameters to them is finding ways of leaving notes and help documentation for future users. Previously this was done with a lot of Text DATs or printing to the textport. Now we can actually embed help documentation right onto the custom parameters themselves with a few clicks! I’ll assume here that you’d made custom parameters before, so I’ll jump right into the Component Editor menu where I’ve already made a new float parameter and we’ll see a new attribute here called help:

All we have to do to add help text is type it in here:

Nothing feels better than programming being easy 🙂 But how do you access these help tidbits? Also easy! All the user has to do is hold Alt while hovering over a parameter and we’ll see a pop up dialogue with our help text displayed!

It might seem simple and it might seem like a basic thing, but making this feature so easy to use and implement is huge for tool building. One of the biggest pieces of feedback I’ve ever received when I make tools is that people wish there was an easier way to see/read documentation to understand how tools work. Now this is something easily within reach of all tool builders, it could greatly increase the production level of all tools.

Wrap up

Whether you’re most excited about VSTs, Vulkan, or the quality of life features coming to the experimental builds of TouchDesigner, there are tons of new things to check out. If you haven’t had a chance to dig into the experimental, now might be a great time to dive in and look at some of the new features. Don’t forget it’s still heavily experimental and not recommended that you work on production projects on it, but it can definitely get your brain starting to think about what’s soon to come for your projects and workflows. Enjoy!