3ds Max 2010: Containers

Hey all.  Sorry for the loooong delay in posts.  I really don’t have an excuse, so I’ll just get into this post.  Last week I taught the new feature in 3ds Max 2010 called containers.  I really like this new feature but I’m not sure if I agree that much with it’s implementation.  Containers, I think, act very much like xrefs…that is, xrefs in AutoCAD.  One of the options it has is edit in place.  This has been incorporated into xrefs in AutoCAD for quite some time, but  not 3ds Max.  I think for this release, the best parts of xref scene, xref objects, groups and containers should have been combined into this single tool.  Let’s go over how containers work and, as we go, I’ll mention what I think should be done differently.

1.  First, I’ve started a new file, created a few objects and saved the file:


2.  Next, to make this file’s objects available to be linked into other files, I must create a container.  Since a container is considered a helper, I go to the Helper tab on the Command Panel and click Container:

C.K.fig02 C.K.fig03

3.  Now, click and drag and an open box will appear (as seen above).

Opinion:  Notice that you don’t have any options for the Container on the Command Panel right now.  I don’t really understand this.  We have to switch to the Modify tab to see them.

4.  On the Modify tab, within the Local Content group, click the Add button.

5.  When the Add Container Node dialog box appears, click any objects you want to be included within the container and click the Add button.

Opinion:  This seems very much like xref objects as in, which objects do you want to bring in, in the xref objects process?

6.  Once again, on the Command Panel, within the Local Content group, within the When Content is Inherited group, select the Allow Edit in Place option.

Opinion:  This is exactly what happens in AutoCAD when you select an xref, right-click, and select Edit Xref in Place.

7.  Still in the same Local Content group, click the Save button and save the file to your computer.

Opinion:  Notice the new file extension: *.maxc.  It would seem to me that creating a separate file when the objects are already accessible within this file is unnecessary.

8.  Now, let’s bring the container into a new file.  Once in the new file, click the 3ds Max symbol at the top-left, expand References, and click Inherit Container:

C.K.fig04 C.K.fig05

9.  After selecting the .maxc file you exported earlier, you’ll now see the objects came into the new file at the same coordinates they did in the original file.  Also, just next to them, you’ll see a closed container box (see above).

Opinion:  Just as with xref scene objects, I cannot select any of the imported objects.  I can, however, select the container box, go onto the Modify tab, click the Edit in Place button and then select and edit them.  Why not just let me select an object, right-click, and then click Edit in Place…just as I can in AutoCAD?

10.  As stated in the above opinion, select the container box, go to the Modify tab and click the Edit in Place button.

11.  The container box will now open and the objects will be both editable as well as selectable.  You can edit them, select the container box, and then click the Save button (which will save the changes back to the original file).

Opinion:  Why not just let me select any of the objects, right-click, and click Save (similar to selecting any object from within an open group and clicking Group –> Close)?

Overall, I think the idea of a container as a collaborative tool is really great.  I think, however, that the xref scene, xref objects, groups and containers tools can be combined into a single tool that does the same thing.  What do you think?  Are you using containers?  Has it replaced the xref scene or objects tool for you?  Let me know!