Autodesk Exchange Apps - Information for 3ds Max Developers
This guide is for developers and content providers new to publishing plug-ins and other content on Autodesk® Exchange Apps – either free, trial or for fee versions. It outlines best practice guidelines and a few requirements for publishers to follow when creating products for the Autodesk Exchange Apps. These guidelines are designed to ensure that users on Autodesk Exchange have a consistent experience when downloading multiple products from the store.
Depending on the type of content, there may be different requirements. Please read the following sections for details:
All content types
Most of the information we need from you is collected via the web form you complete when submitting your content. This includes gathering information to auto-generate a HTML ‘quick start’ page that is included with the download of your product and viewable online. Other requirements are:
- Compatibility: Your product must be relevant to (and usable with) Autodesk® 3ds Max® 2016, and must run on any Windows operating system supported by 3ds Max 2016. You may also indicate compatibility with 3ds Max 2015/2014.
- Your product must work with any higher tiered version of the 3ds Max product. For example if your application works with the 3ds Max Suites, it must also work with the standard version of 3ds Max.
- HTML help page: The documentation information you provide as part of the submission process is used to populate a standard, auto-generated HTML page. This information must allow the user to quickly understand how to use your product. You can reference additional information (for example, additional help files posted on your website) from this standard documentation. The auto-generated HTML page will be populated using information you provide when submitting your product to the store – you will be prompted to supply it as part of the submission process.
- User privileges: If you don’t use the standard installer template we provide, or if your installer or product requires elevated user privileges (greater than a Windows 7/8/8.1 Standard User) to install, then this must be very clearly documented in the description of your product displayed on the Store.
- Ready to run: Your product must be "ready to run" as soon as it's installed. It must not require the user to manually copy or register files, or manually edit 3ds Max settings (such as support paths).
- If you use a licensing system, then it must allow your product to run as soon as it is installed by the user. This means that your application allows either instant activation (e.g., online activation), or full functionality with a time-bombed "grace period" that is long enough for you to send activation information to the customer.
- Product Stability: Your product should be stable, and not behave or alter the behavior of 3ds Max in a way that we deem unsuitable (for example, blocking standard functionality, blocking the functionality of another plug-in, causing data loss etc…).
Additional requirements for plug-ins are:
- You must use a plug-in manifest as the loading mechanism. This is typically a PackageContents.xml file.
- Your plug-in must include a toolbar button and/or a menu to access your main command(s) when applicable. Plugins that install to other typical UI aspects are also fine. For example, a Modifier plugin, would display itself in the typical modifier UI.
Standalone applications and other content
There are no additional requirements for products that are not integrated with 3ds Max. This might include – eBooks, video tutorials, industry specific calculators, connectors to Cloud based services and the like.
Use of the bundle and XML file for 3ds Max 2016/2015/2014 plug-in
As a default location, we’ll be using the "All user" program data location to place the plug-in manifest:
The plug-in files will be contained in a specific folder called “<your application name>” and a PackageContents.xml file (created by the installer that we create for your app) will be stored within this bundle folder, together with the files that you need for your application:
PackageContents.xml contains a series of XML tags that describe the contents of the bundle, including the various components of the application. These tags will define where to load the application from, and also details about the application such as version(s) it supports.
Versions of 3ds Max that support the Exchange Store
3ds Max introduced Autodesk Exchange Store support in the 3ds Max 2014 version. Due to a defect here, 3ds Max 2014 does not recognize the 2015 product correctly. For this reason, we recommend that you create two separate bundles: one for 3ds Max 2014, and one for later versions. 3ds Max 2015 and later correctly support the Series tags, and so different versions of the same plugin can coexist correctly in the same bundle. Also note that 3ds Max 2015 and 3ds Max 2016 are SDK binary compatible releases. This means that any app that works in 2015, will be automatically picked up in the 3ds Max 2016 release. No additional work is required, other than specifying it is supported in your product information to make it clear for your customers. Also note that 3ds Max MAXScript is generaly compatible across all releases, but 3ds Max honors the series tags here to ensure testing and compatibility.
Use the Autoloader system
We strongly encourage you to make use of the autoloader mechanism to deploy your plug-in. Information on the required format for autoloader ‘bundles’ is documented here.
You can also download some of the free plug-ins already available on Autodesk Exchange and study their format – such as one of the Autodesk Plug-in of the Month samples (for example, Explode Geometry).
End User License Agreement
The installer that the ADN team creates for your app includes a button that allows the user to view the standard End User License Agreement (EULA) during the app installation.
Note: This EULA is NOT modifiable. If you wish to include your own EULA to your app, you can either:
- reference your EULA from the standard HTM help file text, or
- display your EULA when the app runs for the first time, and require the user to accept it before the app will work.
If your app or content has any special requirements and the standard installer template cannot handle as is, please talk to us.
For example, if you have specific requirements for your app to be written to a single-user, we can create the installer that install only to the current user.
For any other special needs that require a custom installation, you can provide them in the form of Windows Installer Merge Modules (.msm) files. We will merge your msm file with the Windows Installer (.msi) file that we create for your app. Examples of such a scenario would be: writing entries to the registry for a licensing system you are using, installing dependent components by other vendors, and running custom scripts. For additional information, please contact us at email@example.com.
The ADN team is here to help you be a successful publisher on Autodesk Exchange store. We’ll do whatever we can do to help you. You are welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions after reviewing these guidelines and the other documentation on www.autodesk.com/developapps.
Thank you for participating on Autodesk Exchange Apps.