Let’s overview the functions of the individual panels. For this I restore the default layout.
Let’s begin on the left. We’ve already seen the File Browser panel in several videos. There is a separate tutorial on using this panel, so we won’t go into details here.
The next panel is the Module Type Browser. Its function and structure is identical to the Insert Module dialog. If we want to add a module to the compound, we can use the Insert Module menu command, choose a module type and add it by a double-click. Or we can use the Module Type Browser side panel, and after choosing the module type we simply drag and drop it into the Flow Editor.
The Dependency Manager panel is also a complex, and it has its own tutorial. In short, here we can handle the list of the external files referred by the active compound. We can move, rename, replace etc. them while maintaining the integrity of the compound.
Let’s move to the bottom band. The first panel is the Log, where the numerous types of system messages are displayed. We mainly get a lot of messages here when a compound is loading. As a beginner we don’t have to care too much about the meaning of the majority of them.
The important thing to us is the Messages panel. It’s basically is a filtered version of the Log, displaying only the highlighted messages, the errors and the warnings. An example of a highlighted message is one that informs us about the opening of a document. When we save the document we also get a message about that. In order to show you an error message, I load a texture that appears as a module here in the editor. If I now delete the source file, the system detects its absence and gives us a red error message. Now I restore the file from the Recycle Bin. The system finds the file and loads it again. So we get a texture Loading message in the Log panel - but not in the Messages panel, because it’s a normal operation message not a highlighted one.
The Messages behaves in a special way. If we close it, because we want to free up some space in the side band, it always reappears automatically if an error occurs. This way we won’t miss any error messages. By right-clicking either the Log or the Messages panel, we get a menu, where we can clear the previous messages. Also we can specify whether we want automatic clear on each document opening, to get rid of old error messages related to the previous document.
The next panel type we may encounter here is the Preview. It enables us to continuously watch a selection of the rendering outputs. Currently we have three Previews here, but we have acces to a total of 9 of them. In the View menu, where we have the list of all the panel types, there is a separate submenu for the Previews. Here we can see all 9 of them. For e.g. let’s open the Preview no. 8. It appears as a floating window by default. We can select a channel to show on this Preview, for e.g. Channel 1, thus getting the same output we see on Preview 1. There is a separate tutorial that discusses the channels and the outputs of the system and also the usage of the Preview panels in detail.
The Info panel basically serves as a display for help information. If we hover the mouse over anything that has any help information, it will be displayed here. For e.g. let’s add a Sequencer module to the compound. If we move the mouse over the module, the associated info text is displayed. Each of the pins has it’s own description. The pin info is also displayed if we move the mouse over the pin names in the Pin Values editor.
And now we speak about the right side. The first panel is the Pin Values. Here we can also see the input pin values of the currently selected module or modules, and also we have the editor boxes for each of them. A separate tutorial is available that discusses the various pin data types and the editor box types associated with them.
The Dashboard panel is similar to the Pin Values. But here only a selection of the pins are displayed, namely that ones exposed from the top level of the compound. The exposed pins will always be displayed here independently of the currently selected module. So we can collect the properties we want constant access to here.
The next panel is the Processor Load. It displays the various types of loads in the system. The parameters displayed here are dependent of the rendering mode we choose. Currently the system is running in a fixed FPS mode, meaning it renders a constant number of frames per second. Currently it’s 30 frames per second which is displayed in the bottom line. The GPU and CPU section shows the percentage of the per-frame time slice the processors use up. VMem shows the usage of the video card memory. It mainly consists of the loaded textures, meshes and shaders.
On the right side in a separate group we can find the History panel. It contains the list of the operations performed on the compound since it was loaded. For e.g. if I move the Sequencer module, a new line appears in the list. When we apply undos and redos the system moves up and down in this list. We can return to an arbitrary previous state by double-clicking on the operation. This is also true for skipping forward. Of course if we perform a new operation from an intermediate state - let’s do a movement - the redo steps won’t be available anymore.
In the View menu we can find several more panels we haven’t talked about since they are hidden in the default layout, for e.g. the Sequence Editor and the Curve Editor. These additional panels will be discussed in the appropriate tutorials.
And this concludes the tutorial of the docking system and the panel types.