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Mike.Popoloski

Graphics Tools in VS 2012

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So I think most people know by now that VS 2012 has syntax highlighting for HLSL files and a built-in graphics debugger (basically PIX I think). I was surprised, however, to discover that it also has a functional extrusion-based 3D modeling tool for FBX files, an image editor with support for looking at mip levels and other DDS features, and a node-based visual shader tool. blink.png

There's even MSBUILD tasks to compress textures and compile them into your app, and to precompile shaders and convert FBX files into .mesh objects (no luck finding any info on this format though).

Some images for people who might not believe this:

whS4g.png


FtKa9.png


I found this to be pretty wild, and they've made almost no mention of it anywhere. Seems like it could be useful for indie teams.

Edit: I did some hunting around in the VS folders to try to find the dll for a mesh loading API, but no dice. It'd be great to have this, since the FBX SDK is quite a pain in the neck to work with. It'd be nice if someone else handled that mess for me happy.png Edited by Mike.Popoloski

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Actually there's a lot of articles how to use this feature, including tutorials how to detect bottlenecks in D3D app.

It also has pixel debugging and vertex debugging (though I failed to find how to debug specific vertex, it always debugs first one for me), which allows to step through HLSL code and see values of all variables. Edited by Ripiz

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The debugging tools are great, but the content editors seem really out of place and only of use to <1% of users...
Hopefully they don't at all affect the already slow loading times and responsiveness of Visual Studio when not used.

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Currently Visual Studio 2012 is in Beta stages, which is free Ultimate (probably cannot be used for commercial software).

I think these features will be available only in Ultimate version, Professional might offer partial features.

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I have been playing with the shader compiling in the release version of VS2012 (c++) and I think it is a little bit clunky with how they set it up.

Controlling the compiling options is done through the build property sheets, like compiling anything else. This is good in some ways and I find annoying in others.

The good, you can set up some property sheets for your project that ensure you compile the shaders the same way. Things like the shader model, whether you want optimizations and debug information.

What I find clunky is that the file level properties are also done through the property sheet. You need to specify the type of shader (vertext, pixel, etc) on the file level property sheet. Sort of annoying is that because this is a property sheet change, the entire project recompiles after changing that.

Worse, for file level properties, is that the property sheets are specific to your Configuration/Platform combinations. So you need to go into the file properties on each one: Debug|x86 -> Pixel Shader, Release|x86 -> Pixel Shader, Debug|x64 -> Pixel Shader, Release|x64 -> PIxel Shader (for each shader). Properties like that aren't going to change per Config/Platform and stuffing them in there feels a bit clunky. If you aren't using a consistent entry point name across all your shaders you would also have to specify this on a per file, per config/platform basis -- this one is at least easy to deal with (make them all the same).

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