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Forums Adobe After Effects Expressions Is there still a viable way to write AE scripts ?

  • Is there still a viable way to write AE scripts ?

  • Filip Vandueren

    May 13, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    my OS X warns me that the Extendscript toolkit is an obsolete app, though it still runs.
    But when I try to write a script, it just hangs for half a minute every two lines of code I try to write ?

    Is AE scripting just an abondonware at this point, or is there a new workflow I’m unaware of ?

  • Andrei Popa

    May 13, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    I can suggest you 2 ways.

    1. Install Visual Studio Code and the ESTK debugger.
    Visual Studio Code
    ESTK debugger news and information

    2.Install Atom and use Extendscript only for debugging purposes(This is what I use).
    Atom needs this

    My Envato portfolio.

  • Filip Vandueren

    May 13, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks Andrei,

    just what I was looking for!

  • Tomas Bumbulevičius

    May 14, 2019 at 9:27 am

    Hey Andrei,

    this is a great reference, thanks! One thing though – I suspect that through 3rd party applications, there is no way to access objects data models, nor debug with breakpoints? In other words, this could be a reliable only for experts.

    Not sure about you guys, but for me on Win Extendscript is even slower than on Mac. Most often I have to interchange between ☺


    Find out more:
    After Effects Tutorials: motion design, expressions, scripting.

  • Andrei Popa

    May 14, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Visual studio code has a debugger. But its not as good as the extendscript one in my opinion.

    What i do is write the code in atom, and when i finish the script, i open it in extendscript for tests.

    Atom is just great. You can run the scripts from it, has autocomplete, better find/replace. Way better colors, runs well with git, has support for multiple kanguages. And the plus is that you can run extendscript in parallel. With visual studio code debugger you can’t.

    My Envato portfolio.

  • Tomas Bumbulevičius

    September 14, 2021 at 8:16 am

    Two years later I am finally completely emptied by unreliability of Visual Studio Code, especially on MacOs.

    ~ Doesn’t stop at break points;
    ~ Doesn’t showcase global scope/object model (only local functions are accessible when reached in).

    The time spent looking for workarounds is not justifiable when nothing works at all, and the issue is somewhere in the roots, outside of understandable waters.

    In the past, this worked well to move from dead end on breakpoints:

    $.level = 2;


    Now, it either works or stops working for completely unknown reasons, literally. It can be few lines of code and it still ignores break points. It seems that Adobe Script Runner by renderTom sometimes works, but also – just sometimes.

    While it most likely results as a conflict with OS and nothing directly related with code itself (because it can appear on any simple code), anyone else have hard time with it? Even on windows, on more complex projects, debugger quite often stops working. Then you either restart the debugger, or restart Code & After Effects to make it work to initialize the target.

  • Andrei Popa

    September 14, 2021 at 8:30 am

    I use VSC for developing my stuff. Once I go on testing, I also open my scripts in ESTK (I don’t even have the debugger installed now, it messed up with ETSK). When you modify in one place, it usually also applies in the other. ETSK has the object model which is A TON of help. When I try dissecting a property, I run a line like

     var a = app.project.activeItem.layer(1).text.sourceText.value;

    Then I go to model viewer and I can see everything about my property. I found A LOT about AE structure this way. I did not see this in any other text editor.

    I also run my scripts with Adobe Script Runner by renderTom. Never failed me. Now also works with code that is not yet saved. So to just test a small snippet, I ctrl+n, paste and run.

    I can also recommend this GitHub – alexmunteanu/VS-Code-Adobe-Development-Utils: Provides several utilities for Adobe scripts development. I especially like the feature that turns code into string. I use it when I need to apply my expressions via script, and I need them in a string variable.

  • Tomas Bumbulevičius

    September 14, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Andrei, thanks a lot! I agree that object model is irreplaceable if you need to figure out something new, or troubleshoot.

    The problem here comes with ESTK is that it is no longer supported on MacOS (unless I missed something

    Thats where it pushes onto boundaries of not being able to dev on different OS’s relatively “problems free”.

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