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Saving Layouts in After Effects 7

Workspace revisions 1-2-3 By Ko Maruyama
Adobe's After Effects 7 is finally unveiled, and there are many small parts of the application which might be overlooked for some of the larger features.  One of those nice little additions is the ability to easily change workspaces.  Surely previous version had it, but AE7 allows more control.  The old version of After Effects created a bundle of crazy data in a single preference file - which was great, because - YES, you could create multiple layouts and switch/modify/delete as needed, and YES, you could save out your preference file and drag around your workspaces, but you couldn't discretely save the individual workspaces until After Effects 7.

The earlier After Effects workspace data looked like this, and while I'm sure Total Training's Brian Maffitt and code slayer Kenneth Woodruff (http://www.4thparty.com/about)* could easily navigate this text file, I didn't even like to look at it; much less try to edit it manually.

The new version of After Effects comes with a completely new style of saving preferences.

After installing After Effects 7, you'll find a a separate folder in your user library to contain all of the preference data for the application, including a folder specifically for the workspaces.  By default, you'll have 9 workspaces provided by Adobe, but you're able to add your own custom layouts as well.

After Effects 7 automatically modifies the current settings of the workspace that you have selected, so you'll want to create a new workspace first.

This creates an original custom user XML file as well as a modified version of the layout.

The original user XML serves as the initial state.  You can make modifications to the workspace, After Effects will save those modifications, but if you want to go back at any time to reset to your original custom layout, the data remains unchanged.

If you want to export or import the layout data, simply copy the XML file from the folder, or place a new XML file into the folder to modify individual workspace preferences.

Although, I can only think of a few possible reasons to want it, I'm sure someone will want to recreate the interface look of After Effects 6.5.  Here's how to create the "CLASSIC" undocked frames.

1. Create a New Workspace

2. Undock and size the new frames as needed.

3. Click on the Tools panel to separate it from the project main window.

Now you're still stuck with the large application window that lies empty.  Simply minimize the window.  Do not close the application window, as this will exit the application. (NOTE: If you decide to change workspaces, they will be placed in the application window, minimized or not).

To simply import a workspace, place the shared file in the "Modified Workspace" folder and relaunch the application.  Here is the XML file for a "CLASSIC" view.

For more detailed investigations, custom tutorials, and explorations of After Effects 7, join me and the rest of the PixelCorps at http://www.pixelcorps.com.  Find out about membership and benefits by checking out the website for more information.

*Although Useful Things is no longer available for After Effects, plans for future development of 4thParty plugins has not deadended. 

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:after Effects 7, ae7, afx7, workspace, layout, after effects 6.5, ko maruyam


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