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Sessions and Palettes


Managing your work in Slim is designed to be simple and virtually effortless, straight out of the box. Appearances are stored in Palettes, and Palettes are stored in Sessions. Sessions have been designed to optimize the inter-connectivity of Slim and RenderMan for Maya and their integration with your Maya workflow.

When you start Slim, you are in a default Session, working on a default Palette. These are keyed to your Maya scene and project automatically, and are saved with the scene when the scene is saved. Sessions and Palettes can also be manually saved and opened (or re-opened). If you are working with a default session and/or palette, you do not need to explicitly perform any save operation.

Any explicit save of your palette will “externalize” the palette, substantially loosening the connection to your scene/project; you can, however, “internalize” any saved palette from the File menu.

Managing Sessions and Palettes


As mentioned above, when you open Slim via Maya you create a default Session. When you save your scene the Session is saved with it, as well as a Session Key that tells Slim which Session is associated with the scene.

If, however, the default session displeases you, you can create a new Session. To create a new Session:

File → New Session
When you create a new Session in an existing Maya scene, the first thing you must do is give the Session a name. This will also update your Session Key to keep your current session in sync with your scene. The same logic applies if you open an existing Session (File → Open Session…) and if you “Save Session As…”.

Palettes and Sessions via the File menu.

In practice, you never need to save a Session. Whenever you exit Slim or save your Maya scene the current state of the Session is automatically saved.

Sessions can also be created, reopened, and saved when you are using Slim in standalone mode. Existing sessions will retain their connection to the Maya scene they were tied to as long as the session key is not changed (e.g. by doing a “Save Session As…”).


Palettes are a slightly different beast. Once again, they are “stored” in Sessions, via references. You can have any number of Palettes in a given Session. Palettes can be named (or renamed) when in Browse mode by double-clicking on the label, and, as mentioned above, explicitly saving a palette will “externalize” it. You can open existing Palettes and they will automatically be added to your current Session, and your Session can contain both internal and external Palettes.

Internal palettes are good for ensuring that all of your Slim appearances are associated with one particular Session. External palettes may be preferable if you want to manage palettes independent of a given session; they can be shared between projects, i.e. any external palette can be referenced in multiple Slim sessions, whereas an internal palette can only be associated with one.

Sessions Behavior Modification

Here's a rundown of what's going on “under the hood” with Slim Sessions:


Upon startup, Slim and RenderMan for Maya source the RMS.ini file (by default, it is in the /etc directory of your RenderMan Studio installation, but they will also source ini files in your MAYA_SCRIPT_PATH as well). This file contains settings for two preferences. The first (and primary) preference is AssetStageStrategy. In the default configuration, the relevant line of the ini file appears like so:

SetPref AssetStageStrategy file; # file, fileStripVersion, proj
This pref governs how the value of the STAGE variable is constructed. It can take one of three values: file, proj, or fileStripVersion.

The ini file also loads the RMSExpression.tcl file, located in the /etc directory of your RenderMan Studio installation. This file outlines specific routines governing the interaction of Slim and RenderMan for Maya. As with the preferences in an ini file, you can override any of the procs in a separate RMSExpression.tcl file in your MAYA _SCRIPT_PATH.


The Workspace

In the default configuration, the Workspace file includes:

   SetPref WSSubdir.slimPalettes    {slim/palettes}
   SetPref WSSubdir.slimSessions    {slim/sessions}
   SetPref WSSubdir.slimSessionKeys {slim/sessions}
   SetPref WSSubdir.slimShaders     {renderman/$STAGE/slimshaders}
   SetPref WSSubdir.slimTextures    {renderman/textures}
   SetPref WSSubdir.slimTmps        {slim/tmp/$STAGE}

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