Monday, April 24th, 2017 Posted by Jim Thacker

Fabric Software releases Fabric Engine 2.5

Fabric Software has released Fabric Engine 2.5, the new version of its platform for developing custom tools for CG pipelines, updating Canvas’s Tab Search function, and adding a new API for wrapping C++ libraries.

Revamped Tab Search makes it easier to find and inspect nodes during visual programming
The key usability feature this time round is the revamped Tab Search feature in Canvas, Fabric Engine’s node-based visual programming environment, which enables users to search for specific nodes.

The search field in the widget it pops up now supports spaces, and there is a new tags system, which enables searches to be narrowed down according to types of nodes, or their connection ports.

The widget, including the list of search results it returns, can now be navigated using standard keyboard shortcuts; and the details pane, which shows more info about the result highlighted, can now be collapsed.

Search results are also now displayed with a ‘heat bar’ showing their relatedness to the search queries used. There are also a number of other workflow improvements when using Canvas, listed in the release notes.

New ‘Kludge’ system makes it easier to incorporate third-party C++ libraries in tools
The other main addition is Kludge, a new API and set of associated tools that makes it easier to wrap C++ libraries into extensions written in KL, Fabric Engine’s programming language.

The changes should make it easier for TDs to incorporate third-party libraries into tools, and is illustrated by sample extensions wrapping the SQLite database library and solving a 2D bin packing problem.

The firm has also released Fabric Template Library (FTL), a template library for building integrations that exposes a high-performance JSON decoder and encoder based on the one used in Fabric Core.

Support for USD coming in a future release
Since we last wrote about Fabric Engine, Fabric Software is also working on an integration of USD, Pixar’s open-source Universal Scene Description format, now being supported by a growing range of DCC tools.

USD hasn’t made it into version 2.5, but you can see a progress report in this video.

Pricing and availability
Fabric Engine 2.5 is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The core software comes with free integration plugins for Maya, 3ds Max, Softimage and Modo. There is also a UE4 plugin in beta.

Since we last wrote about the software, its sales page has been changed to list only rental options, which start at $1,200/year for one interactive and five headless licences.

We’ve contacted Fabric to ask if perpetual licences are still available, and will update when we hear back.

Read a full list of new features in Fabric Engine 2.5 on Fabric Software’s blog