So last time we looked at making some utility nodes that we can use in our scripts. Today we’ll look at how to actually use them and in doing so we’ll look into how pymel handles attributes.

If you’re coming from mel or maya.cmds the syntax you’re used to to access attributes will look this.

# mel
getAttr cube.translateX;
# maya.cmds

In pymel we can get an attribute in the same way as maya.cmds.


However due to pymel representing everything as a PyNode object we have a few other ways to get attributes.

# .attr method
mycube = pm.polyCube()[0]
# short hand method
# node constructor method

The .attr method looks pretty similar to getAttr except that you call it as a method on a PyNode. The common reason to use this is when you don’t know what attribute you want when writing your code. You might be getting which attribute you want at runtime from either an interface or a function.

Using the short hand syntax is convenient when know what attribute you want from the start. You can use either short names or long names of any attribute including attributes you have added yourself. I usually use this way because it makes my code easier to type and read.

The third way of getting an attribute is using node constructors. I’ve listed two ways to use method pm.PyNode and pm.Attribute. Both of these return the same thing an attribute object. In fact the .attr and short hand syntax also return attribute objects.

Having these attribute objects lets us easily keep track of the attribute we want no matter what else if going on in our scene. We can rename or change the parent of the object it is attached too and the attribute object will still point to the correct place.

In order to use our attribute there are a few methods to know.

myattr = mycube.translateX
# get and set values
# set and break connections
# short hand for connections
myattr >> mysphere.translateY
myattr // mysphere.translateY 

Now .get and .set should be pretty self explanatory, they let you find out or change the value of the attribute.

If you want to change connections to an attribute you have a choice in syntax either long form or short form. For making connections I generally use the short form because its faster to type, but if you don’t do a lot of scripting you may want to use the long from so you remember what you are doing.

When disconnecting connections I always use the long from. This is a little bit preference for me because I like to be more verbose when I’m getting rid of something and also because the .disconnect methods has a few options that the short hand syntax doesn’t.

# disconnect a certain connection
# disconnect all connections
# disconnect all inputs 
# disconnect all outputs

If you want more information on attributes check out the article in the pymel docs.

If you want to see an example of using attributes you can look at a simple script I made to setup a blend attribute for a selection of constraints.

2023/3/5: there was link to a bitbucket repo that no longer exists. I still have the code somewhere, but haven’t had time to rehost it anywhere