Why doesn't Penpal automatically stay in sync with AE?

It is possible to build a tool like Penpal in such a way that it is constantly 'listening' for events that happen outside of itself - mainly mouse and keyboard clicks. Some other developers use a lot of listeners like this to maintain greater synchronization between After Effects and their tools. However… the more listeners we add to our tools, the more we make your computer slow down. If you have several third party tools that are built like this, all open at once, it will negatively impact the responsiveness of After Effects' user interface.

As developers, we have to make choices about how we handle your computer's resources. Choices between being kinda 'greedy', at one extreme; and something more humble, at the other. I say humble because we don't make an assumption that our tool is the only one in your UI, or that it's more important to you than any others. We have to compromise on the wow-factor of our tool, so that you are less likely to have to compromise in which tools you keep in your workspace. This decision is actually the more user-focused decision, when you bear in mind that we have thousands of users with many different workflows and expectations.

Why are things different across OS's?

Keyboard shortcuts are handled differently between Mac and Windows operating systems. The same goes for the behaviour of floating palettes. Both these OS-specific factors have knock-on effects for Penpal.

On Windows, we can use the standard shortcuts that include the Ctrl key, such as Ctrl + Z to Undo. On Mac, we cannot access most shortcuts that use the standard Cmd key, so we chose to use Alt + Z to Undo.

In order for Undo to perform a literal After Effects undo operation we have to use a method that effectively acts as if we had made your mouse click on the menu bar and then Edit > Undo . On a Mac, this is not a problem. But on Windows, when you do this, it causes a floating palette to lose focus and become inactive. So, on Windows, you cannot use the Undo and Redo shortcuts repeatedly unless Penpal is docked. This only affects undo and redo - you can still use Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V and other shortcuts without losing focus (because those operations are not AE menu commands).

When I click on Window > Extensions > Penpal, nothing happens.

Please try the following steps:

  1. Download the latest ZXP Installer from aescripts.

  2. In ZXP Installer, click on the Settings icon in the top-left. This opens a new pane which has three icons on the left hand side. Click on the bottom icon to bring up a list of CEP versions. Make sure that Enable debugging is checked on for CEP version 8 and above.

  3. Click on OK.

  4. Close and re-open the Penpal panel inside After Effects. You may also need to restart After Effects.

If this process fails to get Penpal working, please open a support ticket at aescripts and we will help you directly. These installation issues are really down to Adobe but we can usually get things working in the end.

Why doesn't Penpal integrate with point selections I make in After Effects?

Adobe doesn't provide developers like us with any access to point selections, so we have no way of knowing which points on a path you have selected in the composition panel. And even if they did, in After Effects it’s not possible to select only one tangent of a pair (other than when you’re dragging it around). Providing functions which operate on only one tangent required us to build our own UI to select those individual tangents.

How accurate is Penpal?

Your cursor becomes more accurate as your screen increases in pixel size, so if you use Penpal at low pixel dimensions you might find it harder to make accurate selections, or find that tangents change from broken to smooth too easily when they are opposite each other. If you make Penpal's panel bigger, it'll be more accurate. Simple.

Why can't I align points or tangents between multiple paths?

When you edit multiple paths at once, Penpal handles each path independently of the others. So whilst you can align points within a path, you can't align points from two or more different paths with one another. We would like to enable this, but it's more complex than you might think. In the meantime, you can often just enable snapping - which does snap points across multiple paths.

Why do paths appear in strange places in the canvas?

Multiple paths sometimes look strange in Layer or Local space. This is because in After Effects, transformation properties like a shape group's Position or Anchor Point often have a significant effect on how the raw path is displayed. With Layer and Local space, some or all of those transforms are negated. If this is a problem, try working with one path at a time, or switch to Comp space.

Can I make a suggestion?

Yes! We love to hear suggestions from users whether you've purchased a license or are just trying it out. The easiest way is to just drop me an email. This will not add you to any mailing lists.

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