This document attempts to help you work with the Blender API in areas that can be troublesome and avoid practices that are known to give instability.
Blender’s operators are tools for users to access, that python can access them too is very useful nevertheless operators have limitations that can make them cumbersome to script.
Main limits are...
When calling an operator gives an error like this:
>>> bpy.ops.action.clean(threshold=0.001) Traceback (most recent call last): File "<blender_console>", line 1, in <module> File "scripts/modules/bpy/ops.py", line 179, in __call__ ret = op_call(self.idname_py(), None, kw) RuntimeError: Operator bpy.ops.action.clean.poll() failed, context is incorrect
Which raises the question as to what the correct context might be?
Typically operators check for the active area type, a selection or active object they can operate on, but some operators are more picky about when they run.
In most cases you can figure out what context an operator needs simply be seeing how its used in Blender and thinking about what it does.
Unfortunately if you’re still stuck - the only way to really know whats going on is to read the source code for the poll function and see what its checking.
For python operators its not so hard to find the source since its included with with Blender and the source file/line is included in the operator reference docs.
Downloading and searching the C code isn’t so simple, especially if you’re not familiar with the C language but by searching the operator name or description you should be able to find the poll function with no knowledge of C.
Blender does have the functionality for poll functions to describe why they fail, but its currently not used much, if you’re interested to help improve our API feel free to add calls to CTX_wm_operator_poll_msg_set where its not obvious why poll fails.
>>> bpy.ops.gpencil.draw() RuntimeError: Operator bpy.ops.gpencil.draw.poll() Failed to find Grease Pencil data to draw into
Certain operators in Blender are only intended for use in a specific context, some operators for example are only called from the properties window where they check the current material, modifier or constraint.
Examples of this are:
Another possibility is that you are the first person to attempt to use this operator in a script and some modifications need to be made to the operator to run in a different context, if the operator should logically be able to run but fails when accessed from a script it should be reported to the bug tracker.
Sometimes you want to modify values from python and immediately access the updated values, eg:
Consider the calculations that might go into working out the objects final transformation, this includes:
To avoid expensive recalculations every time a property is modified, Blender defers making the actual calculations until they are needed.
However, while the script runs you may want to access the updated values.
This can be done by calling bpy.types.Scene.update after modifying values which recalculates all data that is tagged to be updated.
The official answer to this is no, or... “You don’t want to do that”.
To give some background on the topic...
While a script executes Blender waits for it to finish and is effectively locked until its done, while in this state Blender won’t redraw or respond to user input. Normally this is not such a problem because scripts distributed with Blender tend not to run for an extended period of time, nevertheless scripts can take ages to execute and its nice to see whats going on in the view port.
Tools that lock Blender in a loop and redraw are highly discouraged since they conflict with Blenders ability to run multiple operators at once and update different parts of the interface as the tool runs.
So the solution here is to write a modal operator, that is - an operator which defines a modal() function, See the modal operator template in the text editor.
Modal operators execute on user input or setup their own timers to run frequently, they can handle the events or pass through to be handled by the keymap or other modal operators.
Transform, Painting, Fly-Mode and File-Select are example of a modal operators.
Writing modal operators takes more effort then a simple for loop that happens to redraw but is more flexible and integrates better with Blenders design.
Ok, Ok! I still want to draw from python
If you insist - yes its possible, but scripts that use this hack wont be considered for inclusion in Blender and any issues with using it wont be considered bugs, this is also not guaranteed to work in future releases.
Every so often users complain that Blenders matrix math is wrong, the confusion comes from mathutils matrices being column-major to match OpenGL and the rest of Blenders matrix operations and stored matrix data.
This is different to numpy which is row-major which matches what you would expect when using conventional matrix math notation.
Blenders EditMesh is an internal data structure (not saved and not exposed to python), this gives the main annoyance that you need to exit edit-mode to edit the mesh from python.
The reason we have not made much attempt to fix this yet is because we will likely move to BMesh mesh API eventually, so any work on the API now will be wasted effort.
With the BMesh API we may expose mesh data to python so we can write useful tools in python which are also fast to execute while in edit-mode.
For the time being this limitation just has to be worked around but we’re aware its frustrating needs to be addressed.
Armature Bones in Blender have three distinct data structures that contain them. If you are accessing the bones through one of them, you may not have access to the properties you really need.
In the following examples bpy.context.object is assumed to be an armature object.
bpy.context.object.data.edit_bones contains a editbones; to access them you must set the armature mode to edit mode first (editbones do not exist in object or pose mode). Use these to create new bones, set their head/tail or roll, change their parenting relationships to other bones, etc.
Example using bpy.types.EditBone in armature editmode:
# This is only possible in edit mode. bpy.context.object.data.edit_bones["Bone"].head = Vector((1.0, 2.0, 3.0)) # This will be empty outside of editmode. mybones = bpy.context.selected_editable_bones # Returns an editbone only in edit mode. bpy.context.active_bone
bpy.context.object.data.bones contains bones. These live in object mode, and have various properties you can change, note that the head and tail properties are read-only.
Example using bpy.types.Bone in object or pose mode:
# returns a bone (not an editbone) outside of edit mode bpy.context.active_bone # This works, as with blender the setting can be edited in any mode bpy.context.object.data.bones["Bone"].use_deform = True # Accessible but read-only tail = myobj.data.bones["Bone"].tail
bpy.context.object.pose.bones contains pose bones. This is where animation data resides, i.e. animatable transformations are applied to pose bones, as are constraints and ik-settings.
Examples using bpy.types.PoseBone in object or pose mode:
# Gets the name of the first constraint (if it exists) bpy.context.object.pose.bones["Bone"].constraints.name # Gets the last selected pose bone (pose mode only) bpy.context.active_pose_bone
Notice the pose is accessed from the object rather than the object data, this is why blender can have 2 or more objects sharing the same armature in different poses.
While writing scripts that deal with armatures you may find you have to switch between modes, when doing so take care when switching out of editmode not to keep references to the edit-bones or their head/tail vectors. Further access to these will crash blender so its important the script clearly separates sections of the code which operate in different modes.
This is mainly an issue with editmode since pose data can be manipulated without having to be in pose mode, however for operator access you may still need to enter pose mode.
Python supports many different encpdings so there is nothing stopping you from writing a script in latin1 or iso-8859-15.
However this complicates things for the python api because blend files themselves dont have an encoding.
To simplify the problem for python integration and script authors we have decieded all strings in blend files must be UTF-8 or ASCII compatible.
This means assigning strings with different encodings to an object names for instance will raise an error.
Paths are an exception to this rule since we cannot ignore the existane of non-utf-8 paths on peoples filesystems.
This means seemingly harmless expressions can raise errors, eg.
>>> print(bpy.data.filepath) UnicodeEncodeError: 'ascii' codec can't encode characters in position 10-21: ordinal not in range(128) >>> bpy.context.object.name = bpy.data.filepath Traceback (most recent call last): File "<blender_console>", line 1, in <module> TypeError: bpy_struct: item.attr= val: Object.name expected a string type, not str
Here are 2 ways around filesystem encoding issues.
>>> print(repr(bpy.data.filepath)) >>> import os >>> filepath_bytes = os.fsencode(bpy.data.filepath) >>> filepath_utf8 = filepath_bytes.decode('utf-8', "replace") >>> bpy.context.object.name = filepath_utf8
Unicode encoding/decoding is a big topic with comprehensive python documentation, to avoid getting stuck too deep in encoding problems - here are some suggestions:
Python threading with Blender only works properly when the threads finish up before the script does. By using threading.join() for example.
Heres an example of threading supported by Blender:
import threading import time def prod(): print(threading.current_thread().name, "Starting") # do something vaguely useful import bpy from mathutils import Vector from random import random prod_vec = Vector((random() - 0.5, random() - 0.5, random() - 0.5)) print("Prodding", prod_vec) bpy.data.objects["Cube"].location += prod_vec time.sleep(random() + 1.0) # finish print(threading.current_thread().name, "Exiting") threads = [threading.Thread(name="Prod %d" % i, target=prod) for i in range(10)] print("Starting threads...") for t in threads: t.start() print("Waiting for threads to finish...") for t in threads: t.join()
This an example of a timer which runs many times a second and moves the default cube continuously while Blender runs (Unsupported).
def func(): print("Running...") import bpy bpy.data.objects['Cube'].location.x += 0.05 def my_timer(): from threading import Timer t = Timer(0.1, my_timer) t.start() func() my_timer()
Use cases like the one above which leave the thread running once the script finishes may seem to work for a while but end up causing random crashes or errors in Blenders own drawing code.
So far no work has gone into making Blenders python integration thread safe, so until its properly supported, best not make use of this.
Pythons threads only allow co-currency and wont speed up you’re scripts on multi-processor systems, the subprocess and multiprocess modules can be used with blender and make use of multiple CPU’s too.
Ideally it would be impossible to crash Blender from python however there are some problems with the API where it can be made to crash.
Strictly speaking this is a bug in the API but fixing it would mean adding memory verification on every access since most crashes are caused by the python objects referencing Blenders memory directly, whenever the memory is freed, further python access to it can crash the script. But fixing this would make the scripts run very slow, or writing a very different kind of API which doesn’t reference the memory directly.
Here are some general hints to avoid running into these problems.
Undo invalidates all bpy.types.ID instances (Object, Scene, Mesh etc).
This example shows how you can tell undo changes the memory locations.
>>> hash(bpy.context.object) -9223372036849950810 >>> hash(bpy.context.object) -9223372036849950810 # ... move the active object, then undo >>> hash(bpy.context.object) -9223372036849951740
As suggested above, simply not holding references to data when Blender is used interactively by the user is the only way to ensure the script doesn’t become unstable.
When adding new points to a curve or vertices’s/edges/faces to a mesh, internally the array which stores this data is re-allocated.
bpy.ops.curve.primitive_bezier_curve_add() point = bpy.context.object.data.splines.bezier_points bpy.context.object.data.splines.bezier_points.add() # this will crash! point.co = 1.0, 2.0, 3.0
This can be avoided by re-assigning the point variables after adding the new one or by storing indices’s to the points rather then the points themselves.
The best way is to sidestep the problem altogether add all the points to the curve at once. This means you don’t have to worry about array re-allocation and its faster too since reallocating the entire array for every point added is inefficient.
Any data that you remove shouldn’t be modified or accessed afterwards, this includes f-curves, drivers, render layers, timeline markers, modifiers, constraints along with objects, scenes, groups, bones.. etc.
This is a problem in the API at the moment that we should eventually solve.