TouchDesigner Glossary

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TouchDesigner Terms - Learn How to Speak Touchese

Attribute - Information associated with SOP geometry. Points and primitives (polygons, NURBS, etc.) can have any number of attributes - position (P) is standard, and optional are normals (N), texture coordinates (uv), color (Cd), etc.

Backdrop - The grid of node viewers that are visible behind the Network, set with Display flags.

Bookmarks - A pull-down list at the top of a network Pane containing jump-to Network Paths.

Bypass - An operator whose Bypass flag is set does nothing: All data from its first input flows through to its output unaffected.

Callback - Some operators have a DAT docked to them that contains some python functions. These functions, called "callbacks", get called when something in the operator changes.

Channel - A CHOP outputs one or more channels, where a channel is simply a sequence of numbers, representing motion, audio, etc. Channels are passed between CHOPs in TouchDesigner networks. See also Export.

CHOP or Channel Operator - An Operator Family which operate on Channels (a series of numbers) which are used for animation, audio, mathematics, simulation, logic, UI construction, and many other applications.

Clone - Cloning can make multiple components match the contents of a master component. A Component whose "Clone" parameter is set will be forced to contain the same nodes, wiring and parameters as its master component. Cloning does not create new components as does the Replicator COMP.

Command - There are two scripting languages in TouchDesigner: Python and the legacy Tscript. Tscript commands and Python code are entered in scripts in DATs, or typed in the Textport.

Component or COMP - An Operator Family that contains its own Network inside. There are eleven 3D Object Component and eight 2D Panel Component types. See also Path.

Connector - The notch on the left and right of each Node that lets you connect a Wire from the output of one operator to the input of another operator of the same Operator Family.

Container - The Container component type is a Panel Component that holds and displays any number of Panel Components (also known as Gadgets) in Panel.

Cook - To re-compute the output data of the Operators. An operator cooks when (1) its inputs change, (2) its Parameters change, (3) when the timeline moves forward in some cases, or (4) Scripting commands are run on the node. When the operator is a Gadget, it also cooks when a user interacts with it. When an operator cooks, it usually causes operators connected to its output to re-cook. When TouchDesigner draws the screen, it re-cooks all the necessary operators in all Networks, contributing to a frame's total "cook time".

DAT or Data Operator - An Operator Family that manipulates text strings: multi-line text or tables. Multi-line text is often a command Script, but can be any multi-line text. Tables are rows and columns of cells, each containing a text string.

Dependency is the procedural mechanism in TouchDesigner, where if one piece of data changes, it automatically causes other operators and expressions to re-cook.

Designer Mode - You edit your networks in Designer Mode. See Perform Mode.

Dialog - Any floating window that is not a Pane or Viewer.

Docking - Any node can be docked to another node. This helps organize networks as two node that are docked together will stay together when the dock parent is moved in a network editor. A docked node can be collapsed into a small icon under the dock parent, reducing network clutter.

Display Flag - The blue flag on Geometry components and SOP operators determines if the geometry contained in that operator is visible in node viewers and geometry viewer panes. See Render Flag.

Export - Exporting is the connection of CHOP channels to parameters of operators. The output of each exporting CHOP is one or more channels, active only while the CHOP Viewer is on. The current value of a channel can be 'exported' to a parameter of any operator, overriding that parameter's value. See Parameter.

Expression - a text string that contains data (string, float, list, boolean, etc.) and operators (+ * < etc) that are evaluated by the node's language (python or Tscript) and returns a string, float list or boolean, etc. Expressions are used in parameters, DATs and in scripts.

Extensions - Any component can be extended with its own Python classes.

Family - The Operator Families are TOPs, CHOPs, SOPs, MATs (Materials), DATs (data operators) and Components (Panel Gadgets and Objects).

Flag (1) Indicator of certain states of an operator (bypass, display, lock), or (2) option of a Tscript command.

Frame - The term "Frame" is used (1) in the Timeline, (2) as a time-unit in CHOPs, (3) as a time-unit in TOPs, and (4) with movies images which are read and created with TOPs.

Frame Rate - The frame rate that TouchDesigner's Timeline uses. Equal to the Frames per Second value project.cookRate.

Filter - Operators that have 1 or more input, like a Math CHOP, are called filters. See Generator.

Folder - The operating system's holder of files and other folders (directories). It does not refer to operators within TouchDesigner. See Network Path.

Gadget - The component types that are used to make Panels: Button, Slider, Field, Container, Select. Gadgets are also known as Panel Components. see also Object.

Generator - Operators that normally have 0 inputs, like a Noise CHOP, are called generators. See Filter.

Geometry - The 3D data held in SOPs and passed for rendering by the Geometry COMP.

Geometry Spreadsheet - Currently, use a SOP to DAT to look at SOP point/polygon XYZ and other attributes. Formerly a Pane type.

Geometry Viewer - A 3D viewport for viewing and manipulating 3D scenes or objects interactively. A geometry viewer can be found in Panes (alt+3 in any pane) or the Node Viewers of all Geometry Object components.

Geometry Object or Geometry Component - The component type that is used to hold 3D SOPs and other information for rendering.

Global OP Shortcut - a name for an component that is accessible from any node in a project, which can be declared in a component's Global Operator Shortcut parameter.

GPU - The Graphics Processing Unit. This is the brain of the graphics card.

Immune - Every node has an Immune flag. When the Immune flag is on, and the node is inside a Clone, it is not affected by any change to the clone, so you can store extra data in a clone.

Instance - (1) A Geometry component can be rendered many times using CHOPs, (2) an OP that doesn't actually have its own data, but rather just points to (or has an input) whose data it uses. Examples include Null OPs, Select OPs, Switch OPs.

Keyframe - A frame within the Animation component which holds a channel value, slope, acceleration and interpolation type, used to determine the values of the channel which are not keyframes.

Layout - (1) The TouchDesigner window is made of a menu bar at the top, a Timeline at the bottom, plus one of a choice of Layouts in the middle. A Layout is made on one or more Panes, each Pane can contain a Network Editor, Viewer, Panel, etc. See Pane and Bookmark. (2) Nodes in a network are arranged using Layout commands in the RMB menu.

Link - Unlike a Wire that connects nodes in the same Operator Family, a Link is the dashed lines between nodes that represent other data flowing between nodes, like CHOP Exports, node paths in parameters, and expressions in parameters referencing CHOP channels, DAT tables and other nodes.

Lock - When an operator is locked, it does not cook and its output data remains frozen, even when the TouchDesigner session is saved to a .toe file and restarted.

Macro - A Tscript-only script that executes one or more scripting language commands. The F1 to F12 keys run macros. The F1 macro puts you in Perform Mode. See also Script, DAT and Python.

Material or MAT - An Operator Family that associates a shader with a SOP or Geometry Object for rendering textured and lit objects.

Menu Bar - The bar at the top of the Designer Mode interface that contains menus, links, status messages and other controls.

Network - Every component contains a network of operators that create and modify data. The operators are connected by wires that define where data is routed after the operator cooks its inputs and generates an output.

Network Editor - A pane type where networks of operators can be created and edited.

Network Path - Is the path to a Component or Operator. This path is displayed at the top of every Pane, showing which Component's network you are currently in.

Node - The generic thing that holds an Operator, and includes Flags (display, bypass, lock, render, immune) and its position/size in the network. Whether you "lay down an Operator" or "lay down an Node", you're doing the same thing.

Node Viewer - The viewer found on each operator in a Network Editor pane. This viewer is turned on by clicking the Viewer Flag.

Object - The component types that are used to render 3D scenes: Geometry Component contain the 3D shapes to render, plus Camera, Light, Ambient Light, Null, Bone, Handle and other component types.

OP Create Menu - The menu used to select and create a new operator or component. Can be opened by the + sign in the Pane Bar, by pressing the <Tab> key while in a Network Editor, or by clicking MMB or RMB on an operator's output connector.

Operator Family - The Families of Operators are: TOPs, CHOPs, SOPs, MATs (Materials), DATs (scripts, data and tables) and Components (Panel Gadgets and Objects). Each operator family creates a unique type of data, be it images, geometry, channels, text.

OP or Operator - Any of the procedural data operators. OPs do all the work in TouchDesigner. They "cook" and output data to other OPs, which ultimately result in new images, data and audio being generated. See Node.

Palette - A built-in panel in TouchDesigner that contains a library of components and media that can be dragged-dropped into a TouchDesigner network.

Pane - A work area in TouchDesigner's layout that includes the Network Editor and 7 other pane types used for different tasks. The TouchDesigner interface can consist of a single pane, or be split into multiple panes.

Pane Type - There are 8 pane types; Network, Panel, Textport, Geometry Viewer, TOP Viewer, CHOP Viewer, Parameters, Graph Editor for CHOP Channels, or a Geometry Spreadsheet.

Panel or Control Panel - A custom interactive control panel built within TouchDesigner. Panels are created using Panel Components whose look is created entirely with TOPs.

Panel Component - The component types (e.g. Slider, Button, Field, Container) that are used to create custom control panels, also known simply as Panel or Gadget.

Panel Value - The internal states of a panel component are Panel Values, and are accessed with a Panel CHOP, a OP.panel Python expression, or a Panel Execute DAT.

Parameter - Parameters in TouchDesigner are an operator's settings (numbers, menus, flags, strings, paths) which the user can alter. Parameters for any operator can be opened by right-clicking on the operator and selecting "Parameters..." A currently selected operator's parameters can be viewed in a Network Editor by pressing the keyboard shortcut 'p'.

Parameter Expression - A parameter expression is an expression that lives inside a parameter field.

Parameter Mode - Every Parameter can be in one of three modes, Constant Mode, Expression Mode or Export Mode.

Parameter Reference - A parameter reference can be setup between any two parameters. This creates a link between the two parameters such that when one changes, the other will change automatically (known as "constraints" in other software). A Parameter reference is a type of Link.

Parameters Dialog - A floating dialog, pane type, or dialog in a Network Editor that displays one operator's parameters.

Parent - There are 2 kinds of parenting. The "parent component" is the component in which a node resides. The metaphor is extended to include grand parents, grand-grand parents, etc. The root / is the ultimate parent to all nodes. See also 3D Parenting and panel Parenting.

Parent Shortcut - A Parent Shortcut is a parameter on a component that contains a name that you can use anywhere inside the component to refer to that component using the syntax parent.Name, for example parent.Effect.par.w to obtain panel width.

Path - The location of an operator within the TouchDesigner environment, for example, /geo1/torus1, a node called torus1 in a component called geo1. The path / is called Root. To refer instead to a filesystem folder, directory, disk file or http: address, see Folder.

Pattern Matching - Matching strings using wildcard characters and bracketing. Useful in "Select" parameters to select multiple operators, paths, etc.

Perform Mode - mode where the network editing window is not open, your performance interface window(s) is open and you are running your application as fast as possible. See Designer Mode.

Performance Monitor - The tool built-in to TouchDesigner that analyzes and displays what TouchDesigner is doing as it generates an image.

Pipe - A way of moving data from one TouchDesigner process to another. Images are moved via Touch Out / In TOPs, channels are moved via Touch Out / In CHOPs and Pipe Out / In CHOPs. Data moves via TCP/IP, UDP or UDT.

Playbar - A former name for Timeline. See Timeline.

Point - Each SOP has a list of Points. Each point has an XYZ 3D position value plus other optional attributes. Each polygon Primitive is defined by a vertex list, which is list of point numbers.

Popup Help - Help message that comes up when rolling the cursor over the interface, or clicking the ? help button on the corner of each operator's Parameters page.

Primitive - A surface type in SOPs including polygon, curve (NURBS and Bezier), patch (NURBS and Bezier) and other shapes like sphere, tube, and metaball. Points and Primitives are part of the Geometry Detail, which is a part of a SOP.

Procedural is the chain-reaction mechanism of TouchDesigner, where if one piece of data changes, it automatically causes other dependent operators and expressions to re-cook and re-generate.

Pulse - To pulse a parameter is to send it a signal from a CHOP or python or a mouse click that causes a new action to occur immediately. A pulse from a CHOP is typically a 0 to 1 to 0 signal in a channel, and a pulse via python is via a .pulse() call on a parameter on a pulse-type parameter, such as Reset on a Speed CHOP.

Reference - A Link.

Render - A 3D image created with the Render TOP. Also used more generally to include the compositing (with TOPs) to generate an output image.

Render flag - The purple flag on COMP and SOP nodes that determines if the node will be rendered in a Render or Render Pass TOP. The operator must also be listed in the Render / Render Pass TOP's 'Geometry' parameter.

Resolution - The width and height of an image in pixels. Most TOPs, like the Movie File In TOP can set the image resolution. See Aspect Ratio for the width/height ratio of an image, taking into account non-square pixels.

Replicator - Creates a new component for every line in a table. Unlike Clone, it automatically creates copies of a master component.

Root - TouchDesigner is a hierarchy of components. "root" is the top-most network in the hierarchy. The Path is simply /. A typical path is /project1/moviein1.

RMB Menu - The menu that appears when clicking the right mouse button on different parts of TouchDesigner. (Sometimes you need to be holding down Ctrl.)

Sample Rate - samples-per-second of a CHOP. Each CHOP in your network has a sample rate, whether it is used or not. The overall timeline has a "frame rate", which is the number of animation frames per second, generally your monitor display frequency.

Scope - A parameter in a CHOP that restricts which channels of that CHOP will be affected. Normally all channels of a CHOP are affected by the operator.

Script - A set of commands located in a Text DAT that are triggered to run under certain conditions. There are two scripting languages in TouchDesigner: Python and the original Tscript. Scripts and single-line commands can also be run in the Textport.

Shader - The OpenGL code that creates a rendered image from polygons and textures. Shaders can be made of up to three parts: Vertex Shader, Geometry Shader and/or Pixel Shader, which are either embedded inside Materials, or placed in Text DATs and referenced to a GLSL Material.

Snippets - OP Snippets is a set of examples of many Operators that can be copied/pasted into your projects.

Shortcut - There are three types of shortcuts: Panel Shortcuts that you create for any custom built panels, Application Shortcuts that are built-in to TouchDesigner's authoring interface, and Internal Shortcuts for accessing a component from within that component.

SOP or Surface Operator - An Operator Family that reads, creates and modifies 3D polygons, curves, NURBS surfaces, spheres, meatballs and other 3D surface data.

Status Bar - The line of text at the top of the TouchDesigner window which displays messages from TouchDesigner when certain events succeed or fail.

Storage - Storage is a python dictionary associated with any operator, used to keep user-specified data within the operator.

Synth - The full project you are creating with your .toe file and all the media files it uses.

Table - A form of DATs (Data Operators) that is structured as rows and columns of text strings. Table values are retrieved by tab() expressions. They are set with the tabcell command.

Tag - Each operator can have a set of text strings that are its "tags". You can set them and search for them within TouchDesigner.

Textport - A dialog box in which commands and scripts can entered manually. Script errors and python print() messages are also output to the textport.

Time Slice or Time Slicing - A Time Slice is the time between the last cook frame and the current cook frame. In CHOPs it is a set of short channels that only contain the CHOP channels' samples between the last and the current cook frame.

Timeline - The panel at the bottom of TouchDesigner, it controls the current Time of the full system or just one component.

TOP or Texture Operator - An Operator Family that creates, composites and modifies images, and reads/writes images and movies to/from files and the network. TOPs run on the graphics card's GPU.

Tscript - TouchDesigner's original built-in Command scripting language prior to Python.

TUIK - TouchDesigner User Interface Kit - A collection of User Interface components.

Tuplet - A tuplet is the set of parameters that appear on one line of the parameter dialog. Tuplets occupy a page of parameters.

Variable - A text string with a name. The variable named PI has a string value of 3.14159 wherever $PI appears. Variables can be used in Scripts and Parameters. There are seven types of variables including: "Script" Variables exist only in scripts. "Root" Variables are user-created, live at the root (/) and are available anywhere in TouchDesigner. "Built-In" Variables like F (frame number) and T (time) are read-only and created by TouchDesigner. "Operator Variables" are read-only and only exist local to a node.

VFS or Virtual File System - Lets you embed files inside a .tox or .toe file. Operators like the Movie File In TOP that read regular files can also read the embedded VFS files using a vfs: syntax.

Viewer - The viewer of a node can be (1) the interior of a node (the Node Viewer), (2) a floating window (RMB->View... on node), or (3) a Pane that graphically shows the results of an operator.

Viewer flag - Each node has a viewer flag that turns on/off the node's viewer in the Node Viewer.

Viewer Active - A state of a node where you can operate the contents of its viewer, like operate the gadgets of a panel in a node viewer, or 3D data in the viewer of a Geometry component. With Viewer Active off you can select, move and delete nodes by clicking/dragging on them, even if the viewer is visible.

Window - Strictly refers to a window in Microsoft Windows. User-created windows are made with Panels inside Window Components, aside from the TouchDesigner editor window and its dialogs.

Wire - The connection of an output of one node to the input of another node in a network. In contrast, see Link.

WYSIWID - TouchDesigner is WYSIWID - What You See Is What It's Doing. All nodes can have interactive viewers of their data.

.toe file - TOuch Environment file, the file type used by TouchDesigner to save your project.

.tox file - TouchDesigner Component file, the file type used to save a Component from TouchDesigner.