Two weeks ago, Lightwave Core was revealed, and I’ve been wanting to comment on it ever since. This is old news, but I’ve been on the road and at conferences and out of internet range, and this is the first chance I’ve had.
So, Lightwave Core is basically an application framework. All the collective code that used to exist within either Layout or Modeler now exists as individual blocks of code that can be loaded as needed into Core. This means that Lightwave is now very efficient, extremely customizable, and easy to develop new code for.
The UI is totally adjustable (and can be replaced by your own CSS), you can talk to the Core through a command line using Python (or any language, really), you can use Layout and Modeler in the same window (or not; your choice), and everything is node-based, so even if you aren’t a programmer, you can build new functionality into Core by simple click and drag.
This new industry-standard open-architecture approach is an excellent strategic move for two reasons; firstly, giving more power to developers is always a good thing, and secondly, Autodesk is not known for easy developer relationships. In fact, even compositing mega-player The Foundry recently lost Authorized Developer status with Autodesk, although it was only a temporary lapse.
Smaller plug-in companies who developed for Maya and Softimage might find it easier going to focus on Newtek’s new wide-open C++ development path and politics-free developer relationships than continue to jump through hoops at Autodesk. Plus, Lightwave’s new HardCore subscription program is perfect for developers who need access to earlier builds to test for compatibility.
So is everything perfect? Probably not; any time an application leaps this far forward it needs a few little staggering steps afterwards to regain its balance. When Newtek rewrote Lightwave for version 6, it wasn’t until 6.5 that it was as stable as version 5. But that doesn’t matter. Lightwave is now future-proofed and in an excellent position to offer functionality that Autodesk can’t.