LightWave Plug-in Server Development Kit

Just to be clear, this is not the current SDK. You can find the current SDK on NewTek's site.

This is the plug-in documentation I wrote from 1999 until 2002, when I left NewTek to return to school. It covers LightWave versions 6, 6.5, and 7. In addition to the documentation, the SDK comprises header files, source files (for the small amount of server code linked to every plug-in), and sample plug-in source code.

The LightWave developers invited me to San Francisco in May of 1999 to talk about a major revision of LightWave that would become version 6.0. They were substantially revising and expanding the plug-in API, and they wanted someone to write the documentation. I'd been active on the mailing lists and had written some code for them before, starting with the HAM and ANIM routines for version 3.5 on the Amiga, the first to be decoupled from the Video Toaster.

I think they were hoping this would only take a couple of months. They felt like they were getting pretty close to the release of 6.0 — they'd just previewed it at NAB a few weeks before my visit. But I was really worried about trying to finish the documentation in so short a time. I also thought it would be good for developers to get advance information. So I convinced them to let me post the incomplete SDK to my own Web site as I worked on it, which is why it's always been here. Whether or not I finished it in time, people would know I was working on it, and I got immediate feedback.

We talked about whether it should be HTML or PDF, and I think I was right to argue for HTML. Stuart Ferguson suggested I use style sheets, the numerous advantages of which are pretty obvious now. But CSS was poorly supported at the time, so I opted for using really simple layout that would hopefully be easy to restyle in a more CSS-friendly future. I was maybe half-right about that. It took me a little longer than I'd hoped to refresh these pages in 2015.

LightWave 6.0 for Windows was released in the first week of March, 2000, and the Mac version came out a couple of months later. I still have the e-mail Brad Peebler sent me late at night on March 7, asking me if I'd known what I was getting myself into when I visited the LightWave Outpost ten months before. I absolutely knew, and I did it anyway.