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Well after much effort and fighting the general day to day tasks I managed to get enough time to complete the first phase of the particle editor. Whilst making the final changes we had a meeting to discuss our user recommendations and decided to give the task a bit more time. I know there are some of you who will be very happy to hear that the particle editor is way more friendly to use and will encourage experimentation which can now be saved with the scene, not just to a file.
The particle workflow is now very intuitive and can have many variations without the need to save to a special particle file if required.
So ok what does this mean? Lets look at an example:
Say you have a chimney smoke particle file, select your chimney or default emitter for ease of placement and add the particle effect action. Once this object has its effect action you can either open a particle file(the way you have always done it) or just open the particle editor and start working on your effect. Click save when you're happy and move onto the next effect or "save as" to create a new effect file. When you clicked "Save" the data is saved back t the object not the file this way you can duplicate the object and tweak the effect many times for differing variations without the need to save a hard copy (unless you want to). So back to the chimney, you have your smoke file and enter scene animate mode, make a change to the smoke; say make it more dense then click save. Duplicate this to another chiney make changes in the particle editor and save. Within minutes you can have many chimneys with various smoke effects all from one particle file and best of all you can save your scene and these effects will be saved with the scene, no more worries about lost particle files ;)
The only thing now is that I have found the need for more than one effect on each action, so we are thinking about spending a little more time and making this possible. ( think campfire <fire,embers,smoke>- this can be currently done with multi-presets)
At the very least the current new particle system will be available in the next update due soon. I will end this post with a quick video showing the speed of the new workflow.