Can’t remember all of those awesome After Effects expressions you found on the forums or created yourself? Save yourself time and a headache by using a code snippet manager!
After Effects expressions are straight-up amazing – they have so much power and are applicable in a wide variety of scenarios. The problem is, they’re written in code. Some of you animators may be able to parse the language or remember exactly how to do the complex expressions, but I know that I have trouble doing anything more than the basic expressions from memory (wiggle, property parenting, etc.).
Often, I’ll turn to the internet and do a Google search when I’m looking for an expression to do something specific and complex — and more often than not, I find it on a forum. I’ve found myself coming back to several of the same After Effects expressions over and over again, but I would have to re-Google them every time if I didn’t remember them, or I’d have this huge text file with all of them in it which was a pain to search and a pain to get to in the middle of working since it broke up my flow.
The solution I found? Use a code snippet manager! They’re generally made for web and app programmers, but if you get the right one, they can work great for AE expressions as well. There are a bunch out there – ClipMenu, Dash, Snippets, Snippets.me, SnipItPro, or even Alfred or Launchbar.
My favorite on OS X is called CodeBox. It’s cheap, works great, and has an easy to use and access menubar applet. All you do is create a library (you can see below that I have one for AE expressions and one with some frequently used terminal commands), then add individual code snippets:
One you’ve got the snippets in your library, you can access them from the menubar:
From there, you can select one and copy it to the clipboard:
Then easily paste it in After Effects:
Using a code snippet manager makes it really easy to save these random useful After Effects expressions, and most of them even allow adding tags to the code for easy searching!
If you’re looking for a good place to find some useful After Effects expressions, be sure to check out the Creative Cow forums, the Video Copilot forums, the Adobe forums, and definitely check out Dan Ebberts’s site — he’s the expressions master!
Do you have a favorite code snippet manager? How do you stay organized? Let us know in the comments below!