Versioning Modules in Niagara

Niagara has a built-in versioning system for people that are creating their own custom modules.

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Overview

Niagara gives you the ability to create your own custom modules using Niagara Scripts. When you create your own module, you may want to roll that module out to a team, or use it in many projects. As you iterate on a module to add or improve functionality, you want to make sure that you don't break existing assets that already use those modules.

For custom modules that do not use versioning, the default behavior is that changes are pushed directly to assets that use this module. In contrast, enabling versioning means that users will need to manually upgrade to new versions of that module when they become available.

For this reason, you can now create versions of modules directly within Niagara. This is not intended to replace a version control system such as Git or Perforce, but rather is an internal versioning system built directly into Niagara.

How to Enable Module Versioning

To enable versioning, first open up the module in the Script Editor. Any module can be opened by double-clicking on that module from the System Overview in the Niagara Editor, or by double-clicking the Niagara Script from the Content Browser.

On the toolbar, click the Versioning button.

Niagara Versioning button in the Toolbar

If this is your first time setting up versioning for this module, a popup dialog will appear. This dialog explains that after enabling versioning, any users of a module will need to upgrade to new versions manually when changes are made. Click Enable Versioning to accept.

Click on Enable Versioning in the dialog

Now, you can edit the properties of your versions or create new versions.

Version Details

Each version that you create has some version details for you to set.

Version Details

Parameter

Description

Is Exposed Version

Enable so this version also becomes the default for any time this module is used. Anyone using this module will be able to see this version in the version selector.

Change Description

Write some text to give clarity to users on what is new in this version.

Is Visible in Version Select

Enable to make this version available to users in the version selector. You can leave this unchecked when you are iterating and testing new versions of a module, but don't want anyone to have access to it yet.

Creating New Versions

To create a new version, from the Niagara Script view, click the Versioning button to open the panel. Click on Add version.

Add Version

When you create a version, you first need to indicate whether it is a major version or a minor version. A minor version should be used for small changes that would not be a breaking change. A major version is for changes where, once you migrate to that version, you cannot migrate back to the old version without breaking the properties that have already been set up.

There is no internal difference between a minor and a major version, this is simply a language distinction to help users identify the risk involved in upgrading.

Select New major version or New minor version to continue. You can then set the Version Details. While you're working on setting up your new version, it's best to leave Is Exposed Version unchecked. You can also uncheck Is Visible in Version Selector if you don't want anyone to be aware that you're working on a new version. Once you're satisfied with your changes, you can enable these options to propagate them out.

Using Different Versions

In the Niagara Editor, when you select a module in the stack that uses versioning, you will see a version selector icon in the Selection panel. If the module has versioning enabled, but there is no new version, the version icon shows up as grey.

Versioning enabled and no new version available

As soon as a new minor version is available, the icon turns orange.

Versioning enabled and new minor version available

If a new major version is available, then there is also a message printed out notifying users of the new version.

Versioning enabled and new major version available

Any version description notes will show up in the Selection panel until dismissed.

Version Upgrade Note

When a new major version is available, you will also be informed by a warning icon in the Emitter stack. The warning icon shows up on the right side of the module, as well as the group that the module is in.

A warning icon shows up in the stack when new major version is available

Once you switch to a new version of a module, it is not always possible to go back. It's a good idea to save your project first, then switch to the new version and validate that everything is working properly.

To switch to a new version, in the System Overview, select the custom module you want to update. Click the version switcher, then select the version you would like to use. If you hover over the version number, you will see a tooltip with the description for that version.

Version Switcher

If the new version is a major version, you can also upgrade to this version directly from the Selection panel by clicking on Fix Issue.

Fix Issue in the Selection panel

Python Integration

This feature is still experimental and may change in the future.

When you upgrade from one module version to another, the system will do its best to map the properties of the old version to the new version. However, if the desired outcome is not clear you might want to write your own upgrade script to tell the system how to properly upgrade the version. This will ensure that users don't have to redo all their work after upgrading.

To provide an update script, click the Versioning button on the Niagara Script toolbar to open the versioning panel. You will see a section of this panel called Scripting. By default, Upgrade Script Execution is set to None, meaning that you are not providing a script.

Script Details

There are two ways to enter a script:

  1. Copy and paste the text directly into the Versioning panel.

  2. Link to an external asset.

Direct Text Entry

To copy and paste directly, first click Upgrade Script Execution and select Direct Text Entry. You can now copy and paste your script into the field Python Update Script.

Direct Text Entry

Adding an External Script

To link to an external script, first click Upgrade Script Execution and select Script Asset. You can now click the three dots menu to the right of the Script Asset field to browse to your script file.

Upload Script Asset

Writing Python Scripts

You can use a python script if it's not clear from one version to another how the pre-existing Niagara script should map to the new one. For example, if the old version takes a bool input and the new version instead uses an enum that has more than two values, the upgrade script can map the existing bool input to two enum values. Here is an example script that does that:

Get bool input, set new input as enum

flying = upgrade_context.get_old_input("Is Flying")

if not flying.is_local_value():

    print("Is Flying input used a dynamic input that could not be transferred to the new Movement Mode input")

elif flying.as_bool():

    upgrade_context.set_enum_input("Movement Mode", "Flying")

else:

    upgrade_context.set_enum_input("Movement Mode", "Walking")

The upgrade_context variable is provided to the script and contains the old as well as the new inputs.

Calling get_old_input(string input_name) on it returns an input object you can use to get the current stack values. Similarly, you can use set_XXX_input(string input_name, XXX value) to provide a value for a new input.

Any print() calls you make will show up as warnings in the stack after the script is done.

For more in-depth documentation on what you can do with python in Unreal, check out Scripting the Editor using Python.

Python API Listing

See below the Niagara Versioning object API. Click here for the full Unreal Python API Documentation.

upgrade_context API

get_old_input(string input_name)

This returns a UNiagaraPythonScriptModuleInput (see below). If the input does not exist this will return a blank default object instead of throwing an error.

To set a new input by type:

set_float_input(string input_name, float value);

set_int_input(string input_name, int value);

set_bool_input(string input_name, bool value);

set_vec2_input(string input_name, Vector2D value);

set_vec3_input(string input_name, Vector value);

set_vec4_input(string input_name, Vector4 value);

set_color_input(string input_name, LinearColor value);

set_quat_input(string input_name, Quat value);

set_enum_input(string input_name, string value);

UNiagaraPythonScriptModuleInput API

bool is_set()

This returns true when the user sets a value.

bool is_local_value()

This returns true when the input is set to a local value and not a linked attribute or dynamic input.

If bool is_local_value() returns true, then you can convert the input to a python value as follows:

float as_float()

int as_int()

bool as_bool()

Vector2D as_vec2()

Vector as_vec3()

Vector4 as_vec4()

LinearColor as_color()

Quat as_quat()

string as_enum()
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