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Command Line Interface Tools for Templater Bot

Templater ships with command line interface (CLI) control only in the Bot edition. The files contained in this repository help get started using Templater's CLI.

Requirements for running the Templater CLI

System Requirements

As of Templater version 2.1.8 users should invoke the Templater CLI via the templater.ps1 file on Windows and templater.sh file on macOS. Prior to Templater 2.1.8, the launcher script was written as a Microsoft Batch script for Windows, and an AppleScript file for macOS. These have been deprecated and are no longer supported.

Windows Environment

  • Windows PowerShell. Users should have privileges to run PowerShell scripts from the PowerShell prompt.

macOS Environments

  • Python—version 2.6 or later. The most recent versions of macOS (12.3 Monterey and newer) do not come bundled with Python any longer. Enter python --version at a new terminal prompt to verify installation—if you see a version number, Python is installed and ready. If you do not have Python installed, download it and install it on your macOS machine.

Project Requirements

To version an After Effects project with Templater's command line interface, you should first have the following required resources within your project's working directory:

  • An Adobe After Effects project file that is already rigged for Templater. The project file should open within After Effects without displaying any error dialogs related to missing dependencies such as fonts, footage sources, etc.
  • A templater-options.json file that specifies Templater's configuration and options in JSON format.
  • The CLI launcher script—either templater.ps1 for Windows Powershell or templater.sh provided for macOS Terminal.

NOTE

The templater-options.json file you use for your project depends on which version of Templater you are running. Choose the appropriate file according to your operating system and the version of Templater you are running.

On Windows, for example, a directory listing of a weather forecast project should include the following files at a bare minimum:

C:\Templates\WeatherForecast
	FiveDay.aep
	templater-options.json
  templater.ps1

On macOS, the same weather forecast project directory listing should include the following:

~/Templates/WeatherForecast
    FiveDay.aep
    templater-options.json
    templater.sh

Once you have these files set up and within a single directory, you can use Templater's CLI to version your AEP file and successfully troubleshoot problems you encounter with it.

 

Configuring the Templater CLI

Configure the Templater CLI by editing the appropriate JSON-formatted templater-options.json file depending on your OS and Templater version. If you forget to declare a required key or a key has an invalid value, Templater will report an error in your logs. Some keys will have default values if they are not specified in the file.

Note that on Windows, paths specified within the configuration file must be entered with a double-backslash.

C:\\Templates\\Styles\\Modern\\WeatherForecast.aep

While paths on macOS must be entered with the forward slash.

/Users/dataclay/Templates/Styles/Modern/WeatherForecast.aep

CLI Property Keys

The information below defines some important keys for running the CLI. Refer to documentation on Dataclay's support website for detailed documentation on each property key.

log_location : string

Specifies a path to a directory for multiple message and error log files. Read templater.out when you want to inspect the log as Templater executes—for example with a command like tail -f templater.out. Open templater.log if you need to examine the log using a standard text editor.

tasks : object or array (type depends on Templater version number)

An object or array with properties that specify what you want Templater to actually do. For Templater 2, the values for the keys in this group should only be true or false. For example, if you want Templater to only render, then set the render key to true and the others to false. For Templater 3, set the value to an an array of strings that refer to the actions you want Templater to execute. For example, if you want Templater to only render, then you can set this key to a value of ["render"].

prefs : object

A group of keys that configure Templater's preferences.

data_source : string

Specifies an absolute path to a tabbed-separated value file, a Google Sheet feed, a json-formatted text file, or any URL that responds with a properly formatted json object array. You can get the URL feed of a Google Sheet from the Google Spreadsheet Setup dialog launched by clicking the Google button found on the Templater panel within After Effects.

aep : string

Specifies an absolute path to the project file that is to be versioned using the specified with the data_source.

row_start & row_end : integer

Specifies the start row and end rows in the data source to begin and end batch versioning processes. For Google Sheet and tabbed-separated value files, row_start should be greater than or equal to 2, and for JSON data sources row_start should be greater than or equal to 1. In addition, row_end should always be greater than row_start.

output_location : string

Specifies an absolute path to where Templater should output all renders that come out of the After Effects render queue.

render_settings & output_module : string

Specifies the Render Settings Template and Output Module Template used when Templater loads versioned compositions into the After Effects render queue. The values for these keys are strings that should match the names as found in After Effects' Render Setting Templates and Output Module Templates dialog.

save_on_completion : boolean

Specifies whether or not Templater should save the versioned project file after running its tasks.

quit_on_completion : boolean

Specifies whether or not Templater should quit after running its tasks.

 

Running the Templater via CLI

Start Templater from the command line by entering the name of the launcher script file followed by some arguments. If you don't supply the required arguments, the launcher script will output its usage, documentation, and examples.

For example, assuming your file system has a directory named WeatherForecast containing the required files as listed in Requirements for running the Templater CLI, and that the environment is running Adobe After Effects 2022, you would follow these steps to invoke Templater from the command line:

  1. On Windows, start a new Powershell terminal. On macOS, start a new terminal session.

  2. Change into the WeatherForecast directory. On Windows, use cd C:\Templater\WeatherForecast. On macOS, use cd ~/Templates/WeatherForecast

  3. On Windows, at the Powershell prompt >, enter the following:

    PS C:\Templates\WeatherForecast> .\templater.ps1 -v '2022'
    

    On macOS, at the Terminal prompt $, enter the following:

    iMac:WeatherForecast dataclay$ templater.sh -v '2022' 
    

    NOTE

    If the launcher file does not execute, you may need to set its permissions. On macOS, you can use sudo chmod u+x templater.sh to ensure templater.sh is executable for the current user. On Windows, use the "Security" tab in the File Properties dialog to change the permissions of templater.ps1 for the current user.

  4. Wait for Templater to configure according to the templater-options.json file and complete its versioning tasks with After Effects.

  5. After processing is complete, the launcher script displays the last five messages logged to templater.log as well as the last reported error as found in templater.err.

  6. Begin troubleshooting if the desired output is not found. You should verify configuration in the templater-options.json file, and then inspect the templater.log and templater.err files to learn more about any issues Templater reports. Refer to Troubleshooting the Templater CLI below for more information.

 

Templater Launcher Tool Help

Use .\templater.ps1 -h on Windows or ./templater.sh -h on macOS to see information about options and arguments. The following shows the help as it appears in Windows PowerShell.

Templater Launcher from Dataclay

Desc:

    Launches Templater for Adobe After Effects
    from the command line.  A supported version of
    After Effects is required to be installed on this
    machine for this launcher to work properly.

 Usage:

    .\templater.ps1 [-h] -v 'ae_version_string' [-ui] [-m]

Options:

    -h
    Shows this documentation

    -v | --version 'ae_version_string'
    The version of AE you want to use with Templater,
    where 'version_string' can be any of the following:
    '2022' '2021' '2020' 'CC 2019' 'CC 2018' 'CC 2017' 
    'CC 2015.3' 'CC 2015' 'CC 2014' 'CC' 'CS6' 'CS5.5' 'CS5'

    -ui
    When used, Adobe After Effects launches with a user interface

    -m
    If included, this causes AE to launch as a new, seperate,
    process.  This is useful if you want to simultaneously
    execute two or more versioning jobs with Templater.

Examples:

    Launch without AE user interface

      > .\templater.ps1 -v '2022'
      > .\templater.ps1 -v 'CC 2019'
      > .\templater.ps1 -v 'CS5'
    
    Launch with AE user interface
      
      > .\templater.ps1 -v '2022' -ui
      > .\templater.ps1 -v 'CC 2019' -ui
      > .\templater.ps1 -v 'CS5' -ui

    Launch new instance of AE without its user interface

      > .\templater.ps1 -v '2022' -m
      > .\templater.ps1 -v 'CC 2019' -m

 

Troubleshooting the Templater CLI

The PowerShell and Bash script launchers report the last logged message and the last reported error after Templater completes execution. Use these logs to help you troubleshoot the Templater CLI. Messages are logged to templater.log while errors are logged to templater.err. Errors are logged as single-line JSON objects. The error object contains useful information that can be processed by other applications.

The following is an example of an error object that is output to templater.err when After Effects attempts to import a footage source file that is corrupt or not supported.

{ 
    code     : 1001
  , desc     : "Error swapping footage source"
  , ae       : "Error: After Effects error: the file format module could not parse the file."
  , details  : "AE encountered an footage import issue with file B:\Dataclay\Sources\[TEMPLATER DOWNLOADS]\11137842_1428056637497122_561536778_n.jpg.  Try manually importing this file into AE to learn more."
  , reported : "2016-3-2 @ 14:50:46"
}

Templater error object properties

code

A numerical identifier for the reported error. You can use the error code in the quit_on_errors array as defined in templater-options.json file to force quit After Effects on the first occurrence of that error code.

Error Code Descriptions
error code description
1 Error starting Templater application
2 Error initializing Templater CLI
3 Error reading external file
1001 Error swapping footage source
1002 Error downloading remote footage source
1003 Could not find the footage file in network
2001 Command line execution error
2002 CLI configuration file error
3001 Error conforming row data
4001 Google Open Authentication (OAuth) error
4002 Google Drive retrieval error
5001 Templater layout engine error
6001 HTTP request error

NOTE This list does not contain all possible errors that you may encounter while using Templater.

desc

A short description of the reported error code

ae

The message of the error thrown by After Effects, if any.

details

Additional messaging for the specific error and also offers suggestions to troubleshoot the error.

reported

A time stamp showing the date and time the error was reported

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