Developers would do their users a huge favor by adopting Windows 8.x's UI scaling scheme. But given the wide variety of non-standard interfaces in graphics applications, that may never happen.

Fortunately, creative users can be counted on to find inventive workarounds to those limitations.

Given Autodesk's decision to prematurely retire Softimage, I've been forced to look more closely at 3d applications to replace it. The feeling in the cg community is that venerable 3DS Max is also on the endangered list, so that leaves Maya as the only Autodesk option (fortunately, there are other vendors and other products to consider such as The Foundry's Modo).

  The problem with running Maya on the Surface Pro or any screen under 17-inches is that its default UI is extremely cluttered. The top of the standard interface includes six rows of menus, icons, and shelves.

The problem with running Maya on the Surface Pro or any screen under 17-inches is that its default UI is extremely cluttered. The top of the standard interface includes six rows of menus, icons, and shelves.

  Fortunately, you can close most UI elements and rely on the program's marking menus which are called up by holding down the spacebar. The downside is that fonts are still very small and difficult to read on a small screen.

Fortunately, you can close most UI elements and rely on the program's marking menus which are called up by holding down the spacebar. The downside is that fonts are still very small and difficult to read on a small screen.

As I was complaining about the issue on Twitter, follower planeteater (@plutoisawesome) came to my aid. He (or she?) pointed me to a cgsociety.org thread explaining how to scale the Maya 2011 interface.

Changing the interface's font sizes is a simple matter of editing the MayaStrings file in a text editor. Look for every item with "*Font_win" in its name and change the first number in the value. By default, most entries were 11 point Tahoma. I changed those to 14 points. There are also 9, 10 and 12 point entries. To keep everything proportional, I scaled each item by 125% and voila! the program is now much easier on the eyes on both the Surface Pro and Thinkpad Yoga.

The person who discovered the hack, Johnny Moore (johnnybob), even created a video (see below).

This video describes how to change the font size for Maya 2011 (32/64) inside the User Interface for Windows PC, but it can be applied to later versions. Tested here with Maya 2015.

Although the effect is subtle and difficult to appreciate in this screen capture, take my word that it is immensely more legible on a small screen. It's possible that the UI will withstand increasing the font sizes even further, but I've found that some requesters in other programs (including Autodesk's 2015 installer) start to look very bad when the UI is scaled to 150%.

With such an easy way to change the program's default font sizes, it's odd that the devs chose not to expose this functionality to users.

If you decide to give this a try (or find other ways to make your software easier to use on the Windows tablet of your choice), please let me know. I'm especially interested to hear from those who choose larger font sizes or different typefaces. I'd love to see what you come up with.

And, if you've come up with a way to hack any other application's interface, please let me know. I'd love to promote your efforts! 


Posted
AuthorRick Rodriguez
CategoriesTips