The Attribute class is your one-stop shop for all attribute related functions. Those of us who have spent time using MEL have become familiar with all the myriad commands for operating on attributes. This class gathers them all into one place. If you forget or are unsure of the right method name, just ask for help by typing help(Attribute).

For the most part, the names of the methods follow a fairly simple pattern: setAttr becomes Attribute.set, getAttr becomes Attribute.get, connectAttr becomes Attribute.connect and so on.

Here’s a simple example showing how the Attribute class is used in context.

>>> from pymel.core import *
>>> cam = general.PyNode('persp')
>>> if cam.visibility.isKeyable() and not cam.visibility.isLocked():
...     cam.visibility.set( True )
...     cam.visibility.lock()
>>> print cam.v.type()      # shortnames also work

Accessing Attributes

You can access an attribute class in three ways. The first two require that you already have a PyNode object.

attr Method

The attr method is the safest way to access an attribute, and can be used to access attributes that conflict with python methods and would therefore fail using shorthand syntax. This method is passed a string which is the name of the attribute to be accessed.

>>> cam.attr('visibility')

Unlike the shorthand syntax below, this method is capable of being passed attributes as variables:

>>> for axis in ['scaleX', 'scaleY', 'scaleZ']:
...     cam.attr( axis ).lock()


The shorthand method is the most visually appealing and readable – you simply access the maya attribute as a normal python attribute – but it has one major drawback: if the attribute that you wish to acess has the same name as one of the attributes or methods of the python class then it will fail.

>>> cam  # continue from where we left off above
>>> cam.visibility # long name access
>>> cam.v # short name access

Keep in mind, that regardless of whether you use the long or short name of the attribute, you are accessing the same underlying API object.

If you need the attribute formatted as a string in a particular way, use, Attribute.longName, Attribute.shortName, Attribute.plugAttr, or Attribute.lastPlugAttr.

Direct Instantiation

The last way of getting an attribute is by directly instantiating the class with the full name of the attribute, including the node. You can pass the attribute name as a string, or if you have one handy, pass in an api MPlug object. If you have a name as a string, but you don’t know whether it represents a node or an attribute, you can always instantiate via the PyNode class, which will determine the appropriate class automatically.

explicitly request an Attribute:

>>> Attribute( 'persp.visibility' )

let PyNode figure it out for you:

>>> PyNode( 'persp.translate' )

Setting Attributes Values

To set the value of an attribute, you use the Attribute.set method.

>>> cam.translateX.set(0)

to set an attribute that expects a double3, you can use any iterable with 3 elements:

>>> cam.translate.set([4,5,6])
>>> cam.translate.set(datatypes.Vector([4,5,6]))

Getting Attribute Values

To get the value of an attribute, you use the Attribute.get method. Keep in mind that, where applicable, the values returned will be cast to pymel classes. This example shows that rotation (along with translation and scale) will be returned as a Vector.

>>> t = cam.translate.get()
>>> print t
[4.0, 5.0, 6.0]
>>> # translation is returned as a vector class
>>> print type(t)
<class 'pymel.core.datatypes.Vector'>

Attribute.set is flexible in the types that it will accept, but Attribute.get will always return the same type for a given attribute. This can be a potential source of confusion:

>>> value = [4,5,6]
>>> cam.translate.set(value)
>>> result = cam.translate.get()
>>> value == result
>>> # why is this? because result is a Vector and value is a list
>>> result
>>> # use `Vector.isEquivalent` or cast the list to a `list`
>>> list(result) == value
>>> result.isEquivalent(value)

Connecting Attributes

As you might expect, connecting and disconnecting attributes is pretty straightforward.

>>> cam.rotateX.connect( cam.rotateY )
>>> cam.rotateX.disconnect( cam.rotateY )

there are also handy operators for connection and disconnection

>>> c = polyCube(name='testCube')[0]
>>> cam.tx >> c.tx    # connect
>>> cam.tx.outputs()
>>> cam.tx // c.tx    # disconnect
>>> cam.tx.outputs()