The best way to learn the interaction(s) between After Effects and plug-ins is running the samples in your debugger. Spending some quality time in your compiler’s debugger, and a sample project that closely resembles your plug-in, can really pay off.
Once you’ve got the plug-in building directly into the plug-ins folder as explained above, here’s how to specify After Effects as the application to run during debug sessions:
- In the Visual Studio solution, in the Solution Explorer panel, choose the project you want to debug
- Right-click it and choose Set as StartUp Project
- Right-click it again and choose Properties
- In Configuration Properties > Debugging > Command, provide the path to the executable file of the host application the plug-ins will be running in (this may be After Effects or Premiere Pro)
- From there you can either hit the Play button, or you can launch the application and later at any point choose Debug > Attach to Process…
- In Xcode, in the Project Navigator, choose the xcodeproj you want to debug
- Choose Product > Scheme > Edit Scheme…
- Under Run, in the Info tab, for Executable, choose the host application the plug-ins will be running in (this may be After Effects or Premiere Pro)
- From there you can either hit the Play button to build and run the current scheme, or you can launch the application and later at any point choose Debug > Attach to Process.
During the course of developing a plug-in, your plug-in may pass settings information to After Effects, which is then stored in its preferences file.
You may delete the preferences and restart After Effects with a clean slate by holding down Ctrl-Alt-Shift / Cmd-Opt-Shift during launch.
On Windows, the preferences are stored here:
[user folder]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\After Effects\[version]\Adobe After Effects [version]-x64 Prefs.txt
On macOS, they are stored here:
~/Library/Preferences/Adobe/After Effects/[version]/Adobe After Effects [version]-x64 Prefs