A file with .ma extension is a 3D project file created with Autodesk Maya application. It contains large list of textual commands to specify information about the file. MA files can be opened and edited in any text editor to fix any issues with the commands in case a file gets corrupt. These files contain information for defining the 3D Scene information such as geometry, lighting, animation, and rendering. Applications that can open .ma files include Autodesk Maya 2020 and text editors.
MA File Format
MA files are saved to disc in ASCII text format unlike the MB files that are saved in binary file format to disc. A detailed reference for MA file format is available in Autodesk Maya Documentation and can be referred to for developer’s reference.
MA File Header
The file header starts with a section of comments that gives the creation information of the file and the date modified. Maya file readers ignore this block as it is just used for information purpose only. A header must start with first six characters as “//Maya” though.
ASCII file header looks like as follow.
//Maya ASCII 1.0 scene
//Last modified: Sun, Dec 21, 97 10:18:26 AM
The file references section of a .ma file contains information about all other Maya files that are being referenced in this file. Each referenced file can be read using a single file command that is contained in the same file. The syntax of the file command when used for referencing is:
file -r -rpr prefixString fileName;
file -r -ns nameSpace fileName
Here is an example string.
file -r -rpr "solar" "/u/sally/work/solar.ma";
This example shows that the sun object contained in the file solar would be accessible in this file using the name “solar_sun”.
Requirements section of a .ma file consists of a series of required commands and tells May information such as version and plugin information that is required to read the files. An example of requirements section is as follow.
The next section specifies the requirements. This consists of a series of requires commands. This section of the file tells Maya what software is needed to load the file properly. Specifically, what version of Maya, and what plug-ins.