Maya supports 3 main programming environments. Each has different setup requirements.
MEL scripting language is included with the Maya application. Enabled by default, users can test MEL in the script listener window in a running copy of Maya.
MEL files are text files with the extension
.mel. They can be loaded into a running Maya session using the
source command in the listener or in another MEL script. Maya maintains a list of source directories and will search for a requested MEL script in all directories until it finds an appropriately named file.
There are number of methods for setting up the script path; see the Autodesk documentation for more details.
Maya includes an embedded Python intepreter. MEL commands are available from Python in the
maya.cmds Python module, so a command like
polyCube -n "new_cube" is available in Python as
maya.cmds.polyCube(n='new_cube'). The listener window includes a Python tab which allows users to enter Python commands interactively.
Maya python can import modules using the python
import directive. Maya will look for Python files in a number of locations, configured in the Maya application, using environment variable or a
maya.env file. The Autodesk documentation covers the basics of placing python files where Maya can see and import them.
Maya exposes its API to C++. Developers can compile plugins which Maya will recognize at startup.
Developing C++ plugins for Maya requires the Maya Devkit. Download the version appropriate to your platform and follow the included instructions to set up the build environment.