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UV mapping is still the tried and true method for associating 2D textures with 3D models.
However the process of creating and editing UVs has historically been very cumbersome and time consuming. So we have made a concerted effort over recent years to improve this experience in Maya and make the process more efficient. This includes the addition of hundreds of new UV tools over the last several releases, and more recently a complete redesign of the UV Editor itself. Below you will see the history and evolution of this initiative along with highlights of key features that were improved or added along the way.
UV Editing Improvements in Maya 2015
UV Editing Improvements in Maya 2016
UV Editing Improvements in Maya 2017
UV Editing Improvements in Maya 2018