Pd social aspects (Re: [PD] PDDP meeting?)

Mathieu Bouchard matju at artengine.ca
Sun May 7 21:22:48 CEST 2006

On Sun, 7 May 2006, geiger wrote:

> First, I do not think that technical reasons led to the fact that jMax
> got abandoned.

Whose abandon you are talking about? There wasn't just IRCAM involved with

I don't think it's fair to pick either technical reasons or social reasons 
as being decisive. It's not an either-or, it's an interaction of both 
kinds of reasons.

> jMax died because it was not possible to get the community support, and
> when they had no money any more it just got closed. At that time
> probably most people were already using Pd or both, so it was not a big
> loss.

Why wasn't it possible for jMax to get community support? Why were jMax
users looking into Pd? It's at once because Pd already had a bigger
community, but also because jMax wasn't technically superior enough, and
also because it had some serious technical drawbacks that made its users
look for something else. The announcement of jMax 4.x was the final demise
because instead of making technical changes that would help its community
grow, it made technical changes that made its community run away. jMax 4.x
makes the most sense if you see it already as the MAX plugin it was going
to be morphed into, but at the same time, the PyMax project was trying to
replace JAVA by Python, which would have made jMax more acceptable by
free-software developers, who are the part of the community that could
have helped IRCAM make jMax something more technically acceptable.

My point is that technical and social reasons are interlocked.

> Maybe it was a mistake to make jMax free software, and therefore
> compete with Pd directly. But maybe it was its salvation at that time.

It would've been a worse decision to compete against C74-MAX directly,
because it had a bigger user base than Pd (and still has), and was harder
to technically catch up with than Pd, and also is backed with a bigger
company than a team of 2-4 people at IRCAM.

> This can't happen with PD because there is no money behind its
> development. Its based on a different development model.

There is obviously money behind the development of Pd. Intel has funded 
both Pd and GEM.


Apart from that, there are a number of Pd developers who are using
university resources to develop Pd, without being hired specifically for

The development model is different, it's more decentralized, but that 
doesn't mean that there is no money involved.

> If Miller had to stop to develop Pd now, we would soon see several
> versions of Pd popping up, competing against each other. This is already
> the case actually,

They aren't quite competitive as of now, though that could change any
month. There needs some kind of trigger to get things going.  Currently
there aren't enough developers willing to work on the core.

> it is not bad for PD per se, but it can be a terrible loss of energy.

It's only a terrible loss of energy if you think that this energy could be
going anywhere else and if you think that Pd is perfect as it is.

> but still I think it is important to focus our efforts.

Whose ideas should we focus our efforts on?

> I don't understand PD develpers who complain about missing features, or
> how main Pd development is handled.

That is an example of a social reason. The "complaining" also happens to
be a call for discussion, for alternatives and a way to find like-minded
people, some of whom can become allies. If your changes to pd are small
then it's easier to code them alone. If you'd rather change pd by yourself
then you don't need to look for allies. If you don't need to look for
allies for your changes to pd then you don't need to understand why and
how someone would.

> Its noone else but themselves who can change this situation.

I pretty damn know that and still trying to figure how to do it without
discouraging myself again *and* without going bankrupt. I'm looking
support from people who care. It also means getting a lot of non-support
from people who non-care. That's a fact of life.

> Miller has always been very open to contributions

Compared to the jMax team, yes...

Compared to the MAX/MSP team, very much... ;-)

However, many other open-source projects are intensely more collaborative
than Pd, in such a way that (the core of) Pd, jMax and MAX/MSP look about 
as collaborative as each other.

> he includes patches when time permits and also explains why he doesn't
> include others.

I haven't found his explanations to be always particularly explaining, and
I don't expect them to always be, but there are some biggies for which his
explanations were even more disconcerting than the lack thereof.

I don't mean just the patch submission system, I also mean discussions
that lead potential patch submitters to decide whether submitting patches
is worth doing.

 _ _ __ ___ _____ ________ _____________ _____________________ ...
| Mathieu Bouchard - tél:+1.514.383.3801 - http://artengine.ca/matju
| Freelance Digital Arts Engineer, Montréal QC Canada

More information about the Pd-list mailing list