[PD] a general discussion about which software to learn: pd, max, both... or else?

Mathieu Bouchard matju at artengine.ca
Mon Oct 15 23:52:42 CEST 2007

On Mon, 15 Oct 2007, Frank Barknecht wrote:

> I believe, the choice between a 1-dimensional language like SC and a 
> 2-dimensional one like Pd is a state of mind thing. I do my fair share 
> of 1-dim programming,

Non-graphical languages are still 2-dimensional as they are written, 
because people use lines (rows) as logical units of code. The compiler 
makes a largely 1-dimensional interpretation of it, but this is not how 
people write and read code. Similarly, Pd almost completely ignores the 
actual position of the objects (except [inlet] and [outlet]) when 
interpreting a patch.

However, the usual rules of formatting source code completely ignores any 
use of columns beyond plain indentation, and makes rules that conflict 
with the potential that columns have in a document. Sometimes a piece of 
code would read better as a table, but coding standards defines "read 
better" with their own criteria anyway, which bends in the direction of 
1-dim, but still supports 2-dim as far as line breaks and indentation do.

> Somehow Pd's way of laying out processes in two dimensions is more 
> inspiring to me than the sequential, left-to-right programming of SC 
> etc.

You'd be surprised if you thought about how much right-to-left parsing 
it's possible to do for grammars that are always thought in a 
left-to-right way... But that's besides the point, as that alternate 
parsing is as one-dimensional.

There are several important languages in use, which consider newline as 
being largely equivalent to a semicolon. In that case, the change of line 
is seen as more two-dimensional, because it is not just ignored in the 

I'm not here to argue that non-graphical languages are fully 2-dim... else 
they'd probably be called graphical, to the extent that ascii-art is 

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| Mathieu Bouchard - tél:+1.514.383.3801, Montréal QC Canada

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