[PD] Max/MSP vs. Pd [was: shadow patch bug]

Frank Barknecht barknech at ph-cip.uni-koeln.de
Sun Oct 6 11:14:01 CEST 2002

Thomas Grill hat gesagt: // Thomas Grill wrote:

> Wow, what a statement. MAX itself (not the addons) is buggy as hell.
> Last week i had real troubles to get MAX reliably working for a concert.
> If PD had the same graphical abilities as Max i would completely switch to
> PD.
> Yet, the graphical interface (or TCL/TK, respectively) is a real
> obstacle....
> To my mind, the foremost problem is the incomplete or inscrutable
> documentation, that makes it difficult to get started with PD.
> Looking at the MAX (and jitter) package, one has to admit that Cycling have
> done really good work with their
> SDK documentation, help files and tutorials.

Until three days ago I never did work with Max, but last week I
attended a workshop in Mannheim ("prozesse 02" =>
http://www.die-lounge.com/prozesse/), where I and about 20 others
could spend a whole day using Max under the helpful hands of Kim
Cascone (and later Robert Henke of Monolake/Ableton [who's looking
hard for C++/audio-developers btw. Do you need a job, Thomas?]).

Of course I asked Kim and the other attendees, if they know and what
they think of Pd. Kim told me, that he didn't actually use Pd or jMax,
but that some friends of his in Australia use it and that he was very
impressed by what is possible with Pd now. 

The other participants mostly didn't know Pd, but those who did know
Pd, were still thinking of a Pd without sliders and GUI objects, i.e.
of a time, when it was quite hard to use Pd in a live performance
situation on laptops. They were talking about Pd like I would talk
about Csound: not user-friendly, needs to much knowledge,... And some
more advanced features of Pd (Gem, data structures,...) can crash Pd
quite badly as we all know, although in general it runs very stable.
OTOH, Kim had very bad luck with his Powerbook on the night's
performace because his whole machine crashed three times... That about
MacOS 9.

The Max course itself was quite basic and I must say, that we learned
nothing, that wouldn't be possible in Pd as well. (BTW: It's nice to
read the Pd advertisment on the Max startup screen going somehow like:
"MSP uses parts of Pd by Miller Puckette")

The bottom line of my first contact with Max is this: 

Max has some very cool usability enhancements compared to Pd. Some are
directly visible, for example the greater count of GUI objects. I want
multisliders, too. How's GUI-flext going, so that I can start
programming this?

Other usability things are not that visible. For example, in Max it is
possible to resize objects with the mouse. This is a small feature,
but it is such a time saver, that I really would like to see it in Pd
as well. Obviously the possibility to hide objects and patch cords in
Locked Mode makes things more appealing visually, but this is
something, I do not miss that much, because you easily can hide
things, that would better be visible all the time. (Someone on the
workshop did hide the dac~ objects and the main volume slider and was
wondering, why his patch wasn't working: he had the volume turned
down, but couldn't see that fact.)

I think, a lot of 'normal' (laptop) musicians would also prefer
another font. I wouldn't prefer it, but making it possibe to configure
the font would also make Pd more Max-like.

Now back to the shadow patch: Personally I *hate* shadows, but I like
different colors: is there a shadowless shadow patch, a "color only

 Frank Barknecht                               _ ______footils.org__

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