[PD] what is a list? (symbols vs. floats)

Hans-Christoph Steiner hans at eds.org
Tue Mar 16 06:51:45 CET 2004

I understand what is going on, what I don't understand is why it was 
done like this.  Basically, I don't see any benefit to having a mixed 
type message (symbols and floats) be treated differently depending on 
whether it starts with a float or a symbol.   It makes general message 
handling a lot more difficult because you often have to do things 
differently for all these different conditions, rather than having a 
more unified approach.  Maybe there is something I am missing, but I 
have tried a number of different approaches with basically the same 


On Monday, Mar 15, 2004, at 04:54 America/New_York, Krzysztof Czaja 

> hi Hans-Christoph,
> what drives you nuts is the message-passing system -- pure data
> structured types are quite another story.  In the message-passing
> system, the only typed entities are "atoms".  Every message is
> being handled as
> <selector> <atom>*
> The <selector> is a symbol, which purpose is to determine a method
> -- the actual handler, as defined by a class for that kind of
> a message (so, in short, you cannot bind methods to particular
> floats in Pd).
> When the message-passing system (actually, the binbuf_eval()
> routine in this case), constructs a message from a sequence of
> atoms, it just tries to be nice and smart, that is all.  First
> atom being a symbol, becomes the selector.  If it is a float, and
> there are no more atoms, the message is to be handled by a "float"
> method, if defined, otherwise the handler is the "list" method.
> I wonder, perhaps you will be less confused, if you think about
> the Max-in-Pd part in terms of a communication protocol of sorts?
> Krzysztof
> Hans-Christoph Steiner wrote:
>> There are a number of datatype inconsistencies that drive me nuts in 
>> Pd and I am wondering what the rhyme or reason is, or whether they 
>> are just
> ...
>> Ok, I can see that anything that starts with a float is automatically 
>> deemed a list, while anything that starts with a symbol is 
>> automatically deemed not a list unless cast as such.  This is 
>> confusing and I don't see the benefit.

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