[PD] Pd FLOSS Manual, what to do with it?

Alexandre Torres Porres porres at gmail.com
Sun May 30 22:19:35 CEST 2021

Folks, we're on a roll debating all things related to Pd documentation here
and there and I'm now focusing on the Pd FLOSS Manuals issue.

Pd has this very famous and long lasting FLOSS Manual. It's old and it
tells you how to instal Pd Extended 0.39! So, it's from the extended era
and still references to 'extended objects'. For what I see, it was a Manual
that came to be in the Extended era as a Manual to it. Back in the day we
basically all used just Extended anyway and were mostly oblivious to
Pd Vanilla and its manual.

And by Pd's manual, I mean http://msp.ucsd.edu/Pd_documentation/index.htm
- I know that's called 'Pd Documentation', and that it is confusing, cause
it actually is an 'html Manual' and it refers to itself as "this html
manual". Anyway, this is also something I brought up on github and is not
the issue here..

The point is that there's a conflict and I guess this made sense then, but
it's a problem nowadays. A documentation noise problem. Lots of people seem
to get to it and consider it "the manual for Pd". We're still struggling
with a post Pd Extended issue and what was consolidated in its era but now
sits as ruins. Actually, Pd Vanilla's manual also refers to FLOSS Manuals.
But these days we have something weird, which is simply the fact that Pure
Data has these two manuals. One is the official one, included as part of Pd
Vanilla and its documentation, and this other one, which is terribly
outdated and actually refers to this unsupported and abandoned fork of Pd.

But the point is, one software cannot have two concurring Manuals, even if
both are up to date - that'd be silly. The point of FLOSS is to provide the
one and only official and single Manual for a piece of software. See the
problem? Csound uses FLOSS Manuals as a place to provide its official
manual. It's clearly linked in csound.com. Csound also has the
'Canonical Csound reference manual', which is actually something else and
not to be confused with "The" manual they provide in FLOSS.

So, my point is we have to get rid of one of them and have a single
official one.

Should we then remove the included and official manual from Pd and 'move
it' to FLOSS and completely overhaul that online version?

Or just get rid of the FLOSS version? Well, that is there, and people know
it. Burn it down, purge and disappear with it would be bad.

Well, I don't know, so I'm asking...

Another scenario is that FLOSS can still be around, of course, but as a
museum piece, for those interested in web archeology, as extended is now an
archeological piece of software. No one touches it, it stays there, but we
try to make it clear how that is an old, outdated, unofficial and that Pd
has its own 'real manual. This would help a lot. Or... also, treat it for
what it is, a manual reference for Pd Extended, not Vanilla, and make it
clear how Pd Extended is abandoned and so is this manual.

Other than these, the only option I see is we maintain and update these two
manuals somehow. And I already said how I think that's pointless. I also
don't know who'd do that... but maybe there'd be a way to manage them as
two clearly distinct guides. One would be the 'Canonical Vanilla Manual'
and the other could be 'The Pure Data Manual' (or some other name)? The
question would be, why to do that? What is the advantage in keeping another
FLOSS version around?

The thing I can think people like about the FLOSS version is:
- A) A friendlier look for beginners;
- B) A nice beginner level tutorial;
- C) Support for many externals, external libraries, how to use Arduino and
stuff (more as a tutorial than a 'manual');

These can all be compensated. With 'A)', we can try and make the Pd manual
look nicer maybe? As for the rest, what really seems to be the substance of
this is the fact that it serves as a tutorial.

Well, a tutorial is not necessarily a "Manual".

We can add tutorials to Vanilla too... actually, even though it's based on
Extended, many of the examples there are 'vanilla', so they can be
easily ported and shipped as part of Vanilla!

As for tutorials that use externals. Well, they would really benefit from
an update. But a tutorial is a tutorial, this could live somewhere else.

By the way, tutorials can easily be uploaded to deken and be available from
there. You'd have a tutorial that relies on externals, but that's ok too
(my live electronics tutorial comes as part of the ELSE download)... just
give instructions in the tutorial on how to install the needed libraries
from deken as well...

But if the case is made that we should really keep FLOSS and update it.
Well, maybe we could manage and do that, taking care on how to not overlap
even know I don't know who'd do it, but it'd mean completely rewrite from
scratch and get rid of some of the stuff. That's bad too, as the old
version would be lost (so have it sit as an 'old extended manual'?).

So, in short, possible scenarios include:
1) Forget about floss, tell it's outdated (rename it to pd extended manual
maybe), focus on Vanilla's manual. Bring stuff we miss and like from FLOSS
to current Pd in some new form.
2) 'Move' Pd's manual to a new FLOSS incarnation
3) Keep and manage two versions

My thoughts on these are here, and I think the best scenario is number "1)"

Any other thoughts?

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.puredata.info/pipermail/pd-list/attachments/20210530/4bcbe913/attachment.htm>

More information about the Pd-list mailing list