MaxMSP vs Reaktor for custom interface design


    Mar 27 2006 | 1:18 am
    I'm hoping some of you can advise me as to how good Max/MSP (and/or PD) are for creating on-screen interfaces. I already know Reaktor 5 and what is available there graphically but I haven't been able to find any impressive examples done with Max/MSP (and/or PD) that show what they can do in terms of customizing the look of a patch's control surface.
    The sound processing I want to do is pretty standard and can be done with any modular music software but I want to optimize the appearance of my interface on-screen and I'm not sure which way to go.
    Any thoughts?

    • Mar 27 2006 | 2:05 am
      > I'm hoping some of you can advise me as to how good Max/MSP (and/or > PD) are for creating on-screen interfaces. I already know Reaktor 5
      I am slightly ashamed to admit this, but part of the reason I use Max rather than PD is the interface candy. Just as I need a clean desk to do good work, I also need a clean interface and patch to think clearly. No, it doesn't come with great-looking stuff out of the box. But if you are capable of creating the look you want in a mock-up, it's likely that you will be able to do most of that with Max. You can do all of it if you go to the trouble of creating jsui interfaces. Takes some work, either way, but if you find that kind of work fun (like I do) then Max will probably work fine.
      As an example of the sort of thing possible with jsui, check out http://www.estatesound.com/matsui.html - Matthew Aidekman's collection of interface widgets. Remember that all of this stuff may be customized to meet your own needs.
      If you haven't, download the trial version of Max and play with it.
      > and what is available there graphically but I haven't been able to > find any impressive examples done with Max/MSP (and/or PD) that show > what they can do in terms of customizing the look of a patch's > control surface.
      I don't know if this is still true, but early versions of Ableton Live looked like a painstakingly customized Max interface to me. This also looks like Max (with a lot of care applied):
    • Mar 27 2006 | 2:38 am
      On Mar 26, 2006, at 8:18 PM, Suade wrote: > I haven't been able to find any impressive examples done with Max/MSP
      ----- Nathan Wolek nw@nathanwolek.com http://www.nathanwolek.com
    • Mar 27 2006 | 4:36 am
      > I am slightly ashamed to admit this, but part of the reason I use > Max rather than PD is the interface candy. no one should be ashamed of this. it takes a huge amount of faith for someone to separate the aesthetics of their surroundings from what the hell they are doing there. some may argue its impossible. I don't think it should be downplayed. many people downplay aesthetics as a non essential part of computing, however I feel that the more time we spend computing, the more we need to worry about the quality of the experience.
      because lets face it. your digital life style can be a full time job.
      As for your question, Suade, Reaktor will give you more impressive SHORT TERM RESULTS. everything in reaktor is instantly acceptable. if this is ok, go with reaktor. comparing the vast majority of UI from max and reaktor, you'll notice reaktors are better.
      However if your looking for a truly jaw dropping custom interface, max is the place to be. between jsui, lcd, jitter and some photoshop. you can customize your patch to be extremely intuitive and feel amazing. if you don't know what your doing, you could also end up with a load of crap. comparing the cream of the crop (in terms of UI) from both max and reaktor, you'll notice max kills the competition hands down.
      hope that helps. I love doing UI work better than many other aspects of programming. its truly where form meets function.
      kai krause is a god. -matt
    • Mar 27 2006 | 1:05 pm
    • Mar 27 2006 | 1:21 pm
      Why do you want to optimize the appearance of the on-screen interface? If it is to create a sellable product, then Reaktor is out. You cannot create VSTs/AUs/etc with it, and very few people are stupid enough to pay for a Reaktor ensemble (there are tons of great, free things out there already). If you want to make money, use Max. It let's you close your source (yay... I guess...), create plugins, and distribute applications. That said, for "standard" sound processing, Reaktor really is the way to go I feel. I haven't used Reaktor 5 yet (I ditched it back when 4 came out), but the new Core� features look pretty impressive, and Reaktor is very good at allowing you to construct traditional knob/fader/button driven interfaces. Just be prepared to deal with NI.
      - John
    • Mar 27 2006 | 4:03 pm
      I use both Reaktor and Max. If you are asking about the ability to customize an interface in Max. Max beats Reaktor hands down because it supports OpenGL. Which means you can create any interface you heart desires. If you are going to be using built in UI componenets, I would have to say that Reaktor has prettier knobs and things, and supports things like multi panel views and transparency. But Max provides all the same basic funtionality (knobs, sliders, xy controls, bitmapping, etc..) I guess you have to decide how much work you want to do.
      Anthony
    • Mar 28 2006 | 5:36 am
      IMHO, Reaktor, quick fix, sleek, inflexible licensing for resale. Max, much lower level programming = higher customizability; flexible license.
      My biggest gripe with max lately is the lack of features taken for granted in say illustrator (rulers and guides mainly). but seeing some of the examples posted here, it looks like i've been trying to sculpt a UI out Max, when I should really sculpt a UI in Illustrator or Photoshop complete with score marks for objects, and drop in only the required max interface objects, using jsui, and jit.gl.sketch when useful. The only problem is, I'm not a graphic designer or interface specialist.
      For a couple years, mostly as a hobby, but some performance, I developed a VJ program, Nouveau. I don't really perform anymore, but still fix and add to the program occasionally for a friend who uses it as part of his VJ rig.
      I never really released the program, because I couldn't get the interface pretty enough. I figured out and implemented all kinds of neat tricks like scripting the creation of the effects chain dynamically, and got a good handle on thispatcher, and js/jsui goodness. It is pretty functional, but its not pretty.
      Last semester, i implemented an Image-Source Model (ray-tracing) in max/msp/jitter/java/openGL. This modeler calculated 1st through 6th order reflections in a 14-sided room. This is pretty, so far as the 3d goes, but the data-input windows are clunky.
      I am currently working on a suite of acoustical and audio calculators for my final project for my BA in Audio Arts and Acoustics. These calculators are intended to compute, and visualize concepts from architectural, engineered, and environmental acoustics, and general audio principles. Part study-guide, part design tool. These will be released as a 1.0 version in June, as a commercial product, and a pared down free version.
      If any of you would like a chance to play with a beta-version, or can offer some suggestions or examples of similar patches, let me know.
      Joe E.
    • Mar 28 2006 | 9:18 am
      Not sure it's a good example ;-) I 've never seen more ugly UI than this one in my entire life ! It reminds me the days of win95, the first Arboretum plugins or the Synthedits skins at the beginning... Anyway, the more i work with max, the more i think it's beautiful as it is.
      f.e
    • Mar 28 2006 | 3:13 pm
      LOL! Yeah, a lot of folks take issue with this UI of ours (though others have loved it) - it was designed by Atsunori Namba, who I collaborated with a long time ago. He's no longer on the project, and my graphic design skills are a bit lacking, so it's what I am left with...
      That said, I posted it as an example not so much because it's a beautiful interface, but rather that it represents that one can do fairly unique and "non-standard" looking things in Max/MSP if you spend the time on it.
      Dan -- Dan Nigrin Defective Records 202 Hack / PC-1600 User / VSTi Host / OMS Convert / Jack OS X http://www.defectiverecords.com http://www.jackosx.com
    • Mar 29 2006 | 1:17 am
      Quote: lists@lowkeydigitalst wrote on Sun, 26 March 2006 19:38 ---------------------------------------------------- > On Mar 26, 2006, at 8:18 PM, Suade wrote: > > I haven't been able to find any impressive examples done with Max/MSP
      well, what impresses you?
      i agree that there arent any impressive interfaces out there which were done with MAX, but that doesnt mean it would not give you the opportunity to do some. with or without jitter.
      max vs reaktor is a bit an overrated question as both programs allow you to use custom graphics. and those are what make your app look your app and not the objects or presets coming with the programming enviroment. in reaktor 32-bit masks are supported, in MAX not, but max has stuff like the lcd object or jitter stuff which you do not have in reaktor. but that is a minor difference IMO, the idea, arrangement of elements, and the graphics work is the bigger part and that can be done in both.
      i am very happy with the stuff i can do in MAX but sometimes i miss picture transparency options.
    • Mar 29 2006 | 4:13 am
      On Mar 27, 2006, at 11:03 AM, apalomba@austin.rr.com wrote:
      > I use both Reaktor and Max. If you are asking about the ability > to customize an interface in Max. Max beats Reaktor hands > down because it supports OpenGL. Which means you can create > any interface you heart desires.
      Max beats Reaktor for interface flexibility the same way C beats Max for audio flexibility. (Everyone knows the most powerful synthesizer is a C compiler.) Figure out the level of flexibility you need and use the simplest tool that provides that -- No more.
      - John
    • Mar 29 2006 | 4:27 am
      You can do impressive interfaces with MAX. MAX has everything you need (pictctrl...), including the image mask option for transparency. After all, you also need a good designer for the job. I believe our COModPack interface is as good as the most VST out there (http://www.codeoperator.com/comodpack.htm) and it is done with MAX.
      Jan
    • Mar 29 2006 | 9:07 am
      Thank you all for your responses. I'm happy to say that my first post on this forum has shown you to be a pleasant and helpful bunch.
      I will definitely download the trial version of Max and explore what it can do now. I haven't tried it for over 10 years (with monochrome monitors etc.) so I'm quite out of date.
      Cheers
      Suade
    • Mar 29 2006 | 1:47 pm
      i cant resist to post a picture, too.
      here is some examples from my older plug-ins:
      only 2 things you see here here is complicated custom programming, the rest is "just pictures" used with the 7 or 8 standart MAX gui objects.
      with maxmsp you can also play QT movies or use the bpatcher object to "change pages", not sure if reaktor 5 offers that. :)
    • Mar 29 2006 | 4:21 pm
      I have been trying to figure out how to do transparency in Max. How do I use a mask option to do this? The pictctrl does not have an example of this.
      Anthony
    • Mar 29 2006 | 7:38 pm
      See pictctrl.help, and the simley face pictctrl. It is also documented further in the pictureFormats subpatcher of the help file.
      Note that JSUI supports full alphablending if you stay *within* JSUI. There is no full alpha blending between objects in the patcher currently. As mentioned previously, this will be supported in the next major version of MaxMSP (version 5), along with antialiasing (or anitaliasing if you prefer ;)) and a nice cross platform 2D vector graphics API.
      -Joshua
    • Mar 29 2006 | 7:43 pm
      Using masks in pictctrl is very simple:
      first row: the pictures for the control second row: the mask, a black and white image, it works like a mask for an icon. White pixel -> show background Black pixel -> show pictctrl image
      Now you have to activate "Image mask" check box in the pictctrl properties.
      Jan
    • Mar 30 2006 | 2:41 am
      Cool, can't wait for Max 5!
    • Mar 30 2006 | 8:27 am
      John Nowak wrote: > Max beats Reaktor for interface flexibility the same way C beats Max > for audio flexibility. (Everyone knows the most powerful synthesizer is > a C compiler.)
      Glad you proove that I am not everyone. ;-)
      There are three issues: raw computing efficiency, programming convenience and the question wether a tool would allow you to do everything you want to do with it.
      In none of the three Reaktor would be top for me. Of course in raw computing efficiency assembler will win, but at the time you finished your project, the computers gained enough speed to make the Max patch, which is sounding from the first day, be as fast as the assembler version you designed for your old computer ;-)
      For the same reason most programmers do use C in favor of assembler, I would always use Max in favor of C for exactly that reason also.
      Somebody who is very fluent with C DSP coding and doesn't know too much of Max would still pretty fast use Max as rapid prototyping tool and finally realise that there is not so much need for reprogramming it in C as it runs probably fine.
      She would put her expertise into coding some externals more likely...
      > Figure out the level of flexibility you need and use > the simplest tool that provides that -- No more.
      Yes...
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    • Mar 30 2006 | 7:36 pm
      Quote: Anthony Palomba wrote on Wed, 29 March 2006 09:21 ---------------------------------------------------- > I have been trying to figure out how to do transparency > in Max. How do I use a mask option to do this? The pictctrl > does not have an example of this. > > > > Anthony >
      there are people who claimed they would have done it but until now none of them were able or willing to share this secret.
      the best i?ve heard until now was someone who said he could not remember how it worked.
      eventually you can abuse picture slider in some situations - that one supports 32bit masks.
      it would be already okay if picture control could do it when the picture format is psd, i wouldn t mind using layers ... well lets just wait for v 5.0 :)