MaxMSP vs Reaktor for custom interface design
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.
> 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):
> 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.
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.
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.
IMHO, Reaktor, quick fix, sleek, inflexible licensing for resale.
Max, much lower level programming = higher customizability; flexible
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
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.
Dan Nigrin wrote:
> VSTi Host:
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.
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
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.
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
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.
On Mar 27, 2006, at 11:03 AM, email@example.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.
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.
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.
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. :)
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.
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
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
Cool, can’t wait for Max 5!
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.
   
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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.
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 :)
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