Making A Slick Max Standalone presentation from Expo ’74 workshop

These are the slides used for the presentation I made at Cycling’s Expo ’74 in New York on October 15, 2011, titled “Making A Slick Max Standalone: Tips and Tricks.”

Many people that create Max standalones like to present as professional a package as possible, mimicking other applications that users routinely encounter. This workshop covered many aspects of this process, including: use of the standalone object, using a custom application icon, menubar customization, including documentation within your app, creating custom installers / uninstallers, removal of unnecessary Max files from within your application bundle, and application protection strategies commercial distribution.

Additional URLs

October 21, 2011 | 6:00 am

thanks for this useful overview!! Will save me quite some time.

November 17, 2011 | 5:15 am

Hello, there is no link to download the tools ?

November 17, 2011 | 9:13 am

Click the big green thing above that says "Tool Site – Go To Download Site" ?

November 17, 2011 | 10:36 am

arrg, the link doesn’t work with Chrome, but safari is ok…..Thanks a lot for your pdf ,it’s usefull !!!

March 10, 2012 | 4:52 am

Thanks for putting this online Dan!

March 13, 2012 | 6:35 am

it is nice but i have to say i expected a little more. that are the standard informations. maybe the actual talk at expo included more in depth stuff.

March 13, 2012 | 1:51 pm

The talk at the Expo included a bit more – but certainly not whole sections or topics that are not included in the pdf. I started the Expo talk by giving a disclaimer that none of the concepts presented were particular complex or "advanced", but rather that the collection of the simple things together, hopefully made it a helpful presentation.

Are there other specific topics that you were hoping for?

March 14, 2012 | 5:50 pm

it’s good that you provided all this information bundled. i was just expecting that you are showing a really slick standalone, covering more aspects like custom gui/knob desing, window managment, externals which combined lead to a really slick standalone.Nevermind

March 15, 2012 | 5:56 am

Re: custom gui/knob design – yes, I specifically mentioned at the beginning of the talk (and in the document) that I would NOT go into that, 1) because I am not that great at it, and 2) because you can use generic tools like KnobMan and SkinMan, that work with any app and not just Max, to make them. But I do agree that at some point that would be another good presentation, as there are some Max-specific details and "tricks" that one can use for good GUI development.

Re: "window management" and "externals" – can you be more specific? And by all means, if you have tips/tricks of your own in this area, please share!

stephane morisse
March 16, 2012 | 1:48 am

Thanks for this doc which helped me in my second effort to build a standalone. The ‘change icon’ trick didn’t work though. I used a png icon which I have changed the extension to icns (yes I’m on mac…). Could it be that ?
Also, I would have liked to find compiled infos about the management of presets (with read/write capabilities) in the standalone. So far the stuff I’ve found is a little confuse for me (I’m french and english is not my native tongue). Now I’m going to have a look and hearing at your stuff on your site. They seem quite interesting. And that will give me the occasion to figure out your awkward graphic skills :-)

March 16, 2012 | 5:28 am

Re: icon – yes, just changing the extension won’t work; you have to use an image editing program (I use Graphic Converter on the Mac) to convert the image to .icns format.

Good point regarding presets – that is definitely a challenging area for people, especially newcomers to Max. One quick tip – make use of the pattr family of objects!

May 16, 2012 | 4:54 pm

Pic2icon is also a nice freeware to turn image icons (like .png) to .icns.

Also, I have to agree with 11ols that for the most part, although it’s nice to have this .pdf as a reference for newcomers, these are pretty standard procedures on how to make a standalone app.

It would have pointed out GUI development, JSUI etc., but you’ve already mentioned that in the comments above. My biggest request would be to talk about external tools such as removing/modifying the app’s title bar (eg. from the top of my head, CoverSutra’s title bar: ) through code or some other similar way, as well as some practical hacks "hacks" to have, for example, cascading menus with options within the Max app etc.

These things might sound stupid, but I’ve learned this year that with some good programming, sky’s the limit and there’s no "can’t do"!

I have been doing some research on GUI stuff, if I ever find anything worthwhile, I will make sure to share it! Thanks for that PDF, Dan!

May 16, 2012 | 7:44 pm

Thanks for the comments, and by all means, please share if you have other tips!

October 21, 2012 | 8:22 am

Just noticed the live objects are in the MaxAudioAPI.framework
Which means if you’re using live objects you should leave this framework even if there is no audio in your app

Thanks for the great job Dan!

October 22, 2012 | 8:00 am

Good catch Florent!

July 1, 2013 | 2:35 pm

This has been a BIG help Dan, thanks very much for this!

July 1, 2013 | 5:06 pm

You’re very welcome Barry!

February 2, 2014 | 5:23 am

Thanks Dan, your PDF saved me a lot of time.

February 4, 2014 | 6:49 pm

You’re welcome!

December 11, 2014 | 5:03 pm

Thanks for that! Awesome manual!

December 11, 2014 | 5:26 pm

I’ll just quickly jump on the bandwagon while the thread has been bumped – but thanks heaps Dan; I reference this all the time when I’m getting my standalones ready for release.

December 12, 2014 | 5:36 am

Thanks for the nice feedback. One of these days I’ll need to do an updated one, as some things are not exactly as how they’re depicted in the document anymore, with the intervening changes to Max. But generally speaking, the principles involved are still relevant…

March 12, 2015 | 8:30 am

Great presentation, thanks!

I am trying to build a max standalone sample editor that is launched from another DAW (eg Ableton, Logic, whatever) – any idea how to get the path of the sample that these DAWs must send out when launching the app?



March 12, 2015 | 2:20 pm

Sorry, that’s one that I’ve got no idea how to do… I’d imagine that you’d first need to understand how to get the URL from the DAW software, and then figure out a way to pass that to your Max app. Good luck!

August 28, 2015 | 9:35 am

Hey, again great work, so useful!

I just wondered if we can expect an update, RE: the packaging changes in Max 7 when building Apps. I guess I’m mostly concerned with slimming my Apps down, and which of their contained files, components etc are dispensable.

Things have gotten chunky with Max 7!

Thanks again !

August 28, 2015 | 10:03 am

Also, I wondered if you could elaborate on the Miscellaneous section, "Why does double-clicking a Max patcher launch my standalone instead of Max (on a Mac)?"?

Couldn’t quite make out the solution from the pics given.


August 28, 2015 | 12:51 pm

Yes, there are definitely changes in Max 7 that make standalone significantly larger. I’ve been in touch with the folks at Cycling about it, and I’m optimistic that they will be able to offer some relief in this department for future versions – we shall see.

For double-clicking on a Max patcher and having it not open your standalone – what the slide shows is the Info.plist file that is included in your standalone’s app bundle. Double click it, and it should open in XCode (hopefully you have XCode installed). Open up the Document types section, and delete all the entries except the ones shown. Actually since the slide was originally created, I’ve since realized that you can also delete the Max collective entry, with no ill-effect. Save the Info.plist file, and then you should be good to go.

August 28, 2015 | 1:00 pm

Also, you don’t need Xcode: you can edit the plist file with any text editor (TextWrangler, even TextEdit…)

August 28, 2015 | 1:46 pm

Of course – just a little less pretty/intuitive in a text editor (especially if you’re new to this stuff).

August 28, 2015 | 3:52 pm

Appreciate the chipping in so soon guys.

I’ll be standing by on any new findings. Until then, I feel a day of trial and error coming on and experimentation with deleting "unnecessary" files etc.

And cheers Dan, I"ll give your method a crack, when I’m less coded out…… tomorrow. :)

August 29, 2015 | 3:26 am

Cool, all works with xCode.. Does anyone know what the best equivalent of xCode for Windows is?

August 29, 2015 | 4:39 am

If you’re talking about editing the Info.plist file, there’s no such file on Windows, so nothing to do on the Windows side with respect to that particular issue.

August 29, 2015 | 4:57 am

Ah, Ok.. Thanks Dan!

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