March 7, 2011
Old And Busted < New Hotness...
by Chris Randall
I'm sad to say that I'm pitching Pd. While it is reasonably stable on my PC, on the MacBookPro where I do most of this sort of work, it is something of a travesty. I've put up with its little annoyances (having to set the MIDI and audio I/O every single time I open it, or its incredibly hard-on-the-eyes UI, e.g.) for years, but I just can't take the crashing any more. By virtue of being a software developer, I'm fairly patient with software problems, but there's no rhyme nor reason to Pd's instability, and something as simple as instancing a new object (say, a simple metro or something) can randomly cause it to just disappear.
I have no idea how much work I've lost over the years with Pd's OS X behavior, but I imagine it is quite a bit. I have successfully built fairly complex patchers (Axon was designed entirely in Pd, for instance) and indeed entire songs using Pd, but the benefits no longer outweigh the detriments, unfortunately.
So, the other day I downloaded the trial of Max 5, to see how things had shaped up. To give an idea of how long it has been since I used this program, I was employed at C'74 on the QA team for the initial Windows port of Max, which if you recall occurred at the cusp of the 3->4 transition. So, almost 8 years since the last time I opened this program. I imagine this will come as no surprise to the Max users among the readership, but come to find out there is a world of difference between Pd (and indeed Max 3/4) and Max 5.
I was able to bang out a fairly complex song in a matter of hours, it didn't crash once, and lo, and furthermore hark, I forgot all about vst~. The baby Jesus wept.
Anyhow, an adjustment to my workflow over the weekend (luckily not a drastic one, as Max and Pd are quite similar in operation), and Max 5 is now the hub of my generative lifestyle, pitching both MIDI and audio hither and yon. The patcher I've got going on pictured above is mostly procedural drums and synth stuff, with a couple AD plug-ins for effects, and a couple outboard synths and effects, with full MIDI CC control, and not a single crash. The mere thought of trying to do something so hybridized in Pd gives me little tiny hives all over my face.
So, sorry, Pd. I tried. I really did. But you've gotta go.