The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Questions and discussion about building and using Max for Live devices
mastahlee
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The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by mastahlee » Fri Dec 11, 2009 5:34 pm

To the M4L Admins & Mods,

I want to start off saying that I've been excited about Max For Live since it was announced, jumped on the beta as soon as I could and bought the software the day it was released. I understand its a 1.0 release, and therefore still has some rough edges and missing pieces and I'm fine with the occasional crash or some desired function missing from the API knowing that these things will be fixed in a timely manner.

However, I am a bit concerned about what seems like a lack of effort and initiative to foster an active and centralized community for M4L users. I understand the product was just released and these things take time, but the lack of some simple actions on Ableton and Cycling74's part makes me a little unsure how invested each party is to this product. Most of these concerns are trivial, but I think have large symbolic value in showing active Vendor support. For a product in which much of its potential is still unrealized and many of us have bought it for what it will BECOME and what it COULD EVENTUALLY do, token displays of active consideration are extremely important.

My requests are as follows:

1) One OFFICIAL forum dedicated to Max For Live users: Why are you fracturing this already small community between the Ableton and Cycling74 forums? Yes, I understand it is a joint project, but this feels to me like neither company wants to take ownership of this community completely. I paid Ableton $300 for this software (and I mean JUST Ableton, whatever behind-the-scenes revenue sharing you do is not my concern. I bought the software on your site, and you charged my credit card), WHY is only forum for Max For Live the Beta Discussion? This signals that you aren't paying attention, and it does not breed confidence.

Most users have gotten in the habit of duplicate posting across both forums. This is a waste of time and energy, and serves only to make it so we have to jump between similar posts on both forums to see all the relevant comments. Nothing is gained, but effectiveness is lost.

2) An official repository for M4L patches: Seriously, this is pretty much why 50% of people buy Reaktor: for access to its fantastic user-generated repository. I want to give props to synnack for creating http://www.maxforlive.com and taking initiative to do this himself but this really is something Ableton should be creating for its users. This is a golden opportunity for adding some serious value-add and help justify to people on the fence why they should shell out the $300: Not only do you get the playground, but access to tons of useful devices as well.

3) Communication on future extensions to the API: File this one under "would be nice", but should I hold my breath waiting for access to set the absolute playback position in a session clip, or invest the time coding a workaround? If I spend weeks coding a workaround for a problem I have and then the API is updated with a simple fix, I'll be pissed that I wasted all that time that I could have done something else. I understand the trepidation involved in exposing too much of what you're working on and then getting tons of heat when you have to scale back (call it the Windows Vista effect), but just knowing WHAT is in the pipeline, and a rough estimate of when to expect it (weeks? months? a year?) would be extremely nice, if just to show us that you're working on it.

Honestly, I am truly happy with the software and my experience with it thus far has been positive. You guys really did a good job up to this point. With a few small things, I think it could be absolutely great. I think if you just put a little effort into these key areas to keep the community engaged, you'll really have a game changer on your hands.

mhcrispo
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by mhcrispo » Fri Dec 11, 2009 6:36 pm

I second!

I said the same thing last week about having at least a separate section in the forum. For me this forum is a total mess. http://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=130320

Gregory Taylor
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by Gregory Taylor » Fri Dec 11, 2009 7:28 pm

I'd probably omit the word "good" from the subject line entirely, personally - I'm not at all bothered by the fact that there are two different forums. They seem to be quite different in content and purpose, which (in my view) is a good thing. I have no insider information on the arrival of an Ableton repository, but fully expect that it's in the works (would you complain about the existence of non-Ableton M4L sites if that were to happen?). I'd be a bit surprised if the arrival of Max for Live would involve any changes in the way that Ableton communicates its intentions for future updates to its customers (as a recent arrival, I am still finding my way in this regard), but I could be wrong - the dance between how a given piece of software constrains one and the search for interim solutions is and has always been a part of the Max user community, and I'd generally say that what one learns in the course of that search for solutions is what makes one a good Max programmer over time (that may be less the case in the Ableton world). As "cultures" the Max and Live worlds are quite different in terms of user expectations, the amount of work which is "done for you" vs. rolling your own solutions, and so on. I hope it's okay that I personally don't see those cultural differences as bad and requiring single solutions imposed from above.

At this point in time, the presence of that edit button says it all for me. The patches are all free, the possible solutions available to all, no one's charging you money for their devices [beyond the cost of M4L, of course], and it's not like there's some kind of dreary land rush to set up third-party sites whose secondary purposes are the generation of ad revenue or the creation of careers. It'd be interesting to see how that worked over the long term, wouldn't it?

stringtapper
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by stringtapper » Fri Dec 11, 2009 7:39 pm

Gregory Taylor wrote:(would you complain about the existence of non-Ableton M4L sites if that were to happen?)
Ouch, I think you may have inadvertently brought the OP's point into sharp relief.

*ahem*

http://www.maxforlive.com/index.php

http://www.max4live.info/
Unsound Designer

Gregory Taylor
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by Gregory Taylor » Fri Dec 11, 2009 8:17 pm

Well, apart a few bits (ads and self-promotion which are absolutely the right of the person or persons who set up the websites in the first place), it would appear that they're each doing things just a bit differently, for whatever reasons. Again - I don't think it's a bad thing. But I'm old enough to remember shopping in the former East bloc, and living in American state where there was only one state-owned liquor store.

I'm also suspicious of the false efficiency of single sources and single solutions. But that's probably just me. :-)

mastahlee
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by mastahlee » Fri Dec 11, 2009 8:27 pm

Thanks for your thoughtful input, Gregory. My responses below:
Gregory Taylor wrote:I'd probably omit the word "good" from the subject line entirely, personally - I'm not at all bothered by the fact that there are two different forums. They seem to be quite different in content and purpose, which (in my view) is a good thing.
I'd say the difference in purpose is ambiguous at best and non-existent at worse. Yes, you'd think the "Ableton" forum would have a more Ableton-centric focus on M4L, but what does that exactly mean? If you want general Max patching help, you go to the standard Max forum. If you want help using Ableton Live, you go to the standard Live forum. If you want help using Max to interface with the Live Object Model (which is 90% of the posts in both M4L forums, as you would expect) you go...where?

You state they are quite different in content, but I have to disagree. If you compare the two forums, I'd say a good 30% - 50% of the posts are straight duplicates, with even replies within them being duplicated! Therefore, anyone trying to follow conversation about a particular topic (say the undocumented playing_position property) has to jump between identical threads in both forums to catch all replies. This doesn't seem like a win to me.

And there is no excusing the fact that, almost a month after its release, Max For Live doesn't have a proper forum on Ableton's own site and all conversations have to occur on the Beta Discussion forum. Regardless of your ideological stance on having two forums, this is confusing, sloppy and just a poor signal. Just rename Beta Discussion to "Max For Live Discussion" if you want to be lazy about it.
Gregory Taylor wrote:I have no insider information on the arrival of an Ableton repository, but fully expect that it's in the works (would you complain about the existence of non-Ableton M4L sites if that were to happen?).
Is it in the works? That'd be nice to know. And no, I wouldn't complain about non-Ableton sites, but I feel that an official repository would tend to produce a better experience by having the support of full-time staff to develop and maintain it. While I appreciate the efforts of those who make stuff like that in their free time, I don't like having the solution being dependent on someone who may lose interest and let the site fall apart as my only option.
Gregory Taylor wrote:I'd be a bit surprised if the arrival of Max for Live would involve any changes in the way that Ableton communicates its intentions for future updates to its customers (as a recent arrival, I am still finding my way in this regard), but I could be wrong - the dance between how a given piece of software constrains one and the search for interim solutions is and has always been a part of the Max user community, and I'd generally say that what one learns in the course of that search for solutions is what makes one a good Max programmer over time (that may be less the case in the Ableton world). As "cultures" the Max and Live worlds are quite different in terms of user expectations, the amount of work which is "done for you" vs. rolling your own solutions, and so on. I hope it's okay that I personally don't see those cultural differences as bad and requiring single solutions imposed from above.
Trust me, I've been hacking together solutions around Ableton Live software constraints for awhile, which is what excited me so much about Max For Live to begin with. I'm currently transitioning all of my midi-yoke, applescript, and quicksilver macros into M4L patches. I understand that Ableton has a strategy for when they release their information and I honestly don't expect them to change based on my accord, which is why I prefaced the comment as "would be nice". Its always nice when developers keep you informed of what's coming up.
Gregory Taylor wrote:At this point in time, the presence of that edit button says it all for me. The patches are all free, the possible solutions available to all, no one's charging you money for their devices [beyond the cost of M4L, of course], and it's not like there's some kind of dreary land rush to set up third-party sites whose secondary purposes are the generation of ad revenue or the creation of careers. It'd be interesting to see how that worked over the long term, wouldn't it?
Yes, all the patches are free but most of them aren't very good. An infrastructure that makes it easy as possible to connect with all other users, explore all publicly available solutions quickly and efficiently makes it so much easier for everyone to build off of each others work and get really great results more quickly. The Reaktor patches are also free, and they have a top-notch user-submitted repository and an amazing, active community on their boards. This, I believe, has been a hallmark of Reaktor's huge success. I think Ableton Live with M4L can blow Reaktor out of the water, but that's the current state and they certainly are the competition Ableton and Cycling74 should be gunning for.

To continue on in this vein, why do people use Max instead of Pd? Pd is technically just as capable, is open-source so you can modify any portion of it, and is completely free. But its harder to use, the community is smaller and less organized, the documentation isn't as good, and its just tougher to get the results you want. That's why you lay down the $500 for software someone else offers for free: for the better experience, more helpful and supportive community, and not just being technically able to do something but actually have it be realistically possible.
Last edited by mastahlee on Fri Dec 11, 2009 9:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

mastahlee
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by mastahlee » Fri Dec 11, 2009 9:01 pm

Gregory Taylor wrote:Well, apart a few bits (ads and self-promotion which are absolutely the right of the person or persons who set up the websites in the first place), it would appear that they're each doing things just a bit differently, for whatever reasons. Again - I don't think it's a bad thing. But I'm old enough to remember shopping in the former East bloc, and living in American state where there was only one state-owned liquor store.

I'm also suspicious of the false efficiency of single sources and single solutions. But that's probably just me. :-)
It is not a bad thing to have options, but to assume that the quality automatically increases just because more options become available, I think, is a false assumption. Think about it this way: Back in the bad-old-days of DRM music, if you had an WMP-compatible mp3 player you could buy mp3s from about 12 different online music stores (Napster, Payplay, Puretracks, Mixplay, etc.) but if you had an iPod you could only buy music from 1 store (iTunes). Each WMP store was doing things a bit differently, with different music selections, prices, and user interfaces. Clearly, 12 verses 1 is much better, right? The only problem is that all 12 of those choices were WAY inferior to iTunes in pretty much every regard. So even though WMP users had MORE CHOICES, they lacked the ONE CHOICE that was actually any good. And if we look at how history went, that's the only thing that mattered.

I don't care if there are 12 different repositories that crop up to cater to M4L patches, if not one of them can compete with Reaktor library in terms of user interface and selection, I'm missing out on the one option that's better than all the rest.

Gregory Taylor
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by Gregory Taylor » Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:34 am

Perhaps we also differ because I'm personally less interested in Max for Live as a Reaktor-style repository of stuff for the non-patcher. I make what I need, and figure that the time I spend fiddling with the stuff I can't make straight off has made me a better Max programmer. I've been reasonably impressed by what I've seen showing up in the forum, even if it is just a bit monomocentric or launchpaddy for my personal tastes. I'd also wager that there are a bunch of people out there who are just using the program to make the stuff they need and - to the extent to which things work properly - they just get on about their work. Considering that the product's been out for such a short time, it's ticking along nicely, I think.

Tone Deft
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by Tone Deft » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:05 am

Reaktor library has 3,000 objects.

this site has 4,000 objects for max/msp/jitter
http://www.maxobjects.com/

AFAIK they're not as readily digestible as Reaktor objects but there is a database.



I'd like to know if there's gonna be a forum or not, or I'll just focus on the C74 forum. or should we just generally agree to focus on that forum. I just want to stay in the loop and learn new tricks.

no word from Ableton on this yet? guys!?!!?!
"Obsession is a great substitute for talent." - Steve Martin on learning the banjo

Dell Inspiron 15 7000, Live 10.1, Win10 Home, Edirol UA101, APC40, Remote SL, SPD-SX, mic, guitars, JX305, Nova
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Gregory Taylor
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by Gregory Taylor » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:12 am

I would actually suggest that the Max forum at Cycling '74 would probably be the best place to ask questions directly related to programming with Max itself, and ask the other ones here. Using the Live API isn't really about Max patching to me - it's just a set of objects that implement access to the Live API. You want to talk about buffer handling/preset management with pattr/techniques and resources for granular synthesis? The Max forum would be better. But that's probably just me.

Judging by the list traffic here, most of what's here has really been about using Live-o-centric tools to do stuff, how to work around some kind or perceived Live limitation [my favorite conspiracy theory is that this list is an easy way to find out what things should be added to the Live application *next,* what might be actually useful extensions of the Live API, etc. :-) ], etc. That suggests to me that either people are managing to navigate between the M4L tutorials and the "regular" Max tutorials in the quiet of their own homes and heads, or they aren't doing any Max programming at all. It's the former, I'll wager.

jon_moore
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by jon_moore » Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:38 am

Gregory Taylor wrote:I would actually suggest that the Max forum at Cycling '74 would probably be the best place to ask questions directly related to programming with Max itself, and ask the other ones here. Using the Live API isn't really about Max patching to me - it's just a set of objects that implement access to the Live API. You want to talk about buffer handling/preset management with pattr/techniques and resources for granular synthesis? The Max forum would be better. But that's probably just me.

Judging by the list traffic here, most of what's here has really been about using Live-o-centric tools to do stuff, how to work around some kind or perceived Live limitation [my favorite conspiracy theory is that this list is an easy way to find out what things should be added to the Live application *next,* what might be actually useful extensions of the Live API, etc. :-) ], etc. That suggests to me that either people are managing to navigate between the M4L tutorials and the "regular" Max tutorials in the quiet of their own homes and heads, or they aren't doing any Max programming at all. It's the former, I'll wager.
While I agree that on the surface it would seem to make sense that matters pertaining to Max programming are best served within the C74 forums and matters pertaining to the Live API are best served here, I'm unsure that the needs of M4L users are quite so simple to classify. Over the past few months I've encountered users who have no wish to learn Max programming, users who are only interested in 'macro level' knowledge and how it pertains to the Live API, as well users with a deep understanding of the Max environment (and it's associated programming skills). From my own perspective I have found both acquiring and sharing knowledge of M4L both a disconnected and disparate experience.

While I have no doubt that there are some extremely talented individuals sharing amazing devices that exemplify the possibilities brought about by M4L (witness Stretta's Monome Suite); I'm of the belief there are a large number of individuals who are falling at the first hurdles whilst exploring the world of M4L, not just because of the steep learning curve but because of the lack off a centralised official resource that helps them to negotiate the expansive world of possibilities brought about by the close integration of Max within Live.
JM

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steff3
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by steff3 » Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:08 am

Well,

First off, I am also not interested in a Reaktor-stylish approach ....

Second, I think at the current time Cycling and Ableton should really concentrate to make M4L something, which does not cause oneself to shake his head all the time. I mean, we got Live stylish GUI elements, but, their float output range is from 0 to 1. If we look at some Live device stuff they have a float output range from -1. to 1. Can we do that with a live.dial? Also, get us the scales/exponent of the controls on the Live devices' gui. Is that possibile for all the controls on the devices?

Third, there seems to be lots of cumbersome things at the moment with the json and pattrstorage and loadbangs and availability of the LiveAPI - com'on, what is up with that? this stuff is what it is all about - and the current working state is suboptimal to say the least. If we need workarounds for those parts ...

I think it would be nice for both companies to concentrate to the this to bring M4L from a concept and draft to something that is can be considered a product (and if may patch has to check for the availability of the LiveAPI and that point of time varies, sorry, I would not consider that a clean approach ...)
If I do a Max patch for a performance or something I do not need this - it has to work on each and every computer running Live, point - but with M4L there is no chance to just go in and adapt something. It has to work, no matter how big the Liveset is, how many things Live has to load, etc.

At the moment M4L is in an experimental state, that is ok, but IMHO the two companies have to decide if they want to bring to something where one can pass devices to others and just knows that it will work as it did on his/her own computer. Currently I am not sure that call to the API will work on startup in different Live sets on my one computer.

best

hoffman2k
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by hoffman2k » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:10 am

steff3 wrote:Well,

First off, I am also not interested in a Reaktor-stylish approach ....

Second, I think at the current time Cycling and Ableton should really concentrate to make M4L something, which does not cause oneself to shake his head all the time. I mean, we got Live stylish GUI elements, but, their float output range is from 0 to 1. If we look at some Live device stuff they have a float output range from -1. to 1. Can we do that with a live.dial? Also, get us the scales/exponent of the controls on the Live devices' gui. Is that possibile for all the controls on the devices?
Have you tried using a scale object to map the predetermined range to the 0 to 1 range? Live's GUI elements are programmed to be whatever you want. 0 to 1 is just the default.
steff3 wrote:Third, there seems to be lots of cumbersome things at the moment with the json and pattrstorage and loadbangs and availability of the LiveAPI - com'on, what is up with that? this stuff is what it is all about - and the current working state is suboptimal to say the least. If we need workarounds for those parts ...
I don't get this bit, no clue whatsoever what you're trying to say. What doesn't work?
steff3 wrote:I think it would be nice for both companies to concentrate to the this to bring M4L from a concept and draft to something that is can be considered a product (and if may patch has to check for the availability of the LiveAPI and that point of time varies, sorry, I would not consider that a clean approach ...)
If I do a Max patch for a performance or something I do not need this - it has to work on each and every computer running Live, point - but with M4L there is no chance to just go in and adapt something. It has to work, no matter how big the Liveset is, how many things Live has to load, etc.

At the moment M4L is in an experimental state, that is ok, but IMHO the two companies have to decide if they want to bring to something where one can pass devices to others and just knows that it will work as it did on his/her own computer. Currently I am not sure that call to the API will work on startup in different Live sets on my one computer.
Not getting this bit either. What suggest that M4L won't run on another system?
That is the whole point isn't it? You never have to find version x of plugin y ever again.

steff3
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by steff3 » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:04 am

Thanks for your answer.

>>
Have you tried using a scale object to map the predetermined range to the 0 to 1 range? Live's GUI elements are programmed to be whatever you want. 0 to 1 is just the default.
>>
Well, I used a exprs (as you have to go forth and back) to do that. Of course there are workarounds, but if they are called live.dial and look like a live dial it might be ok if they also did what a Live.dial does ...


>>
I don't get this bit, no clue whatsoever what you're trying to say. What doesn't work?
>>
What I want to be able - make a M4L device that connects via LiveAPI (js) to a device control. No problem. Now, when I reload the Live Set I want the M4L device to automatically reconnect to that device control.

Now, it would be logical in JS to save the device route (so the track number and device number) and when pattrstorage resets the saved variables connect to that device (in the setvalueof method). Here it results in a crash. When I just get the stored values and try to connect on jsLoadbang - no LiveAPI available (at least I guess that is what is the case, as I do not get the ID) So I setup an external loadbang-max-object that goes into a delay and than triggers the relink function in the js. But I guess this time - when the LiveAPI becomes available - depends on how much Live has to load. So, the delay time in the delay module might work or not.

>>
Not getting this bit either. What suggest that M4L won't run on another system?
>>
No, not M4L itself, but such workaround like when to relink a saved device connection and when the LiveAPI is available. If it depends on how fast Live can load a Live set, then it is a different value for every system and Live project.

Of course you can try to do that with workaround. But those are workarounds and especially with time you cannot be sure that they will work in all situations. I also think preset save like it exists in Live is something strange to Max (itself) and it shows that that they needed to rework the pattrstorage and use json instead of xml. I think there are lots of those little things that have to be worked on and where Max and Live concept does not fit to each other (named sends/receives is another subject - as you now do not run your Max patch on one system, but M4L devices from you and others and there are no conventions).

best

hoffman2k
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Re: The lack of a good, centralized M4L Community?

Post by hoffman2k » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:35 am

steff3 wrote:Thanks for your answer.

>>
Have you tried using a scale object to map the predetermined range to the 0 to 1 range? Live's GUI elements are programmed to be whatever you want. 0 to 1 is just the default.
>>
Well, I used a exprs (as you have to go forth and back) to do that. Of course there are workarounds, but if they are called live.dial and look like a live dial it might be ok if they also did what a Live.dial does ...
Still not getting it. What exactly is your problem here? Do you want live.dial to have dynamic min and max according to the chosen parameter? Its not possible, but then again you can't change the range of an actual control on an Ableton device.
If you want the actual value to displayed on a 0 to 1 ranged knob, use the scale object to give you the right value. And whichever object fits the bill to display the value under the dial.
steff3 wrote:>>
I don't get this bit, no clue whatsoever what you're trying to say. What doesn't work?
>>
What I want to be able - make a M4L device that connects via LiveAPI (js) to a device control. No problem. Now, when I reload the Live Set I want the M4L device to automatically reconnect to that device control.

Now, it would be logical in JS to save the device route (so the track number and device number) and when pattrstorage resets the saved variables connect to that device (in the setvalueof method). Here it results in a crash. When I just get the stored values and try to connect on jsLoadbang - no LiveAPI available (at least I guess that is what is the case, as I do not get the ID) So I setup an external loadbang-max-object that goes into a delay and than triggers the relink function in the js. But I guess this time - when the LiveAPI becomes available - depends on how much Live has to load. So, the delay time in the delay module might work or not.
The device I'm working with disconnects and reconnects the API device controls every time the transport stops, in order to create an undo event. So I'm not sure why you're having trouble with this. I am not a JS wizard though, all my API stuff is done with objects.

As for recalling something when a set is loaded: I haven't found a workaround for storing lots of data, but I have a workaround that is acceptable. In the case you need to store an external file, store its path in pattr to be recalled when the set is loaded. As long as you don't lose the file, you'll only see a save dialog once.

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