|Vol. 32 Issue 4 Reviews||Reviews > Products >|
Max 5 Programming Language Update
Reviewed by Jared Dunne
Cycling ’74’s release of Max 5 is a significant update to the company’s flagship product. In brief, Max is a visual or object-oriented programming language. The primary function of Max is to allow the design of multimedia applications by giving the artist and programmer the ability to handle different elements of time, control, and interactivity. Max 5 runs on both Macintosh and Windows operating systems. For Macintosh systems, Max 5 requires a Mac PPC or Intel machine running OS X 10.4 or later, and 1 GB RAM. For Windows, Max 5 requires a Windows XP or Vista machine, and 1 GB RAM.
Since Max has been around for quite some time
now, and its reputation is solidly embedded in the computer music community,
I won’t go into
detail about all of Max’s functionality. Instead, I will only highlight
the major changes that are available, or not available, in this update.
Max now has a new file format. David Zicarelli, head of Cycling ’74 says this about the change:
It is entirely textual—it's based on JSON which is a more readable version of XML—and if you need to, you'll be able to look at a file and immediately see what everything means. It provides for Unicode character support, unlike the old format, which only allowed you to save comments in unicode if you checked a special box. Max 5 can also read and write files with long filenames (finally!) on both the Mac and Windows. (cycling74.com/story/2007/10/31/135346/29)
With Max 5, Cycling ’74 has left behind some of the previous versions’ functionality. One of the first things to go was the Timeline object. “I think the new musical time system, which I'll discuss in a future article, offers far more power and flexibility than the Timeline, but it is not identical. And we are by no means finished with timeline-like things for the future,” says Mr. Zicarelli (ibid).
The Env and Envi objects didn’t make the cut, either, nor did the Detonateobject. Third party user-interface objects that have a display within their own window will need to be completely rewritten. Mr. Zicarelli states:
There really aren't very many of these objects, and developing new ones is now so much easier, we expect the trade-off will be worth it in the long run. We really needed to ditch the old UI object model to be able to do any of the cool new things we're doing. (ibid)
Pluggo plug-ins based on Max 4 will need to be converted to Max 5 to function within the new environment. According to Mr. Zicarelli:
Unfortunately, this new format is unlikely to be ready when Max 5 is first released. If your life revolves around plug-in development, you'll probably want to wait to upgrade until we change our plug-in support to work with the new core environment. Support for non-Pluggo VST plug-ins has improved in Max 5. (ibid)Max 5 is available for download and purchase from Cycling ‘74’s Web site and its worldwide distributors. Max/MSP 5 is listed for US$ 495, the Max/MSP/Jitter bundle is US$ 699, and the Max 5 Upgrade is US$ 199. Discounts for students and educational institutions are available. Cycling ’74 has discontinued the option of Max/MSP without Jitter for academic and student versions. If you purchased Max/MSP or Max/MSP/Jitter after October 1, 2007, you are eligible for a free upgrade.