Designing and Writing Pure Data Externals

I have been working with Pure Data for some time and I feel quite confident working with the environment. Patching together ready made objects provides a good starting point for realizing most of audio ambitions. I am quite sure I could spend next ten years learning how to use all the objects available in the extended version of PD. However, I have also been interested in learning to write my own externals. Achieving this level requires a bit of C programming knowledge and understanding how externals are compiled. Frankly speaking, I have spent years trying to understand how PD build system works through reading scattered documentations and understanding PD’s source code. Perhaps this could have be an easy task for skilled computer scientist but for a designer like me it has not been a trivial task. So, I am glad that I discovered a wonderful book called ‘Designing Audio Objects for Max/MSP and PD written by Eric Lyon (Figure 1).


Figure 1. Designing Audio Objects for Max/MSP and PD.

It is the first book explaining how to get your system ready for writing PD and Max/MSP externals for Mac, PC and Linux. I can say it was a great moment to get that first program build through without errors. To me this new learning experience opens a new horizon for designing new audio tools. So – what is my orientation to this subject? First, C code has been utilized widely for a long time, thus out there exits a lot of useful code waiting to be used and misused for creative purposes. Second, there are times when writing few lines of C code may offer easier way to realize something that that could be really hard to patch together with PD objects.

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