It’s no secret that a major update to Max/MSP/Jitter is coming from Cycling ’74, with a major overhaul of the underlying code and an entirely new, friendlier interface. What has been secret is just what that upgrade will look like. We still don’t know what it’ll look like visually, but Cycling ’74 today released some new details about what it is and isn’t.

In short, it promises to be:

  • Easier to use: Multiple undo, debugging tools for patches, and a visual catalog for perusing objects.
  • Easier to learn: Integrated, rewritten documentation, even including Web links.
  • Easier on the eyes: A new, zoomable patching interface with lots of new goodies — that’s not only skin deep, but makes patches easier to navigate.
  • Mo cross-platform: A new code foundation should make Max more modern, reliable, easier to support on C74′s part, and better supported across OSes. It even opens the possibility of someday seeing Max/MSP/Jitter on Linux and not just Mac/Windows.
  • Not full of gobs of new objects: Normally this is not a feature, but here, it’s a good thing: by introducing only a few objects, the new Max focuses instead on improving existing objects and building a better environment / platform for the future.

I’m meeting with Cycling ’74 this week at AES, so hope to have more details then, including more on what’s changed for Jitter users. Audio users should note a big caveat — Pluggo support won’t be present in Max 5 at launch, which is critical to using patches as audio effects and instruments in other hosts, though it sounds as though that may be added at an undetermined point in the future. But on the visual side, it looks like it could be a pretty smooth upgrade: most patches and externals should be compatible, with some potential updates needed for tools that have special UI features. (I imagine some patches will look a little odd, too, once they hit the new UI — worth keeping that older Max copy around, just in case.) Overall, looks like good news. Naturally, we want to know more. Lots more. Soon. I’ll keep you posted.

Java and JavaScript support will continue to work. And that means Processing is supported, as well (via mxj), so this could be a great Processing prototyping environment, or a way of coupling Processing with other features. (See jklabs MaxLink. And yeah, it really does work … very cool. Viva Java.)

Cycling ‘74 Releases Max 5 Details: Bringing Max Out of the 80s, into to the Future [Create Digital Music]