EDIT: Max 6 is now available! www.cycling74.com
One of the most exciting developments of this past summer was the announcement of Max 6 from Cycling ’74. One of the most powerful and exciting applications out there, Max is capable of doing virtually anything that the user can imagine. The only catch: the user has to build everything from scratch.
The Cycling ’74 website describes Max better than I can…
“Max gives you the parts to create unique sounds, stunning visuals, and engaging interactive media. These parts are called ‘objects’ – visual boxes that contain tiny programs to do something specific. Each object does something different. Some make noises, some make video effects, others just do simple calculations or make decisions. In Max you add objects to a visual canvas and connect them together with patchcords. You can use as many as you like. By combining objects, you create interactive and unique software without ever writing any code (you can do that too if you really want to).”
Because Max works on this very basic level, allowing you to do things as wide ranging as basic math to generating 3d virtual spaces, the user can really let their imagination run wild. With a good understanding of Max, creating software becomes a breeze.
Now, with the introduction of the beta test for Max 6, the process is getting much easier. With new features like the “Circular Menu” and the reference pane (as described by David Zicarelli in the video above) developing and making connections will become increasingly easy for the uninitiated. One of the hardest areas of programming with Max has been awareness of all the objects, and what they do. Finding an object that does one very specific thing that the user may need, has traditionally been like looking for a needle in a haystack, without a very deep knowledge of the object library.
Also, Max 6 will see 64 bit audio signals and some absolutely mind boggling developments in Jitter, including a new physics engine and some really amazing 3D object handling. Check the videos below for more info about MSP and Jitter.
Cycling ’74 is also updating and rewriting all of the documentation for Max, a huge undertaking that will inevitably pay off for users. The documentation has always been extremely well written, as have the tutorials and example patches that came with Max. However, Cycling ’74 seems to be set on improving the application on every level. Encouraging news, considering they make one of the most important applications of our time.
You can download the Max 6 Beta for free from the Cycling ’74 website linked below. I highly recommend taking this chance to get addicted to Max, it is good for your brain.