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Why not 'merge' all these planners?
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Author Why not 'merge' all these planners?
synthcube
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:41 pm    Post subject: Why not 'merge' all these planners? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

This is pretty solid functionality
http://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=956054#956054

Why not marry rack planner content with this web functionality ? Then the larger merged team of folks can work together to improve a single solution rather than reinventing?

I'll even volunteer to play project manager and communication facilitator if it gives more people web tools for module planning, etc.
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dougcl
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The most important issue at this moment, in my opinion, is that the module zips that have already been established be honored, with an eye toward carefully extending the xml in them if necessary. Because this is so important, I have established a schemas thread here in anticipation of this situation. Further, it would be best if all module planners used the same filenames to represent the same modules. For this reason, it is my hope that developers follow the lead set by bananaplug on the squiggletronics library.

All developers should permit import and export of modules.

Assuming we get this far (voluntary coordination? What are the chances?) the next thing to honor is the rack xml format that has already been established.

After that, there is a patch xml format that Richy Ho (I hope) will establish.

But first, can we see if everyone is on board with getting the module zips from bananaplug set as the standard?

Then John Noble merges in his additional attributes into the existing module zips?

I am not going to force anyone to do anything. Not interested. I have RackPlanner for my own uses, so I am happy. It is up to the developers involved to move forward together. I can help with that if needed. I see that happening in the schemas thread here. I can add attributes and assist with reconciliation of objectives.

Doug
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synthcube
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Thank you Doug
That is exactly the sort of collaboration I think (hope) this group is capable of... The best of everyone's contributions, combined.
Again, I will volunteer to spend my own time to help coordinate whatever meetings, conference calls or whatever is necessary to hash together the best solution. I can't contribute anything technically, but I can offer some project management and facilitation experience.
Simple math, really. Everyone has contributed module zips in all formats that are mostly complete. Desired functionality is clearly documented in at least four separate threads and some really talented folks have contributed a lot of thought to individual solutions. If this group were collaborating, every single existing and new synth user would gain.

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a scanner darkly
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

In my opinion collaboration should be focused on 2 areas: 1) format standards 2) centralized storage. When you have those it doesn't matter that you have multiple developers and apps, as long as they can be used together and interchangeably. It's not the case of building one "ideal" app, but rather apps that might have little overlap in functionality or target different use cases and platforms.

(kinda like modular, we have particular standards that are supported by multiple developers - I doubt we'd have a better system if they all worked on one ideal solution :-)

I think it's already happening (and big thanks to dougcl for creating and maintaining the standard and to bananaplug and John Noble for supporting it). These are exciting times and hopefully we'll see more apps coming out soon (hopefully, mine included) particularly RichyHo's upcoming RackPlanner.
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dougcl
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

a scanner darkly wrote:
2) centralized storage.


I value interoperability over centralization. The main thrust of RackPlanner was to make centralization optional through the use of a standardized, open module zip format. This removes the bottleneck of central management that plagued the previous planner.

But if centralization is all we can get, it's better than every developer writing their own database (seems to be happening). A central database that accepts user contributed modules and offers interfaces to client apps would be the way to go if my original idea of interoperability (as stated in my post above) proves unlikely.

I really think a decentralized system is the best way forward.
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John Noble
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm late to this, but here's my stance:

Export formats don't matter to me, within reason. If there are enough consumers to justify the trivial effort, I'll put together a file download tool for them. I suspect most of the cool kids are going to want JSON these days.

Import formats have no value for me since I don't trust the data unless it comes from an authoritative source. That source is frequently emails from the makers themselves and isn't available on the net.

If someone needs me to modify the existing RP export and can assure me that it doesn't break anything for existing users, I'll happily do it.

I'd rather pour bleach in my eyes than take on another pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey data merge project--I've done far too many of them over the years and the magic is gone. hihi Besides, I revise data fairly frequently so the merge would quickly go stale.

Feel free to PM or email when interoperability discussions come up. thumbs up

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BananaPlug
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The ModuleLibrary was created initially for RackPlanner zips. We could store additional module data there too. Anybody can contribute content to it and I'm open to suggestions. I hardly ever hear from anybody about how they use it or what they want. Doug says he misses the old everything-at-once interface so I'll bring that back as an alternate view.

I've reached out to some of the people working on planners and have offered an API, facilities for associating additional data with modules, etc. I'm open to that. Folks seem more interested in doing their own thing even if that means reinventing a wheel or two in the process. Collaboration is not always the easiest thing to do. I get that. But one of the simplest ways to collaborate is to agree on data formats and build interfaces to those specifications so different systems can talk to each other.

If anybody reading this would like to curate a portion of the library, working on consistency, etc. I would love to hear from you.

Thanks.
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synthcube
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'll be the first to admit that a lot of the technical details are outside my domain, but it does seem to me that
a) lots of people like to experiment with web configurators and there are multiple 'sources' of basic module data, some more complete than others
b) no one has better access to rapidly changing module data than designers/manufacturers but they lack a common standard against which to supply and update data for users
c) format-centric solutions seem to take on their own lives-- but a simplified, common cross-format solution would benefit the entire synth community
d) 'best practices' exist in many of the solutions, but no overall architecture has been defined, nor has it been sorted out whcih features/functions ect comprise a consensus requirements definition

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dougcl
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

BananaPlug wrote:

If anybody reading this would like to curate a portion of the library, working on consistency, etc. I would love to hear from you.


I am happy to help any way I can.


synthcube wrote:
I'll be the first to admit that a lot of the technical details are outside my domain, but it does seem to me that
a) lots of people like to experiment with web configurators and there are multiple 'sources' of basic module data, some more complete than others
b) no one has better access to rapidly changing module data than designers/manufacturers but they lack a common standard against which to supply and update data for users
c) format-centric solutions seem to take on their own lives-- but a simplified, common cross-format solution would benefit the entire synth community
d) 'best practices' exist in many of the solutions, but no overall architecture has been defined, nor has it been sorted out whcih features/functions ect comprise a consensus requirements definition


Please download RackPlanner and see how it supports all formats and uses the modules downloaded from the squiggletronics site. This should make it pretty clear what the current status is. I mention this as a starting point because it is the only case of a planner and database run separately and held together by an interface standard.

We have several things going on at the moment:
1) RichyHo: Offline planner using RackPlanner modules. All formats. Still not released, appears to be using a custom database in addition to RackPlanner standards. (RackPlanner does not specify standards for patch planning). Java only (no iPad or iPhone). No functioning patch planning software has hit the streets as of this writing, so standards not developed.
2) Modulargrid.net Online planner using custom database. Eurorack only. RackPlanner XML export, no import. User contributed. HTML5, iPhone, iPad supported. Leans toward user contributed database (at the moment). Quickly becoming a duplicate of eurorackdb.com.
3) Eurorackdb. Online database for eurorack only, no planner. Supports RackPlanner zip export, no import. Has more data on euro modules than squiggletronics. Moderated user contributions. Leans toward central management.
4) Squiggletronics (aka ModuleLibrary): Online database for all formats. Moderated user contributions. Exports RackPlanner zip standard. Leans toward user contributed content. Largest module collection available.
5) RackPlanner: offline planner supporting all formats. Unmoderated file based database. Java only (no iPad or iPhone).
6) There is another online planner/database that is scooping data from eurorackdb.com. I don't believe this activity is leading to an open interface or standards development. Appears to be a siloed effort. I think this one is HTML5 (iPhone/iPad supported).
7) ModularPlanner. Online Flash based with centrally managed database. Eurorack only. No iPad, iPhone. No user contributions. Project is on hold, apparently.


Last edited by dougcl on Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:00 am; edited 3 times in total
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a scanner darkly
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Leaving rack and patch definitions aside for a minute I think there is a need for a centralized "official" module definition source. Otherwise we'll end up with multiple versions of same modules and everybody maintaining their own versions, especially once we start adding more stuff to module definitions.

To me ModuleLibrary is such source, with eurorackdb taking care of the Eurorack part (because John makes the effort of maintaining that db up to date and like he said, he gets information directly from manufacturers). I think that there is nothing wrong with having one or two "official" source with possible mirrors (or one official source for Buchla, one for Serge and so on). Say, I want to add stuff that is very specific to my app and therefore there is no point in adding it to official definition - well, if that's the case then I'd be mad to recreate the whole thing. If I was in that position I would definitely take advantage of ModuleLibrary and eurorackdb (with BananaPlug and John's permissions, of course) and take care of somehow synchronizing my stuff to the official sources.

Think of this centralized storage as a reference library. I think there is a need for having "approved" module definitions that everybody could refer to (actually it would be great to have a field in module schema for "official" approval stamp that would specify that definition has been approved by the maker as having correct information).

Such centralized library could provide an API to retrieve module definition or to submit it - some of that functionality already exists in both ModuleLibrary and eurorackdb, and I talked to some of you about it as well.

As for other apps that are just coming out i haven't had a chance to check them out but I hope they re-use the existing RP files instead of creating a Babylon of module formats (looks like Doug already checked that while I was writing this). It's really up to good will of developers, I try to coordinate my stuff, I hope others do to

In terms of collaboration other than coordinating the formats I doubt it's that possible unless there is interest and trust from all participating parties (and who knows, we might have some open source projects down the road) but there is multitude of platforms and tools used which would make it hard for that to happen. If anything, realistically the only way to collaborate on development would be by releasing libraries, preferably open source, creating building blocks for apps. I could see writing something for Processing - but that would be in a pretty distant future for me personally, I have trouble finding time to work on PatchPad at the moment. However I will absolutely support and help with any efforts on coordinating format definitions and libraries and API for submitting/retrieving module definitions, and I already talked to some of you guys about that.
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