Patching and Workflow
The Max 5 patcher is completely new, but it won't be unfamiliar. It now supports multiple undo, the ability to zoom in and out, and a grid -- features many users requested. You'll immediately notice the redesigned objects supporting compositing and more typographic options. Something that will quickly become one of your favorite features of Max is the ability to create objects using the keyboard. Type n and get an object box at the current cursor position, m for message box, and so on.
Once you make an object box, type the first letter of the object you want to make, and an auto-completion window appears. Type a space to accept the auto-completed object name and you're ready to type in the arguments (if any).
Even experienced Max users can spend a lot of time trying to figure out what their patches are doing. Usually, you add objects to print out some data in various locations in a patch. However, this doesn't work so well for complex data such as audio signals and Jitter matrices.
Over the past decade, Cycling '74 has worked to keep the Max documentation up to date, but while the content was current, the means of presenting it was a hassle for people trying to learn the software. Since the manual was in a PDF document, you had to switch back and forth between Max and a PDF reader if you wanted to work through a tutorial. Similarly, reference information describing what objects do was never available when you needed it.
Searching and Finding
Here's another scenario we wanted to change. You're looking for a movie file to play in a jit.qt.movie or imovie object. You create a new message box, type read into it, connect the message box to the object, lock the patch, click the message box, try to remember the name of the folder where the movie was stored in the tedious open file dialog, click OK, and finally, the movie is loaded.
While most of the changes in Max 5 concern the programming environment, there was one area of the program where we wanted to extend and enhance what you can do with Max: in short, we wanted you to be able to specify time in terms of bars and beats as well as milliseconds. Almost all timing objects in Max 5 will now permit you to use what we call metrical time. For example, a metro object with argument 4n outputs a bang every quarter note. Audio objects such as phasor~ and line~ know about metrical time too, and the vst~ object uses this system to provide host synchronization to plug-ins. Keep in mind, this new way of talking about time is optional -- traditional Max millisecond timing works as it always has, and both systems can be used simultaneously.
25 More Enhancements
The following list highlights some of the smaller innovations and improvements in Max 5. A few of these changes might only be appreciated by experienced users, but even if you're relatively new to Max, you'll notice the attention to detail found throughout the whole environment.
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