Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tools for Musicians: Synthodeon's MIDIProbe

So, after about eighteen calendar months of effort the first Synthodeon, LLC app is in the iTunes App store.  You can visit for more details.  The app, MIDIProbe, and its functionality are described in detail here on that site.

MIDIProbe is a high-performance tools for tracking MIDI events in an iOS (iPhone, iPad) or (soon to be relased) Mac environment.

MIDIProbe - Synthodeon, LLC

Now it didn't eighteen months to create MIDIProbe - that took only about six weeks.

Though it took a lot of time to get the whole "iPhone App" schtick down - from creating the proper icons to following the Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) - the real work was involved in developing and/or acquiring the software libraries to allow identical apps to run on both iOS and Mac OSX and on developing the suit of applications that are to follow MIDIProbe.

It took some time to get Synthodeon, LLC set up and running (thanks in part to - I really did start a new business there and it cost only $100 USD plus the cost of various state filings.

The iTunes Connect experience, where you upload your app, is much like the CD Baby experience that I used to launch my CD Fall to Earth last year.  iTunes Connect is a bit more picky and you have to be a registered developer ($99 USD) to do it.

(As a side note its interesting to think about the comparative experience doing a CD versus an app.  The costs to launch, at least for me, were roughly comparable.  Both require a significant investment in artwork and presentation.  Both require you to have at least some mastery of content.)

In addition, and probably most disconcerting, you have to have your app "reviewed" by Apple to ensure that its what it says it is.  The check for crashing, proper use of the HIG, etc. so there is always some concern that you overlooked something.

Right now version 1.0 is in the app store.  But that will change as soon as I complete the work required to run the iSym version MIDIProbe to run on Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard).  It currently runs on 10.7 (Lion) but a lot of music/MIDI types still run the older 10.6 version due to issues with Lion (see the Synthodedon blog).

I created iSym using the "Chameleon." Basically Chameleon is a set of Mac OSX functions that bring iOS functionality to Mac OSX.  iOS and Mac OSX are to a large degree related, for example many of the basic OS functions and objective C libraries are compatible.  But iOS uses something called UIKit as opposed to the Mac notion of NSWindows - there are no "windows" save the screen in iOS so much of the idea behind the Mac OSX software stuff is not needed per se.  The guy that created Chameleon created a layer on top of the Mac stuff to bring UIKit to OS X.

UIKit is not a complete port of iOS - just enough to do a simple UI.  And there are many subtle differences in how things are handled - particularly in the realm of audio and events.  But an app like MIDIProbe can be done in about a dozen files (I have written a number of libraries that I use as well - also portable).

My hope is to bring the same functionality to Windows at some point as well - for there is a far larger market.  "Chameleon" is a pure OSX app - but the model should be relatively portable and I can see the path to completing it.

The Apple iOS development environment changes about every six months or so requiring some effort to keep up and keep things straight.  Apple seems to have a concerted effort to usher everyone along into new releases and to retire old ones, I suppose for the purpose of eliminating legal issues, such as the location logging issue I blogged here about a while back.

Although I devote a lot of time to Synthodeon these days I am still quite active with Lexigraph and its customers, though the current economy has not done its customers any favors.

What's interesting here is that its quite a transition even from software development for PDF to App development.  In the Lexigraph world the customers have been around in some cases for a decade.  They are corporate in nature, you deal with a series of people over long periods of time - with corporate acquisitions, with accounting, with problems, with crisis, and so on.  The software is tied inexorably to the customers work - you test with content from them, you build systems that integrate with their environment.

In the App world everything and everyone is anonymous.

Synthodeon, LLC, and Fall to Earth, for that matter, already have active customers.  I don't have any idea who they are, I know some are in foreign countries, I will probably never speak with them by voice, I might see a review they write or get an email.

You invest an enormous amount of time and effort into something where there is no way to tell what the payback will be.  In my case, for example, one of the goals of releasing Fall to Earth was to use it as a demonstration platform for the App products I was building - after all what point is there to creating a music product if you don't (or can't) use it yourself.

I have a few tools to track the level of activity on the sites and blogs - but its really hard to tell what people are doing and thinking.

For me it was important to get this first app launched.

There are more to follow as well as customized hardware and music-relate performance gear.  But it will take time to get all this completed.

I guess in today's world my only "calling cards" for Synthodeon, LLC are my music and my apps - far different than the days of Lexigraph with expensive and troublesome employees, phone sales, printed business cards and literature, air travel, trade shows, and so on.

No comments:

Post a Comment