Multitouch wireless MIDI-controller app for Apple iPad.
Some time in late 2009, a friend of mine started to develop apps for the iPhone. That sounded kind of interesting, so I followed his endeavours a little.
In early 2010, rumors about some kind of tablet-device based on the iPhone-OS came up. This really awoke some interest. A tablet-device could much more useful as a wireless MIDI-controller than the iPhone with its too small screen-estate to be useful.
I signed up for the iPhone developer program. Nothing was officially announced by Apple yet, but to be ready when the time was right, I started to reimplement my rtpMIDI-stack on the iPhone.
First the learning-curve was pretty steep. I had to get around my way in a new development- environment (XCode), I had to learn a new programming-language (Objective-C) and learn the details of Apples CocoaTouch-framework.
A couple of books and weeks later, I had actually succeeded in reimplementing my rtpMIDI-stack on the iPhone and created a small test-app with 4×4 pads which I could use to trigger MIDI-events either on my Mac or via my Windows rtpMIDI-driver on my PC running Cubase.
This sounded pretty promising – especially since this way was novel, there was no requirement to install any special deamons on the Mac-side and just a simple install of my rtpMIDI-driver on Windows.
Shortly after the iPad was announced by Apple, I showed my test-App to a friend of mine who is running his own design-company and is also a musician. He was pretty blown away by the idea and we decided that he would design a cool user-interface with nice-looking controls and I would implement those interfaces and controls on the iPad side.
After his initial designs were done, I started to implement the various controls (buttons, pads, sliders, rotators, jog-dials…). We implemented a small subset of a control-interface on the iPhone and went to MusikMesse in Frankfurt in March 2010.
We received some really good feedback which reassured us that we were on the right track. Shortly after, the iPad was available in the US. Since it was not obvious when the device would be available in Germany, we bought two iPads via Ebay from people who had brought them back from their vacation in the US.
Since the initial idea and our first announcement on the web, we decided to split up the development in different releases.
The midipad le (live edition) is a wireless-midi-controller which has special functionality for use with the Ableton Live software. To really use the abilities of Ableton Live, I needed to create some kind of interface software to be able to use the midipad with the specifics of Live. This interface software is done via Python-code that creates some wrapper-classes around the framework that Ableton had developed for integrating 3rd party devices into their software.
Unfortunately this framework is not officially supported for the general public by Ableton.
Only through the resources of some really cool people who had invested in quite some efforts in reverse engineering the framework and a lot of work on our side with lots of trial & error we have been able to get this interface going.
So it took quite a bit longer than suspected to reach a state where we could go public with our software.
We will be submitting our midipad-le app early September for Apples certification and hope that all goes smoothly.
Another release will be the studio-edition of midipad. This software fully implements the Mackie Control protocol. Therefore this edition of midipad will be compatible with all DAWs that have builtin support for this controller.
The le edition will be able to be used as primary controller as well as extender. So you can have multiple iPads next to each other for up to 32 channels of mixer-control and various transport-controls.