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Sep 06

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A 1-year look back at RD/MPCTools

Hello visitors :)

This is a post about my RD/MPCTools application and its history on the past year. It was born out of a personal need. I have been doing lighting in several shows for a few years, and when I found the M-Series software, i was amazed by its simplicity.

At home, I installed M-PC and soon discovered that this was the best free lighting controller software available. However, not having an official Martin Controller to go with M-PC, I was missing the physical controls like faders and buttons, as lighting a concert with the mouse is everything but easy.

Since I had a Behringer BCF2000 for lighting, I started to investigate wether I could use it with M-PC. Unfortunately, no solution was found!

Luckily, M-PC allows the use of an external tablet or smartphone to communicate with M-PC via OSC, a network protocol created to address similar needs for audio consoles. The OSC application allowed the user to control one full playback bank – all the faders and buttons were accessible via their respective OSC addresses.

My initial idea was to build an application that would connect to my BCF2000 and translate the MIDI commands into OSC and send to M-PC. I eventually succeeded in developing such an application! At that point, it was working fine and stable, but everything was hardcoded (and the UI was ugly)!

After recognizing the need for such a tool among the M-Series users, I started a beta-test program and gathered a group of people to test the application’s functionality and give feedback.

After roughly 1 month, when we felt it was ready to go public, it went public… :)  Obviously, the ultimate goal was to enable the user to make his changes and adapt the program to their own setup. But we weren’t there yet.

The topic was sticked at Martin’s forums and there were many people thanking, but also some people asking for help. The truth is that it was such a difficult setup that many people were giving up before even trying.

The biggest step was made when RD/MPCTools was no longer an exclusive tool to the BCF2000, but a completely configurable endpoint for multiple generic MIDI devices, allowing the user to set their own preferences for each of their buttons and faders.

Along the way, I’ve been doing some reverse engineering on the M-PC and learning a lot about its inner-workings, so after that big step, many things changed regarding the setup, the connection to M-PC is now more automatic, some settings are taken from M-PC at startup, the UI was redesigned, the internal architecture has changed, etc…

It has been quite a journey, and it’s interesting how things evolve when you have a stable working version and people start asking for more and more features.

One year after launching the RD/MPCTools application publicly, it reached the 1 THOUSAND download mark!

For me, it’s always been fun, but it’s nice to realize that achieving such a big number means I did something that helped many people facing the same issue as me, but that might not have the needed tools to surpass that problem.

I suspect there are hundreds of users around the world using the FREE RD/MPCTools application now, and that really makes me happy! Thanks to everyone that helped and supported my idea and my program. :)

About the author

Ricardo Dias

Ricardo Dias was born in Entroncamento, Portugal and is studying Electronic and Telecommunications Engineering at University of Aveiro. He is a researcher in robotics and is currently the Team Leader of CAMBADA@MSL team. As a hobby, he is also a freelancer Stage Lighting Designer.

Permanent link to this article: http://ricardo-dias.com/2014/09/06/a-1-year-look-back-at-rdmpctools/

2 comments

  1. Florin Musat

    Hi Ricardo, you did a very good and helpful job out there! Without MPC Tools, M-PC is like a bulldozer without most of the levers!

    1. Ricardo Dias

      Hey Florin,

      Thank you very much for your kind words…

      Best regards,
      Ricardo Dias

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