Article from Issue 280/2024

This month Graham looks at Chataigne, ShowMIDI, Trippy, ASCII Art Converter, Quetzalcoatl, MojoZork, and more!

Control software


Despite missing native Linux versions of the most popular professional creative software, Linux and open source solutions thrive whenever there's both a creative and a technical requirement. This is particularly evident in projects such as Monome Norns, which now hosts a huge library of music and compositional tools. It's also evident in 3D design and CAD utilities such as Blender, FreeCAD, and OpenSCAD, and in applications for live and creative performance and broadcasting, including Ardour, Ossia Score, and this, Chataigne (a French word for chestnut). While Chataigne is difficult to summarize, it acts like an IDE for creative people who may want to build interactive elements into their creation, and it's rather brilliant.

Chataigne is an application to help digital artists better control whatever light, sound, and motion requirements (or anything else) they may require for a performance. Its lead developer describes the application as a "conductor" to help artists interact with different technologies over multiple protocols using a modular and dynamic graphical interface. A very simple example might be controlling an LED attached to an Arduino with the input from a MIDI controller. To accomplish this, Chataigne would use modules for MIDI and Arduino communication bound together in its GUI using the sequence editor to change the LED state via an inspector to define the values you want changed.

Modules are the core to this functionality because they handle all input and output duties. It's Chataigne's large library of modules that makes it so adaptable and powerful. Some may provide only inputs, while others provide outputs, with modules such as MIDI providing both. They're split into three categories: protocol, hardware, and software. Protocol modules don't necessarily understand how the data is going to be interpreted and include MIDI, OSC, HTTP, and DMX, the latter of which is a common Ethernet-based protocol for remote control. Hardware modules add joysticks, Wiimote controllers, keyboards, and mice to the mix, while software modules allow Chataigne to interact with other applications such as Ableton Live, REAPER, and even PowerPoint.


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