RIP RjDj 2008-2012

18 Dec '12

Well, as I had semi-predicted in my master’s thesis, it looks like RjDj is finished. As the commenters on that post noted, RjDj was an excellent way to prototype Pd patches and interactive music software on iOS devices without delving into Xcode. It was so easy to go from Pd to RjDj scenes that it ended up in media art courses around the world. As I wrote in my thesis:

It would be a shame to lose RjDj. Not only is the audience for RjDj scenes very large, but it is much easier (and cheaper) for a beginner to start developing for RjDj than to develop a native iOS app. This is part of the reason that I chose it for my initial projects.

RjDj is also featured in the great book Making Musical Apps as a first step before taking on libpd and objective-C.

Developing scenes for RjDj always seemed like a bit of a hack, but it was still less of a hassle (and expense) for beginners and students than getting an Apple development membership and opening up Xcode. It was also an excellent source of unique and inspirational micro-compositions and interactions. In March and April 2012 I ran some small workshops with students using iOS devices. The students were able to download RjDj (for free) and then try out a number of weird synthesiser scenes as part of their class.

Another great aspect of RjDj was that their scene “store” gave great visibility to independent scenes and compositions:

It is worth noting that the public version of Nordlig Vinter’s RjDj scene has been downloaded over 7000 times since September 2011. Although this is more a demonstration of the general popularity of iOS devices than the particular popularity of RjDj or the attractiveness of my composition, it is remarkable how far the reach of this technology is. It would be almost inconceivable that a Max/MSP, SuperCollider or Pure Data composition distributed for these desktop computer programs could be downloaded and run by 7000 listeners on their own computer but this seems to be easily possible for mobile computers. Business or artistic opportunities aside, this definitely makes this little side project my most-heard composition.

Given the mess of musical apps on the iOS App Store, I doubt that any of my little apps could reach such a large audience in a few months.

The death of RjDj will really leave a space in the field of educational tools for media-art and computer music. Teachers in this field really need iOS Apps to help go straight from Pd and other computer music / interactive media environments to iOS (and Android) without using Xcode. Solutions along these lines exist for Processing, but not yet (but almost) for Pure Data or any other music focussed programming environment.

So, even though it was a bit hacky, RIP RjDj, you may have left us too soon.