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Dinosaur Plugin Companies

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11 hours ago, marled said:

IMO if a plugin provider delivers plugins with a reliable and solid code, then it is not necessary for endless updates!

That is a valid point, and I completely agree.

However, I would counter that the perfect bug-free and obsolescence-resistant program has yet to be written. It's an impossibility, because most software exists in a larger software and hardware ecosystem that is in a constant state of flux. I say "most", because it's possible that the software that powers your microwave is likely exempt from this principle.

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Some people like updates, some don't; the state of health of XLN's Addictive Drums 2 was a reasonably colourful discussion the last time it was brought up.

Just remember: if updates to your DAW plugins come out and you don't think they're useful, no-one's forcing them to be installed. The plugins without patches could be down to no-one being available to look for/fix bugs that aren't noticeable without being pointed out.

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14 hours ago, marled said:

 

But I have to address your complaint about no updates! IMO if a plugin provider delivers plugins with a reliable and solid code, then it is not necessary for endless updates!

That would be a Mac user's dream.

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I think the whole discussion on plugins updates could easily miss the point without mentioning that a huge source of the problems are now constant transformations of OS-es. That at least in my experience. It used to be much more stagnant 15 year ago (and I'm missing it).

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1 hour ago, chris.r said:

I think the whole discussion on plugins updates could easily miss the point without mentioning that a huge source of the problems are now constant transformations of OS-es. That at least in my experience. It used to be much more stagnant 15 year ago (and I'm missing it).

Better known as the (d)evolving OS.

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Part of the problem with the current ecosystem is the diversity of platforms that need to be supported. Some people like to move their libraries from the default location to any where there is space. There are different OS's and even different versions of the same OS. There are different processors, different motherboards , different antivirus` programs, and different graphics cards. It is naive to think that you can release software that will work in every configuration without bugs, even for simple plugins. And thus the need for updates. 

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1 hour ago, Doug Rintoul said:

Part of the problem with the current ecosystem is the diversity of platforms that need to be supported. Some people like to move their libraries from the default location to any where there is space. There are different OS's and even different versions of the same OS. There are different processors, different motherboards , different antivirus` programs, and different graphics cards. It is naive to think that you can release software that will work in every configuration without bugs, even for simple plugins. And thus the need for updates. 

Hence one reason that Apple is so successful. They control their standards and do not have to support everything. Walled garden.

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37 minutes ago, abacab said:

Hence one reason that Apple is so successful. They control their standards and do not have to support everything. Walled garden.

The policy is good for Apple, but not so good for developers and end users. And it works well in the phone space. However Apple's PC market share is still only 15%.

I have a perfectly good Mac Mini that would run the current OS X if Apple would let it. In fact, I shoed horned it in and it run with absolutely no problems. But Apple support policy won't allow me to officially upgrade. And unfortunately, current versions of some Apple programs won't run on older OS Xs. So I either throw the hardware out or go the non-official route.

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11 hours ago, marled said:

You suppose like a lot of people that every software needs a lot of bug fixing. I agree that complicated software products like DAWs or graphic applications may always have some bugs, but even there exist huge differences. What I want to say is more that smaller things like FX plugins, synths should not have many bugs if they were developed in a really professional way with a proficient crew!

Excellent point. I was speaking of my own personal experiences as a QA engineer at companies that were making "big" software, not plug-ins. Also as a beta tester for multiple audio programs. Plug-ins do seem to be a different story. And as you pointed out earlier, there are plenty of "oldies" in that department that are still going strong. My only payware VSTi's that are younger than 5 years are my Glitchmachines samplers. And they're supposed to sound broken!

(Stray thought: it must be weird trying to do testing at companies like Glitchmachines and Freakshow. Maybe if the plug-in is not destroying the audio it's defective?).

The typical dev cycle I see for plug-ins is that there's an initial release, then shortly thereafter a 1.1 that fixes whatever incompatibilities and stray bugs, then it settles down. There are extinction-level events like the introduction of Apple's M1 processor that can spur further updates, or changes in popular DAW's that expose compatibility issues.

With bigger software, it seems like there are usually regular ongoing updates with a mixture of feature additions and bug fixes.

From the user perspective, with DAW's and NLE's, existing users tend to want the bugs and usability issues fixed before new features are added. And as features go, meat 'n' potatoes are good. The things that have been added to Cakewalk in the past 4 years are good, solid ones that contribute to the program's usefulness.

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6 hours ago, Doug Rintoul said:

Part of the problem with the current ecosystem is the diversity of platforms that need to be supported. Some people like to move their libraries from the default location to any where there is space. There are different OS's and even different versions of the same OS. There are different processors, different motherboards , different antivirus` programs, and different graphics cards. It is naive to think that you can release software that will work in every configuration without bugs, even for simple plugins. And thus the need for updates. 

Sorry, but I don't agree to that! 😄

E.g. "moving the libraries to any location": It is naive to believe that handling this is a big thing! Yes, some developers make you believe it! But without kidding this is very easy for any competent developer and already included in proper development! On the contrary it is a "sin" to hardcode such things (like I had even detected in an IK product 1-2 years ago)! And there is much more such trouble that can be introduced by poor dev teams!

The hardest thing, the audio interface, is mostly handled by the DAW. Therefore the plugins do not have the same complexity.

If those things that you have listed are so problematic for plugins, then how do you explain why e.g. the old Sonar plugins still run so smooth?

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9 hours ago, Doug Rintoul said:

The policy is good for Apple, but not so good for developers and end users. And it works well in the phone space. However Apple's PC market share is still only 15%.

I have a perfectly good Mac Mini that would run the current OS X if Apple would let it. In fact, I shoed horned it in and it run with absolutely no problems. But Apple support policy won't allow me to officially upgrade. And unfortunately, current versions of some Apple programs won't run on older OS Xs. So I either throw the hardware out or go the non-official route.

I am a PC person, but do have an old Mac Mini that used to be strictly for family  secure online banking. Until the bank refused to support the old Safari browser, and Apple refused to update Safari, and Google and Mozilla stopped support for their browsers on the old MacOS. 🤪

I might get curious and drag the old Mini out just to play around with! But without current browser support, it's probably near useless...

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8 hours ago, marled said:

Sorry, but I don't agree to that! 😄

E.g. "moving the libraries to any location": It is naive to believe that handling this is a big thing! Yes, some developers make you believe it! But without kidding this is very easy for any competent developer and already included in proper development! On the contrary it is a "sin" to hardcode such things (like I had even detected in an IK product 1-2 years ago)! And there is much more such trouble that can be introduced by poor dev teams!

The hardest thing, the audio interface, is mostly handled by the DAW. Therefore the plugins do not have the same complexity.

If those things that you have listed are so problematic for plugins, then how do you explain why e.g. the old Sonar plugins still run so smooth?

I don't know your background @marled. Have you actually done any software development? It is a complex process. Just because a plugin works in your environment does not mean it will for everyone everywhere. When a bug is reported and fixed, an update is released for everyone whether you need it or not.

Moving libraries around was only one example of things that can cause problems. You are correct in that it should be relatively easy to support. But the miriad of DAWS available is another issue and to test for all DAWs is a momumental task that takes time and resources, even for a simple plugin. 

There is an axiom that the only bug free piece of software is one that does not do anything useful. 

The old Sonar plugins still run so smooth because they are Windows only and Microsoft has tried to maintain backward compatibility. They also do not try to use new features that can be found in modern day processors. They are also not nearly as complex as something like SampleTank. 

I am not trying to justify shoddy coding. There are lazy software developers out there who provide poor support. But I think we are quick to complain sometimes not understanding the complexities involved in trying to support even simple tools. 

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4 hours ago, abacab said:

I am a PC person, but do have an old Mac Mini that used to be strictly for family  secure online banking. Until the bank refused to support the old Safari browser, and Apple refused to update Safari, and Google and Mozilla stopped support for their browsers on the old MacOS. 🤪

I might get curious and drag the old Mini out just to play around with! But without current browser support, it's probably near useless...

I am a PC person as well. I have a MAC mini because I need to support it in my job. Your scenario is exactly what frustrates me about the Mac world.

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8 minutes ago, Doug Rintoul said:

I am not trying to justify shoddy coding. There are lazy software developers out there who provide poor support. But I think we are quick to complain sometimes not understanding the complexities involved in trying to support even simple tools. 

I think what may happen often is that developers move on to the latest version of the Windows OS, tools, and programming libraries for new product development. Part of that issue  is Microsoft stops supporting older development kits after end-of-life. So the testing for backwards compatibility may not always be the highest priority due to developer salaries and project budgets, and lack of MS support.

So with that in mind, I would suggest that if you are running old programs on the latest OS without issues, consider yourself lucky, or just the benefactor of initial good coding design. If you really want to be assured of old programs having a long lifespan, keep an older PC around and wall it off from the future! :)

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4 hours ago, Doug Rintoul said:

I don't know your background @marled. Have you actually done any software development? It is a complex process. Just because a plugin works in your environment does not mean it will for everyone everywhere. When a bug is reported and fixed, an update is released for everyone whether you need it or not.

I worked as software engineer for several decades, so I know what I am talking about. During that time I had seen the change of development. First there were cracks that really understood what they told the computer to do, down to the machine code! Then more and more came those development tools that blurred the insight into the machine. The newer developers did not understand the depth anymore, they struggled only on the surface. Instead of understanding what they really coded, they began to run endless testing. But I can assure you that if you don't understand the code 100%, than you cannot really do complete tests! ...

4 hours ago, Doug Rintoul said:

There is an axiom that the only bug free piece of software is one that does not do anything useful.

I saw several pieces of software that were running absolutely bug free, and sometimes I was even surprised when I had written a medium (useful) program in the first run without even a compile error. But you are right usually there are bugs, but if the developer understands his code and its logic, he is able to test it almost completely. But I admit nowadays with all those programming interfaces that are not properly documented it is difficult to reach this state!

4 hours ago, Doug Rintoul said:

The old Sonar plugins still run so smooth because they are Windows only and Microsoft has tried to maintain backward compatibility.

Absolutely agree!

4 hours ago, Doug Rintoul said:

They also do not try to use new features that can be found in modern day processors.

Maybe this is a philosophical question: Is this really necessary? Isn't it enough if they do their job?

4 hours ago, Doug Rintoul said:

They are also not nearly as complex as something like SampleTank.

It is correct that such virtual instruments are often more komplex than a lot of FX plugins, but there is also similar Sonar stuff and also of other vendors that still runs.

4 hours ago, Doug Rintoul said:

I am not trying to justify shoddy coding. There are lazy software developers out there who provide poor support. But I think we are quick to complain sometimes not understanding the complexities involved in trying to support even simple tools.

Essentially, I don't want to blame the developers. Most often it is more a management failure and that's why especially those big companies are affected! They invest only in marketing, in quick easy money, in cheap developers and they make the working instable with a lot of restructuring (that's resulting in a continuous changing team which introduces most software problems!).

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1 hour ago, marled said:

I worked as software engineer for several decades, so I know what I am talking about. During that time I had seen the change of development. First there were cracks that really understood what they told the computer to do, down to the machine code! Then more and more came those development tools that blurred the insight into the machine. The newer developers did not understand the depth anymore, they struggled only on the surface. Instead of understanding what they really coded, they began to run endless testing. But I can assure you that if you don't understand the code 100%, than you cannot really do complete tests! ...

Thanks for clarifying this. I agree that we have lost touch with the underlying hardware in the attempt to make things easier to developed. I myself started out in the age before personal computers. My first programs were written using punched cards on IBM 360/370s. I programmed not only machine code but did microprogramming back in the day. Not sure I would want to go back to those days but I will admit that my degree in Electrical Engineering has made me a better programmer. I am not trying to brag or anything, basically agreeing with you.

1 hour ago, marled said:

Maybe this is a philosophical question: Is this really necessary? Isn't it enough if they do their job?

 

1 hour ago, marled said:
6 hours ago, Doug Rintoul said:

They also do not try to use new features that can be found in modern day processors.

Maybe this is a philosophical question: Is this really necessary? Isn't it enough if they do their job?

Of  course it is not necessary if the plugins already do their jobs. But new features or new plugins may require the new features on processors such as AVX extensions so they do not become CPU hogs. Some plugins try to provide a fallback if AVX extensions are not available and this can lead to issues.

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8 hours ago, Doug Rintoul said:

Of  course it is not necessary if the plugins already do their jobs. But new features or new plugins may require the new features on processors such as AVX extensions so they do not become CPU hogs. Some plugins try to provide a fallback if AVX extensions are not available and this can lead to issues.

 

4 hours ago, bitflipper said:

There are also plugins (Meldaproduction, FabFilter) that make use of the GPU, and that's a moving target.

 

As far as I can see are the plugins of providers, that like to use special hardware features like that, not faster or lighter for the CPU. In contrast, I feel that they are heavier to my PC! Maybe this is not related to the use of those features, maybe more to the approach that those developers take.? Very often finding a simple way to reach the target is the most satisfactory solution in software development.

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8 hours ago, marled said:

Very often finding a simple way to reach the target is the most satisfactory solution in software development.

Couldn't agree more!

Sadly, ever-increasing complexity is endemic to the computer world, and eventually the simple solution will no longer suffice. Pepperidge Farms remembers (tm) when an entire operating system fit on one 5.25" single-sided floppy.

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