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Things I Learned via Building the PT Actions Kit

Building the PT Actions Kit has been a seriously rewarding experience.  I’m planning on doing a full post-mortem of the process after the full release, but I figured sharing a shorter list now would be a good way to reflect back at kind of a mid-point in the project.

Without further ado…

Reascript’s barrier to entry is super low

In my opinion, there is probably no better way to get started programming if you have an audio background than by using Reaper’s Reascript.

Reascript utilizes multiple programming languages in which you can code custom actions for Reaper.  The usefulness of these languages outside of Reaper runs the gamut from EEL (only useful to Reaper) to C++ (you can build your own Windows/Mac software with it).  So if you start with Reascript, it’s something you can build a foundation off of and come back to as you continue learning to program.

As Reascript enables you to build audio software extensions, the only real barrier at that point to the audio person comes from learning the language itself.  After that, you’ll probably have ideas galore for things you want to tweak and change.

Building software is the easy part (for me, for now)

It’s weird to me – I don’t like puzzle games, but I love solving programming puzzles.  Something doesn’t work?  Let me think about it for a few hours/days.  I know I’ll invariably find a solution somehow or somewhere.

But building these scripts was the easy part for me.  Making them visible to others, fielding questions, putting them in a position to get downloaded and encouraging others to use them – all super hard.

I learned some very valuable information in the process of releasing the beta scripts online:

  1. People are super busy
  2. Audio people download and/or buy things they don’t use sometimes
  3. Social media response is a poor indicator of actual response

I got a lot of traction and interest on social media really quickly – but this rarely translated to downloads, which translated to even less actual usage.

I don’t say any of this to slag on anyone.  I feel it’s my responsibility as the creator of a product, to create excitement in another person to use it.  This is a place where I 100% totally failed thus far.

People are incredibly nice and encouraging

I started this project and this blog with two intentions:

  1. To learn and practice new skills that I’m interested in, and evaluate my progress
  2. To do this publicly and build up awareness of my work in hopes of future collaborations

I didn’t really plan on immediately making things for public consumption.  Instead, I assumed my work would be pretty ripped apart very quickly.

I’ve been delighted to find out that assumption was extremely incorrect.  @markkillborn, in particular, I need to thank — he saw a super early draft of the Reaper scripts and spared me some pretty massive embarrassment.

But in addition to that, I’ve had people telling me they’re excited about what I’m working on, what I’m thinking about, and what I’ve done.  That’s pretty awesome for a relatively new thing (thank you!).  I’ve also had a handful of people either offer to pay me for the PT Actions scripts, or say that I should charge money for them.  It’s pretty flattering when other people say you should charge.

There are an insane amount of possibilities

Honestly, part of me wanted to start doing this so someone will hire me as an audio programmer for their game studio.  I think that would be extremely fun, and I still do.

But the number of possibilities and people I’ve met through the #audiocoders Slack channel has made me realize how ripe the landscape is for freelance work.

I’ve mentioned to numerous people on numerous channels that we should have DAWs talking to middleware talking to game engines.  @minuskelvin (one of the smartest dudes I’ve yet met through this process) mentioned not too long ago about building Unreal’s audio engine in a way that it’s good enough to use without middleware.  That thought had never crossed my mind.

But thinking about the aforementioned possibility opens up lots of new ideas.  What if you had a DAW with good built-in file management and metadata, which was aware of the game engine’s event trees, and they could easily speak back and forth?  Essentially the DAW would become your editing arm of the game engine, so long as the engine took audio seriously and you had good programmers building a good engine-level mix/music situation.

VR of course, opens this up to an entirely different world too.

So I just don’t see why our tools can’t talk and make things easier for the men and women who use them.  On top of that, there’s tons of work to be had with people’s individual workflow quirks, file management, etc.  It’s pretty baffling and it’s probably only going to get deeper as we get into newer horizons of computing.

Now’s the best time to start

I’ll harp on this until the end of time.  If you’re interested, now is the best time to start learning programming.  Literally right now.

If you put it off, you’re letting another day go by.  Starting will literally take you 5-10 minutes.  If you browsed Facebook for longer than that today, you’ve officially wasted the time you could’ve been gaining a new skill.

I even set up a free tutorial for you.

So go get started, I appreciate you reading.  If you get stuck, or are just interested in pinging me – do it!

Copyright 2016-2017, Adam T. Croft, all rights reserved.