We were alerted yesterday to the possibility that both Tranfuser and Structure will lose drag-and-drop from the Pro Tools timeline functionality in their AAX 64-bit versions.
We’ve done some checking on this and it is indeed the case; due to a limitation in the AAX SDK, this highly useful and unique feature in AIR plug-ins is not currently possible in Pro Tools 11.
A lot of users will see this as a retrograde step, choosing to use these instruments for that very workflow, as it set both Structure and Transfuser apart from alternatives.
It is an AAX limitation and not down to the AIR Music Tech team; we hope it’s technical and not simply an arbitrary decision - irrespective of why, it’s bad news!
Dave Tremblay, AAX architect at Avid, has been kind enough to respond to our story regarding the removal of drag-and-drop from the upcoming AIR instrument updates.
As he has taken the time to articulate a reasoned response, we think it deserves to be posted here. Dave is one of the good guys (I shared perhaps the biggest steak I’ve ever seen with him in Messe); he is smart and decent, so please try and be considerate in your responses. Here is his reply:
“Most of you probably don’t know who I am, so let me introduce myself. I am the plug-ins architect at Avid. And I’m the primary designer of the AAX plug-in spec, so let me answer some of your concerns.
RTAS and TDM are plug-in formats that lasted about 20 years. In that time, they had collected a lot of clutter, including all sorts of weird interactions with Pro Tools. That sounds cool because it enables plug-in developers to implement clever features or interesting workflows. But the downside is that those sections of code are always the ones to break release to release. If only one plug-in in the world uses a specific function, it won’t get tested as part of a Pro Tools release. Sometimes, we don’t even realize someone is using a particular piece of our platform in a novel way until the bugs roll in. There are thousands of plug-ins for Pro Tools from hundreds of different companies. ( I don’t even know the exact count. Maybe Russ does. ) :)
With AAX, we needed to simplify the plug-in interactions with Pro Tools while we were modernizing the codebase. By simplifying the interactions, we can increase our test coverage and provide a better experience to our developers and customers. There should be one way to do everything. Not 5 different ways, 4 of which don’t get tested. In the long run, we will see fewer bugs in plug-ins. So, we built AAX upon the core feature set of RTAS and TDM and we added features based on developer feedback. With that, we shipped AAX for PT10. For PT11, we had a few developers report that they were using some features that the previous 50 companies were not using. We added these features to AAX in PT11. This is a growing platform, but we’re doing it slowly, with a technical vision guiding us.
Now to the specifics… There are two drag and drops in the legacy plug-in world. There is the Operating System DnD, which is the “right” one. And there is an internal Pro Tools DnD, which is used in our timeline. At some point in time, a developer added a feature in the legacy plug-in spec to bridge our internal DnD to plug-ins. Out of thousands of plug-ins, this feature was only used by 2 AIR plug-ins, as referenced above. When discussing this with the AIR team, we decided that this “hack” was not the proper way to implement this feature for AAX. Moving forward, we have captured this feature request and would like to do it in a simpler way, such that other plug-in developers could easily take advantage of it.
And with respect to plug-ins being removed from PT11. We can’t comment on unreleased products, but we have not end-of-lifed TCE or Space. This is a massively complex release for us. The engineering team absolutely killed it to get the core PT11 complete in time, and with such a high level of features and quality. Managing complex projects occasionally means making priority calls. And some things finish at slightly different times than planned.
Hopefully that helps clear up some confusion, without causing too much more. :)”