Vuo Quick Start — The Basics from Vuo on Vimeo.

Vuo attempts to do what other visual programming environments haven’t. It aims to be easier, free and open source, omni-platform, and faster, a tool for sketching new visual ideas using patching metaphors that isn’t held back by some of the restrictions that has tended to entail. To get there – and to fund what will eventually be an open source project across desktop and mobile – it currently uses a paid model, and is in active development. From the developers of Kineme, it builds on a lot of what VJs and live visual artists like about Quartz Composer, but attempts to go further.

Vuo is long overdue for comprehensive treatment here (we’d love to have contributors on that project, so let us know). But in the meantime, I like both the very beginner-level tutorial here on patching (17 minutes, but starting with the basics). And while the FAQ and “Why Vuo?” pieces linked below are important reads, perhaps the best comes from a developer’s opinion piece published in recent weeks.

I think this will sound familiar to some readers:

It may sound silly to some of you Quartz Composer ninjas, but the concept of an “Iterator” patch as a “for” loop took me forever to wrap my head around. As someone with a background in traditional programming there were a lot of idiosyncrasies in how data was handled in QC that were perhaps well-intentioned, but ultimately served to muddle the process.

Vuo is neat. I’ve found it to be intuitive to learn and it addresses a lot of the issues that I have with QC. It also takes a lot of inspiration in the strengths of Quartz Composer. One of my favorite features of Vuo is the push flow style of information. Vuo can use any number of independent triggers to make parts of your composition run. You can design your composition so that some parts run continuously, and others run only when needed. This opens up a lot of really cool possibilities that were either difficult or impossible to implement with QC, since in QC your composition is locked to the video framerate.

A Personal View on Vuo after Using Quartz Composer

Bonus tutorial: this guide to a feedback loop nicely demonstrates what makes Vuo unique.

Vuo Tutorial — Using Feedback from Vuo on Vimeo.

See also:

Subscriptions, for now, begin at US$80/year; free versions are due next year.

If you’re using Vuo, or have specific questions, we’d love to hear from you.


  • JD

    This looks pretty nice. Real shame there’s no free/trial version until next year though.

    • Jim Warrier

      I think this type of software is very niche. If you look at the size of the Quartz Composer community that Vuo is mostly going to appeal to its a very small market so not offering a free/trial version in the early stages is almost opening up the Beta process and allowing people interested to support it.
      I have signed up for a subscription to hopefully help the development process in the early stages. Im excited to see what will be created with Vuo. Im coming at it from someone who uses Quartz Composer a lot. Im still happy using QC but will be jumping right in with Vuo
      The Premium nodes i am guessing you would look at as plugins. Most users would not require DMX or ARTNET support but for others that might be one of the main requirements. The main software will be free eventually so keeping certain parts premium will ensure a continued revenue stream for them.

  • Christoph

    I’d really like Vuo to succeed, because I want folks to be able to both do open-source and sustain their company. Unfortunately, some things in their FAQs really sound like this won’t work out well.

    In the section where they outline what you can do with the OSS version (which will lag 1 year behind), they say that you can “Use a text editor such as TextEdit to create or edit a composition.” So, their editor is closed-source (which is understandable somehow), but they apparently won’t make it available in a compiled version so you can create vuo compositions, so all the free-version users get to use a text-editor(!) to edit some project file! This sounds as much fun as editing a vvvv-file (which is basically XML) by hand to update your patch and nodes (instead of using the application itself), and I can’t imagine anybody going that route.

    The whole “Premium” node system is new to me, too, since I last checked their homepage. It sounds like basic things like DMX I/O will already be premium, I sure hope they don’t decide to put too many in the premium category (want ouput larger than 1024×768? use the Premium Render node!)

    I sure hope this is mainly unlucky wording, or they haven’t thought the implications for free users through completely.

    I fear that this will turn out to be a proprietary piece of primarily MacOS software (other OSes “eventually planned”) with a cripple-ware free version to be able to use “open source” and “cross-platform” as a PR attractors. Still hoping that I’m wrong!

    • DJ Autom8

      Yes, the “Premium nodes” kind of threw me off guard…

      Also, this isn’t multiplatform for another few months? 🙁 I was finally excited to find something that works across windows and linux….