You know Ableton Push 2 will work when it’s plugged into a computer and you’re running Ableton Live. You get bi-directional feedback on the lit pads and on the screen. But Ableton have also quietly made it possible for any developer to make Push 2 work – without even requiring drivers – on any software, on virtually any platform. And a new library is the final piece in making that easy.

Even if you’re not a developer, that’s big news – because it means that you’ll likely see solutions for using Push 2 with more than just Ableton Live. That not only improves Push as an investment, but ensures that it doesn’t collect dust or turn into a paperweight when you’re using other software – now or down the road.

And it could also mean you don’t always need a computer handy. Push 2 uses standards supported on every operating system, so this could mean operation with an iPad or a Raspberry Pi. That’s really what this post-PC thing is all about. The laptop still might be the best bang-for-your-buck equation in the studio, but maybe live you want something in the form of a stompbox, or something that goes on a music stand while you sing or play.

If you are a developer, there are two basic pieces.

First, there’s the Push Interface Description. This bit tells you how to take control of the hardware’s various interactions.

Now, it was already possible to write to the display, but it was a bit of work. Out this week is a simple C++ code library you can bootstrap, with example code to get you up and running. It’s built in JUCE, the tool of choice for a whole lot of developers, mobile and desktop alike. (Thanks, ROLI!)

Marc Resibois created this example, but credit to Ableton for making this public.

Here’s an example of what you can do, with Marc demonstrating on the Raspberry Pi:

This kind of openness is still very much unusual in the hardware/software industry. (Novation’s open source Launchpad Pro firmware API is another example; it takes a different angle, in that you’re actually rewriting the interactions on the device. I’ll cover that soon.)

But I think this is very much needed. Having hardware/software integration is great. Now it’s time to take the next step and make that interaction more accessible to users. Open ecosystems in music are unique in that they tend to encourage, rather than discourage sales. They increase the value of the gear we buy, and deepen the relationships makers have with users (manufacturers and independent makers alike). And these sorts of APIs also, ironically, force hardware developers to make their own iteration and revision easier.

It’s also a great step in a series of steps forward on openness and interoperability from Ableton. Whereas the company started with relatively closed hardware APIs built around proprietary manufacturer relationships, Ableton Link and the Push API and other initiatives are making it easier for Live and Push users to make these tools their own.

  • Dubby Labby

    perfect movement to test the embed and IoT possibilities. Maybe Abletong’74 are considering seriously get into standalone hardware?

    • Neil

      They need to do something clever, because a properly touch-screen enabled version of Live (or something similar) would kill off the Push.

      • itchy

        pressing a pad and turning knobs will never really be replaced by just touching glass. it maybe more convenient but something is lost akai mpc has the right idea but ableton can make a more elegant solution imo

        • Dubby Labby

          I think both had made good points… somekind of mixed touch/haptic control and standalone could make sense. In addition I was wondering the possibility of standalone max container like bomebox or oplab with max runtime ala libpd.

        • Neil

          Oh yeah. I’d definitely rather see a standalone Push than yet another tablet… Anyway, there must be enough space in the Push form factor for a decent laptop motherboard. They just got some 16GB i7 machines at work that are the size of a Mac Mini. Anything’s possible these days!

    • Doclvly

      It would be great to see a standalone push like product that resembles the way MPC Live works. Maybe if it worked like the Organelle and be able to load max patches the way it loads Pd patches. I guess thats also similar to plug in plug out play by Roland too. My one request would be that it still worked like a push does, something you use to write most of a song.

      • Dubby Labby

        Well the “easy” way could be buy a dedicated mac mini just for it (more or less mpc live is) but Somekind of embed technology will be awesome. Even a dedicated iPad app will be a good startpoint.
        Some of us are wondering the possibility of BM3 as Ableton replacement in iOS (a bit more with the Push API discussed in the other CDM article)

  • This is awesome to see such a powerful controller open up to public development. For quite awhile I’ve wanted something abstract and tangible to use along side my touch screen interfaces (sometimes you still need to GRAB and twist a knob quick). Push doesn’t quite have all of the features I’d like to see in such a device (a set of 8 motorized faders would swing my opinion) but it definitely has renewed interest in my eyes. I want abstract, I want Bi Directional feed back, I want multi functional components that respond to bi directional feedback based on their current context, and I want it yesterday!

  • Bjorn

    Have they made it any easier to work with custom Push 2 modes while also working with Live?
    This all works fine when Live isn’t involved, but you still can’t access the Display in User Mode while being able to switch to Live Mode and back. As soon as you go to Live Mode, the Push2Display process takes the libusb connection and won’t let it go when you switch back to User Mode. So now the screen is stuck with the Ableton Logo.

  • PaulDavisTheFirst

    Although it is good to have an easy way to use another GUI toolkit with the Push2, it is worth pointing out that github was already hosting the Qt version of what has just been announced (and a lot more people use Qt than use JUCE). In addition, the Ardour source code shows how to do this in the context of GTK+, which is another x-platform toolkit. So this just really adds JUCE to the list of toolkits with working examples of “how to draw on the Push 2 display”, rather than being a really new thing. I suppose the it coming from Ableton is nice 🙂

    All that said, Ableton’s willingness to document how to interact with the Push2 (as a developer) and the quality of that documentation is really quite amazing, and a lesson to everyone in the industry. As the lead developer of Ardour, I can’t count the number of (now defunct) hardware controller startups who wouldn’t give us (the Ardour project) the information or permission to provide open source support for their controllers. They apparently believed that they had some extra special secret sauce that an open source implementation would destroy. Kudos to Ableton for understanding that it is the quality of the Push2 mechanicals/build that makes their device compelling, and not how you turn LEDs on/off or draw on the screen.

  • Hesam Kardan

    im considering buying a push and i dont see much difference between the first version and second (other than some gimmicky stuff). but are these applications also the same for push 1 and 2, or its just 2 ?

  • Carolyn Baxter

    i love it but its almost impossible to find someone to teach me.the cert. teachers are too busy and the audio schools are to expensive and not what im looking for. Im a spokenword/rap i just want it for looping chopping and a live performance. mostly. being from NYC im really surprised Atlanta is not more resourceful… thanks guys.