Preparing for battle: it’s all in the mind. Photo: Aaron Landry.

Two modular patching software packages for programming multimedia software visually, Pure Data (Pd) and Max/MSP/Jitter have long had a friendly relationship. The tools share code, are reasonably compatible in patches and external objects (sometimes with some adjustment), and are basically open source (Pd) and commercial (Max) cousins of one another. The user bases are likewise friendly with one another. But a certain rivalry hid behind the surface – until now.

Now, it’s personal.

Enough of the diplomacy. A group of dedicated patchers in Toronto have decided to dispense with this “we’re all winners” nonsense and decide which tool is superior. I’ll let them the organizers describe it in their own colorful way:

Come take sides in this fight to the death between those open-source PD Commies and the right-wing, proprietary, puppy-hating MAX/MSPers.

There has been a long and bloody rivalry between those who would make new media art with Pure Data, a free, open source graphical programming language, and proponents of MAX/MSP, Pd’s slick, commercial half-brother. We intend to open these old wounds, pour salt, beer and whatever else we can find into them, push both programs and programmers to the brink of collapse and determine once and for all which is better.

Join host Misha Glouberman as he leads our contestants through a series of increasingly difficult challenges with play-by-play commentary by Nicholas Stedman and game show music with Graham Collins. Watch as Frank Tsonis (team MAX) and David McCallum and Dafydd Hughes (team Pd) try to come up with the fastest, sexiest and most effective solutions, all the while fighting against each other, the clock, and the inevitable nerds who think they can do it better.

If you have experience with either of these programs (or if you don’t) and you think you can do better than our resident gurus, or even if you just want to play along, feel free to bring a laptop, work on the challenges, aid or abuse our contestants or just check your email. The popcorn’s on us; it’s free to watch, participate, heckle, throw fruit, and bet on who’s gonna get an ass-beating.

Information and downloads:

Pure Data:


Interaccess Electronic Media Arts Centre:
9 Ossington Ave, Toronto ON Canada
Facebook event is here:

Photo of Pd by aoifejohanna, via Flickr.

I think the idea is hilarious. Anyone in Toronto, we’d love some photos / write-ups / video / whatever. I’ll be sure to share the results – and I imagine someone may stage a rematch somewhere else in the world, especially if they’re unhappy with the results!

Pd Tag on

Max/MSP tag on CDM