The challenge in making tools, as in making anything else, is really the making. It’s one thing for an idea to exist in your head, another to really get down to construction. And very often great engineering means testing, means building the idea and then refining it. So prototyping is everything.

That could explain the increased passion for hacking. Whereas big development efforts are a morass of meetings, or traditional prototyping could mean elaborate distractions from testing what we really works, “hacks” work to get something usable more quickly. And that means testing the usability of an idea happens faster.

libpd, an embeddable version of Pure Data, is meant to be a tool that works both in a weekend hackathon and in a shipping product. (For some shipping products CDM helped with, check out the mominstruments site – more on these this week and next, in fact!)

And this set of video tutorials by Rafael Hernandez is the best introduction I’ve seen yet to using them. I usually actually hate sitting through video tutorials. But these are clear, concise, and give accurate advice – and they walk you through the latest version of Xcode, which is sometimes otherwise confusing.

I have no doubt you could watch these over a half hour breakfast and build a cool app hack by the end of the day.

If you don’t yet know Pd, he also has a video series on that:

There are some real gems in there, worth a browse even if you’re a Pd user. Pd is a bit deeper, though, so I’m back to also liking to read and not just watch videos – see also the pd-tutorial and flossmanuals as they cover some more sophisticated techniques.

Maybe you’ll get to do some of this hacking with us in person, if you’re in Berlin:

This week seems to be all about hacking. Tomorrow, I join re:publica, one of Europe’s premiere digital media conferences, to talk about hackathons and collaborative development. Then, this weekend, CDM and MeeBlip are supporting MIDI Hack, a weekend of music creation-focused work hosted at Ableton’s headquarters. Those events are not open to the public and MIDI Hack is full, but we’ll certainly bring some reports your way.

Finally, Monday, we join Matt Black, the co-founder of NinjaTune and Coldcut, for a conversation on the future of musical apps and some tools he’s helping bring to the world for free that make tools more collaborative, more creative, and more connected:

Synced Up: A Conversation with Matt Black (NinjaTune, Coldcut)

Matt will be showing not one but two frameworks that use libpd for sync and creative coding / creative development, too. So if you’re in Berlin and didn’t get into MIDI Hack, you can still join us Monday. And, again, since only a tiny fraction of you are here in the capital of Germany, ask questions in comments here and we’ll bring as much as we can online.

Wherever you are in the world, get the coffee brewing and limber up those fingers for soldering and coding. More to come.

Are you using libpd in your apps?

We need help updating the libpd showcase. It’s got some great apps, but we want to add more recent work:

Send a description, one video link, and a couple of stills to us. You can contact us directly.