The Biggest Update That You Probably Won't Care About

by Chadwick Wood
January 18th, 2024

This is a somewhat geeky post. But a lot of people in the past few months have asked what is currently happening with Patch Base, so I wanted to give everybody an update.

The latest updates to Patch Base for Mac (v1.21) and iPad (v3.27) are now available.

This update has been about two years in the making, but you won't notice much (if any) change. All of the work has been behind the scenes. This release is the first to use a new internal framework for several editors:

  • Oberheim Matrix-1000, Matrix-6, Matrix-6R
  • Roland JD-Xi
  • Waldorf Blofeld
  • Yamaha FB-01
  • Yamaha DX11, DX21, TX81Z, DX100
  • Yamaha FS1R

What is a New Framework? And Why?

Patch Base began its life as CZ Touch, the first synth editor I made for iPad back in 2015. As it was the first synth editor that I made, I had no idea what I was doing. Its internal structure was an absolute mess. But it worked well. Then I made more editors, for the Dave Smith Mopho, the Oberheim Matrix-1000, and so on. Each time, I iterated on the work of previous editors, making new adjustments to the structure to accommodate the new idiosyncrasies of each synthesizer that I worked with.

Fast forward to the 2020's, and by then Patch Base contained editors for dozens of different synths. And although the editors have a similar style to each other on the surface, there were multiple generations of different internal structures working for each of them. 

This scenario does not lend itself well to avoiding bugs, nor does it help with implementing new features that should work across all of the editors (e.g. the often-requested ability to map MIDI controls to Patch Base controls). Basically, Patch Base accumulated many years' worth of technical debt.

So, I've decided to pay that debt off. I created a new framework based on everything I had learned in the past near-decade. A framework that did everything the right way as I currently understand it. And it took me close to two years to do it.

Now, the new framework is here. But, building a framework is one thing, and building editors on top of it is another. Once the new framework is ready for the stage, each editor must be re-fitted to use the new framework. Depending on the previous state of the editor, this can be a lot of work, or not much work.

So I picked a small handful of editors that I thought encompassed some of the trickiest aspects of editor-creation, and used them as my first batch of updated editors. And that's what you see in this latest release.

What's Next?

In the immediate future, what's next is moving more of the existing Patch Base editors to the new framework. I want to move all of them. When that is done, the codebase of Patch Base will be much, much smaller, which means it will be easier to fix bugs, and easier to add new features.

After that? I have bigger ideas, but I'll write about those when they've come further along.

I realize that this sort of update is not sexy or exciting. The most common question I get is “what is the next synth you're adding support for?” and as always, I don't publicly forecast that, sorry. But I hope that customers take comfort in knowing that I am working continuously on Patch Base, and that it is a high priority to me for the app to run well, fast, bug-free, and on older hardware when possible. And to do that, I need to do this work.

More soon.