Chris Nash about ReViSiT /2010.jan/

Why do you call your software ReVisit,  The former name VSTrack wasn't good enough?
 
There are several reasons for the name. Firstly, reViSiT includes the letters VST, which of course refer to Steinberg's Virtual Studio Technology plugin architecture, upon which reViSiT is based. As for the word itself; "to revisit an idea" means to take an old idea and look at it in a new light (e.g. Matrix Revisited), which is what reViSiT attempts for tracking - which has arguably been on the wane since the heady days of FT2 and IT2. However, saying that, I was also attracted to the little joke of starting a music programs name with the letters "re", that seams to have become so fashionable - ReBirth, Reason, ReCycle, and of course Renoise.
 
As for the old name, there were a number of problems with "VSTrack", notably there are now major products out there called "VST Rack" and "VSTack", which caused confusion, but I guess the main reason was that it just wasn't catchy enough.
 
It seems to me you are the only one in the audio business who developes a tracker software as a plugin. Am I right? You know other similar project?
 
reViSiT (or VSTrack) was the original tracker plugin and, I believe, remains the only one specifically designed to function in this way. However, there have since been some attempts to copy the idea. For example, some other trackers have tried to design VST plugins that can be loaded up in a host just to relay sync, MIDI or audio information to the standalone version of their tracker - OpenMPT, SkaleTracker. To my knowledge, however, these endeavours only got so far, and have largely been abandoned. It's relatively easy to get a working prototype, but there is a considerable amount of work involved, coping with the nuances of VST and different hosts. Also, to make the experience transparent for the user, you sometimes have to make some fairly fundamental changes to how your tracker works, which might be tricky if you have already an established code- and user-base. 
 
A couple of years after reViSiT first came out, the idea was mooted for Renoise in its forum, and garnered a good amount of support from its users. However, instead of going the plugin route, Renoise opted to add ReWire support, which found its way into the program just last year. As such, although the integration isn't as tight as running inside the host program, Renoise probably represents the closest such competition to reViSiT, at present. If the comparison's a bit David and Goliath, not to worry - I've a few rocks I'm holding back.
 
Have you ever been thinking about the opposite case that you should develope a program that is a standalone software - a tracker - which can host vst plugins?
 
Definitely. A while ago, I started a project to develop a VST host, called "reMASTER", dedicated to hosting the reViSiT plugin - in effect, making it standalone. I've had a working prototype for a while now, but it still needs a lot of work, notably in the area of rendering to audio files and hosting other VSTi's. The project is dormant at the moment, but is one of the things I'll be concentrating on, come the summer, when the research is complete.
 
There are lots of cool features in the actual version of Revisit Pro for example subrow editing. I don't know any other tracker,
that can do this - where did the idea come from to create such feature?
 
This feature had been in my head a very long time - since the VSTrack days, when it was called "Pattern Zoom", one of the five "Future Concepts" (http://www.nashnet.co.uk/english/revisit/screenshots.htm) of 2004, and the third to have become reality. Because the program started as an academic project, I was encouraged to really think about the objectives of the program, and critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of tracking in general, compared to other approaches like sequencing. The fact that trackers are effectively step sequencers, albeit powerful ones, meant that they're always subject to limitations in musical timing, and the fact that reViSiT's tempo is slaved to the host tended to add extra restrictions. For example, it became difficult to double the tempo of a piece, just so that you'd have twice the number of pattern rows. It all seemed to be a problem of getting in between the rows, so I decided to take the idea of "zoom" and "opening up" the pattern somewhat literally.
 
Recently, there have been indications that Renoise is also looking into adding similar functionality, also under the name "Pattern Zoom". It's quite possible someone came up with the idea independently, and I don't even mind if my idea found its way over somehow, but I do find it amusing when some idiot on the Renoise forum accuses me of stealing ideas from their community, as has happened. Of course, this is far from typical behaviour of the larger Renoise community, which is otherwise very supportive of my efforts - especially, Taktik, Renoise's lead developer, whom I get on well with. The ultimate irony is, when I do get people in my forum asking for features they've seen in FT2, Renoise, or some other tracker, I often have to disappoint them - just because things are done in some way, somewhere else, doesn't mean its right for reViSiT. In so many ways, reViSiT defines itself as being different from the alternatives - which, I guess, is why you even find people using reViSiT inside Renoise!
 
 Revisit Pro is packed with superb features to help users making music on their computer. The User Interface is clear and smart, you can drag and drop the copied area in a pattern, enter notes / pitch or instrument with mouse - it's hard to imagine what more can come. What features do you plan to build into Revisit in the future? (There's another big question - will there be a Mac version too ?)
 
Hmm, now that would be telling... ;) Of course, there's still two "Future Concepts" that haven't been attempted, but they are just two entries on a very long list of exciting ideas I have. Some are small, some are big, some are huge. reViSiT 2.0 will be something quite revolutionary, but that's classified for now. A number of 1.x versions have been planned, in the meantime. One thing to do is broaden support for sample and instruments, not just the supported file formats but also improving the interface for browsing, previewing, loading and ripping samples. Support for multiple pitch and effect columns will also be added at some point. The aforementioned reMASTER project is, of course, also on the list.
 
As for a Mac version, it's difficult to say. reViSiT has been coded, so far as possible, to be platform-independent - to facilitate a future port to other systems. However, a number of the host-related problems required Windows-specific workarounds, so there is an element of platform-dependent code now, which might hamper such a project. However, there is a great music community on the Mac and, while working for Steinberg early last year, I did have my first foray into Mac programming, and now feel quite comfortable coding in that environment. While there, I also got to see how one goes about developing a single program for multiple systems. One of the things I'll be doing this summer is partially re-writing the reViSiT UI code, which may well improve the prospects of a Mac port. They'll still be a huge amount of work to do for it, but once it looks feasible, it might become reality quite quickly.
 
Why do we need another plugin (ReBUS) for sending different channels of Revisit into the slots of the Host's mixer? It is a bit compliceted than using a simple instance of Revisit...
 
In short, it's because of the limitations of the VST 2 plugin specification. The specification itself just about allows you to add or remove inputs on-the-fly, but it's a grey area that no host has ever really implemented. reViSiT allows up to 16 busses, at up to 6 (5.1) channels each, so reViSiT would have to load up as a 96-out VSTi plugin, and that's enough to unsettle most hosts, and you wouldn't want it processing that number of channels when you didn't need them! Plus you couldn't name them, or anything, which is a shame. It's possible VST 3 might improve matters, but there's limited support for it so far, and it's a big project converting it over.
 
One question about the "Revisit Experiment" - reading its webpage it says something that Revisit at the moment is free for the participants of the experiment,
but somewhere in 2010 H1 Revisit Pro will go "commercial". THen those who want to grab the pro version will have to purchase a lcense online. Do you have any public info regarding the price, or the timing of this in 2010?
 
Nothing's been fixed yet. The experiment has a few more months to run, then I'll write it up, before having some more time to focus on reViSiT. That'll happen sometime in the summer, but hopefully it will move quite quickly after that. People involved in the experiment will, of course, be able to continue using reViSiT, and I may well include them in subsequent 1.x releases, but new Pro users will have to pay to upgrade. On the one hand, I like the idea that trackers have traditionally been free but, at the same time, I have to fund development somehow. So, it won't be expensive - less than your average VST plugin, and suitably tempting for people who use it a lot.
 
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