Something weird happened to this forum lately. Probably helps if I try to explain a bit more in detail why we’ve done what we’ve done for r3. Not only as a direct response to you, but more in general to what happens in this forum lately.
This release does indeed not concentrate on the top 10 most wanted features discussed in this forum, but concentrates on the heart of the thing which we all obviously care about: a tracker. That is an extraordinary way of working with samples and the numerical, keyboard based musical notation: patterns.
We devs (“them” - as you say) of course knew that this set of features will not make everyone happy, but we also did not expected /so/ many very loud and fretful voices. I really wonder where this comes from and what to learn from this. We had other releases like for example the Lua scripting release which also was not everybody’s cup of tea, but in overall still resulted into positive responses or none at all. This is especially unexpected to me because this release does concentrate on very tracker’ish things, and not on polarizing features like a piano roll or something which is completely off topic.
It’s also not that we’re asking for a lot in return for r3. Many (probably even most) registered users do get this update for free - for nothing. But probably it’s just the combination of changes to an old workflow, the new UI, and the relatively long time since the last release which causes so much division here. This change in the overall mood here actually already started in the Renoise 3 speculation thread.
First, everyone here can (well, must) have a strong opinion on what feature is “needed” most. Of course. But we, here, have to make a lot of compromises.
Like what to do first, what later? What can be realized in a given amount of time at all? What brings Renoise into the “right” direction - what can be continued later on? What will pay our bills? And who should decide that?
If we’d simply stack the most wanted features into a release, can you imagine how this would look like? There must be something which gives the whole thing a shape and rough direction. Lots of compromises have to be made and even if we want, we can’t realize everything we’d like to have in one release. This is especially true when dealing with old and bloated software like Renoise. This will sooner or later break the whole thing and only a few people can then actually follow the changes. And even if we wanted to, we could not fulfill everyone’s wish in one release.
Then, what is a “needed” feature at all? What is an important feature in music software? What most people want?
“Insert some feature here” won’t make anyone a better musician. In 99.8% of all cases Renoise is not a tool to get a job done, but a tool to help you to inspire you. It’s about creativity. An art craft. So whatever we’re adding to Renoise, this can only help you to get inspired. And for everything else there are other tools or workarounds, if you really really can not do what you want to archive in Renoise. Offering new workflows, new ways of organizing things and “seeing” them differently IMHO is a very important aspect here.
Why are so many people waiting for new features for their tool? I think the main reason here is that they got stuck in what they are doing, and hope that feature XYZ finally solves that. It won’t.
And finally there’s Redux now too, which influenced Renoise 3’s features and the decisions on what to concentrate on in r3 and what not. The main Redux idea (it actually had a different name back then) was to get the Renoise way of working with samples and patterns into new areas. Allowing people to use trackers where they make sense most. Allowing to combine a tracker with other musical instruments more easily. It’s true that this clearly does not target most existing Renoise users here and will disappoint many, but it also brings a program that you all like into new areas. Is this really a bad thing?
Another reason why we wanted to concentrate on Redux, was also to expand into a new market. We’re a small team. A very small one actually. Renoise is an extreme niche product while also being a hell to manage. We love what we do, working on Renoise, but we also can’t do this job for nothing. So the idea of a new product, Redux, also, even though not primarily, was favored as well in order to keep Renoise alive in the long term.
So we basically wanted to get back to the root of Renoise with r3 for the reasons noted above, instead of “just” adding new most wanted features on top of the old Renoise. Not only, but also because of Redux - yes. Sharpen and improve it in areas where it’s good and different at compared to other music soft out there and combine this with new and hopefully inspiring workflows.
A lot of those areas (like the sampler) got untended for a long long time. Far too long. And if you look at Renoise 2.8 from the distance, the sampler, instruments are scattered over the whole UI. Making it hard or even impossible to see and understand what exactly the sampler in Renoise is at all. Most of you got used to this in the past years, yes, but try to imagine how Renoise looks to someone who looks at it for the first time.
So we’ve tried to fix this by encapsulating the sampler into a single unit before expanding it. A bit like a VSTi in Renoise, which can be complex as hell in detail but because you are only confronted with those details when actually editing the sound, the thing still stays somewhat manageable. While composing you don’t have to worry about oscillators, what is connected to what and how, to exactly create the sound you’re currently playing. It’s like a box which you can open up if you want to change it, but if you just want to play with it you better leave it closed and only use the one or two buttons that are at the outside of the box.
The same is true for the Doofer and for phrases which do not really add something “fundamentally” new to the Renoise core features, yes, but they allow you to hide, reuse and share stuff. Either with the community or with yourself.
I think this is a big thing in whole workflow in Renoise, and hope that this new way of “encapsulation” and “sharing” gets a bit more clear when we do release the Renoise library file format and structure. Renoise libraries will be small bundled files, which, when installed, inject instruments, phrases, DSP FX and modulation sets into Renoise. So even when most Renoise users do not want to create complex sampler based instruments with macros, modulation, phrases and stuff, someone else can do this for you, and you can use and play all this in Renoise.
And again comes Redux into the play here because it’s a Renoise instrument. So whatever you are doing in Renoise with instruments can be played in Redux too.
So, yes, we don’t have something for everyone in this release, but hope you can at least understand and accept why we do what we do. We are clearly not trying doing this to piss someone off, and do not ignore the “community” in general. Renoise was and will be built on top of and with the community, but on a many-sided one. Most of Renoise’s core team members are very active here. Reality simply is a bit more complex.
But it’s also true that many of those decisions and reasoning is done behind closed curtains, so we clearly should do a better job in communicating them as well.