The Most Popular Digital Audio Workstation Is Finally Coming to Mac

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According to Digital Music Doctor, FL Studio (the descendant of Fruity Loops) was the most popular digital audio workstation at the end of 2013. Yet FL Studio has always been a Windows-only application, even though Mac computers are a popular choice for solo producers.

Users that wanted FL Studio on their Macs had to find workarounds, such as Bootcamp or a Windows version that was “wrapped” for use on OS X.

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This could all change. Image Line, the company behind FL Studio, is working on a native version of the app for OS X. They’ve posted the following statement on their website:

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A while back we started by testing a FL Studio Mac OS X BETA (Crossover Wrapped) version, with direct installation on Mac OS X. This was promising but it was still just a Windows program, wrapped by CrossOver, running on OS X. The interest in the wrapped beta, and the problems we faced supporting 3rd party VST plugins in it, lead the team to start work on porting our Windows-only VST plugins – Edison, Gross Beat, Harmless, Harmor, Maximus, Ogun, Slicex, Sytrus, Vocodex to OS X native VST format. You can get these plugins here.

The OS X VST plugin testing, was in fact, the stealthy beginnings of FL Studio native OS X compatibility development.

These VST plugins use the exact same code-base as FL Studio itself, and if we could get these working to spec on OS X, then FL Studio would likely follow soon after.

Well, the plugin testing is progressing nicely, and so the team has turned their attention to FL Studio 12 itself. It’s a long and slow process and we can’t make any promises yet, since we may come across unexpected and or unsolvable technical problems. But work is indeed under way. Below are some of the issues we face porting FL Studio to native Mac OS X and explains why this is taking ‘so long’:

1. Delphi: FL Studio is written in Delphi with in-line assembly for much of the DSP (yes hard-core assembly, not for babies). This is one reason why FL Studio and its graphics are so fluid.

Delphi only recently got the ability to compile to OS X. So while this is great, it’s a 1st-generation OS X compiler, it’s cranky and sometimes causes problems of its own. But, before this came along, we needed to port well over 1 million lines of code to another language. We never thought that was a good idea, and it’s why we never did it before. But, things have changed, so let’s call this progress.

2. Windows API: FL Studio is tightly bound to the Windows API that takes care of moving, minimizing, maximizing windows, detecting cursor position, drag & drop, opening windows dialogs, clipboard functions, decoding MP3s, … so a port requires all operating system dependent calls to be isolated & replaced by bi-platform dependent functions. That’s a major part of what the team are doing now.

FYI, just getting all this system dependent code from Deckadance (which was created more or less with porting in mind) and replacing it with bi-platform versions took almost 6 months. FL Studio is many times the size of Deckadance, so please be patient.

Will this impact on the development of FL Studio for Windows?

No, the team working on the conversion to OS X is completely separate from the Windows development team. They talk, but don’t share any bodies that we know of, so it’s business as usual on the Microsoft side of things. Bill Gates sends his regards BTW.

The FL studio Support Team
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Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more for Digital Music News. In her spare time she heads music blog West Coast Fix. Follow her on Twitter: @nine_u

3 Responses

  1. Eric

    Are you using Firemonkey for OSX or are you porting all code to another language?

    Reply

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