AES Section Meeting Reports

Los Angeles - April 18, 2017

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On April 18, the AES LA Section was proud to welcome Adobe's senior computer scientist, Charles Van Winkle, and senior technical sales business development manager, Karl Soule, to talk about CEP Extensions. These are script-based add-ons that are designed to be used with multiple Adobe products, not just audio-editing products like Audition.

CEP stands for Common Extensibility Platform. A CEP Extension extends the functionality of the host application in which they run (the Adobe product) and are based on Chromium, the open-source standard on which Google's Chrome browser is based. Adobe has embedded Chromium in its Common Extensibility Platform, the framework used for Extensions. They exist in the form of "panels."
Charles' presentation started with a comparison of traditional plug-ins against CEP Extensions, which are basically small web pages. Plug-ins are fast, efficient processors of audio, while webpages are essentially virtual machines that can be programmed to do anything. While plug-ins are traditionally written in C or C++, CEPs are written in HTML or Javascript. The expertise needed to write a quality plug-in is expensive and exclusive, while scripting languages are higher level; the developer can read the code in much the same way as a web page.

An advantage of this approach is it is easier to find a web developer, rather than a C++ developer. One developer is currently writing an Extension that can order pizza! It's unlikely an audio company would dedicate time and money to do that, but an individual using existing processes—such as Google Earth--to find local pizzerias, could read online menus and create buttons for possible order combinations.

Extensions are not about a new sound but a new workflow. If your job calls for exporting a particular file type and name format to a particular server multiple times a day, a single-button panel can execute that process.

Stock music and sound-effects companies, such as APM Music, are writing panels to audition audio in a project and, with a single click, allow it to be purchased, and the audio formatted from MP3 to WAV everywhere it exists in the project. Pop Up Archive "makes sound searchable using cutting edge speech-to-text technology," and is developing an Extension that will do so inside a DAW.

Extensions can be used to control hardware. Palette Gear has invented modular blocks which have faders, knobs, and LED screens. Arranged in any configuration, their functions are controlled through a panel. One of the modules with a single potentiometer can let the user control master volume, or compression rate, or something else.

The Extensions are scalable. Adobe also uses this to test its own software, perhaps to simulate clicking a button 1,000 times to test their products to the limits. The Extensions run in their own processes for security and sandboxing—they don't conflict with other code.

Although established plug-ins may currently still be the best choice, when it comes to digital signal processing, with HTML and Javascript ever-evolving, webpages themselves are becoming more powerful.

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