Fortunately Mac users have some interesting options: JunXion, MuMidi Controller, and Osculator. Working with my collection of synthesizers and various input devices, I’ve tested each of these and found them to have unique uses for advanced music making.
JunXion, from STEIM, is one of the best all-around toolkits. It works with mice, joysticks, touchpads, and virtually any other USB-compliant Human Interface Device (or HID as they’re known.) JunXion has its own built-in reader for these devices, so no device driver is necessary (in fact, installing device drivers often will undermine JunXion by “stealing” the USB input stream.) It also supports up to 4 Nintendo WII controllers which can be connected wirelessly to most bluetooth-enabled Macs. It has powerful “Actions” which make it easy to create all kinds of controller messages including notes, pitch bends, and general purpose MIDI change controllers known as CC-messages (think of these as knobs.) JunXion did have some problems with Wacom tablet drivers (which I need to control my Wacom Cintiq) that caused some crashing, but JunXion 3.22 now safely plays with Wacom drivers, though it cannot read from Wacom tablet devices with the Wacom drivers installed. Junxion also features powerful tables for translation which allow you to tune it to handle quite variety of devices. With all this power, Juxion is the most expensive at 75 euros (about $114 US at the time of this writing) and will take the most time to master. It’s inability to read the mouse pointer position or work with touchpads/ touchscreens that require drivers (although it worked fine with a driverless touchpad such as ergonomic touchpad’s driverless pads) makes it a little incomplete.
Fortunately, Music Unfolding’s μMidiController is an alternative for mouse oriented devices. This tool places a translucent window on the screen and makes it easy to send note messages and controllermessages. It takes a little getting used to but it basically will translate left-to-right mouse events (such as left button or a touch on a touchscreen) into user configurable notes, using up-and-down initially determine the velocity of the note (that is, how loud the note should sound) and then as long as the mouse button is down or your finger is held to the touchpad, up-and-down can send controller messages such as aftertouch, pitchbend, or Change Controller messages. It also has all sorts of chord controls that I haven’t experimented with, but seem to be usable for a number of neat effects that would be difficult with any other program. It’s not as programmable as JunXion, but it works great with tablets, touchscreens, and other devices that need drivers to position the mouse pointer. I use this to handle atouchscreen in my rig. I really like this tool because it is simple and inexpensive at $15.
The third program tested was Osculator, which converts OSC (Open Sound Control) messages devices to MIDI, such as Nintendo WII controllers. It works great with the Ninetendo WII controllers and a number of OSC devices such as JazzMutant’s Lemeur or 3Dconnexion’s SpaceNavigator. It’s simple to use and setup, and can be registered for a donation of $19 or more.