Vector Surgeon 1.1 Read Me

Hello, good evening, and welcome to Vector Surgeon, the Prophet VS editor/librarian. This document explains some of the design principles surrounding the program, how to get started, and how to use it effectively.


First, the legal stuff.

Legal Stuff

The Java classes and XML documents comprising this package are copyright 2009 Jason Proctor. The package is not in the public domain. The program is technically shareware. If you find yourself using it a lot, then Paypal a donation to -- I'll leave the size up to you. I am currently quite broke, so donations mean that I can prioritise development of this program ahead of things that don't make money. Thanks.

News! Vector Surgeon on Github!

Source here:

What The Program Does

The program currently performs the following functions:

What The Program Does Not Do

The program does not currently perform the following functions:

Known Bugs

The program has the following known defects (so don't report them):

The Computer/Synth Sync Problem and My Solution

All ed/libs have the same problem to overcome. How to enable users to quickly manage patches and banks and stuff, while keeping the computer and synth reasonably in sync during edits. Some ed/libs party on the edit buffer, if there is one, and truck large amounts of parameter change messages down to the synth when a patch edit window comes up. Others, like most SoundDiver adaptations, hijack a memory location (99 in the SD VS adaptation) and just transmit patches to that location. That way, when you open a patch for editing, you don't need to sync the parameters, because the patch is already there.

This program does neither of those things. Instead, it tries to figure out whether the bank window you're looking at is currently in the Prophet. If you just received it from the Prophet, then it is, and if you just sent this bank to the Prophet, then it is. Otherwise, it's not. The difference is that opening patch editing windows on a bank that the program thinks is not in the Prophet requires a confirmation from you. So you can override what the program thinks. This is good, because you might have an identical copy of your Prophet's bank on disk, and you *know* that's what's in the Prophet. So if you see that confirmation dialog, and you say Yes, then the program then regards that bank as in the Prophet and doesn't bug you about edits any more.

Helpfully, what the program thinks is always displayed at the top of each bank window. Just so you know. And just to help a bit more, operations that overwrite stuff in the Prophet always have a confirmation step. Losing patches sucks.


This program is written in Java. As such you will need a Java VM installed on your machine, and I recommend anything from 1.5 up. Prior versions might work, but I can't support them. Most if not all platforms now have 1.6 even, so that shouldn't be too hard.

Things are a little more complicated on the Mac, as Apple forgot to include hardware MIDI port support when they "migrated" from their own Java CoreMIDI API to the "standard" Sun Java Sound API. Happily, the fix is easy, as the guys at Humatic have written a nice plugin which enables all the old-fashioned MIDI goodness we all love. It's now included in the Mac distro and as long as you use vs.command to start it up, you shouldn't need to do anything else. As always if you run into anything, drop me a line.

The Control Window

Once launched the program will go scanning your system for MIDI facilities. This can take a few seconds on the Mac, I'm not sure about other platforms. Then, providing nothing catastrophic happened, the control window will appear, which looks like this

The bottom pane allows you to select the device and MIDI channel where your Prophet lives. The Prophet uses a combination of sysex and kinda-NRPNs to do its remote editing stuff, so you have to get the MIDI channel right as well as the device. The program remembers this for you too. Also you can now set a device to listen to for notes to route to the Prophet, so you can connect up your controller keyboard and play a rack Prophet without having to fire up a DAW or something.

The "Open File" button allows you to load a file off disk. This is expected to be either a single patch, a bank of 100 patches, or a bank of 32 user waves. Anything in between will most likely result in an error. Providing this operation works OK, you'll be looking at a bank window, which in the case of a single patch dump contains 100 copies of the same patch, or a wave bank window.

The "Request Patches" button allows you to... suck the bank of patches out of your Prophet. As it happens, you don't really need to click the button, as the program is always hungry for banks and will respond if you just send stuff from the Prophet without warning it. It turns out that writing it like that was easier. I'm sorry about the lack of user feedback while the bank is being received, but the Sun Java MIDI package works like that. The old Apple one, which I preferred, allowed some code to get in the way. But then the Sun one allows you Windows and Linux users to play, and that's good. Probably. Anyway again you'll be looking at a bank window.

The "Request Waves" button allows you to... suck the user waves out of your Prophet. As with banks of patches, the program is always listening. If the waves are received OK, then you'll be looking at a wave bank window.

The "Keyboard" button opens up the onscreen keyboard. It's basic but has octave transpose, variable velocity, and hold functions. So you can keep a chord playing while you wail on parameters.

The "Choose Config File..." button allows you to specify an alternative UI description file for the patch editing window. If loading it doesn't work, then it will use the default one. If you've hacked the default one (by unzipping the jar file???) and that doesn't work, then the program will become confused.

The Bank Window

The bank window looks like this

This window allows manipulation of banks of patches. You can move them around, send them to the Prophet, etc, all that good stuff. The bank window is kinda big, because I wanted to convey some information about each patch rather than just its name. I'm open to feedback on this one. Maybe people don't have big screens, certainly Windows makes a bit of a pig's ear of it (and everything else) - the preferred Windows way is to maximise it then scroll around the middle pane. That way you get to see the button bar, which otherwise it is determined to hide from you. Yuck.

Again most things should be easy to understand here. Click a patch to select it, then you can copy, paste, send, etc. Swap paste swaps the selection and the clipboard, so if you swap paste twice, then effectively nothing has happened. What use is that, you might ask, well I found it useful if I was reordering lots of patches within a bank. See if you like it.

Click the Vary Patch button to enter the patch variation generator stuff.

Note the red message at the top of the window. This means that the program thinks this bank is not currently in the Prophet. This is to prevent you opening up a patch and cheerfully editing it, while not realising that on the Prophet, it's not Zingers2, it's something else completely. If that message is red, then double-clicking a patch in order to edit it requires confirmation - you have to assure the program that you know what you're doing and this bank is really in the Prophet, honest. If you say Yes to the confirmation, then the program backs off and turns on editing for you. It also changes the message to a comforting blue one. I quite like this because I know what's going on, but if you have a better solution to the computer/synth sync problem, hold forth.

The Patch Edit Window

Aha, now we get to the meat of the operation. Double-clicking on a patch in the bank window opens that patch for juicy graphic editing. The first tab of the patch window looks like this

The Prophet's parameters are grouped into what I thought were logical areas. You'll note however that some parameters appear twice - some modulation parameters appear on both the source and the destination pages. I like that. And again if you don't like my layout, you're free to make your own, for the price of a bit of XML hacking.

This part should be *really* straightforward. Move a slider, check a checkbox, pick something from a popup, and the relevant control change is sent to the Prophet. Yummy! Finally we can get to the bottom of this amazing machine. You'll note that when you do change something, then you'll be required to confirm the save of the patch back into the bank it came from. Note that changes to patches are *not* automatically saved to the Prophet, so if you want to update it, then send the patch, or send the entire bank.

The Patch Generator Window

This window comes up when you select a patch in the bank window and click Vary Patch... and it looks like this

Well, it looks like that if you've added a few parameters. The generator works by applying transforms to parameters. So you click "Add Parameter Transform" to add a parameter, then select a transform to apply to it, then when you're done, click "Generate Bank" to generate a bank of patches based on the transforms. The transforms currently available are patch number, ROM patch number, set, and random. The generator generates entire banks, patch by patch, and so if you like you can set a particular parameter to the patch number. This is fun for generating banks full of sounds which differ only by their waveforms. And you can specify a ROM patch number so that you can get to waves above 100. Set just sets a parameter to a particular value, and Random will randomise a parameter either within its range, or inside a range that you specify.

The generator window stays up after it generates a bank, so that you can make further tweaks etc. At some point I might make it possible to save collections of transforms, but the program doesn't currently allow that.

The Wave Bank Window

The wave bank window looks like this

This window behaves in much the same fashion as the regular patch bank window, except that you're dealing with waves instead of patches. The exception is that you can't transmit or receive them singly. I was going to include that in this release, but then I realised that it's not necessary. Since you can graphically edit the waves, and import sound files into wave locations, then transmit and receive banks, you don't actually need single wave transfer. And it's a pain in the arse to implement, and in my experience, VS version 1.0 doesn't support it anyway!

Click Import to import a sound file into a selected location. If the file doesn't check out as a wav file or aiff file, then the program will load it as an 8-bit raw binary sound file. So be prepared for a surprise if it wasn't a sound file to begin with :-)

The Wave Edit Window

The wave edit window looks like this

This appears when you double click a wave in the wave bank window. Draw the wave with the mouse - cool eh? Unfortunately I've found that most user waves I've come up with sound very similar once in the Prophet, and I'm suspicious that I got something wrong somewhere. But it all checks out visually, so wtf.

Bonus! Reverse Editing

I was fooling with the program one night and walked over to the Prophet to play the patch. I made a change to a parameter and then thought shite! I've just invalidated the program's view of that patch. Wouldn't it be great if... changing a parameter on the Prophet also changed it in the program! An hour and some hair-pulling later, it worked. What a nice surprise. Ensure you turn on parameter transmission though - click the button in the Control Window or set it on the Prophet. It's turned off by default when the Prophet powers up.

Future Features

Well, everything on the 1.0 list pretty much got done in 1.1 :-) Please feel free to let me know if you have any ideas for further features etc.

That's It!

Have fun with the program. I do. It makes editing *super* easy and everyone should be able to make amazing patches now. Contact me at with bug reports, feature requests, flat-out adulation, and, of course, money (thank you, Scott).

And Here's The Link