It's not a big framework, with a handful of pure-C APIs. But its affect will be profound. What was previously only possible using Akai's AkaiConnect SDK (which is a very nice Objective-C API) or Line 6's MIDI Mobilizer SDK will be available to all.
From what I can see, the iOS CoreMIDI version is going to be the exact same API as the Mac OS desktop variant. I expect developer take-up of this API to be far faster than for the existing two (non-standard) iOS MIDI interface APIs. Pretty soon every iPhone synth app will support Apple's generic MIDI API.
That is, if they can work out how to.
CoreMIDI isn't the best documented API (this is all you get: a list of typedefs and functions). Fortunately, the headers are well-commented and the API is mercifully simple and sensible. However, with no compelling examples (that I could find) it takes a little digging to work out how to use CoreMIDI.
So here I present a very simple example project, with a reusable Objective-C MIDI interface class. With this code, you can get up to speed with CoreMIDI quickly. Indeed, if you just paste my MidiInput class into your synth app you'd be good to go.
Grab it from the GitHub project here. (Update note: the repo master used to be hosted on Gitorious here but we've moved to GitHub in these enlightened times)
Please let me know if you find it useful, or if you use it in your own projects.
Integrating CoreMIDI in your application
First, you need to decide if you want your app to support devices running iOS versions before 4.2. Since CoreMIDI is only introduced in 4.2, you have to jump through a few hoops to keep your app running on earlier versions:
- Weakly link to the CoreMIDI framework, so on OS versions without it your application will still launch. (You do this by going to your application's target in the Xcode tree view, selecting "Get info", and in the "General" tab's "Linked libraries" section ensuring that CoreMIDI is set to "Weak" not "Required".)
- Including CoreMIDI functionality conditionally. The best way to do this is inspect the kCFCoreFoundationVersionNumber variable and only initialise your MIDI handling if the value represents iOS 4.2 or later. (See the iOS version detection header file in my example project for an elegant way to do this).
A demonstration of all of this is available in my example project.
CoreMIDI itself isn't too complex if you're happy to read the headers and work out what's going on. You need a basic grasp of how Mac OS's Core Foundation works, to understand lifetime management issues and to access string properties, etc.
CoreMIDI has a few basic concepts: most importantly clients, devices (with endpoints) and ports. The C APIs let you enumerate these, and register a notification to keep abreast of changes in MIDI connection state.
MIDI inputs are "sources" in CoreMIDI. MIDI outputs are "destinations".
Given those basic facts, you should be able to read through my MidiInput class and figure out what's going on.
My example program just spits out a stream of binary MIDI data. I'm not showing any parsing of the MIDI data stream here. This parsing isn't rocket science, but is another step you have to perform.
Contact me if you want to know more about parsing MIDI.