Documentation is available in the Documentation sub-folder of the MaxMSP 4.6 application folder. The Max46Fundamentals.pdf and Max46Tutorials.pdf files are useful at the beginning. The Max46Reference.pdf covers every object available in Max.
Note that documentation with the “Max” prefix refer to the non-audio objects. “MSP” labeled doc’s deal with the audio objects.
Mouseover help is available in the object palette, giving you the object name. When an object is placed in the patcher, mousing over the object’s inlets and outlets will show you what function each inlet/outlet serves, and what data types can be sent and output.
Fully-functioning Help Patches are available for all objects by option-clicking on the object.
Objects and Messages
In general programming terms, an object performs a function while a message is anything sent between objects (data, a trigger initiate a task, the result of a task, etc.). In MaxMSP terms, objects are the graphic (and computational) building blocks of your program. Messages in MaxMSP consist of the following, integer numbers, decimal numbers, symbols, list (of numbers or symbols), bang (a special message that means “Do It”), or combinations.
MaxMSP Objects Covered So Far
Number boxes (int and float): Int truncates the decimal part of floating point numbers.
Math objects (+ , /): to trigger a floating point calculation, the typed argument to the object must be a floating point number (2.7, 3., 0.2, etc.)
print: sends any input to the Max window. This is very helpful for debugging programs. The single argument for print is a label to precede the printed output in the Max window.
message box: the message box is an object, one that sends a stored message in response to clicking on it, or sending a bang message to it. The message box object has only one surrounding line (instead of the two for a regular object box). Numbers and/or symbols separated by spaces represent a list, which is a single message with multiple instances of data. Numbers and/or symbols separated by commas represents separate messages.
button: the output of a button is the bang message. Clicking on the button, or sending it any message in its inlet will trigger the bang message being sent.
metro: short for metronome. metro sends a bang message out at a specified time interval (in ms). If specified time interval is supplied as an argument, then the interval is set to 5 ms. metro starts sending messages if it receives a bang message, or any non-zero number message. stop and zero number messages stop the metro from sending messages. An int in its right inlet changes the interval time.
toggle: a graphic object that alternately sends a 1 or 0 when it is clicked on, which is useful for controlling a metro (and other objects). You can also reverse the state of the toggle by sending it a bang message, or set the state of the toggle by sending it a 1 or 0.