Pure Data

A patch made with PD Screenshot of PD with many patches open

Pure Data (PD) is an open source visual programming language designed for musicians, visual artists and performers to create software without writing lines of code. It is used to process and generate sound, video, 2D/3D graphics, but also interface sensors, input devices, and old-school MIDI files. 

As explained on the official website, PD brings with itself a specific terminology. First of all, PD is a data flow programming language, where software called patches are developed without writing code. Algorithmic functions are represented by objects, placed on a screen called canvas. Objects are connected together with cords, and data flows from one object to another through this cords. Each object performs a specific task, from very low level mathematic operations to complex audio or video functions such as reverberation, fft transform, or video decoding. 

PD is free software and you can give it a try installing one of the two principal distributions:

  • PD: the core of Pure Data, focusing on audio signal and MIDI processing.
  • PD extended: a version of PD vanilla that comes with many libraries written by the community.

You can create working software without writing code. 

The need of technical audio/video background to create interesting visual and sound applications.


No, you can install PD on your machine and use it offline from your desktop.

Install PD you on your machine and start playing with objects, canvas, patches and all the pieces of data you can plug together. If you have no idea on how to make that, start from this handy guide on Pure Data's interface.

Pure Data considers data pretty much everything, from sound effects, to video, from sensors or cameras to robots or data coming from the web from an API. Because all of these various media are handled as digital data within PD, many fascinating opportunities for cross-synthesis between is possible.

Sound can be used to manipulate video, which could then be streamed over the internet to another computer which might analyse that video and use it to control a motor-driven installation.



Pure Data is a major branch of the family of patcher programming languages known as Max and was originally developed by Miller Puckette at IRCAM.

Pure Data is free software.