Learn Using the Audio Plugin/Desktop Application Template

Getting Started

Welcome to RNBO


RNBO Basics

Key Differences

Why We Made RNBO


Audio IO

Messages to rnbo~

Using Parameters


Messages and Ports

Polyphony and Voice Control

Audio Files in RNBO

Using Buffers

Export Targets

Export Targets Overview

Max External Target
Raspberry Pi Target
The Web Export Target
The C++ Source Code Target

Code Export

Working with JavaScript
Working with C++


Using the Audio Plugin/Desktop Application Template

Programming a Custom UI with JUCE

Using the Web Page Template

Special Topics

Sample Accurate Patching
Scala and Custom Tuning

RNBO and Max for Live

RNBO Raspberry Pi OSCQuery Runner

Raspberry Pi Debug Interface


Raspberry Pi GPIO

Updating the RNBO Package

Using the Audio Plugin/Application Template

Learn how to export C++ code from RNBO, and how to use the template package to build a plugin or a desktop application.

So you want to build your own DAW or a Plugin? This template repository should get you started with your own Standalone Desktop application and Audio Plugin, using the source code export feature of RNBO, part of Max 8 made by Cycling '74.

This project is based on the cross-platform JUCE framework for handling audio processing. You have the option of using JUCE to manage your UI as well. Please be aware that the JUCE has its own license terms (mostly GPL with the availability of commercial licenses). See their website for further details.


  • Download and install CMake. Version 3.18 or higher is required. On MacOS, we recommend installing CMake with Homebrew
  • Download and install git.
  • Some kind of build system and compiler. You have options here.
  • (MacOS) Install Xcode command line tools by running sudo xcode-select --install on the command line. You'll use make to compile your application. (You will not be able to use Xcode to build your application unless you install Xcode itself.)
  • (MacOS/Linux/Unix-like) Install Ninja, easiest way is probably brew install ninja or sudo apt-get install ninja
  • (MacOS) Download and install Xcode. We have tested using Xcode 12.
  • (Windows) Download and install Visual Studio 2019. Community Edition is enough!
  • (Linux/Unix-like) use make, often already on your system. For debian based systems sudo apt-get install build-essential

File structure

The source code of the application is in the src/ directory. This directory should contain everything that you need to modify to build your application.

Some notable files/directories:




The directory into which you should export your RNBO code


Source for the project - feel free to edit (includes sample UI)


Your built application will end up here


Your built plugins will end up here

Using this Template

This Github repo is a template, which means you can use it to start your own git-based project using this repository as a starting point. The major difference between a template and a fork is that your new project won't include the commit history of this template--it will be an entirely new starting point. For more see the official description.

Getting Started

To get started, first create a new repository to hold your project using this repository as a template. If you're viewing this repo on Github, you should see a button at the top of the page that says Use this template.


You can also follow the official steps on Github for creating a new repository from a template.

Now you need to copy this repository locally. Follow the official steps to clone your repository. Once you've cloned your repository locally, you'll need to initialize the JUCE submodule.

cd your-project-folder
git submodule update --init --recursive --progress

If the above command doesn't work, check your version if git by runing git --version. The --progress flag wasn't introduced until git 2.11.0, so if your version is earlier than this you won't have access to it. Strictly speaking you don't need that last --progress flag, but it's nice to have some progress indication, especially since installing the JUCE submodule can take a while. That's all you'll need to do to get set up! Now you can start exporting from RNBO and building your project.

Working with RNBO and Building Your Project

Next, open the RNBO patcher you'd like to work with, and navigate to the export sidebar. Find "C++ Source Code Export" target.

Screen Shot 2022-10-30 at 11.59.35 AM.png

Export your project, making sure to export into the export folder in this directory. Your export directory should look something like this:

├─ rnbo/
├─ rnbo_source.cpp
├─ README.md

Whenever you make a change to your RNBO patch, remember to export the source code again to update this file. Now that you've exported your RNBO code, it's time to build. This project uses CMake, which gives us the flexibility of using whatever build system we want. Start by moving to the build directory.

cd build

Now you have a choice of what build system you want to use. Any one of the following will work:

  • cmake .. -G Xcode (create an Xcode project)
  • cmake .. -G "Visual Studio 16" (create a Visual Studio 2019 project)
  • cmake .. -G Ninja (use Ninja to build)
  • cmake .. (just use the default, which will be make on MacOS, Linux and other Unix-like platforms)

You might be wondering which on is "best". We say, if you're familiar with Xcode or Visual Studio or
Ninja, just go with that. This might be a good time to get a snack, as CMake can take a few minutes to get everything ready, especially when generating the build files for the first time. You may also see a number of warnings in the console, which you can (probably) safely ignore.

Once CMake has finished generating your build system, you can finally build your project.

cmake --build .

Invoking cmake with the --build flag tells CMake to build your target, using whatever build tool you
chose in the last step. After the build completes, you'll find the executable result in build/RNBOApp_artefacts/Debug, and you'll find plugins in build/RNBOAudioPlugin_artefacts/Debug.

If you're using the Xcode generator, but you don't have Xcode installed, you might see something like this when you try to build

% cmake --build .
xcode-select: error: tool 'xcodebuild' requires Xcode, but active developer directory '/Library/Developer/CommandLineTools' is a command line tools instance

This simply means that you need to install Xcode, and not just the command line tools.

Additional Notes and Troubleshooting

Building Plugins on M1 Macs

When building for M1 Macs, you will want to enable universal builds, so that your target can be used on both Intel and M1 macs. CMakeLists.txt has a line you can uncomment to enable universal builds.


VST3 introduced some changes to the way plugins handle MIDI data. One way to make newer VST3
plugins behave more like VST2 is to create Parameters for each MIDI CC value on each MIDI channel. You can dip your toes into the full discussion if you want, but we disable this behavior by default. If you really want it, you can enable it by commenting out the apporpriate line in CMakeLists.txt.

Customizing the Project

This project is based on the JUCE Framework. If you'd like to build your own custom UI, the JUCE documentation will be your best resource. We also have a short guide to help you get started.

There are details that you might want to change in App.cmake for Applications and in Plugin.cmake for Plugins.

If you're not interested in the Application or Plugin parts of this project you can remove the associated include lines from the CMakeLists.txt file.