Stream Deck macro keypad

At last, the personal computing industry has caught up with what was available on mainframe graphics terminals back in the 1960s!

Except back then, the buttons were mechanical, and the “icons” were hand drawn on piece of card that slotted over the array of buttons - but it worked exactly the same way.

Touch sensitive screen and “stream deck” on the left of the terminal, 1969 vintage:

Seriously though, it was a good user interface idea back then, and it still is.

This German language video on Stream Deck XL shows a 5x3 profile being copied for use on Stream Deck XL - the bottom row and right three columns of keys are blank.

David Tee - there have been entire keyboards with OLED screens in the keys, notably including the Optimus products. I think many of the Optimus products didn’t go beyond the concept stage, but a version of Optimus Maximus did. It was horrendously expensive (over £1000) and the technology of the time really wasn’t up to the task - OLED screens have a limited life and can suffer burn-in, which was a particular problem for a keyboard that spent so much of its time showing static images. Reviewers complained of ergonomic issues with typing on flat glossy keytops and I believe there were key spacing issues with Optimus Maximus as well. As I recall it, the keys were slightly wider spaced than on a conventional full size keyboard, causing muscle memory and hand fatigue issues for touch typists. A touch typist will hold their fingers over the home keys and will often have their keyboard placed close to them at an angle where it is uncomfortably far down to look at the keys.

Were Optimus Maximus built today, it would undoubtedly be able to leverage improvements in the underlying technologies. However, my personal view is that macro / smart launching with interactive legends is better done by a Stream Deck (or perhaps Apple Touchbar - though that lacks the tactile feedback of button edges) like adjunct to a keyboard, not a replacement keyboard. A lot of the clever functionality of Stream Deck would be difficult to implement if the interactive buttons and keys of the keyboard were one and the same - how do you overload two functions sensibly onto the same buttons? I have not seen any hints that a new Optimus Maximus type product is going to be released, but maybe others have seen something.

Thanks David W and Rob - fascinating.

I use it constantly and have never had an issue. It is really quite well built.

One thing that you do need to take into consideration is that you can’t fly as quickly through keypresses as you do on a regular computer keyboard. There’s a slight delay as it processes. Not an issue if you’re using it for macros, but it couldn’t yet replace your keyboard entirely.

I’m ticked because I just bought my stream deck 2 weeks ago. I would have waited and bought the XL had I known. arg. I’m tempted to buy it anyway although my wife would probably be ticked. Frankly, I’m finding it to be useful for so much more beyond Dorico… setting favorite shortcuts for each app that I use is a real time saver.

You might be able to sell it here and recoup a hundred bucks.

I guess I shouldn’t be too ticked; amazon says it might not ship for up to 3 more months.

I might end up taking the smaller one home and using the larger one at my office.

Back in 1964 when the IBM terminal in my previous post was launched, the price tag was about $280,000 (say $2m in today’s money) :smiley:

I used one of those in the 1970s - though it was a slightly different design. Instead of the 8x4 button layout, it had a 6x6 array with the four corners missing, to give the 32 buttons.

Does the iOS version work on an iPad?

The iOS version seems to be iPhone only and an ongoing subscription is required - see here for more details. As the app is free to download in the App Store, you could try downloading it to an iPad if you have one.

I wish there was a version of the app for Android phones as I’m an Apple free zone - Windows 10 Pro for Workstations convertible mobile workstation, Windows 10 Surface Go, Android phone. Even if there was an Android app, I feel the Surface Deck app is more for those who only want Stream Deck occasionally or when mobile, not a user like me. It’s a nice option to have, but the drawbacks are too great for my needs:

  • ongoing subscription
  • having to have a phone stand near my computer
  • need for a Wi-Fi connection to my computer
  • no tactile feedback from physical buttons
  • the wear to the OLED screen of my phone

The only neat way to stand my phone up in landscape orientation with power applied is to use a wireless charger - but long screen on periods on a wireless charger can cause the entire phone and especially the battery to get hot, which is ruinous to battery life.

For my uses, where I would use a Stream Deck for hours each day in a variety of applications, I’d rather have a hardware Stream Deck as my main Stream Deck. If the Stream Deck application became available on Android, I’d consider subscribing for those times when I’m mobile and haven’t got a hardware Stream Deck with me.

I suspect that is because they are taking orders before the product is available to ship. Amazon UK shows preordering with availability on June 11.

Unfortunately there are always loser when a new or upgraded product is announced. There’s always that person who bought one day before a grace period started. I was close to buying the 5x3 Stream Deck - it was fortunate that the 8x4 Stream Deck XL came along a few days before I was going to order, as it will be much more suitable for my needs.

Can you load stream deck profiles into the app?

I’m pretty sure I read that the ios version works on the iPad as well as on the iPhone. But who wants to pay a monthly fee for that?

My thoughts exactly.

Changing tack slightly: the more I use, it the more impressed I am with Notation Express. Great graphics, logical layout - all well thought through. It took me a while to get used to it as I’d already done my own set of screens but to nothing like the same depth. Good job.

There are other midi-trigger/key-trigger apps out there that you can customize. The names escape me at the moment, but the moral of the story is you certainly don’t need StreamDeck software to do this type of thing with your phone or iPad. Most of those apps are 1time fee if I recall. Hopefully someone will fill in where my memory fails.

Also, I’d suggest using Duet for anyone with an iPad that would like to do a second display quickly and easily. It’s seamless and easy as could be. Quite literally plug and play once you have the apps installed. This might be a great way to keep the mixer or a different mode open off to the side to minimize switching between modes.

I don’t mind a £3 pound monthly subscription…
Definitely worth it if it loads profiles that can also be loaded into stream deck. Does anyone know if it does?

I can’t see the point unless the iOS Stream Deck loads the same profiles that you use with a (hardware) Stream Deck. If you subscribe for a month and find it useful, you can save money by subscribing annually.

That’s exactly what I’m asking, if it loads the same ones?

The Stream Deck Mobile app can load the same profiles - but you have to set it up to do so.

I tested it briefly on an iPad this morning. It took two attempts to get it to sign onto the network.

If you don’t maximise it (i.e. fill the screen) the buttons are about 20% larger in size on an iPad than than the buttons on a Stream Deck. In this resolution the icons look sharp and, to my mind, better and more informative than when they’re on the Stream Deck - that’s purely down to size. If you do maximise it, the display stretches to top, bottom and left edges but not completely to the right edge; some space is reserved for a setup button. It looks a bit weird not being centralised and the icons lose resolution when they’re stretched out to this size. It occurs to me that the new XL Stream Deck would look pretty good on an ipad in unamximised resolution although there would be a fair bit of space top and bottom. I can’t see an XL layout working on an iPhone.

I loaded two profiles: my own default setup and Notation Express. Everything seemed to work OK, I didn’t have any issues with responsiveness. I tested it briefly with Dorico and everything I tested happened as expected.


I did have a problem with automatic switching between profiles. On OSX, Stream Deck automatically changes profiles as you switch programs. So, for example, if I switch to Dorico, Notation Express loads automatically on my Stream Deck. The first thing I noticed was that that didn’t happen on the iPad. I had to manually change profiles - not good. But worse was to come. When I went back to OSX, the setup there had changed too and I now had to manually change profiles there as well. I don’t think I did anything I shouldn’t have done during the setup process so I can only assume this is either a bug or something that’s yet to be addressed in the software now that iPads and iPhones are linked.

I really only did this to test it. I’ve since uninstalled it and after a bit of faffing about have my Stream Deck back to working the way it was.

Final thought: although I’m not a fan of subscription services, I don’t think the charge is bad value (certainly not when one considers the cost of the unit) and if they sort out the profile switching issue it’s a very reasonable alternative. You lose the touch and feel aspect of the buttons but, to my mind, the display is better. That said, I’m sticking with my Stream Deck.

Thanks for this reply David. I’ve yet to get into Stream Deck but it’s coming. The iPad version will suit me to play with it and will also be useful tour buses etc. Altogether I have £50 or £60 a month going out for music related subscriptions. To me this is a good set and forget way of keeping up to date.

Thanks David and others here for the nice words about Notation Express. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Kudos to Leo who planned and programmed the Dorico version so thoughtfully!

Notation Express and other Stream Deck profiles work “out-of-the-box” with the Stream Deck Mobile iOS app, and you can indeed have both a console and an iPhone/iPad, or one or the other. Nevertheless, I’ve tweaked Notation Express a bit so it displays even better on the iPhone (folder graphics in particular). I’ve also made all the versions (Sibelius & Dorico, Windows & Mac) proper installers so you don’t have to manually copy anything into a library folder (more of an issue with Sibelius where a dozen or so plug-ins are required).

If you already purchased Notation Express you’ll have received a notification update. More also in today’s Scoring Notes blog post: