General > Control Surfaces/ACT

How to make ACT Learn button work in any Sonar version (AZ ACT Fix)


ACT Dynamic mapping is a part of Cakewalk ACT (Active Controller Technology) responsible for changing focused plug-in parameters (FX, ProChannel module, software instrument) from external controllers (hardware MIDI surfaces, apps on tablets, etc.).

The major advantages compare to direct MIDI mapping is a possibility to create individual mapping per plug-ins, per controller and extend the number of parameters using software banks (instead of switching the device to send another messages).

Ones configured, that approach is working fine. And ACT Dynamic mapping supposed to be as easy to configure as MIDI mapping:

* enter learning mode using "ACT Learn" or "AL" button you can see in any plug-in window or Control Bar panel
* touch plug-in parameter
* touch hardware control
* end learning modeThe result is saved in the system, per plug-in, per controller. The mapping is global and it is not project dependent.

As with many good ideas, the devil is in details... If you have already tried to use ACT Learn, probably you hit at least one of these problems:

* The mapping is not persistent. Once you restart Sonar, everything is a mess. It can be you have observed that from the beginning, it can be it become "broken" after a while or does not work just for some plug-ins.
* You had "good" configuration, but you have changed it by mistake and there is no "undo"
* You want start mapping "from scratch", but all controls are already assigned to some parameters
* You want "clean" some controls, may be there are duplicating other, may be you just want a layout with some unassigned controls
* You want edit the mapping as a text, but the files are not aligned. And even in XML editor you see cryptic IDs instead of plug-in/controller names
* You want transfer good mapping from one surface to another
* Learning VST3 parameters does not work at all
All that problems can be solved just with several mouse clicks. For any Sonar version (tested with X2 and 2016)  and for all surfaces with Dynamic Mapping support (ACT MIDI, Generic surface, A-PRO, VS-x00, etc.)

You will need a small program with does the trick, direct download from here: AZ ACT Fix.
No installation is required (put it on your Desktop for easy access), no adds, no dependencies and free to use. As you know, I have to add: provided "as is", without warranty of any kind, use on your own risk.

Important: do not use this utility while Sonar is running. Exit Sonar before running it, exit it before starting Sonar again. Following this rule will avoid surprises.

And now, what to do against each mentioned problem:

* The mapping is not persistent. Exit Sonar, start AZActFix, press "Save and exit" button. "ACT Learn" should work again (backup is saved automatically, on each "Save and exit" button press)
* You had "good" configuration When you have a "good" configuration, do the sequence (1). That saves a backup. To restore: exit Sonar, start AZActFix, select a backup from top combobox (with "<Current mapping>"), press "Save and exit" button.
* You want start mapping "from scratch". Exit Sonar, start AZActFix, select your controller from the long combobox (f.e. "ACT MIDI", initially "<Generic>" but the choice is saved), select the plug-in(s) (use shift/ctrl to select/deselect several) in the left list, press "Clear" button, press "Save and exit".
* You want "clean" some controls Exit Sonar, start AZActFix, select your controller from the long combobox (f.e. "ACT MIDI", initially "<Generic>" but the choice is saved), select the plug-in in the left list, select controls you want to clean ((use shift/ctrl to select/deselect several)  press "Clear" button, press "Save and exit".
* You want edit the mapping as a text. Follow the sequence (1), saved XML files are nicely formatted for editing
* You want transfer good mapping from one surface to another. Exit Sonar, start AZActFix, select the source surface, select plug-in(s), press "Copy" buttons, select target surface, press "Paste" button, press "Save and exit" button.
* Learning VST3 parameters does not work This one is a bit tricky, that is more a work around then simple fix. But it works:

* "Visit" VST3 plug-in in question in Sonar, do not "ACT Learn" yet, just open its GUI
* Exit Sonar, start AZActFix, select your surface, select VST3 plug-in, press "Clean" button, press "Save and exit" button.
* Start sonar, do "ACT Learn" for the plug-in as usual, but note the following: do not try to learn "Host bypass", do not assign the first ACT button ("Host bypass" will be assigned to it during fixing), during learning you will not see learned parameters correctly, the mapping will not work till fixing.
* Do the complete mapping first, "fixing" will work only once, if you want change the mapping after fixing, you need to start from the beginning (cleaning)
* Exit Sonar, start AZActFix, select surface, select plug-in, press "VST3 fix" button, press "Save and exit"
* Not always required, but if the sequence does not work ("VST3 fix" button is grayed"), select "<All surfaces>", select VST3 plug-in (check it is still selected), press "Forget" button, press "Save and exit". Then start from the beginning ("visit", clean, etc).
Starting from 0.3, you can also do basic parameter assignment editing (not thought to be full scale editor!). You can rearrange parameters within one control type (up/down) or/and move parameters between control types. Multiselection is supported (usual way, Ctrl+Click and Shift+Click). Note that this functionality is available for particular control surfaces only.

I can make a demonstration video if you want. As usual, comments and/or questions are welcome.

5.10.2016 - AZ ACT Fix (v0.2) should work with VS-700 and VS-100
6.10.2016 - AZ ACT Fix (v0.2r2):
  * fixed one internal bug (the utility could crash upon selection of some plug-ins)
  * backup is now possible to restore even if current configuration is broken.
  * workaround to deal with another sort of XML file corruption
18.10.2016 - AZ ACT Fix (v0.3): basic parameter mapping editing.
15.11.2016 - AZ ACT Fix (v0.3r1): Generic Surface support

I tried downloading ACT Fix but Windows reports it as containing a virus and refuses to download it at all. Very unfortunate since I just upgraded to the newest version of Cakewalk and nothing works anymore sadly. if the steps done by ATC Fix can be done manually that would be fine for me.

Edit: I was able to regain control for AZ Controller by removing it from control surfaces in preference and adding it back. But I would certainly like to be able to use ACT fix.

Windows just reports it is unsigned. Firefox is able download it and up to date Windows Defender does not find any "virus" in it.
Microsoft Edge warn it is "not safe", it is just harder to allow exceptions is this browser (it is Microsoft... they want any program developer pays at least $70 per year for certificate).

Note that in case you was not running ACT Fix before, the probability it can recover broken ACT files is small. Cakewalk normally make them unrecoverable after some problem is detected.

It seems ok now. This morning when I tried downloading it I received an alert from Windows Defender that it contained the Trojan:Win32/Wacatac.B!ml. Nothing about it being unsigned. I just checked again tonight and was surprised that it was now ok. Then I checked and Microsoft Defender was updated late this afternoon. Probably was a false positive for a little while. All good now. It went through using Edge, just warnings.

I know ActFix won't fix what I lost, but I hope I can now have a way to backup my stuff for the next release of Cakewalk. Luckily, I hadn't done very extensive ACT mapping yet. I will give ActFix a try.

Thanks for all your help!

That is well known property of modern virus detectors. They continuously report false positive. The last time I got it after modifying 2 lines of the code, fortunately I knew which lines have triggered that and so could rewrite them. But you can find nightmare stories about commercial software releases, which was delayed for days just because of false positives.


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