Note: This README file, along with more complete documentation for MIKMIDI is a work in progress. Questions should be directed to the author.


MIKMIDI is an easy-to-use Objective-C MIDI library by Mixed In Key. It's a Cocoa-like set of Objective-C classes useful for programmers writing Objective-C OS X or iOS apps that communicate with external MIDI devices, including DJ controllers, keyboards, etc. MIKMIDI is used to provide MIDI functionality in the OS X version of our DJ app, Flow.

MIKMIDI can be used in projects targeting Mac OS X 10.7 and later, and iOS 6 and later.

MIKMIDI is released under an MIT license, meaning you're free to use it in both closed and open source projects. However, even in a closed source project, you must include a publicly-accessible copy of MIKMIDI's copyright notice, which you can find in the LICENSE file.

If you have any questions about, suggestions for, or contributions to MIKMIDI, please contact the author. We'd also love to hear about any cool projects you're using it in.


MIKMIDI is provided as a source library for both OS X and iOS. Additionally, for OS X, a project to build a Framework is included. To use MIKMIDI in your project, add its source to your project by dragging the contents of the 'Source' folder into your Xcode project.

MIKMIDI relies on CoreMIDI.framework, as well as on libxml2. If you're using Xcode 5 or later, you can use its support for Objective-C modules to avoid having to manually link in the CoreMIDI framework. To use this, you must make sure Objective-C module support is turned on in your target/project's build settings (see here). Alternatively, if you're using an older version of Xcode, or can't enable Objective-C module support for some reason, you must add the CoreMIDI framework to the "Link Binary With Libraries" build phase for your target. On iOS, you will also have to manually link with libxml2. In your project's settings, select your application's target, then click on the "Build Phases" tab. Expand the "Link Binary With Libraries" section, then click the "+" button in the lower left corner to add a new Framework. In the list that appears, find and select CoreMIDI.framework and/or libxml2, then click "Add". If you're using MIKMIDI on OS X by building and including MIKMIDI.framework, none of this is necessary, as MIKMIDI.framework already links CoreMIDI, and libxml2 is not required on OS X.

On OS X, you can also use MIKMIDI.framework instead of including the MIKMIDI source in your project. To do so, open MIKMIDI.xcodeproj in the 'Framework' folder, build then copy the resultant MIKMIDI.framework into your project. In In your project's settings, select your application's target, then click on the "Build Phases" tab. Expand the "Link Binary With Libraries" section, then click the "+" button in the lower left corner to add a new Framework. In the list that appears, find and select MIKMIDI.framework.

Important Note: MIKMIDI relies on Automatic Reference Counting (ARC). If you'd like to use its source in a non-ARC project, you'll need to open the "Compile Sources" build phase for the target(s) you're using it in, and add the -fobjc-arc flag to the "Compiler Flags" column for all MIKMIDI implementation (.m) files. MIKMIDI will generate a compiler error if ARC is not enabled.

MIKMIDI Overview

MIKMIDI has an Objective-C interface -- as opposed to CoreMIDI's pure C API -- in order to make adding MIDI support to a Cocoa/Cocoa Touch app easier. A portion of MIKMIDI consists of relatively thin Objective-C wrappers around underlying CoreMIDI APIs. Much of MIKMIDI's design is informed and driven by CoreMIDI's design. For this reason, familiarity with the high level pieces of CoreMIDI can be helpful in understanding and using MIKMIDI.

MIKMIDI is not limited to Objective-C interfaces for existing CoreMIDI functionality. MIKMIDI provides a number of higher level features. This includes an easy way to receive and route MIDI messages to appropriate parts of your application. Also included is functionality intended to facilitate implementing a MIDI learning UI so that users may create custom MIDI mapping files. These MIDI mapping files associate physical controls on a particular piece of MIDI hardware with corresponding receivers (e.g. on-screen buttons, knobs, musical instruments, etc.) in your application.

To understand MIKMIDI, it's helpful to break it down into three major subsystems:

  • Device support -- includes support for device discovery, connection/disconnection, and sending/receiving MIDI messages.
  • MIDI commands -- includes a number of Objective-C classes that various represent MIDI message types.
  • MIDI mapping -- support for generating, saving, loading, and mapping files that associate physical MIDI controls with corresponding application features.

Device Support

MIKMIDI's device support architecture is based on the underlying CoreMIDI architecture. There are several major classes used to represent portions of a device. All of these classes are subclasses of MIKMIDIObject. These classes are listed below. In parentheses is the corresponding CoreMIDI class.

  • MIKMIDIObject (MIDIObjectRef) -- Abstract base class for all the classes listed below. Includes properties common to all MIDI objects.
  • MIKMIDIDevice (MIDIDeviceRef) -- Represents a single physical device, e.g. a DJ controller, MIDI keyboard, MIDI drum set, etc.
  • MIKMIDIEntity (MIDIEntityRef) -- Groups related endpoints. Owned by MIKMIDIDevice, contains MIKMIDIEndpoints.
  • MIKMIDIEndpoint (MIDIEndpointRef) -- Abstract base class representing a MIDI endpoint. Not used directly, only via its subclasses MIKMIDISourceEndpoint and MIKMIDIDestinationEndpoint.
  • MIKMIDISourceEndpoint -- Represents a MIDI source. MIDI sources receive messages that your application can hear and process.
  • MIKMIDIDestinationEndpoint -- Represents a MIDI destination. Your application passes MIDI messages to a destination endpoint in order to send them to a device.

MIKMIDIDeviceManager is a singleton class used for device discovery, and to send and receive MIDI messages to and from endpoints. To get a list of MIDI devices available on the system, call -availableDevices on the shared device manager:

NSArray *availableMIDIDevices = [[MIKMIDIDeviceManager sharedDeviceManager] availableDevices];

MIKMIDIDeviceManager also includes the ability to retrieve 'virtual' endpoints, to enable communicating with other MIDI apps, or with devices (e.g. Native Instruments controllers) which present as virtual endpoints rather than physical devices.

MIKMIDIDeviceManager's availableDevices, and virtualSources and virtualDestinations properties are Key Value Observing (KVO) compliant. This means that for example, availableDevices can be bound to an NSPopupMenu in an OS X app to provide an automatically updated list of connected MIDI devices. They can also be directly observed using key value observing to be notified when devices are connected or disconnected, etc. Additionally, MIKMIDIDeviceManager posts these notifications: MIKMIDIDeviceWasAddedNotification, MIKMIDIDeviceWasRemovedNotification, MIKMIDIVirtualEndpointWasAddedNotification, MIKMIDIVirtualEndpointWasRemovedNotification.

MIKMIDIDeviceManager is used to sign up to receive messages from MIDI endpoints as well as to send them. To receive messages from a MIKMIDISourceEndpoint, you must connect the endpoint and supply an event handler block to be called anytime messages are received. This is done using the -connectInput:error:eventHandler: method. When you no longer want to receive messages, you must call the -disconnectInput: method. To send MIDI messages to an MIKMIDIDestinationEndpoint, call -[MIKMIDIDeviceManager sendCommands:toEndpoint:error:] passing an NSArray of MIKMIDICommand instances. For example:

If you've used CoreMIDI before, you may be familiar with MIDIClientRef and MIDIPortRef. These are used internally by MIKMIDI, but the "public" API for MIKMIDI does not expose them -- or their Objective-C counterparts -- directly. Rather, MIKMIDIDeviceManager itself allows sending and receiving messages to/from MIKMIDIEndpoints.

MIDI Messages

In MIKMIDI, MIDI messages are Objective-C objects. These objects are instances of concrete subclasses of MIKMIDICommand. Each MIDI message type (e.g. Control Change, Note On, System Exclusive, etc.) has a corresponding class (e.g. MIKMIDIControlChangeCommand). Each command class has properties specific to that message type. By default, MIKMIDICommands are immutable. Mutable variants of each command type are also available.

MIDI Mapping

MIKMIDI includes features to help with adding MIDI mapping support to an application. MIDI mapping refers to the ability to map physical controls on a particular hardware controller to specific functions in the application. MIKMIDI's mapping support includes the ability to generate, save, load, and use mapping files that associate physical controls with an application's specific functionality. It also includes help with implementing a system that allows end users to easily generate their own mappings using a "MIDI learn" style interface.

The major components of MIKMIDI's MIDI mapping functionality are:

  • MIKMIDIMapping - Model class containing information to map incoming messages to to the appropriate application functionality.
  • MIKMIDIMappingManager - Singleton manager used to load, save, and retrieve both application-bundled, and user customized mapping files.
  • MIKMIDIMappingGenerator - Class that can listen to incoming MIDI messages, and associate them with application functionality, creating a custom MIDI mapping file.