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Automata UI

Credits: Christian Engler // wirmachenbunt


Hello Automata UI !

this is a visual finite state machine editor with built in finite state machine.

You want bulletproof logic ? You better use the automata node! Well, that's what bjoern told me a couple of years ago. And he was right. If your patch becomes more and more complex, more and more bugs turn up due monoflop, delay, flipflop and framedelay madness. It's much easier with a statemachine.

But since it is probably no fun writing quadruples, it makes sense to introduce a visual editor.

Some Features

So here it is. Inspired by bjoern's "Timer" concept, transitions not only last a frame but can have a configurable duration. Quite useful for any animated user interface project, where animated transitions should be in sync with your logic.

Transitions can be pingpong, meaning they can be bi-directional. States on the other hand have a duration as well, blocking any outgoing Transition for a certain amount of time.

More rules are in the help patch.


And let's not forget, Automata UI is inspired by http://qfsm.sourceforge.net/.

we (wirmachenbunt studio) use the plugin in 12 projects right now, and it made our vvvv patcher life a lot more pleasant. hence we hope it can help you too.

an application video will follow...



  • spreadable edition
  • view slice of automata in editor via inspektor setting
  • force state by ctrl + leftclick on state
  • removed JSON library dependency
  • output all transition time settings as a spread

The plugin is released under a similar idea of licence like vvvv. It's free for non-commercial use. If you need a commercial license, refer to http://wirmachenbunt.de/automata-license-buy

Thanks to Manuel, Daniel, sebl, readme and mbox for acquiring a license. This helps a lot !


AUTOMATAUI 1.11.zip - 15.11.16 [14:44 UTC] by u7angel | 284 downloads
notes: fixed minor bug in transition timing output

other/older revisions

AUTOMATA UI 1.1.zip - 14.11.16 [18:21 UTC] by u7angel | 51 downloads
notes: spreadable edition
AUTOMATA UI 1.0.zip - 31.08.16 [11:05 UTC] by u7angel | 357 downloads

dottore 31/08/2016 - 11:59

thanks :)

kimiki 31/08/2016 - 14:06

Very useful, good job!

sebescudie 31/08/2016 - 14:22


sunep 31/08/2016 - 15:16


tonfilm 31/08/2016 - 16:14

Great stuff!

StiX 31/08/2016 - 16:49

dear mother of dog this is what i need in my life,
does the visual editor use the same thread as vvvv? should i be worried about performance?

u7angel 31/08/2016 - 18:21

@stix, check the debug mode and see how many ticks the node eats. close to nothing ;)

bjoern 31/08/2016 - 18:37

Thanks & Danke für die Blumen :)

Did you use any library like stateless for example or did you write the state machine from scratch? Anyway do you think it's feasible to extend the plugin to support hierarchical state machines?

u7angel 31/08/2016 - 18:57

@bjoern, no library involved apart from Newtonsoft.Json to save the graph as JSON (which i will dump with the next release). so yeah, from scratch i did.

concerning hierachical state machine, i guess we need to discuss that in person to get a picture of the advantages/use cases and how they can be visualized.

m4d 31/08/2016 - 19:37

thanks, this is great!

pechart 31/08/2016 - 20:59

Awesome! Thanks a lot!

beyon 31/08/2016 - 21:13

re hsm: I did some initial testing with a hsm plugin using stateless a couple of years ago and have had the plan to do something more proper since then and possibly even an editor (test used custom text dsl/parser). Unfortunately my time for doing any serious development has been very limited and haven't been able to squeeze it in yet.

Any hierarchical state machine (HSM) can be expressed as a regular finite state machine (FSM) but with a HSM you can make it a lot simpler with less states and transitions because you have nested states and a transition/action will happen if it's either handled by a leaf state itself or any of it's parents.

A reference visualization is proved by the UML standard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UML_state_machine

Posted a screenshot before but I guess nobody saw it (?): root-190#comment-220133

H.Hartung 31/08/2016 - 22:12

Finally! Thank you :) Very nice user experience.

bjoern 31/08/2016 - 23:17


The UML article on wikipedia I linked in my first post describes the advantages quite nicely. But in short: what beyon said.

Most likely one won't need it for the typical car show exhibit we are all so fond of.

But think of a more complex iot-type-situation, e.g. a concept car with a lot of embedded devices, sensors, buttons, touchscreens, motors and whatnot simultaneously talking to and managed by a central "vvvv-hub".

@beyon / Stateless

There is a GUI for Stateless / Visual Studio called Stateless Designer. It currently also only supports FSM though.

Ah and while we are at it, also a nice thing supported by stateless and explained here are guard clauses.

nlsnhrwld 01/09/2016 - 15:24

lovvvve it!

u7angel 02/09/2016 - 08:39

@beyon and bjoern. it's all interesting to read. concerning hierachical state machine you can use multiple instances of the node in your patch.

regarding "guards" i quote something from the link

When you actually code an extended state machine, the guards become the same IFs and ELSEs that you wanted to eliminate by using the state machine in the first place. Too many of them, and you’ll find yourself back in square one ("spaghetti code"), where the guards effectively take over handling of all the relevant conditions in the system.

not sure if this is a needed features. i'll probably keep it as "simple" as it is but thanks for the input.

manuel 03/09/2016 - 07:34

No more thousands counter switch delay = monoflop framedelay etc ! ! ! !

idab 05/09/2016 - 17:11

vvvvow! This is great!

u7angel 13/09/2016 - 11:35

minor bug in combination with latest alpha. the json from the helpfile won't load.

temporary fix:
just reset the node by Alt+right clicking, that's it...create your graph as usual and save it.

will be fixed in next release.

everyoneishappy 15/09/2016 - 11:32

Christian this look really sweet. The only thing I'd miss to want to adopt this over the native node is being able to run multiple state machines. Is this possible or on the roadmap at all? Just mean multiple instances, they all have the same state graph.

u7angel 15/09/2016 - 12:25

@everyoneishappy, not sure if i understand u right. we're not talking about a spreaded automata right ? because multiple instances you can have. each automata graph is saved per node instance.

in case you copy your automata node and edit the new graph, you might need to trigger a transition at least once to update everything since the node behaves as lazy as possible to save cpu cycles.

does this answer your question ?

everyoneishappy 15/09/2016 - 13:17

@u7angel yes I do mean spreaded automata. You said that much more clearly then I did.

u7angel 15/09/2016 - 13:38

@everyoneishappy, it will come

i was talking to many pro patcher and this was the most popular question " is it spreadable". on the contrary, when i asked how often do you use a spreaded automata basically only one guy did it once, years ago :)

anyway, it's almost on top of the todo list

everyoneishappy 15/09/2016 - 14:05

@u7angel good to know. That's kind of funny, I can imagine "is it spreadable" being a popular question regardless of what it does. I can't say I've needed that before, but am about to embark on a project that does

velcrome 16/09/2016 - 17:26

i have used spreaded automata a couple times.

one particular useful case was handling 20 touch points with a single automata.

u7angel 17/09/2016 - 13:29

that makes 3 spreaded automata users :)
next release will have it.

parabola 18/09/2016 - 01:10

Is there around some sort of tutorial on using it?
Looks great but never worked with automata

everyoneishappy 18/09/2016 - 05:05

@parabola http://www.programmingbasics.org/en/beginner/fsm.html should explain the concept. You can find more stuff if you google 'finite state machine'

It's often very useful anytime you have something that should have different modes of behavior (which are what the states are).

u7angel 18/09/2016 - 19:41

@parabola. i will make a tutorial video. october/november

there are different use cases.
i usually use one central automata, controlling my whole vvvv project. telling each subpatch in which state (aka scene) i am and disable or enable subpatches/nodes according to the active state.

in application that means you send the current state string and everywhere else you check the string with =(string) aka "does this string equal the one which i'm waiting for here" hence enable/disable the connected nodes.

bo27 05/10/2016 - 11:43

but where is bezier curves for transitions? love and will miss them

u7angel 08/10/2016 - 12:52

hey bo, i'll put bezier lines on the wishlist.

metrowave 15/11/2016 - 19:08

I really like this!!

samsampson 28/03/2017 - 20:42

Is there any way to tidy the transition lines? I'm making quite a complicated patch and its getting quite messy.


u7angel 31/03/2017 - 11:58

hello sam, bezier transitions are in the making and will be delivered until the node festival

can you provide a screenshot or a patch. would be interesting how complex your statemachine is.

and remember, you can use spreaded and multiple automata nodes to cluster your logic.

samsampson 31/03/2017 - 13:24

Sure, let me just tidy my patch a little.

I never knew you could cluster the automata nodes. Would you be able to explain how to do that? (im new to this)


u7angel 31/03/2017 - 17:22

i meant you can use several automata UI nodes , interacting (triggering) each other. hence you don't have a big graph within one automata but distributed to more than one graph.

i bet the logic can be split into parts/tasks, right ? you don't need to see all at once.

and one hint, you can try to create abstract logic, rather than putting content into your logic. so instead of having states like topic01, topic02, topic03 ... you just have one state named topic. and then handle the selection outside of the statemachine.

anonymous user login


~13h ago

drehwurm: Nevermind... my fault.. had an old DX11 pack installed

~13h ago

drehwurm: Nevermind... my fault.. had an old DX11 pack installed

~13h ago

drehwurm: PointEditor (DX11 2d) help needs a checkup. Replace Renderstate with Rasterizer?

~1d ago

joreg: @mediadog: indeed, fixed that!

~1d ago

mediadog: @microdee @joreg Aha! I had glanced at that list, but assignment was lurking beyond the scrollbar. Athankew!

~1d ago

joreg: first-come-first-serve tickets are now sold out except the "delegate" ones. others are still available from here: https://nodeforum.org/journal/node17-tickets/

~1d ago

~1d ago

microdee: @mediadog: default is set via assignment (equal sign)

~2d ago

mediadog: No default for effect parameters, just min and max?

~2d ago

microdee: regular *fcfs tickets for #node17 are already sold out, and non lowered regular ticket isn't available straight from main page