A Look Back on the Last 10 Years as We Celebrate a Milestone with Jeff Mackie

Back in 2010 the idea of leveraging modern programming languages in AV was far from mainstream. It would be years before Crestron announced SIMPL#, Extron unveiled Python, and QSC supported Lua scripting. AMX had only recently introduced Cafe Duet as a way to implement Java and support a standard API for common device types known as SNAPI.

The world of AV control was limited to what could be done using restricted, proprietary languages and configuration solutions targeted toward specific AV-centric solutions. The opportunity to leverage the vast world of software development tools and libraries was almost non-existent and modern software development techniques such as object oriented programming (OOP) had limited value due to the constraints of the available AV programming languages.

This was the same year that Jeff Mackie, Control Concepts CTO, approached President and Founder Steve Greenblatt to share an idea he had for providing software offerings to expand the possibilities of AV control system solutions, surpass the perceived limits of traditional AV systems, and tackle challenges that others wouldn’t attempt. His vision entailed approaching AV control programming differently by introducing modern programming languages and software development techniques that were not being commonly implemented at the time. It would change the trajectory, focus, and makeup of the company for years to come.

The results of which were new offerings for Control Concepts. One can be described as middleware solutions to tie together disparate products with complex APIs to provide enhanced compatibility. Another incorporates webpages and software applications to serve as a front end and improve the usability, setup, and field configuration of AV systems.

Fast forward to 2020, as we celebrate Jeff’s 10 year anniversary at Control Concepts, we also reflect on the changes in the AV and control programming world. Modern programming languages and solutions including C#, Python, Lua, HTML5 (HTML, JavaScript, CSS) are commonly being discussed as ways to solve challenges and overcome limitations of legacy AV software solutions. Additionally, as the device APIs are growing in complexity due to the need to support web services, security, and authentication, modern programming languages are the way to go to harness their power and offer compatibility.

The industry is also seeing a growing shift from custom programmed AV systems to out-of-the-box and field configurable solutions driven by a greater focus on usability, scalability, simplicity, efficiency, and ease of implementation for technology managers and integrators alike. Satisfying these requirements rely on robust backend software solutions that make it easy for systems to be configured and deployed without the need to understand the complexities of device APIs and communication protocols. The result being an increased demand for modules, drivers, and plugins that seamlessly integrate manufacturers’ devices and software with control platforms. These have all become strengths and a core offering of Control Concepts stemming from Jeff’s 2010 vision.

It’s great when a plan comes together and vision can be realized. While it wasn’t always a clear and easy path, with perseverance, innovation, and Jeff’s commitment to tackling client requests and challenges no matter the complexity, Control Concepts has built a team of software developers and is continuing to successfully pivot from a traditional independent programming company to an AV software solutions provider serving a specific niche of making manufacturers’ products easier to integrate for other programmers.

Thank you Jeff for 10 great years of leadership and many more to come!