Renoise Document API Reference

The renoise.Document namespace covers all document related Renoise API functions. This includes:

Please read the INTRODUCTION first to get an overview about the complete API, and scripting for Renoise in general...


Documents and Views in the Renoise API are modelled after the observer pattern (have a look at if this is new to you). This means, in order to track changes, a document is basically just a set of raw data (booleans, numbers, lists, nested nodes) which anything can attach notifier function (listeners) to. For example, a view in the Renoise API is an Observer, which listens to observable values in Documents.

Attaching and removing notifiers can be done with the functions 'add_notifier', 'remove_notifier' from the Observable base class. These support multiple kinds of callbacks, plain functions and methods (functions with a context). Please see renoise.Document.Observable for more details. Here is a simple example:

function bpm_changed()
  print(("something changed the BPM to %s"):format(
-- later on, maybe:

When adding notifiers to lists (like the track list in a song) an additional context parameter is passed to your notifier function. This way you know what happened to the list:

function tracks_changed(notification)
  if (notification.type == "insert") then
    print(("new track was inserted at index: %d"):format(notification.index))
  elseif (notification.type == "remove") then
    print(("track got removed from index: %d"):format(notification.index))
  elseif (notification.type == "swap") then
    print(("track at index: %d and %d swapped their positions"):format(
      notification.index1, notification.index2))

If you only want to use the existing "_observables" in the Renoise API, then this is all you need to know. If you want to create your own documents, read on.

Overall API Design

All renoise.Document classes are wrappers for Renoise's internal document classes. The Lua wrappers are not really "the Lua way" of solving and expressing things. e.g: theres no support for mixed types in lists, tuples at the moment.

The reason behind this limitation is to allow both worlds (Lua in scripts and the internal C++ objects) to fully interact with each others: scripts can use existing Renoise objects, Renoise documents can be extended with Lua classes, and so on.

If all you need is a generic XML import/export (or JSON, or "insert trendy format here") and you don't need an Observable mechanism for your values, then you should look into using using a generic Lua table serializer instead. See to start.

Related to this, import of renoise.Documents from XML will NOT create new object models from the source XML files, but will only assign existing corresponding values in your document object (except for lists which are instantiated dynamically). This means values which are not present in the original model will silently be ignored during import. This behaviour is, most of the time, the desired one. For example, when extending an already existing document format. However, when dealing with unknown models or formats, you will need to research other options.

Document Basetypes, Building Blocks

Types that can be in used in renoise.Documents, things that can make up a document are:

ObservableBoolean/Number/String is a simple wrapper for the raw Lua base types. Basically, it just stores the corresponding value (a boolean, number, or string) and maintains a list of attached notifiers. Each Observable object is strongly typed, can only hold a predefined Lua base type, defined when constructing the property. Same is true for the basetype list wrappers: Lists can not contain multiple objects of different types.

Lua's other fundamental type, the table, has no direct representation in the Document API: You can either use strongly typed lists in order to get Lua index based table alike behaviour, or use nested document nodes or lists (documents in documents) to get an associative table alike layout/behaviour.

Except for the strong typing, ObservableBoolean/String/NumberList and DocumentList will behave more or less like Lua tables with number based indices (Arrays).

You can use the # operator or [] operators just like you do with tables, but can also query all this info via list methods (:size(), :property(name), [...]).

Creating Documents via "renoise.Document.create()" (models)

An empty document (node) object can be created with the function


Such document objects can be extended with the document's "add_property" function. Existing properties can also be removed again with the "remove_property" function:

-- creates an empty document, using "MyDoc" as the model name (a type name)
local my_document = renoise.Document.create("MyDoc"){ }
-- adds a number to the document with the initial value 1
my_document:add_property("value1", 1)
-- adds a string
my_document:add_property("value2", "bla")
-- create another document and adds it
local node = renoise.Document.create("MySubDoc"){ }
node:add_property("another_value", 1)
-- add another already existing node
my_document:add_property("nested_node", node)
-- removes a previously added node
-- access properties
local value1 = my_document.value1
value1 = my_document:property("value1")

A more comfortable, and often more readable way of creating simple document trees, structs, can be done by passing a table to the create() function:

my_document = renoise.Document.create("MyDoc") {
  age = 1,
  name = "bla", -- implicitly specify a property type
  is_valid = renoise.Document.ObservableBoolean(false), -- or explicitly
  age_list = {1, 2, 3},
  another_list = renoise.Document.ObservableNumberList(),
  sub_node = {
    sub_value1 = 2,
    sub_value2 = "bla2"

This will create a document node which is !modeled! after the the passed table. The table is not used internally by the document after construction, and will only be referenced to construct new instances. Also note that you need to assign values for all passed table properties in order to automatically determine it's type, or specify the types explicitly -> renoise.Document.ObservableXXX().

The passed name ("MyDoc" in the example above) is used to identify the document when loading/saving it (loading a XML file which was saved with a different model will fail) and to generally specify the "type".

Additionally, once "create" is called, you can use the specified model name to create new instances. For example:

-- create a new instance of "MyDoc"
my_other_document = renoise.Document.instantiate("MyDoc")

Creating Documents via inheritance (custom Doc classes)

As an alternative to "renoise.Document.create", you can also inherit from renoise.Document.DocumentNode in order to create your own document classes. This is especially recommended when dealing with more complex docs, because you can also use additional methods to deal with your properties, the data.

Here is a simple example:

class "MyDocument"(renoise.Document.DocumentNode)
  function MyDocument:__init()
    -- important! call super first
    -- add properties to construct the document model
    self:add_property("age", 1)
    self:add_property("name", renoise.Document.ObservableString("value"))
    -- other doc renoise.Document.DocumentNode object
    self:add_property("sub_node", MySubNode())
    -- list of renoise.Document.DocumentNode objects
    self:add_property("doc_list", renoise.Document.DocumentList())
    -- or the create() way:
    self:add_properties {
      something = "else"

instantiating such document objects can be done, as previously stated, by calling the constructor:

my_document = MyDocument()
-- do something with my_document, load/save, add/remove more properties

Accessing Document Properties

Accessing "renoise.Document.DocumentNode" can be done more or less just like you do with tables in Lua, except that if you want to get/set the value of some property, you have to query the value explicitly. Using my_document from the example above:

-- this returns the !ObservableNumber object, not a number!
local age_observable = my_document.age
-- this sets the value of the object
my_document.age.value = 2
-- this accesses/prints the value of the object
-- add notifiers
  print("something changed 'age'!")
-- inserts a new entry to the list
-- queries the length of the list
-- access a list member
local entry = my_document.age_list[1]
-- list members are observables as well
my_document.age_list[2].value = 33

For more details about document construction and notifiers, have a look at the class docs below.



Create an empty DocumentNode or a DocumentNode that is modelled after the passed table. See the general description in this file for more info about creating documents. "model name" will be used to identify the documents type when loading/saving. It also allows you to instantiate new document objects (see renoise.Document.instantiate).

renoise.Document.create(model_name) {[table]}
  -> [renoise.Document.DocumentNode object]

create a new instance of the given document model. model_name must have been registered with renoise.Document.create before.

  -> [renoise.Document.DocumentNode object]



Serialize an object to a string.

  -> [string]

Assign the object's value from a string - when possible. Errors are silently ignored.




Checks if the given function, method was already registered as notifier.

observable:has_notifier(function or (object, function) or (function, object))
  -> [boolean]

Register a function or method as a notifier, which will be called as soon as the observable's value changed.

observable:add_notifier(function or (object, function) or (function, object))

Unregister a previously registered notifier. When only passing an object to remove_notifier, all notifier functions that match the given object will be removed; a.k.a. all methods of the given object are removed. They will not fire errors when none are attached.

observable:remove_notifier(function or (object, function) or
 (function, object) or (object))

renoise.Document.ObservableBang (inherits Observable)

Observable without a value which sends out notifications when "banging" it.


fire a notification, calling all registered notifiers.


renoise.Document.ObservableBoolean/Number/String (inherits Observable, Serializable)

Observables which send out notifications on value changes.


Read/write access to the value of an Observable.

  -> [boolean, number or string]

renoise.Document.ObservableBoolean/String/NumberList (inherits Observable, Serializable)


Query a list's size (item count).

  -> [Number]

Access an observable item of the list by index (returns nil for non existing items).

  -> [renoise.Document.Observable object]


Returns the number of entries of the list.

  -> [number]

List item access (returns nil for non existing items).

  -> [nil or an renoise.Document.Observable object]

Find a value in the list by comparing the list values with the passed value. The first successful match is returned. When no match is found, nil is returned.

observable_list:find([start_pos,] value)
  -> [nil or number (the index)]

Insert a new item to the end of the list when no position is specified, or at the specified position. Returns the newly created and inserted Observable.

observable_list:insert([pos,] value)
  -> [inserted Observable object]

Removes an item (or the last one if no index is specified) from the list.


Swaps the positions of two items without adding/removing the items. With a series of swaps you can move the item from/to any position.

observable_list:swap(pos1, pos2)


Notifiers from renoise.Document.Observable are available for lists as well, but will not broadcast changes made to the items, only changes to the !list! layout.

This means you will get notified as soon as an item is added, removed or changes its position, but not when an item's value has changed. If you are interested in value changes, attach notifiers directly to the items and not to the list...

List notifiers will also pass a table with information about what happened to the list as the first argument to the notifier, example:

function my_list_changed_notifier(notification)

When a new element gets added, the "notification" is:

{ type = "insert",
index = index_where_element_got_added }

When a element gets removed, the "notification" is:

{ type = "remove",
index = index_where_element_got_removed_from }

When two entries swap their position, the "notification" is:

{ type = "swap",
index1 = index_swap_pos1,
index2 = index_swap_pos2 }

Please note that all notifications are fired !after! the list is changed, so the removed object is no longer available at the index you get back in the notification. Also, newly inserted objects will already be present in the destination index, and so on...

See renoise.Document.Observable for more info about has/add/remove_notifier

observable_list:has_notifier(function or (object, function) or
  (function, object)) -> [boolean]
observable_list:add_notifier(function or (object, function) or
  (function, object))
observable_list:remove_notifier(function or (object, function) or
 (function, object) or (object))



Query a list's size (item count).

  -> [Number]

Access a document item from the list by index (returns nil for non existing items).

  -> [renoise.Document.DocumentNode object]


Returns the number of entries in the list.

  -> [number]

List item access by index (returns nil for non existing items).

  -> [nil or renoise.Document.DocumentNode object]

Insert a new item to the end of the list when no position is specified, or at the specified position. Returns the inserted DocumentNode.

doc_list:insert([pos,] doc_object)
  -> [inserted renoise.Document.DocumentNode object]

Removes an item (or the last one if no index is specified) from the list.


Swaps the positions of two items without adding/removing them. With a series of swaps you can move the item from/to any position.

doc_list:swap(pos1, pos2)


Notifiers behave exactly like renoise.Document.ObservableXXXLists. Please have a look at those for more info.

doc_list:has_notifier(function or (object, function) or
  (function, object)) -> [boolean]
doc_list:add_notifier(function or (object, function) or
  (function, object))
doc_list:remove_notifier(function or (object, function) or
 (function, object) or (object))



  -> [nil or (Observable, ObservableList or DocumentNode, DocumentList object)]


  -> [boolean]

Access a property by name. Returns the property, or nil when there is no such property.

  -> [nil or (Observable, ObservableList or DocumentNode, DocumentList object)]

Add a new property. Name must be unique: overwriting already existing properties with the same name is not allowed and will fire an error.

doc:add_property(name, boolean_value)
  -> [newly created ObservableBoolean object]
doc:add_property(name, number_value)
  -> [newly created ObservableNumber object]
doc:add_property(name, string_value)
  -> [newly created ObservableString object]
doc:add_property(name, list)
  -> [newly created ObservableList object]
doc:add_property(name, node)
  -> [newly created DocumentNode object]
doc:add_property(name, node_list)
  -> [newly created DocumentList object]

Remove a previously added property. Property must exist.

doc:remove_property(document or observable object)

Save the whole document tree to an XML file. Overwrites all contents of the file when it already exists.

  -> [success, error_string or nil on success]

Load the document tree from an XML file. This will NOT create new properties, except for list items, but will only assign existing property values in the document node with existing property values from the XML. This means: nodes that only exist in the XML will silently be ignored. Nodes that only exist in the document, will not be altered in any way. The loaded document's type must match the document type that saved the XML data. A document's type is specified in the renoise.Document.create() function as 'model_name'. For classes which inherit from renoise.Document.DocumentNode it's the class name.

  -> [success, error_string or nil on success]

Serialize the whole document tree to a XML string.

  -> [string]

Parse document tree from the given string data. See doc:load_from for details about how properties are parsed and errors are handled.

  -> [boolean, error_String]