Beginning Processing

Processing is a system that makes it as straightforward as possible to do some pretty sophisticated graphics programming. Based on Java, it abstracts enough technical details to let you focus, more or less, on the basic logic of the idea you want to animate. From the web site:

It is used by students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists for learning, prototyping, and production. It is created to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context and to serve as a software sketchbook and professional production tool.

Check out the Exhibition forĀ some examples of what’s possible and the Tutorials to see how easy it is get started. There is a great collection of examples for specific topics, too, most of which include illustrative applets embedded in the page. The ability to export Processing programs (or “sketches”) as applets is particularly appealing, although my understanding is that some features, such as file I/O, are available only in application or development mode. It works cross-platform.

I know I have encountered Processing before, but my current interest began as I read Andy Lynch’s description of a simple LDraw renderer he implemented as a Processing sketch. That lit a fire under some related ideas of my own that have been simmering for want of an optimal outlet.

But there’s more to my interest than digital bricks: if there isn’t already a decent library (which would be surprising, as many useful libraries seem to be available), I might be tempted to write a shapefile loader, if for no other reason than to complement theĀ shapefile parser I once wrote for Chipmunk Basic. I think it could be fun to experiment with some raster GIS and remote sensing ideas in Processing, too. (Just get the spectral signatures – click, click, click – and you do it. That’s all what it is!) Last but not least, per its original intent, I can envision using Processing as a superior tool to visualize certain data.

What sort of Process will you invent?

Posted on Monday, January 11th, 2010. Tags: , , , .