November 25, 2008
Give Thanks: Processing 1.0!
A great programming language, which I happen to have used very productively for computational experimentation, art, and teaching, has just finally been released after many years of development and (very functional) beta versions. It’s Processing 1.0, now ready for download. Congratulations to Ben Fry, Casey Reas, and the others who have participated in the project, and yay for us. Here’s the blurb on Processing 1.0:
Today, on November 24, 2008, we launch the 1.0 version of the Processing software. Processing is a programming language, development environment, and online community that since 2001 has promoted software literacy within the visual arts. Initially created to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context, Processing quickly developed into a tool for creating finished professional work as well.
Processing is a free, open source alternative to proprietary software tools with expensive licenses, making it accessible to schools and individual students. Its open source status encourages the community participation and collaboration that is vital to Processing’s growth. Contributors share programs, contribute code, answer questions in the discussion forum, and build libraries to extend the possibilities of the software. The Processing community has written over seventy libraries to facilitate computer vision, data visualization, music, networking, and electronics.
Students at hundreds of schools around the world use Processing for classes ranging from middle school math education to undergraduate programming courses to graduate fine arts studios.
+ At New York University’s graduate ITP program, Processing is taught alongside its sister project Arduino and PHP as part of the foundation course for 100 incoming students each year.
+ At UCLA, undergraduates in the Design | Media Arts program use Processing to learn the concepts and skills needed to imagine the next generation of web sites and video games.
+ At Lincoln Public Schools in Nebraska and the Phoenix Country Day School in Arizona, middle school teachers are experimenting with Processing to supplement traditional algebra and geometry classes.
Tens of thousands of companies, artists, designers, architects, and researchers use Processing to create an incredibly diverse range of projects.
+ Design firms such as Motion Theory provide motion graphics created with Processing for the TV commercials of companies like Nike, Budweiser, and Hewlett-Packard. + Bands such as R.E.M., Radiohead, and Modest Mouse have featured animation created with Processing in their music videos.
+ Publications such as the journal Nature, the New York Times, Seed, and Communications of the ACM have commissioned information graphics created with Processing.
+ The artist group HeHe used Processing to produce their award-winning Nuage Vert installation, a large-scale public visualization of pollution levels in Helsinki.
+ The University of Washington’s Applied Physics Lab used Processing to create a visualization of a coastal marine ecosystem as a part of the NSF RISE project.
+ The Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies at Miami University uses Processing to build visualization tools and analyze text for digital humanities research.
Processing was founded by Ben Fry and Casey Reas in 2001 while both were John Maeda’s students at the MIT Media Lab. Further development has taken place at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, Carnegie Mellon University, and the UCLA, where Reas is chair of the Department of Design | Media Arts. Miami University, Oblong Industries, and the Rockefeller Foundation have generously contributed funding to the project.
The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (a Smithsonian Institution) included Processing in its National Design Triennial. Works created with Processing were featured prominently in the Design and the Elastic Mind show at the Museum of Modern Art. Numerous design magazines, including Print, Eye, and Creativity, have highlighted the software.
For their work on Processing, Fry and Reas received the 2008 Muriel Cooper Prize from the Design Management Institute. The Processing community was awarded the 2005 Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica award and the 2005 Interactive Design Prize from the Tokyo Type Director’s Club.
The Processing website (www.processing.org) includes tutorials, exhibitions, interviews, a complete reference, and hundreds of software examples. The Discourse forum hosts continuous community discussions and dialog with the developers.
November 30th, 2008 at 8:29 pm
November 30th, 2008 at 8:30 pm
Also note that Processing is taught in the computer science department at Dartmouth College in several courses relating to the Digital Arts Minor, http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/DigitalArts/about.html, and might be in some of the new classes I’m developing at Dartmouth.
December 1st, 2008 at 10:21 pm
Hm. Well, this gives me absolutely no insight as to why Processing might be better or worse than PHP, Java, Flash, or, you know, Python, or for that matter LISP or RPG. Or Dark Basic, or, who knows, the SCUMM engine. What does it do well? What does it do poorly? “computer programming within a visual context” sounds quite vague to me.
December 1st, 2008 at 11:01 pm
Greg, to answer very briefly – I’ve found that Processing is good for quickly sketching out visual, interactive, Web-based projects that are driven by computation. It’s also pretty good for novice programmers. Ultimately, it may be most useful to look at example projects that have been done in Processing to get an idea of what it does well.