Intro to Processing

(This post is based on an earlier post in another blog in German)

For quite some time I’ve been following the news about Processing. Processing is an open-source environment for creating visualizations programmatically. The project was initiated by Casey Reas and Benjamin Fry in the Media Lab of the MIT.

Processing encompasses both the Java-based Processing programming language and an Integrated Development Environment, IDE, in which to write code. Processing enables users to generate rather complex graphics and animations (also with interactivity). Considerably fewer code is needed to implement something in Processing rather than in Java itself.
According to the website some of Processing’s feature highlights are:

  • Output in 2D or 3D
  • Integration of OpenGL
  • There is an active community.
  • Since Java-based:
    • it’s available for all operating systems (Win, Mac, Linux).
    • Processing projects can be deployed online (using Java and JavaScript or, alternatively and depending on the project’s complexity, JavaScript only).
    • Processing projects can be wrapped into small portable applications which can be run on the afore-mentioned operating systems.

The fastest route into the realm of Processing seems to be through the well-made tutorials. Besides those there are numerous simple and topic-specific examples, examples of 3D visualizations and examples employing external libraries.

As mentioned in the highlights list, Sketches (that’s what Processing-based visualizations are called) can be wrapped in small applications which run locally on a computer. If a sketch is deployed to the web instead, Processing generates both a Java applet and a simple webpage in which the former is embedded. To view such an online sketch a user needs to have JavaScript switched on in the browser and a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed. Besides Processing there is the sibling project Processing.js, which is said to enable the deployment of sketches to the web with one big advantage: no Java needed!

Image credits: CC-BY Mykl Roventine

That’s it for the moment about the background and bare basics of Processing.
I will show some of the inner workings of Processing as well as a simple example in a later post.


4 thoughts on “Intro to Processing

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