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Experimenting with Processing


So, what to do with a few hours spare? Learn Processing of course!

Processing is an open source programming language that makes it relatively easy to make pretty things. The language itself is almost identical to something like JavaScript or Flash ActionScript but the number of commands and functions are vastly reduced. They only really keep the ones that have something directly connected with visual prototyping. Some syntax is a bit strange, like defining object arrays but the rest of it it pretty familiar.

One thing that surprised me was the default Processing editor. If you’ve played around with an Arduino board, you’ve used the editor already! Yep, you save ‘sketches’ and press the ‘play’ button to see your code instantly come to life.

There’s is also a Javascript flavoured version Processing.js. I haven’t looked too much into it yet but it’s obviously the smart move for web based creative coding. You just download the processing javascript library and add your experiment as a html5 canvas element. Ran relatively slow compared to the java applet, but was still pretty impressive.

So my first experiment is a little basic, but you get the idea. It generates up to 10,000 particles and just bounces them about. Took maybe 2 hours to get this far. Next stop is to pop downstairs and grab the Xbox Kinect and try and do something funky with the point data in 3D (Processing has a bunch of native 3D commands too).

So click the image above, or here to launch my demo as a Java applet in a new window. ** Don’t forget to allow Java in your browser if it asks you. You can also see the code in the popup if you’re interested.

Then check out Processing yourself at and download it for FREE here.

And pop over to to see what everyone else is up to.

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