It's like Christmas coming early for the creative-coding community: the latest update to Processing, perhaps the most artist-friendly programming language and IDE, is out, bringing Casey Reas, Ben Fry, and Dan Shiffman’s initiative to the next step. Staying true to the initial value and philosophy that have been signature to the platform since 2001, the 3.0 version keeps things going strong when it comes to promoting the open-sourced, community-developed computer programming environment, offering everyone the ability to understand, read, and write software for computer-based art and creativity,
By providing an extremely user-friendly coding format, syntax, and interface, Processing offers non-programmers the ability to not only learn the computer and code-generated arts, but to wade through the fundamentals of computer programming through a visual means. As a tool enabling boundless creativity, Processing has attracted many creators, allowing them to amplify their projects by injecting code at the core of their creative process. Arduino-powered wearable, complex generative patterns and even mathematical-driven music videos are just a fraction of the impressive works that have emerged so far.
The new makeover enhances both front- and back-end, and the ever-evolving and easy-to-use interface debuts with new features including a re-thought editing window, a brand new, redesigned user interface, high-res display support, and even a unified contributions manager.
To learn more about about the essence of Processing—and also about the latest features—The Creators Project talked to Casey Reas, one of the co-creator of the platform.
The Creators Project: Processing has evolved significantly since its creation. Can you briefly talk about the different main steps from the beginning to now?
Casey Reas: It started as a software “sketchbook” and environment for classrooms and it's still both of those things, but it has also emerged as a high-performance environment for computer graphics and interactive installations. It evolved into this new role in two steps, at Processing 2.0 and now with Processing 3.0.
It has also evolved as a community as libraries created by the community have become essential to Processing and its identity.
Yeah, it seems that the community aspect is crucial into the development process. Can you give us some details about that?
Processing is almost entirely created by volunteers—people who donate their time because they believe in the project's mission. As a free, open-source project since the beginning in 2001, we have always worked as an international group coordinating through online tools. The list of current and past contributors is online here and GitHub keeps track of the precise data here and here.
Can we have some details about the new features offered by this upgrade? What's new?
This is a big release. Dan made a 20-minute video to walk through the new features—it really takes that long to get through it all.
In short, we've pushed it in two directions. We have completely updated the code editor and environment to help beginners with suggestions and annotations that includes a new “tweak” mode for making changes while code is running as well as an integrated debugger to inspect what the code is doing in more detail. We have made internal changes for your code to run faster, to take advantage of high resolution displays, and to run at full screen across multiple displays.
Related, Processing for Android has been updated for 3.0 and we're actively adapting Processing to integrate well with the Raspberry Pi. The Pi project will be announced soon. Also,we launched an official library for audio for Processing 3. It's developed by Wilm Thoben and it's called simply "Sound."
Do you have any advice for using these new features?
We've changed very little of the Processing language for 3.0 so almost all programs that use the core of Processing will run without modifications. Many of the contributed libraries need to be updated and we're currently reaching out to Library creators to help with updating their important contributions for the new software. We have a full list of changes on GitHub that includes tips for migrating code from Processing 2.0.
What's next for Processing? Any insights that you can share with us?
Later this fall, we plan to launch an open call for a Processing Fellowship initiative to offer a stipend to people to explore ways to move Processing forward in new social and technical directions.
Processing 3.0 is free and open-sourced, and is available for download here.
Lead Developers: Ben Fry and Casey Reas started Processing in Spring 2001 and continue to obsessively work on it. In 2012, they started the Processing Foundation along with Dan Shiffman, who formally joined as a third project lead.
Senior Developers: Andres Colubri (Boston), OpenGL / Video, Florian Jenett (Frankfurt), Forum, Elie Zananiri (Montreal), Contributed Libraries / Tools, Scott Murray (San Francisco), Website / Reference / UI.
Developers: Jakub Valtar (Brno), Processing Core, Scott Garner (New York), Hello Processing Website, Gottfried Haider (Amsterdam), Serial Library Updates (64-bit), Jamie Kosoy (San Francisco), Website, Manindra Moharana (San Diego), PDE / Core, James Grady (Boston), Visual Design.