Getting Started with Processing: A Hands-On Introduction to Making Interactive Graphics Paperback – Sep 26 2015
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About the Author
Casey Reas is a professor in the Department of Design Media Arts at UCLA and a graduate of the MIT Media Laboratory. Reas' software has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries in the United States, Europe, and Asia. With Ben Fry, he co-founded Processing in 2001. He is the co-author of Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists (2007) and Form+Code in Design, Art, and Architecture (2010). His work is archived at http://www.reas.comwww.reas.com.
Ben Fry has a doctorate from the MIT Media Laboratory and was the 2006-2007 Nierenberg Chair of Design for the Carnegie Mellon School of Design. He worked with Casey Reas to develop Processing, which won a Golden Nica from the Prix Ars Electronica in 2005. Ben's work has received a New Media Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation, and been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, Ars Electronica, the 2002 Whitney Biennial, and the 2003 Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial.
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I have some experience with c++ and arduino. I'm not an advanced programmer by any means but this book was easy to read and understand. It got right into putting things on the screen and playing around! It is great for making graphics to represent arduino serial data and interfaces.
The founders of Processing have created an extremely easy tutorial in book form appropriately called "Getting Stated with Processing." Now in its second edition, they state their purpose and mission in the book's first sentence: "We created Processing to make programming interactive graphics easier." They largely succeeded. As one progresses through this small 200 page book littered with code examples, screen shots, and diagrams, many may find themselves gasping aloud at just how effortlessly some really beautiful graphics appear. Even the very first example only 9 pages in, which creates a program that draws trailing circles from mouse movements, looks astonishing at first sight. The code for this example runs only some 15 lines or less. And it looks impressive despite its simplicity. This should catapult anyone interested in simple graphics processing through the rest of the book. Even better, the examples just get more and more incredible.
Starting with the absolute basics of drawing shapes on the screen, the book also covers many aspects of interactivity. After describing how to download and install Processing, also a very easy and free task, the book jumps into making shapes with colors, borders, varying thicknesses and transparencies. It even includes a handy discussion on Trigonometric functions for creating arcs (mathematics degree not required). Programming concepts such as variables, loops, mouse and keyboard input overlay the discussion on graphics creation. Everything appears at an easy going pace that any beginner will appreciate. To reinforce concepts, the end of each chapter includes a more sophisticated example using a bulbous-headed robot. Anyone who reaches the book's half way point will possess enough knowledge to make graphics crawl, walk or soar across the screen.
Subsequent chapters keep expanding Processing's abilities, such as using image or media files, displaying text, motion and tweening, randomness, breaking out programs into easier to manage functions, objects, arrays, processing and displaying data sets through delimited files or JSON and countless other possibilities. One particularly astounding example begins with loading a comma delimited file containing the latitude and longitude of 29,740 American cities into Processing. Using the map() function these data points get translated into pixels that display on the screen in the shape of the continental United States. Not only that, it incorporates mouse movements to allow scanning the map horizontally. A final chapter introduces the concept of importing external libraries. Processing version 3 has made this even easier. Here, some samples import the sound library to play sounds from .wav files, to create sine waves or process microphone inputs. One example alters a sine wave frequency based on mouse position. It may drive your family or your pets crazy, but it adequately demonstrates Processing's capabilities. The book ends with a brief discussion of integrating Processing with the popular Arduino microprocessor. It assumes some basic Arduino working knowledge. The sample code reads data from the Ardiuno serial port and makes its way into Processing, where it transforms into sometimes stunning graphics. This really shows what Processing can do and also suggests uses in the expanding realm of the Internet of Things.
"Getting Started with Processing" will get anyone off the ground with this free, easy to use and highly enjoyable program. This small book obviously can't cover everything, but it provides a launching point for the creation of more complex, integrated and highly interactive graphics. As the book indicates, Processing has seen a wide range of use in art galleries, music videos, education, illustration and design. Doubtless its low learning curve and utter lack of price will thrust it into even further use in the near future. Start here.
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