Chapter 3. Processing

Processing was one of the first open source projects that was specifically designed for simplifying the practice of creating interactive graphical applications so that nonprogrammers could easily create artworks. Artists and designers developed Processing as an alternative to similar proprietary tools. It’s completely open source and free to download, use, and modify as you see fit. Casey Reas and Ben Fry started the project at MIT under the tutelage of John Maeda, but a group of developers maintain it by making frequent updates to the core codebase and tools. It’s currently at version 1.5, with tools for creating JavaScript versions of sketches, Android applications, as well as applications for online or for all the major operating systems. The Processing project includes an integrated development environment (IDE) that can be used to develop applications, a programming language specifically designed to simplify programming for visual design, and tools to publish your applications to the web or to the desktop.

One of the reasons that we brought up the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) in the introduction is that Processing is a Java application; that is, it runs in the JVM. A Processing application that you as the artist create is also a Java application that requires the JVM to run. You can take two different approaches to running Processing applications. The first is running your Processing application on the Web, which means putting your application in a Hypertext ...

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