Those of you who haven’t heard about Processing will not appreciate the effort I put into coming up with the title of this post. Anyhow, in this post, I will tell you about my very brief entry to the world of processing with Processing.This is the logo of Processing

Processing is an open-source project by Casey Reas and Benjamin Fry. Yes, the same guys who are mentioned in the Based on Processing by…. line in the welcome box of Arduino IDE. Processing is the name of the language as well as the IDE in which the programming is done. The IDE is very clean and not at all overwhelming for the new user. This is in line with the aim of this project – to get the non-programmers to program. Another goal that Processing was supposed to complete was to be the foundation of electronic sketchbooks. And, as I found out soon enough – it is definitely a good place to start.

Visualization is very convenient with Processing. A few lines of code can accomplish what bunches of code do in the more-popular graphical platforms like the DOT NET platform (for instance). This makes it a very good choice for a programming beginner. I do not intend to compare the two (partly because I am not capable of that). The basic principle of Processing is to make programming a fun experience by showing the user what he/she has done – in the form of graphics, animations, figures and drawings.

Export Away!

Another heart-warming feature of Processing is the Export to Application and Export to Applet facility.

Export to Application creates double-click-and-run applications for you. You no more need to integrate multiple libraries for this. I remember my time with wxPython – always looking for a library for this, a library for that. As a beginner, my time was spent more in researching and less in developing. Processing is not as feature-rich as wxPython or Tkinter or DOT NET. But hey! I don’t want to make a chat client – I just want to see how the for-loop does what it does or how the football goes when I kick it at an x-degree angle!

Export to Applet makes it possible to generate applets without the tedious coding involved. Processing does it for you – with the applet’s java code at your disposal (so that an applet designer can tweak your work later if needed). Try it out yourself!

So what can I do?

I may not be the best person to answer this. In fact, no one can tell you what you can do with Processing. It is one of those things. Processing has done and is doing to programming what Arduino did and is doing to hobby electronics. A small time with Google will tell you the myriad applications people have created with Processing. There are funny animations, physics and chemistry simulations, mathematical models, robot emulators and lots more.

You can not only animate or simulate or create figures – there is a host of libraries that exponentially increases the potential applications that can be designed.

There is the Serial I/O library that lets you interact with data coming into and going out of your computer – there is no more the need to learn about using a new plotting library. Grab the data coming in and throw it on your screen for the world to see!

There is a Network library that lets you throw data between computers by allowing configuration of servers and client (see – maybe I was wrong about the chat client thing – maybe Processing can do THAT too! 😀 ).

You knew it was coming, didn’t you? With all this talk about animations and simulation, there indeed is a Video library that lets you generate and play movies and also interface with a camera! There you go – lots of windows open right there!

There is a facility of exporting your sketches as PDFs using the PDF Export facility – isn’t that wonderful?

The icing on the cake – there is a library for interfacing with your Arduino – no need to swap between IDEs while making your next great project using Arduino – you can program it from Processing as well using the Arduino library!

You can visit this page for more info about the library support.

Help me do stuff!

This is the link to the book I used to get started with Processing – it is a fantastic beginner book authored by the creators of Processing.

As is the case with open-source stuff, there is oodles of support available. This is the official forum – and a bit of googling will direct you to even more forums where people discuss their experiences with Processing.

Also, check out OpenProcessing. It is a community of Processing users where they share their work, exchange info and extend help to fellow users.

Did this post encourage you to go ahead and try out processing with Processing? Have something else to tell me and/or others?
Comment away! 🙂