I found out about Processing by accident. And what a great accident it was. While browsing Goodreads, I stumbled upon a book about generative art. Its cover drew my attention and I decided to find out more about this kind of art and about Processing. So I went on processing.org, downloaded Processing 2.1.1, and looked through the exhibition. When you see amazing things like this or this, and you see what can be done with lots of data to obtain beautiful and interesting vizualisations, you are instantly convinced by this language. Before you know it, you’re hooked and typing away code in the Processing IDE.
How I started
I had previous experiences with other languages, including C, Python and Perl, but I stopped learning them. I don’t know exactly the reason, but after a while, my interest would drop and I’d just move on. I stuck with Processing because it’s easy to learn, and you get visible results almost immediately you start coding. This language was initially created to teach programming fundamentals in a visual context, but it has evolved into more than that. Now it’s being used by artists, designers, researchers etc., and in so many ways that, probably, in a couple of years it might be a standard requirement for hiring designers and/or programmers.
The research & learning process
If you’re new to Processing, the best place to start would be the video tutorial on http://hello.processing.org. This is a tutorial presented by Daniel Shiffman, who is one of the best teachers I’ve ever seen. He also wrote two great books, but I’ll mention them later on. You could also have a look over http://processing.org/tutorials/. I didn’t spend a lot of time there, as I wanted to learn programming step by step. That’s how I got to “Learning Processing“, a book written by Daniel Shiffman.
For me, that book was the best way to start learning Processing. The author has a great way of explaining and teaching, and you’ll find a lot of exercises, projects, along with the basic concepts of programming – in general – and how they are applied in Processing. After reading this book, I’d recommend reading another book by Daniel Shiffman, called “Nature of Code“. I think it’s a great introduction into more advanced concepts, and the first step before diving into books like “Processing – Creative Coding and Generative Art in Processing 2“, by Ira Greenberg, Dianna Xu and Deepak Kumar.
Another great book that you can learn a lot from is “Generative Art – A Practical Guide Using Processing“, by Matt Pearson. This should be read after you already have a grasp of basic concepts of programming in Processing, as it will get difficult to follow after some time.
There’s also the possibility to learn online. You’ll find a lot of examples, most of them very complex, on AmnonP5. You will get a lot of inspiration from this site, as the author is sharing his experiences with the readers. This site is great if you already have some experience with Processing and you want to build on what you already know.
Over on My Code History you can learn about Processing by doing. The author shares his progress with Processing, along with examples and the results.
Basically, these are the things I’ve started with when I decided to learn Processing. You will find some more references in the books I recommended earlier, and I hope this little resource guide will prove useful if you’re just starting out.