Learning to code – resources

A great starter for those of an artistic leaning to learn to code is Processing: a specially-designed open-source tool aimed to get you up and creating visual experiments quickly.  You are given a big head start to create chunks of code, organised into “sketches”.

The videos are especially helpful because they explain coding in simple steps and give you the opportunity to try bits of code out.

Once you’ve got to grips with it a little, there are plenty of inspirational galleries, tutorials, books and forums to help you out.

The major downside (from feedback from my students) is the lack of opportunity to share your code: exporting running sketches isn’t trivial. Resources like Open Processing exist specifically for sharing sketches, but recent changes in Java security levels mean that other people have to set their security settings to Medium to see sketches (and not everyone has access to make this change e.g. on managed desktops).

Flappy cakes screenshot

Simple sketchpad.cc game – “flappy cakes”

Fortunately, the open source community has been busy porting Processing over to JavaScript for easier sharing, in the guise of Processingjs. Sure, it’s a cut-down version of Processing (since you can’t squish all the Java-based goodness of Processing into JavaScript), but it’s handy for sharing some sketches.

Another massive plus is yet another friendly developer taking Processingjs and adding in some collaboration via Etherpad to create Sketchpad – ta-dah! Web-based collaborative coding in Processing!

The super-nice man who runs Sketchpad will also set up private studios for teaching purposes if you ask him nicely :). Which makes it a great resource for you to throw coding ideas around with friend, or to persuade someone to help you out live, or even to {bravely} do some live coding …


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