Processing: the released books.

12 December 2007 at 12:47 pm (Books, Hypermedia, Links, Processing.org)

Since this summer, two books about Processing code language have been released. The first one was Ira Greenberg‘s approach with the book Processing, Creative Coding and Computational Art, edited by Friendsoft. The second one, edited by the MIT Press, is Processing, A Programing Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists, presents Casey Reas and Bern Fry‘s approach on code learning. There is another book about Processing : Built with Processing written by Takeshi Maekawa (前川 峻志) – who participated to the processing.jp website- and Kotaro Tanaka (田中 孝太郎) and edited by BNN.

Since I neither read and understend Japanese nor have the Built with processing book, I’ll present my impressions and opinion about both Processing Creative Coding and Computational Art and Processing, A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists books.

Both are learning oriented books, they present and explain the code language structure and how to start building your own programs. The main and obvious difference between both books are the writing style and the pedagogic approach.

Ira Greenberg’s book has a more intuitive approach. He uses a smooth() function for all the technical stuff, showing that math, logic and programming are not that hard and boring. Reading the book you feel like Greenberg speaks with you and tries to reassure the readers. I believe that this book is a good approach for people who want to learn processing, in a creative way, with no programming skills and that are afraid of the computer world, math and programming process.

Casey Reas and Ben Fry’s book has a more technical approach, they use a more technical and formal language and style. They have an extended reference of every single function, in fact the book is an extension from their reference page from the processing website. I would indicate this book more for people who already have some programming skills or people who are not afraid with formulas and computer science and technology.

Another difference between both books is the artistic references presented. In Greenberg’s book, we have a short summary of computational art and a list of some majors artists (like Ben Fry, Jared Tarbell, and others) with a short biography and some links. In Casey Reas and Ben Fry’s book we can find some more interesting material : a preface written by John Maeda (developed Design By Numbers), a set of interviews with artists (like Jared Tarbell, James Paterson and others) about one or two pieces of their work, asking what is the piece about, why they created this piece, what software tools they used to produce the piece, why did they used those tools and why do they choose to work with software. I think this approach is interesting, allowing us to see and understand the backstage of art production.

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