Now Would Be a Great Time To Get Into Creative JavaScript

Learning p5, a web-based interpretation of Processing, just got even easier to learn with a new series of tutorial videos.

Michael Byrne

Michael Byrne

Danial Shiffman. Image: Vimeo stiff

Daniel Shiffman, an associate professor with NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, got me into a lot of stuff I didn't think I'd care about with his textbook, The Nature of Code. It's about modeling natural systems with programming, generally, but in the process it makes a lot of possibilities in game development, artificial intelligence, the absolutely exploding world of creative coding, and beyond suddenly really clear and accessible. You should pick it up—or download it for a donation.

Shiffman is a great explainer and over the past week or so he's been going all out in making tutorial videos for the p5 project, a JavaScript library based off of the immensely popular creative coding language Processing. It's not a strict Processing port—that already exists as Processing.js—but rather a reinterpretation of the language intended to make it even more accessible to artists, designers, teachers, and people just getting started with code. The p5 project itself is being led by artist and programmer Lauren McCarthy. (I even did a short documentation project on p5 for a web development class a while back, but have since burned the evidence.)

Part of what I like about Shiffman's approach, and what's probably a benefit of learning a language straight from the source, is that he doesn't ignore the fundamentals or offer shortcuts. This is a route to learn some programming rather than learn how to make a cool thing with some code you found. That's part of the larger point of Processing itself: a starter language, a stepping off point to something more like Java or Python or C++, though it seems like a lot of coders are perfectly content to stick with Processing.

Anyhow, the videos can all be found here, starting with the intro above. Together they probably amount to a full course on the language. Have fun, learn some programming, make something pretty.