Learning processing?

Hello and thank you for joining me on this journey into the vast world of computer programming. To start, I’m gonna write a little bit about why I am learning to code. I think it’s obvious why, but some people may not think it is so obvious, and ask questions like:

“Why the hell are you starting to learn computer programming NOW you old git?”

and perhaps

“Why the hell are you doing traditional art stuff AND techie stuff?”

If you are the kind of person that asks such questions, you are in luck; as I have written (in list form, for your convenience) plenty of reasons why I am learning computer programming below.

1. because I’ve been tinkering with bits of code for a few years now (html and CSS in website like this, and C/C++ with Arduino) and I wanna learn for real innit.

2. because I became a member of an awesome maker / hacker space called Double Union, and met some awesome women who have been coding for years, and learned that it is actually normal for women to program.

3. because the awesome women I met at the maker / hacker space encouraged me to learn (shrugging shoulders to suggest “why wouldn’t you?”) [as opposed to a “oh how cute that you would think about that” reaction].

4. because I’m a geek and I like making things

5. because up until now I’ve always thought that coding is for someone else, for someone that is clever, not me. After some conversions with really cool women who are really good at coding I realize that that someone is actually me too.

6. because I wanna make things move, dance, perform, glow in the physical world.

7. because I like playing with stuff.

8. because I like making stuff. (oops. said that twice)

9. because I like to learn how things work.

10. because things in the world around us that we use have lots of code in them, and I want to understand the world around us.

OK. We got it: you want to learn, but how and what are you going to learn?

I’m so pleased you asked, because I spent a month researching the best programming language to learn. I asked friends, tweeted, asked (un-strange) strangers, and online forums.

The languages that were most frequently suggested for beginners and/or visual artists like myself were:

I dismissed Ruby because I am not going to be making web-apps, and it’s built for this. And also said ta-ra to OpenFrameworks as it is quite a complex language for a beginner.

I nearly chose Python. As I heard that it is good(ish) for a beginner, and as I have some experience in html/CSS/C a few peeps said it would be a good place to start. Also, there are some really great tutorials on-line (I was almost sold by making a tetris game). And there is an excellent network of python learners and improvers: pyladies meet regularly, python meet-ups, and many more it seems. It may be that I go totally-do-lally for programming and look into python at a later date (at least, just to make tetris!).

And the winner is?
I ended up choosing Processing. It was the language most people suggested for a not-quite-beginner beginner. I have experience in web-development using wordpress (html and CSS), and also some experience programming arduino to blinky blinky, and make stuff do stuff, using C/C++. Processing seemed to be the next step, and was highly recommended by many.

“I’m learning to code using processing because…”

+ my mate said so. Lots of people said so actually -it comes highly recommended for beginners.

+ it looks like arduino, and uploads sketches in a similar way.

+ arduino and Processing are bezzie mates in computer language kingdom (see the family tree here).

+ my name is Becca and I like to draw pictures -processing is written for visual artists by visual artists and computer scientists. Thus, there are many examples of visual projects you can use, and the kinds of things you can make (and people have made) are really cool.

+ tutorials are fun. This guy has done a “getting started” introduction to processing, in which he is extremely enthusiastic and uses his hands A LOT. How could you not learn from all that enthusiasm? (because the assimilation of enthusiasm is learning right?). Oh, and some tutorials are even hand drawn. oh yeah.

So, deep breath and here goes!
I’ll be illustrating the process as I go of course, which I’ll post here. I’ll do my best to do one or two tutorials a week. There are some really cool things I eventually want to do, like projection mapping with the overhead projector, and motion sensing with lanterns, and making puppets with parts of the body…and more!