Tag Archives: Ben Fry

Back to the Basics with "Learning Processing"

I decided that before I got too much further in Ben Fry‘s rather-advanced book Visualizing Data I would do well to go back through Daniel Shiffman’s introductory-intermediate-advanced book Learning Processing. So, in a sense I’m starting from square one again, as I’m doing every coding exercise in the book from  the beginning. But it’s always nice to have a firm foundation, isn’t it?

So, here’s the first batch of sketches. In the book, Shiffman recommends that one create a basic shape to elaborate upon as one learns new material. He made a simple alien that he calls Zoog. I decided to make a stick-figure dancer. (In Getting Started with Processing by Casey Reas and Ben Fry, they use P5, the Processing Robot as the running example.) I have still images in the gallery above. The first two are inherently static, the second two are screenshots from a dynamic sketch. Videos of the sketches in action are below.


  • Learning Processing, Ch. 00: Preface (0 exercises)
  • Learning Processing, Ch. 01: Pixels (1 exercise)
  • Learning Processing, Ch. 02: Processing (1 exercise)
  • Learning Processing, Ch. 03: Interaction (2 exercises)
  • Learning Processing, Ch. 04: Variables (1 exercise)
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"Visualizing Data" for Real Now

As part of my independent studies projects this semester (of which there are four), I’ll be reporting on each step here on this blog. This is so my supervising professor — in this case, that’s Photography professor Ed Bateman  (Hi, Ed!) — can see what I’m doing and grade my work accordingly. It’s also to show my university that I did something useful for my sabbatical. Finally, it’s to show something that may be of use to other people who are trying to learn the same things that I’m working on.

With that said, my first project centers on the wonderful programming environment Processing and the equally wonderful book Visualizing Data by Processing co-creator Ben Fry. (I bought this book a year and a half ago so it’s time I actually did something with it….) This book and course of study are follow-ups to the introductory course on Processing that I taught last semester at the University of Utah using the much shorter book Getting Started with Processing, also by Ben Fry and the other Processing co-founder, Casey Reas.

(As an interesting note, part of what has finally gotten me around to doing this is the fact that I now have the book not only in print but in ebook format, which I read on my wonderful new Kindle Touch and on the Kindle software on my Mac. It beats Apple’s iBook hands down. Also, I can have the book open on my MacBook’s monitor and have all of the working material open on my big external monitor at the same time. I’m in paradise.)

Sooooo, for today, I went through the Preface and the first two chapters (for about the fourth time) and, to prove it, I’ve included screenshots of the two numbered examples in those chapters, which I’ve recreated by hand. Extremely basic but always so rewarding. I’ve also included a short video clip of the second one in action:


  • Visualizing Data, Ch. 0: Preface (0 exercises)
  • Visualizing Data, Ch. 1: The Seven Stages of Visualizing Data (2 exercises)
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