Some sketches from the first day of Ben Fry’s Processing class here at Anderson Ranch. What was striking to me is that you really can cover the essence of setup and coding syntax in a day, even for people not familiar with programming/Java. You’re instantly translating code into visuals, so there’s immediate feedback — not a big slog through how the environment works before something actually happens.

Since I have spent some time with Processing, I took the opportunity to try to push some of the examples in a different direction. Speed is not necessarily my forte (with anything, really), but it was fun to try to throw together a sketch as quickly as possible. I didn’t even worry about checking for errors; I actually decided that if the compiler was regularly throwing errors because I accidentally left out a parenthesis, that meant I was moving fast enough. Even though we’re starting at the beginning, though, I’m rapidly filling up holes in my knowledge about Processing and picking up endless tips — it’s really extraordinary to get the chance to work directly with Ben Fry himself! And not only is it an opportunity to get close to the source, but, as I expected, he’s a fantastic teacher, as well.

I’m also trying a new way of working, which is to regularly keep a visual log of what I’m doing. Plaqs’s Skitch, a hot new Mac app currently in beta, takes care of that nicely. It allows me to quickly take screen grabs and post them either to my Skitch page or (as here) Flickr, so I have a record of various iterations — some successful, some less so. More on that and how TextMate makes life easier with Processing coding on Mac soon.

Stay tuned for more…