How great is live coding on Hydra, for free? It’s great enough that you’ll do it when you’ve never used code before. It’s great enough that – now with this new build – you’ll lie in bed with your iPhone or iPad and make trippy hypnotic visuals. You’ll plug in audio and stop using cameras and just permanently replace your visage with weird analog-style color feedback. It’s that great.

Hydra is the splendid creation of artist-coder-thinker Olivia Jack. It does have this impact on people – even though it got Olivia from JavaScript into art, it has a tendency to get art people into code. It’s addictive for people who thought they feared code. It also makes code, normally a solitary activity, strangely social – both with “jam”-style collaborative coding and just the ability to share snippets and ideas with one another.

This update is just out, so you might find some bugs, but I think it’s notable that iOS browser coding works. That means you can literally carve out time to try live coding you might not have otherwise, on a couch or in bed or on a bus or plane now that more of us are starting to use those again. It’s every bit as satisfying on my iPhone (a recent model, to be fair) as on my powerful laptop.

Just as important, you can also load in external libraries, which opens up the possibility of adding features like synthesis (with Tone.JS) and 3D (with THREE.js) in JavaScript. Both of those are included in the examples, too.

Update notes from Olivia:

– should finally be working on ios
– await loadScript() for loading external js libraries and scripts. See here for examples using Tone.JS and THREE.js :
– some minor updates to the auto-formatting (ctrl+shift+f)

But while that’s big news, maybe we don’t even need news about Hydra. It’s probably worth just regularly saying this thing exists.

Use it in your browser:

Read the “book” on how to use it (in addition to examples you’ll find above):

Try a collaborative editor:

Hydra also works with audio by embedding other stuff, but if you want a single integrated audiovisual environment in the browser, I recommend starting with Gibber:

And yeah, you could try crazy stuff like putting FAUST and Hydra together:

This never gets old. I mean, Marvel gets old, but this never gets old for live coding people.

You can also try wandering around whispering “Csound forever,” but it just doesn’t work the same way.