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04 June 2013, 11:12

Processing goes 2.0 with an OpenGL core

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Version 2.0 of the open source Processing language and development environment for creative arts and visual design has been released. Processing was created in 2001 by Ben Fry and Casey Reas as a way for non-programmers to create electronic sketchbooks that could give instant gratification through visual feedback. Based on the Java language, but using a simplified syntax and graphics model, Processing allows creative users to build interactive, graphical programs, or sketches as they are called in Processing, quickly with a supporting simplified IDE. The project's mission statement explains, succinctly, that

Processing seeks to ruin the careers of talented designers by tempting them away from their usual tools and into the world of programming and computation. Similarly, the project is designed to turn engineers and computer scientists to less gainful employment as artists and designers.

The new version of the language, which has been in development since mid-2011, brings OpenGL rendering to the core of the platform, replacing the older software-based P2D and P3D renderers with new OpenGL-accelerated P2D and P3D renderers. A new OpenGL library, based on work done on the Android version of Processing, has also been incorporated and OpenGL is now part of the core of Processing. Processing 2.0 also supports multiple modes so creators can easily switch between Java and desktop Processing, JavaScript and Processing.js for the browser, Android, and other possible future language/environment modes. The JavaScript mode not only lets the user write a sketch within the development environment but also spawns a server and browser to let the user run their sketch.

Other changes include removing the old Movie Maker class and replacing it with a Movie Maker tool for turning frames into video and replacing the older Video library (which relied on QuickTime for Java) with the GSVideo library, which uses Gstreamer on Linux and also works on Windows and Mac OS X. There is also a new XML class for handling downloaded XML files and a new Table class for handing comma- or tab-delimited files. Support for Java applets has been removed, superseded in part by Processing.js and made untenable by many issues around supporting applets in browsers. Explicit 32-bit and 64-bit support for all platforms is also included.

The web site has been revamped for the release of Processing 2, with more updates planned over the summer. The site includes examples of data, images, colour, typography, animation, motion, interaction and simulation sketches, tutorials on Processing aimed at anyone from beginner to advanced, and reference documentation. There is also the download page with 64-bit and 32-bit Windows and Linux binaries and Mac OS X version. A detailed listing of all the revisions made in 2.0 is also available, along with a shorter summary. The GPLv2- or LGPL-licensed Processing source code can be found on GitHub.

Processing is now managed by the recently created non-profit Processing Foundation and, with the 2.0 release, the foundation is seeking donations from individuals or larger gifts from companies and other non-profits as the release of 2.0 "happened in an unsustainable way, at tremendous personal expense to the lead developers. The Foundation must raise funding for the initiative to continue." The Foundation will be responsible for the development and distribution of Processing the language and the PDE (Processing Development Environment).



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