Handbook Processing.org

by Casey Reas and Ben Fry.Published December 2014, The MIT Press.720 Pages. Hardcover. » Order from MIT Press» Order from Amazon » Download Examples» Errata If you are an educator, you can request a desk/exam copy from the MIT Press website. Since it first emerged in 2001, Processing has grown […]

by Casey Reas and Ben Fry.
Published December 2014, The MIT Press.
720 Pages. Hardcover.

» Order from MIT Press
» Order from Amazon

» Download Examples
» Errata

If you are an educator, you can request a desk/exam copy from the MIT Press website.

Since it first emerged in 2001, Processing has grown into a flourishing community of thousands of artists, designers, makers, and educators. It has redrawn the boundaries of art and technology, affecting communities in contexts as various as the classroom to the art museum to the hackerspace. After 12 years of development and being intensively taught in classrooms, the second edition of the Processing textbook was released in December 2014.

By teaching computer programming with the context of the visual arts, this book has introduced a new literacy with software, enabling designers and artists to create new media for the present, and to imagine future media that are beyond the capacities of current software tools. It offers a thorough introduction to Processing, an open-source programming language that is used by students, artists, designers, architects, researchers, and anyone who wants to program images, animation, and interactivity. Written by Processing’s cofounders, the book offers a definitive reference for students and professionals. Tutorial chapters make up the bulk of the book; advanced professional projects from such domains as animation, performance, and installation are discussed in interviews with their creators.

This second edition has been thoroughly updated, influenced by the seven years of Processing being taught in classrooms, computer labs, universities, art and design schools, and arts institutions since the first edition. Every chapter has been revised, and new chapters introduce more ways to work with data and geometry. New “synthesis” chapters offer discussion and worked examples of such topics as sketching with code, modularity, and algorithms. Interviews have been added that cover a wider range of projects. “Extension” chapters are now offered online so they can be updated to keep pace with technological developments in such fields as computer vision and electronics.

Interviews with SUE.C, Larry Cuba, Mark Hansen, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Jürg Lehni, LettError, Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman, Benjamin Maus, Manfred Mohr, Ash Nehru, Josh On, Bob Sabiston, Jennifer Steinkamp, Jared Tarbell, Steph Thirion, and Robert Winter.


The Extension chapters from the fist edition have been updated and are now available as Tutorials on the Processing website.

Extension 1: Vision by Golan Levin

A concise introduction to how computer vision is used within the visual arts followed by examples that use the Video and the OpenCV for Processing libraries.

Extension 2: Network by Alexander Galloway

Explains the fundamental ideas and technologies behind the internet followed by examples that use the Processing Net library.

Extension 3: Sound by R. Luke Dubois and Wilm Thoben

The basics of digital sound with examples for synthesis, playback, and analysis.

Extension 4: Print by Casey Reas

Output print-resolution images and documents.

Extension 5: Electronics by Hernando Berragán and Casey Reas

A general introduction to the basics of electronics followed by examples to connect Wiring and Arduino boards to Processing.

Praise for the second edition

“This long-awaited book is more than just a software guide; it is a tool for unlocking a powerful new way of thinking, making, and acting. Not since the Bauhaus have visual artists revisited technology in such a world-changing way. Ben Fry and Casey Reas have helped a growing community of visual producers open up fresh veins of expression. Their work proves that code is open to designers, architects, musicians, and animators, not just to engineers. Providing a powerful alternative to proprietary software, Processing is part of a new social phenomenon in the arts that speaks to self-education and networked engagement.”

     —Ellen Lupton, Director of the graphic design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and
     author of D.I.Y: Design It Yourself

“A whole generation of designers, artists, students, and professors have been influenced by Processing. Now, a handbook is published that goes far beyond explaining how to handle the technology and boldly reveals the potential future for the electronic sketchbook.”

     —Joachim Sauter, University of the Arts, Berlin, Founder, Art+Com

“Processing, the handbook and tutorial, is an indispensable companion to Processing, the integrated programming language and environment that has developed from phenomenon to revolution. Bridging the gap between programming and visual arts, the Processing handbook, in a concise way, connects software elements to principles of visual form, motion, and interaction. The book”s modular structure allows for different combinations of its units and self-directed reading. Interviews with artists who create software-based works and extension chapters that expand software practice into computer vision, sound, and electronics successfully connect the realms of art and technology. Now used by artists, visual designers, and in educational institutions around the world, Processing has been groundbreaking not only as an alternative language for expanding programming space, but as an attempt to nurture programming literacy in the broader context of art and cultural production.”

     —Christiane Paul, Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art

Praise for the first edition

“This is an elegant and practical introduction to programming for artists and designers. It is rigorously grounded, informed by a vast amount of practical experience, and visually compelling. The worked examples are terrific. There’s no better starting point for visual artists who want to learn how to think computationally, or for programmers who want to give visual and spatial expression to their ideas.”

     —William J. Mitchell, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, MIT

“With Processing, Casey Reas and Ben Fry have opened up the world of programming to artists and designers in a manner that inspires playfulness and creativity with code.”

     —Red Burns, Chair and Arts Professor, Interactive Telecommunications Program, Tisch School of the Arts, New
     York University

“Processing is a milestone not only in the history of computer software, of information design, and of the visual arts, but also in social history. Many have commented on the pragmatic impact of the open source movement, but it is time to also consider Processing”s sociological and psychological consequences. Processing invites people to tinker, and tinkering is the first step for any scientific and artistic creation. After the tinkering, it leads designers to their idea of perfection. It enables complexity, yet it is approachable; it is rigorous, yet malleable. Its home page exudes the enthusiasm of so many designers and artists from all over the world, overflowing with ideas and proud to be able to share. Processing is a great gift to the world.”

     —Paola Antonelli, Curator, Architecture and Design, MOMA

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