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Processing is a flexible software sketchbook and a language for learning how to code within the context of the visual arts. Since 2001, Processing has promoted software literacy within the visual arts and visual literacy within technology. There are tens of thousands of students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists who use Processing for learning and prototyping. (

Overview. A short introduction to the Processing software and projects from the community.

For the past fourteen years, Processing has promoted software literacy, particularly within the visual arts, and visual literacy within technology. Initially created to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach programming fundamentals within a visual context, Processing has also evolved into a development tool for professionals. The Processing software is free and open source, and runs on the Mac, Windows, and GNU/Linux platforms.

Processing continues to be an alternative to proprietary software tools with restrictive and expensive licenses, making it accessible to schools and individual students. Its open source status encourages the community participation and collaboration that is vital to Processing’s growth. Contributors share programs, contribute code, and build libraries, tools, and modes to extend the possibilities of the software. The Processing community has written more than a hundred libraries to facilitate computer vision, data visualization, music composition, networking, 3D file exporting, and programming electronics.

Processing is currently developed primarily in Boston (at Fathom Information Design), Los Angeles (at the UCLA Arts Software Studio), and New York City (at NYU’s ITP).


From the beginning, Processing was designed as a first programming language. It was inspired by earlier languages like BASIC and Logo, as well as our experiences as students and teaching visual arts foundation curricula. The same elements taught in a beginning high school or university computer science class are taught through Processing, but with a different emphasis. Processing is geared toward creating visual, interactive media, so the first programs start with drawing. Students new to programming find it incredibly satisfying to make something appear on their screen within moments of using the software. This motivating curriculum has proved successful for leading design, art, and architecture students into programming and for engaging the wider student body in general computer science classes.

Processing is used in classrooms worldwide, often in art schools and visual arts programs in universities, but it's also found frequently in high schools, computer science programs, and humanities curricula. Museums such as the Exploratorium in San Francisco use Processing to develop their exhibitions. In a National Science Foundation-sponsored survey, students in a college-level introductory computing course taught with Processing at Bryn Mawr College said they would be twice as likely to take another computer science class as the students in a class with a more traditional curriculum.

The innovations in teaching through Processing have been adapted for the Khan Academy computer science tutorials, offered online for free. The tutorials begin with drawing, using most of the Processing functions for drawing. The Processing approach has also been applied to electronics through the Arduino and Wiring projects. Arduino uses a syntax inspired by that used with Processing, and continues to use a modified version of the Processing programming environment to make it easier for students to learn how to program robots and countless other electronics projects.


The Processing software is used by thousands of visual designers, artists, and architects to create their works. Projects created with Processing have been featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and many other prominent venues. Processing is used to create projected stage designs for dance and music performances; to generate images for music videos and film; to export images for posters, magazines, and books; and to create interactive installations in galleries, in museums, and on the street. Some prominent projects include the House of Cards video for Radiohead, the MIT Media Lab’s generative logo, and the Chronograph projected software mural for the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center in Miami. But the most important thing about Processing and culture is not high-profile results – it's how the software has engaged a new generation of visual artists to consider programming as an essential part of their creative practice.


Software prototyping and data visualization are two of the most important areas for Processing developers. Research labs inside technology companies like Google and Intel have used Processing for prototyping new interfaces and services. Companies including General Electric, Nokia, and Yahoo! have used Processing to visualize their internal data. For example, the New York Times Company R&D Lab used Processing to visualize the way their news stories travel through social media. The NSF and NOAA supported research exploring phytoplankton and zooplankton diversity that was realized at the University of Washington as a dynamic ecology simulation. Researchers at the Texas Advanced Computer Center at UT Austin have used Processing to display large data visualizations across a grid of screens in the service of humanities research.


The primary charge of the Foundation is to develop and distribute the Processing software. This includes the original Processing (Java), p5.js (Javascript), and (Python). There is more information about the Foundation at


Processing was started by Ben Fry and Casey Reas in the spring of 2001, while both were graduate students at the MIT Media Lab within John Maeda's Aesthetics and Computation research group. Development continued in their free time while Casey pursued his artistic and teaching career and Ben pursued a Ph.D. and founded Fathom Information Design. Many of the ideas in Processing go back to Muriel Cooper's Visual Language Workshop, and it grew directly out of Maeda's Design By Numbers project, developed at the Media Lab and released in 1999. The Wiring and Arduino projects, in turn, grew out of Processing while Casey was teaching at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Italy. Processing also prompted John Resig (jQuery) to build Processing.js, a JavaScript version that then inspired more related work such as the Khan Academy curriculum in computer science. Versions of Processing that use Python, Ruby, ActionScript, and Scala are also in development. Processing and its sister projects have inspired over twenty educational books. (


Processing es un lenguaje de programación open source diseñado para ayudar a enseñar la estructura e interpretación del software de una manera visual que tiene múltiples aplicaciones en las artes visuales y el diseño. Los artistas han utilizado su propio código para crear instalaciones, esculturas, logotipos, ropa, joyería, videos musicales, siendo capaces de comenzar un proyecto desde un dibujo.

La fundación Processing comenzó en 2001 en el Musashino Art University en Japón y actualmente se desarrolla principalmente en Boston, Los Angeles y Nueva York. Processing es un descendiente del proyecto Design by Numbers (DBN) y otras iniciativas del grupo Aesthetics+computation (ACG) del Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Las computadoras son máquinas de procesamiento que modifican, mueven y combinan símbolos en un bajo nivel para construír representaciones de otro nivel. Este software permite que la gente controle sus propias acciones y representaciones escribiendo sus propios programas, enfocándose en el proceso más allá del resultado. El "sketchbook" es una manera más ligera de organizar proyectos haciendo más sencillo el proceso de diseño.

El software puede descargarse libremente desde el sitio y también puede consultarse una serie de proyectos hechos en Processing seleccionados para la galería donde se encuentran, por ejemplo, la instalación de luzLight kinetics, el proyecto coreográfico Pathfinder, o los dibujos inspirados en la naturaleza de Non Linear code.

Processing puede ir más allá de las gráficas e imágenes en audio, video y comunicación. Para ello se pueden descargar otras bibliotecas, así como herramientas para mejorar su funcionamiento como: Color selector, Movie maker, Archive sketch y Create Font.

Se han realizado tutoriales que explican paso a paso el uso del Processing desde los elementos básicos, figuras, color, objetos, interactividad, tipografía, curvas, transformación y muchas otras maneras que pueden encontrarse en la sección tutorials del sitio, a la vez que se pueden revisar ejemplos de programas que se han generado con él.



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