The processing IDE is open source and comes from the same stable as the Arduino IDE, as these two have a shared history. However, as mentioned in a previous post I amevaluating Sublime Text 3 and this not only has a syntax checker for both processing (.pde) and arduino (.ino) sketches, but also a plugin for the Arduino, thus this text editor can be a one stop shop for combined Processing and Arduino development, plus almost everything else you want to throw at it. However, there is at the time of writing a bug with this plugin it seems when attempting an upload of a Sketch to the Arduino Micro board, though everything seems fine with the Arduino Uno board, which is the only other one I’ve test it with so far. If anybody has a fix for this, please share it in the comments below. To use Sublime Text for Processing you must have the original Processing IDE already installed and its location added to the PATH variable in Windows.
The Processing IDE itself has a number of examples, including all the examples from the book “Getting Started in Processing – Making Interactive Graphics” by Ben Fry and Casey Reas, the founders of the language. This was my first introduction to the Processing language and I found it to be both well written and easy to follow book. Each chapter introduces a new concept and builds on that with plenty of incremental example programs. Theory is kept to a minimum and jumps straight into core programming concepts through hands-on projects. Suitable as an introduction for anyone wanting to learn basic programming or even professionals wanting to get into interactive graphics and data visualization.
The book has just over 200 pages divided into 11 chapters each covering a core concept and the book finishes with references and suggestions on taking your knowledge further, such as visualising data sent from an Arduino as in this simple example with a light sensor whose output is displayed graphically. The openGL 3D programs didn’t initially work for me, however updating my display drivers quickly sorted this.
I would definately recommend this book not just for someone wanting a hands-on introduction to programming but also experienced programmers needing an intro to interactive graphics. If the reader already has some programming knowledge then he could probably work through the book and examples in a half day’s session quite easily I would suggest. I will definitely be building on my knowledge of Processing not only combined with the Arduino but also several of the libraries referenced on the Processing website, which itself is a very good resource, including a video introducing the core concepts.
As mentioned above, your Processing scripts can be run within a normal web page via processing.js and how to go about this will be covered in a subsequent post.