Why Java?


I'm a former electronics engineer, I moved into software in the early 1980s and have only recently learned of this field where artists are writing code.

I'd like to ask why a variant of Java (a compiled language) has become the workhorse for artistic creators? Over the past 50 years or so a host of fascinating languages have been devised and some of these strike me as far richer and better suited to artistic endeavors than Java (Processing).

I'd expect an interpreted language to be far more suitable, giving instant feedback and interactivity.

What do others think?


  • There are many Processing variants w/ other languages, like Ruby, CoffeeScript, Python, etc.

  • _vk_vk
    edited October 2013

    I'm not a programmer nor an artist. IMHO, I think maybe the answer is less technical. I believe Processing was made to be this. It is focused in things the were in fact useful for artists. Powerful yet simple. The developers are using Processing themselves for artistic work (at least some of them are) and maybe they think in the same way users do. I've never thought about programming before I crossed with Processing, now I have already moved to learn others languages. Also the community is engaged and friendly, making learning even easier and pleasant. Well it took me some time to realise that Processing was Java... (:

  • Java is a good balance of execution speed vs. development speed for this type of work. We don't feel Processing is significantly tied to Java. The project is most importantly a approach to programming that foregrounds visual media, education, community, and access (it's free and open source.)

  • Well I suppose I'd need to explore the system to get a feel for it, but when people speak of artists is this used in a generic sense? Performing arts, poets, painters, composers, sculptors etch are clearly all 'artists' yet these problem domains surely have their own rich unique character so I wonder how 'Processing' caters to all these needs.

    I think several interpreted languages are superb for teaching deep concepts within computing - Lisp, APL, to name just two, provide rich support for quite profound abstract ideas that are pretty challenging to implement in compiled OO languages like Java, C++ or C#.

    I think its a shame that some of these incredibly innovative languages have fallen by the wayside due primarily to commercial forces.

    I recall working with APL back in the mid 80s (running on IBM mainframes) and being awe struck by the experience, in a couple of lines you could describe things that would take 20 lines of ordinary procedural code, I think that many artists would feel an affinity for some of these languages.


  • edited October 2013

    I believe Ruby has many similarities to Lisp. So why don't you give Processing + Ruby a try?: :-\"

    Also, many kids are learning computer science basics using Processing + JavaScript syntax! Take a look below: (*)

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