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philmadelphia

Processing, Openframeworks, Actionscript... etc

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Looking to getting into learning some more about programming. All I really know is XHTML, CSS, and some simple PHP/MySQL...

 

I really like the stuff people are making with processing and openframeworks. ie interactivity, physical computing...

 

Anyone have any experience in this? suggestions where to start... C++ maybe?

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It's a really tough question to answer with any sort of brevity or definitiveness. I have had experience with all of the above and I think the best advice I could give would be to learn the principles and concepts of programming in something like Processing or Java (Processing is just Java) and then once you become comfortable with it you could start branching out into other things like C++ and OpenFrameworks if you find Processing to be too limiting. At the end of the day the language is just a tool, like anything else, and it's really all about learning the basics of programming rather than the specific language itself.

 

Processing has a great community, good learning resources, and is fantastically easy to get up and running with.

 

Good luck!

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SaintEfan pretty much hit it on the head. The most important thing is to learn the fundamentals and the abstract of the logic involved.

 

When I was taking Computer Science classes in school, we would have weekly homework assignments and each one would be slightly more difficult than the next. Each one would require more fundamental programming knowledge and more specific knowledge of the language we were using (C++). I think this is truly the best way to learn programming theory. Incremental small practice problems that build on pre-existing knowledge. Try http://projecteuler.net/, they have about 250 practice problems of increasing difficulty that can be programmed in just about any language.

 

Just to touch on specific languages: These days most schools don't even teach Computer Science with C++ anymore, most have moved on to Java. C++ is a true programmer's language in that the variables are hard-typed, and you have to manage all your own memory allocation/deallocation. For beginners, I wouldn't really recommend starting out with C++, it has many more cons than pros for novice programmers. If you learn the syntax of any JavaScript based language, you are off to a really good start. If you can program in JavaScript then you can do AE Expressions, Processing, Arduino, Actionscript 3, etc. Python is regarded as the perfect prototyping language, meaning that you can use Python to quickly bust out your algorithm and then easily recode it in another language (eg. C++).

 

If you want to get some cool shit happening on your screen quickly then play with Processing. If you want to really develop your skills, keep doing quick programming practice/contest problems that will force you to think about manipulating data in different ways. As you learn about more complex concepts (memory management, inheritance, polymorphism, recursion, pointers, etc.) you will think of ways to utilize these concepts in your algorithms. Once you have a sound algorithm, transcoding it to a specific language will seem like the easiest part.

 

So basically, I'd say start with Processing.

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I second Processing. Especially, if you want to program visuals. Plenty of learning material and easy to pick up.

Even Actionscript would be a good start.

 

I would stay away from C++. As Albert mentioned, memory management is a tough subject to grasp for beginners.

The syntax is the easy part.

 

Oh, brush up on basic math. Not that you need to be a math wiz to program but graphics usually make good use of it.

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I've found the Standford course "Programming Methodology" on iTunesU a great primer on object oriented programming in general and Java specifically. It's incredibly cool that they make it available for free.

 

The Friends of Ed book "Actionscript 3.0 Animation" by Keith Peters is also invaluable for learning the math involved in programming animation.

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Guest Sao_Bento
I've found the Standford course "Programming Methodology" on iTunesU a great primer on object oriented programming in general and Java specifically. It's incredibly cool that they make it available for free.

 

The Friends of Ed book "Actionscript 3.0 Animation" by Keith Peters is also invaluable for learning the math involved in programming animation.

Good find. That's what I've been looking for. I got sidetracked by their evolutionary biology stuff and forgot to look around.

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ESC makes a good point about math. Graphics programming is all math. That's not to say that you need to be a math major to do some interesting things but if you start doing more complex motions, especially in 3d, you'll quickly find that math becomes important. In my experience level of mathematical understanding is what has been a big divider between people doing neat things and people doing REALLY compelling stuff.

Graphics programming is a wonderful way to learn math you may not already know, since it's concrete and visual (for the most part)

 

Good things to know at some point:

Trigonometry (basically a prereq for computer graphics)

Vector math (really important for 3d motion and anything with physics)

Basic (newtonian) physics (particularly understanding force, velocity and acceleration for creating interesting motions)

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