Programmer approach to data visualization: Processing and Ben Fry

When it comes to innovative data visualization, web programmers are leading the charge.  The coolest visuals are often produced by those with a knack for code.  Maybe someday that will be me…I’ll just jot it down on ye olde priorities list…

Programmers are superstars of cooperation.  There are so many open source tools and communities and the fruits of this collaboration populate the web.  Want a glimpse at the kind of tools programmers have at their disposal for data viz?  Check out Processing.

From the about page:

Processing is a programming language, development environment, and online community that since 2001 has promoted software literacy within the visual arts. Initially created to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context, Processing quickly developed into a tool for creating finished professional work as well.

What do you need to know about the programming approach?  If you’re not a programmer then there is a steep learning curve.  If you want to take the time to learn the payoff could be huge as the applications are immense, from simple charts to interactive widgets and animated video.   Check out the Processing exhibition gallery to see some examples.  Want to try your hand, Processing also offers some free tutorials.

Interested in the viewpoint of someone approaching data from this angle? Here’s a short 8 minute interview with Processing co-creator, and general Data Viz guru, Ben Fry.