Software over the rainbow

desearch and revelopment

Openframeworks, an Introduction

Last week I went to a two-day openframeworks workshop run by Zach Lieberman at hangar.

As said here before (and elsewhere), openframeworks is an open-source library to help other artists and students produce works through coding, written in C++. Yes, this might sound familiar. Its philosophy and intentions are very similar to processing‘s.

However, openframeworks is not an IDE, but a set of coherent wrappers around useful libraries. As zach puts it, it is more of a glue that puts together different pieces:

Some of the key concepts behind openframeworks:

  • Its focus is to simplify things. The main intention is that “you don’t have to look at much code when you’re beginning” (which is far from easy in c++).
  • It’s conformed of reusable pieces, not stitched together. You can use any of its parts independently.
  • It pretends to give you direct access to data e.g: pixels of the image, low level audio

I’ve been using it for the last couple of months. I had never done anything with c++ nor I had any idea of where to start and openframeworks has definitely made the learning curve way smoother. Having been around for ages, c++ has lots of picky details to worry about (pointers vs variables, preprocessor, different compilers, uncompatible IDEs….) so having some sort of blueprint which shares some of the programming concepts with processing makes you feel a little more like at home.

Although it’s been used extensively to give workshops and classes, it’s in super-alpha state (even the installation process was being tested on our workshop). Zach is working with Theo Watson on a really-soon-to-publish release. Most of the stuff will work on win, mac and linux.

So stay tuned.