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Anna Meik Project Description .pdf


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APPLICATION FOR PROCESSING FOUNDATION FELLOWSHIP 2018
ANNA MEIK, FRANKFURT, GERMANY

A toolbox for the p5.js Web Editor
Project Description
Some time ago, I discovered p5.js and was directly fascinated by the immediate visual output. I
fastly modified the colors of an exemplary sketch, which made me feel very proud. Nevertheless I
have been deterred by all the mysterious lines of code and did not get any further.
For two years now, I am studying computer science as a bachelor in addition to my nearly finished
studies in cultural anthropology and art pedagogy. During this thime I managed to transfer ideas
into linear algorithms. I understood that writing code is not all about storing (color-)values in
variables but to write functions that process these values. And I am still highly attracted to the
output generated by my code.
I am afraid many persons with eager interest are facing similar repulsion on first sight. If first
hurdles would be cleared even easierier, I believe they will be evenly attracted. With my project I
want to contribute to p5.js web editor to support Cassie Tarakajian’s „goal […] to create a tool to
make coding accessible to anyone“1. I want to make people write code without realizing it.
Therefore I want to add a toolbox to the p5.js text editor that enables people to sample their first
sketches by mouse action only. The toolbox shall provide users with visual elements representing
code snippets that can be dragged-and-dropped into the text editor. For instance, clicking on a
circle and dropping it into the text editor, the clicked circle icon magically translates into a line of
code that draws an ellipse. At the same time this very code creates a visual output, as it already
works in p5.js.
My project will focus on simplicity and usability. I want to create an addition to the web editor that
enables people to play and experiment with the toolbox and observe their results. I believe, once
they got into it, people will try to manipulate the code in the text editor and even start writing their
own small projects from scratch.
My project consists of a programming part and a user testing part whereas the programming part
will be the challenging one for me. I have aquired basic experiences with object-oriented
programming (python, c++) and interface design, but I am not very familiar working with string
manipulation yet. Therefore I would be happy to have a mentor fluent in java skript or even familiar
with the p5.js implementation to discuss major program structures. I am able to read other people’s
code, to comment mine in a good manner and to work on projects remotely via github.
Since I never contributed to a project taking place outside university and I would be thankful for a
mentor accompanying the integration of my project into the p5.js web editor.
I am confident about my skills for the user testing part. During my studies of cultural anthropology
and especially for the field research of my bachelor thesis on open government data I gained a lot
of valuable experiences in planning, conducting and evaluating qualitative research. Moreover, I
got first insights into methods of usability testing in a workshop at Bremen University last summer.
As it gives detailed insights of the users perception and convenience with a program, information
obtained by qualitative research is significant for Processing and the p5.js web editor. Therefore I
will provide detailed documentation of the research process and its results hoping that others will
tie up to my research questions, in other places or with a non-student target group.
1

Tarakajian, Cassie: A p5.js Web Editor for All, Medium, Jul 3 (https://medium.com/
@ProcessingOrg/a-p5-js-web-editor-for-all-64aaa3f9d767)

1

Summing up my toolbox project will expand the possibilities of p5.js through additional software
functionalities but mainly by lowering the bar to getting started. Open source projects live on a
strong community based on openness and diversity. The Processing Community is based on
artists, developers and educators and in 2016 16.5 % of the community were new users2 . With my
toolbox I want to attract and empower even more people to use p5.js, especially those creative
minds that are currently skipping every boring looking line of code as they come across it.

2

2016 Community Survey (https://medium.com/@ProcessingOrg/communitysurvey-5784e4ec74fc)

2


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