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2007: Processing

Casey Reas, coauthor (with Ben Fry) of Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists, writes about the book for the 48th post of our 50th anniversary series:

While it's the fiftieth anniversary of MIT Press, it’s only nearing the fifth anniversary of our book Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists. This book is a companion for our “Processing” software, a programming environment we started in 2001 to teach people how to program within the context of the visual arts.

Processing was started at MIT and was born from prior work at the Media Lab, most notably Professor John Maeda’s “Design By Numbers” project, which was published as software and an MIT Press book in 1999. We were thrilled in 2005 (really, it was a dream come true) when MIT Press committed to publishing our book about Processing. When it was published in 2007, it set the foundation to establish Processing within visual arts education in universities and art schools worldwide. Since publication, there have been over twelve book published internationally about Processing and there are more in production. We think MIT Press’ early commitment to Processing had a significant impact on its growth and success, but more importantly, to the idea that learning to code is an essential part of a twenty-first century arts education.

At the moment, we’re deep into preparing the second edition of the book. The updates revise the order the content is introduced, includes new chapters and updated examples for the upcoming Processing 2.0 software, and adds nine new interviews with artists and designers who write code. The original table of contents was defined through five years of teaching and the revised table of contents builds on five additional years of testing and experience. New chapters include more descriptions and examples about working with data, video, and drawing in three dimensions. More information about Processing and the 2.0 version of the software is hosted at


Our 50 influential journal articles are listed here. The articles are in chronological order and will be freely available through the end of 2012.

For information about the MIT Press’ history, check out our 50th anniversary page.

  • Posted at 10:52 am on Wed, 05 Dec 2012 in


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The MIT PressLog is the official blog of MIT Press. Founded in 2005, the Log chronicles news about MIT Press authors and books. The MIT PressLog also serves as forum for our authors to discuss issues related to their books and scholarship. Views expressed by guest contributors to the blog do not necessarily represent those of MIT Press.