Flint: striking a fire for creative code ??

On occasion of the Graffiti Research Lab Master Classes on Creative Code at Artengine (August 25-26th), I thought I’d ruminate on the increasing rumours about Flint, the purported C++ Library built by interactive agency par excellence, The Barbarian Group.

Robert Hodgin, aka Flight 404, and Keith Butter, are the Creative and R&D Directors for The Barbarian Group, respectively. Together, they have created Flint, a C++ Library for ‘bootstrapping’ certain repetitive elements of code that they commonly come across in their work.
You can see some of the material recently created with Flint here, and the official TBG post about Flint here.
Yes, just when we were all settling into our seats and getting prepped for Reas-Watson / Fry-Lieberman (the creators of Processing and openFrameworks, respectively) ticket, like a bad WWF skit, there may well be an unaligned (?) actor running down the marquee to pull the leg out from under one of the fighters when the referee isn’t looking…
Ok, apologies for the rambling analogy, but I have to count myself among those very intrigued – I won’t say excited, as this development could ultimately be problematic – by the possible weighing in of Flint onto the open-source, creative code card. Now, it is by no means certain that TBG will officially release their library – it is still very rudimentary, according to their own blog post, and one would assume that they realize, being frequent users of Processing and openFrameworks themselves, the workload inherent in supporting releases of open-source software.
And while it is sure that TBG will be careful to not rewrite the wheel when it comes to the code at question (at least, I would assume that they would be smart enough not to do that, considering, as mentioned above, they already use Processing and oF, so one would guess that Flint was made to do things that neither of the former can…), the main fear is in overcrowding the pool with too many options.
The ultimate question here is ‘will more cooks in the kitchen serve or detract from the ability of independent programmers to develop new work’? In my own experience, it took me months to figure out which language/environment to devote my initial learning resources to (Processing, to start with anyways), though I was admittedly starting from a very introductory level.
The differences between Processing and openFrameworks, besides being web-insertable and able to author iPhone applications, respectively, is primarily lie between running on a virtual machine (i.e. the Java basis of Processing) one the one hand, and in the absence of that, having the low-level access of oF, courtesy of C++, so, as much as we would like to think of it as an ‘all other things being equal’ consideration, certain tasks require one or the other (or more appropriately, certain tasks require openFrameworks). It’s hard to say how the ‘official’ development teams of both will respond… it’s difficult to tell how nicely they play together themselves, as it’s mainly self-proclaimed ‘adherents’ of one that have ‘beef’ to the other.
I have a lot of love for Processing and the oF team, and much respect for the really vital community that has sprung up around them. But maybe it would be good for another contestant to wade into the ring, particularly one wrapped in a C++ outfit… it might light a fire under their own ventures.

Tags: ,

3 Responses to “Flint: striking a fire for creative code ??”

  1. zach says:

    as a developer of OF, I have to say that the metaphor wrestling is ridiculous and silly. There's absolutely no beef, we just want to have fun, and provide a good tool. We do this because we love it, we love to make projects and we love to help other people make stuff. more tools = more options, wether it's p5, OF, flint, vvvv, field, max, and more options = more chances for people to express themselves.

  2. zach says:

    also, presenting it as a competition is a disservice to all of the hard work and good energy that goes into projects like this. It's an ecosystem and we're trying to have fun. pitting it as something else is disheartening….

    "as it's mainly self-proclaimed 'adherents' of one that have 'beef' to the other."


  3. Jesse.Scott says:

    Hi Zach…

    Glad that you saw this, and decided to comment. Sorry, my notifications were off, and I didn't see this earlier…

    Apologies if you took offense to the analogy… it was a bit goofy, to be sure. I tend to do that when I write…

    I do have the utmost respect for you and Theo, the whole oF team, along with Ben and Casey and the P5 community, the VVVV team, Pd community, etc. I in no way meant to disrespect the efforts you have been making, or skew the view from an ecosystem to one of competition.

    I have seen some trash talk between 'adherents' of either system, and it was only noteworthy because I'v never seen anything even remotely resembling that between the ventures themselves…

    I admit and agree that more options are exciting, but they can also be confusing and somewhat debilitating, at least from my experience, and some beginner/intermediate artist/programmers that i've met…

    And I don't want to make any type of free-market analogy, especially considering that these are by-and-large open source and non-commercial tools, but there is a level of competition inherent in providing a toolset in an environment where others exist, and I don't think that is inherently a disservice. I think that you are driving each other forward, to be sure.

    Feel free to reply with any thoughts or clarifications that you have, and keep up the good work!

    ~ J

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.