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.
Flint: striking a fire for creative code ??
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.
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.
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