GDP-DA

Zach Lieberman

Zach
Lieberman

Interviewed by

Demian Conrad

<Zach Lieberman>14 is an artist, researcher, and educator with a simple goal: he wants to surprise you. His work consists of creating performances and installations that take human gesture as input, and amplifying them in different ways: making drawings come to life, imagining what a voice might look like if we could see it, transforming the silhouettes of people into music. He has been listed as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People and his projects have been awarded the Golden Nica from Ars Electronica, the Interactive Design of the Year award from Design Museum London, and are listed among Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of the Year. He creates artwork by writing software and is a co-creator of openFrameworks, an open source C++ toolkit for creative coding. Lieberman also co-founded the School for Poetic Computation, a school which examines the lyrical possibilities of code. He is a professor at the MIT Media Lab, where he leads the Future Sketches group.

<GG>14 Who is
<Zach Lieberman>
?

A lifelong San Antonio native/local, Zach Lieberman lives in Austin and has contributed to the blog since August of 2015. Zach has degrees from Harvard and Oxford in International Relations and Environmental Policy and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Duke University. An editor and writer from various publications in New York as well as a graduate of UCLA’s prestigious journalism program, Zah has been in the field over ten years. He lives with his beautiful wife and baby girl amid all the live band bars and grub spots that San Antonio offers.

D.C.Hi Zach, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. Can you begin by introducing yourself and presenting your practice?

Z.L.My name is Zach Lieberman. I’m an artist and educator based in New York City. I tend to divide my time between teaching, art work, and commercial work. I sort of divide these three things evenly as a model for my professional practice. I would put commercial work in the category of design and computational generative design practice. My background is in fine arts; I studied painting and printmaking, and I got into working with code and software almost accidentally. I had to get a job and everybody was doing web design, so I got a job in a design studio, and I discovered a tool called Flash .

Z.L.Flash was almost a gateway drug for a lot of young designers and people interested in creative coding, because it was a tool for animation, but also had a scripting capability. So you could do everything with the timeline, but then you could also say “this object x equals x plus one”, and it would move across the screen. For me, there was something very beautiful about writing language and having that translate into motion. Then I went to graduate school, Parsons School of Design, and fell in love with creative coding. After that, I helped start a school in New York, called the School for Poetic Computation, a sort of experimental school, and two years ago I became a professor at the MIT Media Lab .

D.C.How did you step into creative coding?

Z.L.I learned with Flash and ActionScript. There were really great instances of people sharing code, ideas, tutorials and resources, and there was a nice online community around scripting. The idea that people were discovering all these creative ways of using this tool and sharing ideas and resources online was kind of magical to me. It reminded me of when I was a student. I spent a lot of time in the printmaking studio and I loved how social and how really vibrant the spirit was there: you had many people making art together in this space, sharing ideas and tips and resources, working together, simply sharing information.

Z.L.In my view, something similar was happening online around Flash and ActionScript. That was one of the ways I learned: looking at a lot of code, reading code and asking questions, answering questions, and being an active member of a forum. I also remember taking a programming class in Java in graduate school. I learned by going to workshops, to the classroom, and studying, but also by finding books and tutorials or resources online and working through them.

D.C.How was programming back in the late 1990s?

Z.L.I finished my undergraduate studies at Parsons in 2000. They were using [Macromedia] Director. So I learned Lingo [the scripting language in Director] and I acquired these tools, but it was kind of the tail end because Director was very much about CD-ROM, and the Internet was on the rise. Overall, I think there’s just been wave after wave of different technologies. At some point, Macromedia Flash was really interesting, but then I found a technology that I felt really comfortable with and have consequently used in my professional practice. It involves the things you’re building: websites, animations, VR, AR , mobile apps… The tool I use is very low-level; I help create an open-source tool called OpenFrameworks , which works with C++ . The reason that I work in C++ is that it’s very good for computer vision and image processing, and it’s quite fast since it’s low-level. The interesting side effect is that it also interfaces with a lot of hardware, for example Raspberry Pi, Kinect , and mobile devices. Consequently, it’s easy to take the ideas that I sketch and try them in different contexts.

Z.L.I graduated in 2002, so I’ve seen eighteen years of changes in terms of technologies. A lot of times, what happens is there will be a new cycle for a few years where there’s a new device that unlocks new, different possibilities in interaction design. Sometimes it’s commercially driven, since companies are putting a lot of money behind a certain technology, so then students get interested in that. So you have these moments where it’s really exciting to do projects that involve Kinect , because Kinect just came out and now we have a 3D camera that’s very cheap, so we can sense the body in 3D and you have a lot of students or designers who are trying to find the grammar of what these technologies are. Right now, obviously it’s machine learning and AR , and five years ago maybe VR was very popular. It goes in waves. I think you’ll see a lot of students use technologies that are kind of magnetically related to what’s popular at the moment.

D.C.Is the choice of technology a political statement?

PDGD-ITW-ZachLieberman, Image 2
Blob Line Studies, openFrameworks output, Zach Lieberman.

Z.L.For me it’s important that art and design be put first, and technology second. The things that you want to do, the stories you want to tell, or the experiments you want to create are important, and technology should be at the service of these ideas. I think one of the challenges, especially in education, is that students can get very excited about a technology and so I think you then have a technology first and art and design second approach. They get really excited about data visualization, or about machine learning, basically the technology. I think those projects suffer because they’re sort of tech first, so they are basically creating demonstrations of the technology, and I always worry about the stories—the work that we do is all about telling stories. Especially in terms of these big companies: I don’t want to make work which is telling a Google or a Facebook story. I want to make work that tells my story or other people’s stories.

D.C.Why and how have you started the School for Poetic Computation [SFPC]?

Z.L.In 2013, feelings were running high in New York, where I’m based. There is a really famous design school in the US named Cooper Union. Tuition had been free for a hundred years because they had this really large endowment. Then the board made a decision and suddenly they began charging high tuition fees, and students got really upset. They protested, and the prevailing feeling was that universities cost too much. All design schools [in the US] are very expensive, and Cooper Union’s being free to attend was a notable exception. In America, at that time, a lot of universities were building campuses in Dubai, or Shanghai, and you started to see these situations come up, and you didn’t really understand the economics. So I was really frustrated.

Z.L.As a result, some friends and I decided to get together and start a low-cost school, where we would publish the financial data and be completely transparent so you could go there rather than going for a two-year Master’s degree that would cost several thousand dollars. At SFPC, you can enroll in a ten-week program and get a feeling for what this medium is all about, without necessarily committing to spending a large amount of time or money. We do a ten-week program twice a year, along with shorter programs, and we have been running for seven years. For me, it was about creating a space for organic education around computation, and trying to teach what it feels like and how it can be used in the service of making poetry. The title, Poetic Computation, is about creating poetry through code.

Z.L.It’s very much about learning very low-level concepts. For example, if you go to learn how to use electronics creatively, you typically use Arduino microcontrollers, you start at this kind of level, where things are already made. However, at our school, you start from the ground up and you learn about the electricity, circuits and building half adders, adders, and all the things that go into making a computer. In the beginning, the students are very frustrated, because they don’t get why they are working at such a basic level, but later they discover that those ideas and concepts relate to what they can do within Arduino . They also relate better to what you can accomplish with fancier equipment. We’re trying to create a pedagogy around the essence of a thing: what is the essence of electronics, what is the essence of code? In the school, it’s organized around three pillars: code, electronics and theory, all in the service of making poetry.

D.C.In your opinion, why is poetry relevant today?

Z.L.I’m in a field that you would typically describe as creative coding, but that’s celebrating the act of writing code, and to me it cries out for another name. Could we celebrate poetry? Could we celebrate the act of writing poems? It’s just a framing mechanism, but there is also something very beautiful about poetry, which is an oral tradition, as well as a technique for telling stories and remembering texts, and for speaking. I think there’s something very beautiful about it, especially when you’re teaching code. So much of it is about talking, about conversation, and perhaps these artificial languages are still about talking. I think in poetry you’re trying to use very precise words in the right order, and when you’re coding, you’re trying to use the right words in the right order. There’s a sort of terseness to a good poem, it can be very short and precise, like a haiku. It can be three lines, but tell you a really deep story, and the same goes for code: if you have a very precise for loop, something kind of magical can emerge from it. I think there is a lot of interesting overlap, and feel it’s important when one thinks about language as it relates to computation. This is why we use the word poetry.

PDGD-ITW-ZachLieberman, Image 2
Detail from the SFPC online site, Zach Lieberman, 2018.

Z.L.Also, one of the things that we think about in terms of the school is that computation itself is becoming increasingly smaller, more invisible and embedded. Computers are getting smaller, cheaper, and less visible. I think we need to explore ways to increase visibility, to make them more comprehensible, more accessible, since they play an increasingly important role and are an intrinsic part of our lives. We want artists and designers to be involved, showing what’s possible, pointing out the inconsistencies and pushing for a better future with them.

D.C.How is experimentation important at school?

Z.L.I would say that what is important for the students is that they’re just constantly making, and not overthinking. I like the word experiment, and I remember that, when I saw the famous poster designer Niklaus Troxler speak, at the end of the talk, he said “to the students in the audience, I have three words of advice: experiment, experiment, experiment.” I thought that was really beautiful, and that it’s an important message for students. If you’re making, you’re developing intuition, discovering pathways and shortcuts, and all that is really important. I always seek to create an environment where students are constantly creating and where you model that curiosity is really valued. As a teacher, I think it’s important that you show students how important it is to be curious, and what provokes your own curiosity.

Z.L.You should come to class with a hundred examples of really esoteric, weird stuff, in order to provide them with the space to be, to encourage that same kind of mentality. You want them to be curious about what they care about. As a teacher, I might be curious about a specific 1980s Japanese poster design, or some graphical language that I really care about, or some type studios that I’m obsessed with or whatever. You want the students to bring their obsessions into the classroom, and feel good about being obsessed. As a teacher, all I can do is share my story, show them the things that I care about and how I got to do what I do and how I think about it, but you want them to be able to write their own story. You want to create the kind of atmosphere in which they feel comfortable about sharing what excites them. Experimentation is really important.

Z.L.I went to Parsons, a design school. I always hated classes where you just talked about what you were going to make, you know. You go to a studio class and everybody says what they are going to do, but from a theoretical perspective. I hated it because it was not about actually making, it was about talking. I always think whatever you can do to get students to just iterate and create helps them understand their intuitions better. You can have a better conversation about their ideas and get out of the realm of the theoretical and into the practical.

PDGD-ITW-ZachLieberman, Image 2
Circle Studies, Zach Lieberman.

D.C.What are your next steps in terms of education?

Z.L.We have had to move SFPC online, Covid has been really difficult for us. Right now we are figuring out how to better organize ourselves, but we’re still pushing. I’m currently starting up a new group at the MIT Media Lab , so I’m also back at university. The group is called Future Sketches, and it’s inspired by Muriel Cooper, a former professor at the MIT Media Lab and a major figure in design. She had this letter that she wrote in 1980, describing a visual essay that she made, and, at the end of the letter she said “this will stand as a sketch for the future.” I love this phrase, and in the group we’re trying to imagine what the future may look like through sketching and making.

Z.L.What interests me is when students come in with things about which they are passionate and make tools and projects that relate to them. If they really care a lot about typography, audiovisual expression, or theater, they can build a set of experiences and work around that, but they also build platforms, technologies and tools that they can teach. It is almost a pedagogical approach.

Z.L.In terms of my own experience, I feel really connected to the Media Lab, because I came up studying the work of John Maeda’s Aesthetics + Computation Group, and of course Processing , all of which are products of the MIT Media Lab . I feel connected to that design tradition in a lot of ways. I am interested in creating a space for designers and artists to further explore the role of computation in their practice. In terms of my practice, I have my students recreate work. I teach a class called Recreating The Past, where we study a different artist and designer every week, and this last week I talked about Muriel Cooper, John Maeda, and my students are engaging with their work. That makes me really happy.

D.C.In a digitalized future, how do you see paper evolve as a medium?

Z.L.I always tell beginner students to print out code, to take code that they like, print it out on paper, then take a highlighter, take a pen, draw on it, mark it up, work with it on paper because it’s text, it’s language. If you have ever had the experience of writing, you write a letter or you write an essay and you print it out and then suddenly you can see spelling mistakes, you can cross out a line, or rewrite it. I think if we only interact with text on a computer screen, we have this very narrow window into what text is. I always suggest to try reading and writing on paper, or have something you can actually hold in your hands since it’s about language.

Z.L.I think you see also a lot of times when people wish to return to things that are very physical. You have experimentation with pen plotters, 3D printers, and laser cutters and things where there is a physical manifestation of a computational process. If you look at Instagram, you see videos of people doing calligraphy, you just see a hand drawing. It’s so lovely because we are surrounded by screens, and I think it is really important to be reminded of the hand. Personally, I feel that drawing is a really important part of our pedagogy at SFPC. We do a lot of drawing exercises, we do a lot of work on paper and I think it should be an important part of design education.

D.C.How is it possible to monetize your experiments on Instagram?

Z.L.I have existed for many years without sharing on social media, just doing commercial work and working with festivals and so on. For about four years, I’ve been doing daily sketches and posting a lot on Instagram and it has led to a lot of different types of jobs. The more you share your work and your style, the more likely it is that people will hire you, because they can see something in what you’ve done and they can connect what you are doing with what they’re thinking about, and just say “I want that.”

Z.L.As an artist, that’s really great, because if somebody says that, you know how to do it, you’ve already done it, and there’s an aspect of that that I find really valuable. Then there are all these side businesses—you can make prints and sell them, etc. It’s a way of pushing yourself, as well as gaining a better understanding of your artistic intuitions.

D.C.Would you say that the term graphic designer remains relevant as a term to describe someone who also does coding?

Z.L.I always think of graphic design as a kind of funny name to describe what we do, because it’s so much broader. If you think of graphic design, you think of the person designing the graphics, saying the pictures should go here, or making them, but now design practice feels far more system-oriented than object-oriented, dealing with time and other variables that would perhaps have been inconceivable to earlier generations. The thing that I like about the discipline is that it’s full of people who are intimately familiar with visual systems.

Z.L.I think of myself more as a media artist than a graphic designer, but when I hang out with people doing type design, there is something so amazing about the way we care about very tiny details. If you talk to a type designer about the choices that they made in a typeface, it’s all about very minute differences, a little bit thinner here, thicker here, an angle change… As a coder, a lot of what I do is about very minute differences. I have these numbers and I’m saying, × 0.1 or × 0.2 or × 0.3. They are tiny mathematical changes that lead to very different results. It’s the same thing for people who tinker with designing typefaces or other types of graphical systems. The term graphic design really brings layout to mind for me. I think there’s a much broader field that people currently work in, that includes UX, UI, motion graphics, motion design, information visualization, so, consequently, I feel like the term may be a little outdated.

D.C.What are the next steps for openFrameworks?

Z.L.It’s a project that has reached a certain level of maturity. It started in 2004-2005, so it has had a long lifespan. I feel like it was part of a generation of tools and I don’t know what that next generation of tools looks like, but I think they should help artists work creatively with machine learning, augmented reality, etc. They should help explore what these things are and feel like. Maybe there will be different tools that help you do that, add-ons or plug-ins. I’m really fascinated with that and I want to focus on the creative applications of machine learning systems that help us understand the body and respond to gestures, those seem really interesting. I just have a feeling, I cannot really predict what future tools may look like, besides, I think it’s a task for the next generation. I created openFrameworks when I was young and I feel that younger people might have a better sense of what these tools should be and how they should be created.

D.C.Do you think we could define creative coding as a global movement?

Z.L.I don’t know about numbers, but Processing does publish their download numbers, and you can see that millions of people use these tools. I think it’s having an impact all over the place, whether it’s in the field of motion graphics or generative design systems, even in education. I do think it’s a tool like any other.

Z.L.One of the things I’m really afraid of is people feeling like programming is so important, that everybody needs to learn how to code, and that if we teach everybody to code, it will solve all the world’s problems. A better way to think about it is as a tool. I think it’s certainly an important tool in terms of the impact computing has on our lives, but it’s not the only tool that you can use to create, it’s just one tool among others. I think the best thing for students is to gain a familiarity with a wide range of tools. When you know a tool exists, you may not even need to know how to use it well; just knowing the tool is out there is really helpful for your mind when you are thinking about the problems you want to solve. I always feel like we should never frame it as everybody should learn to code, everybody who does graphic design will need a background in computer science, but rather by saying it’s a tool, and we need to help students understand what it’s good for and for what it could be used. They need to have a wide range of tools they can use, so that they can work with fluidity.

Glossary

ActionScript

ActionScript was an object-oriented programming language originally developed by Macromedia Inc. (later acquired by Adobe Systems). It is influenced by HyperTalk, the scripting language for HyperCard. ActionScript was initially designed for controlling simple 2D vector animations made in Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash). Initially focused on animation, early versions of Flash content offered few interactivity features and thus had very limited scripting capability. Later versions added functionality, allowing for the creation of web-based games and rich web applications with streaming media (such as video and audio). Today, ActionScript is suitable for desktop and mobile development through Adobe Air, and can be used in some database applications, as well as in basic robotics, such as the Make Controller Kit.

Adobe

Adobe Inc., originally called Adobe Systems Incorporated, is an American multinational computer software company. Incorporated in Delaware and head-quartered in San Jose, California, it has historically specialized in software for the creation and publication of a wide range of content, including graphics, photography, illustration, animation, multimedia/video, motion pictures and print. Adobe was founded in December 1982 by John Warnock and Charles Geschke. Flagship products include: Photoshop image editing software, Adobe Illustrator, a vector-based illustration software, Adobe Acrobat Reader and the Portable Document Format (PDF), along with a range of tools primarily for audiovisual content creation, editing and publishing.

Adobe After Effects

Adobe After Effects is a digital visual effects, motion graphics, and compositing application developed by Adobe Inc. and used in the post-production process of filmmaking, animation, video games and television production. Among other things, After Effects can be used for keying, tracking, compositing, and animation. It also functions as a very basic non-linear editor, audio editor, and media transcoder.

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editor and design program developed and marketed by Adobe Inc. Originally designed for the Apple Macintosh, development of Adobe Illustrator began in 1985.

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign is a desktop publishing and page layout designing software application produced by Adobe Inc. Graphic designers and production artists are the principal users, creating and laying out periodical publications, posters, and print media. It also supports export to EPUB and SWF formats to create e-books and digital publications, including digital magazines, and content suitable for consumption on tablet computers. In addition, InDesign supports XML, style sheets, and other coding markup, making it suitable for exporting content for use in digital and online formats.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a raster graphics editor developed and published by Adobe Inc. It was originally created in 1988 by Thomas and John Knoll. Since then, the software has become the industry standard not only in raster graphics editing, but in digital art as a whole. Photoshop can edit and compose raster images in multiple layers and supports masks, alpha compositing and several color models. Photoshop uses its own PSD and PSB file formats to support these features.

Adobe Shockwave

Adobe Shockwave (formerly Macromedia Shockwave) is a discontinued multimedia platform for building interactive multimedia applications and video games. Developers originate content using Adobe Director and publish it on the Internet. Such content could be viewed in a web browser on any computer with the Shockwave Player plug-in installed. MacroMind originated the technology; Macromedia acquired MacroMind and developed it further, releasing Shockwave Player in 1995. Adobe then acquired Shockwave with Macromedia in 2005. Shockwave supports raster graphics, basic vector graphics, 3D graphics, audio, and an embedded scripting language called Lingo.

Algorithm

In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is a finite sequence of well-defined, computer-implementable instructions, typically to solve a class of specific problems or to perform a computation. Algorithms are used as specifications for performing calculations, data processing, automated reasoning, and other tasks. Starting from an initial state and initial input, the algorithm’s instructions describe a computation that, when executed, proceeds through a finite number of well-defined successive states, eventually producing “output” and terminating at a final ending state. Algorithms are essential to the way computers process data. Many computer programs contain algorithms that detail the specific instructions a computer should perform—in a specific order—to carry out a specified task.

Apple

Apple Inc. is an American multinational technology company that specializes in consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. Apple was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976 to develop and sell Wozniak’s Apple I personal computer. It was incorporated by Jobs and Wozniak as Apple Computer, Inc. in 1977, and sales of its computers, including the Apple II, grew quickly. They went public in 1980 to instant financial success. Over the next few years, Apple shipped new computers featuring innovative graphical user interfaces, such as the original Macintosh.

Application Programming Interface (API)

An API is a set of defined rules that explain how computers or applications communicate with one another. APIs sit between an application and the web server, acting as an intermediary layer that processes data transfer between systems.

Arduino

Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. Arduino boards are able to read inputs—light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message—and turn it into an output: activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online. You can tell your board what to do by sending a set of instructions to the microcontroller on the board. To do so you use the Arduino programming language (based on Wiring), and the Arduino Software (IDE), based on Processing. All Arduino boards are completely open-source, empowering users to build them independently and eventually adapt them to their particular needs. The software, too, is open-source, and it is growing through the contributions of users worldwide.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence demonstrated by machines, as opposed to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals. Leading AI textbooks define the field as the study of “intelligent agents”: any system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of achieving its goals. Some popular accounts use the term artificial intelligence to describe machines that mimic “cognitive” functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as learning and problem solving. AI applications include advanced Web search engines, recommendation systems (used by YouTube, Amazon and Netflix), understanding human speech (such as Siri or Alexa), self-driving cars (e.g. Tesla), and competing at the highest level in strategic game systems (such as chess and Go).

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality is computer-generated content overlaid on a real world environment. AR hardware comes in many forms, including devices that you can carry and devices you wear, such as headsets, and glasses. Common applications of AR technology include video games, television, and personal navigation.

BASIC

(Beginners’ All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use. The original version was designed by John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz and released at Dartmouth College in 1964. They wanted to enable students in fields other than science and mathematics to use computers. At the time, nearly all computer use required writing custom software, which was something only scientists and mathematicians tended to learn.

basil.js

basil.js is a simplified library aimed at designers. It brings scripting and automation into layout and makes computational and generative design possible from within InDesign. Additionally it also includes workflow improvements for data imports from various sources, indexing and complex document management.

C++

C++ is a general-purpose programming language created by Bjarne Stroustrup in 1982 as an extension of the C programming language, or “C with Classes.” The language has expanded significantly over time, and modern C++ now has object-oriented, generic, and functional features in addition to facilities for low-level memory manipulation. It is almost always implemented as a compiled language, and many vendors provide C++ compilers, including the Free Software Foundation, LLVM, Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, and IBM, so it is available on many platforms. C++ was designed with an orientation toward system programming and embedded, resource-constrained software and large systems, with performance, efficiency, and flexibility of use as its design highlights.

CSS

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style-sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language such as HTML. CSS is a cornerstone technology of the World Wide Web, alongside HTML and JavaScript. CSS is designed to enable the separation of presentation and content, including layout, colors, and fonts. The term cascading derives from the specified priority scheme to determine which style rule applies if more than one rule matches a particular element. This cascading priority scheme is predictable.

Commodore C64

The Commodore C64 was a flagship personal computer product of the Commodore company, released in 1982. It was largely recognized as the highest-selling personal computer model of all time, with between 10 and 17 million units sold (according to available estimates). The Commodore C64 was an 8-bit home computer with 64 kB of RAM. It ran on a Commodore BASIC operating system and had a VIC-II graphics card, an external 170 K floppy drive, ports for two joysticks, and a cartridge port. In its time, the Commodore C64 stood out from its competitors in terms of both sound and graphics, with multicolored sprites and three-channel sound that provided what was, for that era, cutting-edge technology. The ability to play Commodore games on the system was only part of the appeal, with a variety of business uses also built into the early computing system.

Commodore VC-20

The Commodore VIC-20 / or VC-20 (known as the VC-20 in Germany and the VIC-1001 in Japan) is an 8-bit home computer that was sold by Commodore Business Machines. The VIC-20 was announced in 1980, roughly three years after Commodore’s first personal computer, the PET. The VIC-20 was the first computer of any description to sell one million units.

Database

A database is an organized collection of structured information, or data, typically stored electronically in a computer system. A database is usually controlled by a database management system (DBMS). Together, the data and the DBMS, along with the applications that are associated with them, are referred to as a database system, often shortened to just database. Data within the most common types of databases in operation today is typically modeled in rows and columns in a series of tables to make processing and data querying efficient. The data can then be easily accessed, managed, modified, updated, controlled, and organized. Most databases use structured query language (SQL) for writing and querying data.

DrawBot

DrawBot is a powerful, free application for MacOSX that invites you to write simple Python scripts to generate two-dimensional graphics. The built-in graphics primitives support rectangles, ovals, (Bézier) paths, polygons, text objects and transparency. DrawBot is an ideal tool for teaching the basics of programming. Students get colorful graphic treats while becoming familiar with variables, conditional statements, functions, etc. Results can be saved in a selection of different file formats, including high resolution, scaleable PDF, SVG, movie, PNG, JPEG and TIFF. DrawBot is written in Python. The DrawBot project started in 2003 as a program named DesignRobots, written for a Python workshop at the TypoTechnica conference. Since then the application evolved into a Cocoa application with a powerful API and image export functionality. It has proven itself as a key part of the curriculum at the Royal Academy in The Hague, and is developed by Just van Rossum, Erik van Blokland and Frederik Berlaen.

Dual Licensing

Using dual licensing, licensors can distribute software to licensees under a proprietary model as well as an open-source model, allowing the licensor to simultaneously leverage the advantages of both types of licenses.

EPUB

EPUB is an e-book file format that uses the “.epub” file extension. The term is short for electronic publication and is supported by many e-readers, and compatible software is available for most smartphones, tablets, and computers. The EPUB format is implemented as an archive file consisting of XHTML files carrying the content, along with images and other supporting files. EPUB is the most widely supported vendor-independent XML-based e-book format. EPUB is a technical standard published by the International Digital Publishing Forum and supported by almost all hardware readers.

e-Reader

An e-reader, also called an e-book reader or e-book device, is a mobile electronic device that is designed primarily for the purpose of reading digital e-books and periodicals. Any device that can display text on a screen may act as an e-reader; however, specialized e-reader devices may optimize portability, readability, and battery life for this purpose. Their main advantages over printed books are portability. An e-reader is capable of holding thousands of books while weighing less than one book. Many e-readers use the Internet through Wi-Fi and the built-in software can provide a link to a digital library or an e-book retailer, allowing the user to buy, borrow, and receive digital e-books.

Flash

Adobe Flash is a multimedia software platform used for production of animations, rich web applications, desktop applications, mobile apps, mobile games, and embedded web browser video players. Flash displays text, vector graphics, and raster graphics to provide animations, video games, and applications. It allowed streaming of audio and video, and can capture mouse, keyboard, microphone, and camera input. Flash was initially used to create fully interactive websites, but this approach was phased out with the introduction of HTML5. Instead, Flash found a niche as the dominant platform for online multimedia content, particularly for browser games. Due to numerous security flaws, the use of Flash declined as Adobe transitioned to the Adobe Air platform. The Flash Player was deprecated in 2017 and officially discontinued at the end of 2020.

Fontographer

Fontographer, developed by James R. Von Ehr for the Mac and released in January 1986, was the first commercially available Bézier curve editing software for a personal computer. High quality fonts in PostScript format could be developed for a fraction of the cost of other existing methods, leading to the democratization of type design. For the first time, numerous self-taught type designers without substantial capital investment could produce fonts for professional use. Fontographer 2.0 was released eight months later, in the fall of 1986. In 1989, Fontographer 3.0 was released, featuring an auto-trace tool and automatic generation of hints for PostScript printer fonts.

For Loop

In computer science, a for-loop (or simply for loop) is a control flow statement for specifying iteration, which allows code to be executed repeatedly. A for-loop has two parts: a header specifying the iteration, and a body which is executed once per iteration. The header often declares an explicit loop counter or loop variable, which allows the body to know which iteration is being executed. For-loops are typically used when the number of iterations is known before entering the loop. For-loops can be thought of as a shorthand for while-loops, which increment and test a loop variable.

Fortran

Fortran is a general-purpose, compiled imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing. It was originally developed by John Backus and IBM in the 1950s for scientific and engineering applications, and subsequently came to dominate scientific computing. It has been in use for over six decades in computationally intensive areas such as numerical weather prediction, finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, geophysics, computational physics, crystallography and computational chemistry.

Generative Adversarial Network (GAN)

A generative adversarial network is a class of machine learning frameworks. Two neural networks contest with each other in a game (in the form of a zero-sum game, where one agent’s gain is another agent’s loss). Given a training set, this technique learns to generate new data with the same statistics as the training set. For example, a GAN trained on photographs can generate new photographs that look at least superficially authentic to human observers, having many realistic characteristics.

Git

Git is a software that tracks changes in any set of files. It is generally used for coordinating work among programmers who are collaboratively developing source code during software development. Its goals include speed, data integrity, and support for distributed, non-linear workflows (thousands of parallel branches running on different systems). Git was created by Linus Torvalds in 2005 for development of the Linux kernel, with other kernel developers contributing to its initial development. Since 2005, Junio Hamano has been the core maintainer. As with most other distributed version control systems, and unlike most client-server systems, every Git directory on every computer is a full-fledged repository with complete history and full version-tracking abilities, independent of network access or a central server. Git is free and open-source software distributed under GNU General Public License Version 2.

GitHub

GitHub, Inc. is a provider of Internet hosting for software development and version control using Git. It offers the distributed version control and source code management (SCM) functionality of Git, plus its own features. It provides access control and several collaboration features such as bug tracking, feature requests, task management, continuous integration and wikis for every project. Headquartered in California, it has been a subsidiary of Microsoft since 2018. GitHub offers its basic services free of charge. Its more advanced professional and enterprise services are commercial. Free GitHub accounts are commonly used to host open-source projects.

GitLab

GitLab is a web-based DevOps lifecycle tool that provides a Git repository manager providing wiki, issue-tracking and continuous integration and deployment pipeline features, using an open-source license, developed by GitLab Inc. The open source software project was created by Ukrainian developers Dmitriy Zaporozhets and Valery Sizov. GitLab follows an open-core development model where the core functionality is released under an open-source (MIT) license while the additional functionality is under a proprietary license.

Glyphs

Glyphs is a Mac font editor that puts you in control, enabling you to quickly draw high-precision vectors, efficiently reuse shapes, and easily manage any number of letters, figures and symbols. Glyphs is a project of type designers and software developers Georg Seifert and Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer.

Google

Google LLC is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, a search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. It is considered one of the big four technology companies along with Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. Google was founded in September 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California.

Google Docs

Google Docs is an online word processor included as part of the free, web-based Google Docs Editors suite offered by Google. Google Docs is accessible via an Internet browser as a web-based application and is also available as a mobile app on Android and iOS and as a desktop application on Google’s Chrome OS. Google Docs allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating with other users in real-time. Edits are tracked by user with a revision history presenting changes. An editor’s position is highlighted with an editor-specific color and cursor and a permissions system regulates what users can do.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a spreadsheet program included as part of the free, web-based Google Docs Editors suite offered by Google. The app allows users to create and edit files online while collaborating with other users in real-time. Edits are tracked by user with a revision history presenting changes.

HTML

HyperText Markup Language, better known as HTML, is the standard markup language for documents designed to be displayed in a web browser. It can be supported by technologies such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and scripting languages such as JavaScript. Web browsers receive HTML documents from a web server or from local storage and render the documents into multimedia web pages. HTML describes the structure of a web page semantically and originally included cues for the appearance of the document. HTML can embed programs written in a scripting language such as JavaScript, which affects the behavior and content of web pages. Inclusion of CSS defines the look and layout of content. In 1980, physicist Tim Berners-Lee, a contractor at CERN, proposed and prototyped ENQUIRE, a system for CERN researchers to use and share documents. In 1989, Berners-Lee wrote a memo proposing an Internet-based hypertext system. Berners-Lee specified HTML and wrote the browser and server software in late 1990.

HyperCard

HyperCard is a software application and development kit for Apple Macintosh and Apple IIGS computers. It is among the first successful hypermedia systems predating the World Wide Web. HyperCard combines a flat-file database with a graphical, flexible, user-modifiable interface. HyperCard includes a built-in programming language called HyperTalk for manipulating data and the user interface. HyperCard is based on the concept of a “stack” of virtual “cards”. Each card contains a set of interactive objects, including text fields, check boxes, buttons, and similar common graphical user interface (GUI) elements. Users browse the stack by navigating from card to card, using built-in navigation features, a powerful search mechanism, or through user-created scripts. HyperCard was originally released in 1987 and was included free with all new Macintosh computers. It was withdrawn from sale in March 2004, having received its final update in 1998 upon the return of Steve Jobs to Apple. HyperCard runs in the Classic environment, but was not ported to Mac OS X.

HyperTalk

HyperTalk is a discontinued highlevel, procedural programming language created in 1987 by Dan Winkler and used in conjunction with Apple Computer’s HyperCard hypermedia program by Bill Atkinson. Because the main target audience of HyperTalk was beginning programmers, HyperTalk programmers were usually called “authors” and the process of writing programs was known as “scripting”. HyperTalk scripts resembled written English and used a logical structure similar to that of the Pascal programming language.

Java

Java is a high-level, class-based, object-oriented programming language that is designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible. It is a general-purpose programming language intended to let application developers write once, run anywhere (WORA), meaning that compiled Java code can run on all platforms that support Java without the need for recompilation. The syntax of Java is similar to C and C++, but has fewer low-level facilities than either of them. The Java runtime provides dynamic capabilities (such as reflection and runtime code modification) that are typically not available in traditional compiled languages. As of 2019, Java was one of the most popular programming languages in use according to GitHub, particularly for client-server web applications, with a reported nine million developers.

JavaScript (JS)

JavaScript is a lightweight, interpreted, object-oriented language with first-class functions, and is best known as a scripting language for Web pages, but it’s used in many non-browser environments as well. It is a prototype-based, multi-paradigm scripting language that is dynamic, and supports object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles. JavaScript runs on the client side of the web, which can be used to design/program how the web pages behave on the occurrence of an event. The basic syntax is intentionally similar to both Java and C++ to reduce the number of new concepts required to learn the language.

Kinect

Kinect is a line of motion-sensing input devices produced by Microsoft and first released in 2010. The technology includes a set of hardware originally developed by PrimeSense, incorporating RGB cameras, infrared projectors and detectors that map depth through either structured light or time of flight calculations, and a microphone array, along with software and artificial intelligence from Microsoft to allow the device to perform real-time gesture recognition, speech recognition and body skeletal detection. This enables Kinect to be used as a hands-free natural user interface device to interact with a computer system.

Kinetic Type

Kinetic typography—the technical name for “moving text” or “motion typography”—is an animation technique mixing motion and text to express ideas using video animation.

LaTeX

LaTeX, pronounced “Lah-tech” or “Lay-tech,” is a high-quality typesetting system; it includes features designed for the production medium-to-large technical or scientific documents but it can be used for almost any form of publishing. LaTeX is available as free software.

Library (computing)

In computer science, a library is a collection of non-volatile resources used by computer programs, often for software development. These may include configuration data, documentation, help data, message templates, pre-written code and subroutines, classes, values or type specifications. A library is also a collection of implementations of behavior, written in terms of a language, that has a well-defined interface by which the behavior is invoked. Library code is organized in such a way that it can be used by multiple programs that have no connection to each other, while code that is part of a program is organized to be used only within that one program. The value of a library lies in the reuse of standardized program elements. When a program invokes a library, it gains the behavior implemented inside that library without having to implement that behavior itself. Libraries encourage the sharing of code in a modular fashion and ease the distribution of the code.

Lingo

Lingo is a verbose object-oriented scripting language developed by John H. Thompson for use in Adobe Director (formerly Macromedia Director). Lingo is used to develop desktop application software, interactive kiosks, CD-ROMs and Adobe Shockwave content. Lingo is the primary programming language on the Adobe Shockwave platform, which dominated the interactive multimedia product market during the 1990s.

Linux

The Linux kernel is a free and open-source, monolithic, modular, multitasking, Unix-like operating system kernel. It was conceived and created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds for his i386-based PC, and it was soon adopted as the kernel for the GNU operating system, which was created as a free replacement for UNIX. Since then, it has spawned a large number of operating system distributions, commonly also called Linux. Linux is deployed on a wide variety of computing systems, such as embedded devices, mobile devices (including its use in the Android operating system), personal computers, servers, mainframes, and supercomputers.

MIT Media Lab

The MIT Media Lab promotes an interdisciplinary research culture that brings together diverse areas of interest and inquiry. Unique among other laboratories at MIT, the Media Lab comprises both a broad research agenda and a graduate degree program in Media Arts and Sciences. Faculty, students, and researchers work together on hundreds of projects across disciplines as diverse as social robotics, physical and cognitive prostheses, new models and tools for learning, community bioengineering, and models for sustainable cities. Art, science, design, and technology build and play off one another in an environment designed for collaboration and inspiration.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can access data and use it to learn for themselves. The process of learning begins with observations or data, such as examples, direct experience, or instruction, in order to look for patterns in data and make better decisions in the future based on the examples that we provide. The primary aim is to allow the computers learn automatically without human intervention or assistance and adjust actions accordingly.

Macintosh

The Macintosh (generally referred to as a Mac since 1998) is a family of personal computers designed, manufactured, and sold by Apple Inc. (originally Apple Computer, Inc.) since January 1984. The original Macintosh is the first successful mass-market all-in-one desktop personal computer to have featured a graphical user interface, built-in screen, and mouse. Apple sold the Macintosh alongside its popular Apple II, Apple IIGS, Apple III, and Apple Lisa families of computers until the other models were discontinued in the 1990s.

Macromedia Director

Adobe Director (formerly Macromedia Director) was a multimedia application authoring platform created by Macromedia and managed by Adobe Systems until its discontinuation in 2017. Director was the primary time-based editor on the Adobe Shockwave platform, which dominated the interactive multimedia product space during the 1990s. Originally designed for creating animation sequences, the addition of a scripting language called Lingo made Director a popular choice for creating CD-ROMs, stand-alone kiosks and internet video game content during the 1990s.

Material Design

Material Design is a design language developed by Google in 2014. Expanding on the “cards” that debuted in Google Now, Material Design uses more grid-based layouts, responsive animations and transitions, padding, and depth effects such as lighting and shadows.

Max/MSP

Max, also known as Max/MSP/Jitter, is a visual programming language for music and multimedia developed and maintained by San Francisco-based software company Cycling ’74. Over its more than thirty-year history, it has been used by composers, performers, software designers, researchers, and artists to create recordings, performances, and installations. The Max program is modular, with most routines existing as shared libraries. An application programming interface (API) allows third-party development of new routines (named external objects). Thus, Max has a large user base of programmers unaffiliated with Cycling ’74 who enhance the software with commercial and non-commercial extensions to the program.

Metafont

Metafont is a description language used to define raster fonts. It is also the name of the interpreter that executes Metafont code, generating the bitmap fonts that can be embedded into PostScript. Metafont was devised by Donald Knuth as a companion to his TeX typesetting system.

Microsoft

Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology corporation which produces computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services. Its best known software products are the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and the Internet Explorer and Edge web browsers. Its flagship hardware products are the Xbox video game consoles and the Microsoft Surface lineup of touch-screen personal computers.Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen on April 4, 1975, to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. It rose to dominate the personal computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid-1980s, followed by Microsoft Windows.

Node.js

Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform, back-end JavaScript runtime environment that runs on the V8 engine and executes JavaScript code outside a web browser. Node.js lets developers use JavaScript to write command line tools and for server-side scripting—running scripts server-side to produce dynamic web page content before the page is sent to the user’s web browser. Consequently, Node.js represents a “JavaScript everywhere” paradigm, unifying web-application development around a single programming language, rather than using different languages for server-side and client-side scripts.

Open Source

Open-source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance. The term originated in the context of software development to designate a specific approach to creating computer programs. Today, however, the term “open source” designates a broader set of values. Open source projects, products, or initiatives embrace and celebrate the principles of open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy, and community-oriented development. Open-source licenses affect the way people can use, study, modify, and distribute software. In general, open-source licenses grant computer users permission to use open-source software for any purpose they wish. Some open-source licenses—sometimes referred to as “copyleft” licenses—stipulate that anyone who releases a modified open-source program must also release the source code for that program alongside it. Moreover, some open-source licenses stipulate that anyone who alters and shares a program with others must also share that program’s source code without charging a licensing fee for it.

OpenFrameworks

OpenFrameworks is an open source C++ toolkit for creative coding, designed to assist the creative process by providing a simple and intuitive framework for experimentation. The code is written to be massively cross-compatible. OpenFrameworks supports five operating systems (Windows, OSX, Linux, iOS, Android) and four IDEs (XCode, Code::Blocks, and Visual Studio and Eclipse). OpenFrameworks is distributed under the MIT License. This gives everyone the freedom to use openFrameworks in any context: commercial or non-commercial, public or private, open or closed source. While many openFrameworks users give their work back to the community in a similarly free way, there is no obligation to contribute. OpenFrameworks is actively developed by Zach Lieberman, Theodore Watson, and Arturo Castro, with help from the OpenFrameworks community.

P5.js

P5.js is a JavaScript library for creative coding created by Lauren Lee McCarthy in 2013. Its purpose is to make coding accessible and inclusive for artists, designers, educators and beginners. P5.js is free and open-source. To use the metaphor of a sketch, p5.js has a full set of drawing functionalities. However, one is not limited to a drawing canvas—you can visualize your whole browser page as a sketch pad, including HTML5 objects for text, input, video, webcam, and sound. P5.js is currently led/run?/maintained? by Qianqian Ye and Evelyn Masso.

P5LIVE

p5.js’ collaborative live-coding VJ environment.

PHP

PHP is a general-purpose scripting language geared towards web development. It was created by Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994. PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page, but it now stands for the recursive initialism PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. PHP code is usually processed on a web server by a PHP interpreter implemented as a module, a daemon or as a Common Gateway Interface (CGI) executable. On a web server, the result of the interpreted and executed PHP code – which may be any type of data, such as generated HTML or binary image data – would form the whole or part of an HTTP response.

PageBot

PageBot® is a scriptable page layout, vector graphics and typography environment that enables designers to create high quality documents in various print-ready and web-based formats. It is available as a Python library with multiplatform support based on Flat as well as a Mac OS X extension that uses DrawBot. The core library, tutorials and basic examples for PageBot are available under the MIT Open-Source license. PageBot is initiated and developed by Buro, Petr van Blokland and Claudia Mens.

Paged.js

Paged.js is a free and open source JavaScript library that paginates content in the browser to create PDF output from any HTML content. This means you can design works for print (e.g. books) using HTML and CSS.

Paper.js

Paper.js is an open-source vector graphics scripting framework that runs on top of the HTML5 Canvas. It offers a clean Scene Graph / Document Object Model and a lot of powerful functionality to create and work with vector graphics and Bézier curves, all neatly wrapped up in a well designed, consistent and clean programming interface. Paper.js is developed by Jürg Lehni & Jonathan Puckey, and distributed under the permissive MIT License.

Portable Document Format (PDF)

Portable Document Format (PDF), is a file format developed by Adobe in 1993 to present documents, including text formatting and images, in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems. Based on the PostScript language, each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout flat document, including the text, fonts, vector graphics, raster images and other information needed to display it. PDF files may contain a variety of content besides flat text and graphics, including logical structuring elements, interactive elements such as annotations and form-fields, layers, rich media (including video content), three-dimensional objects, and various other data formats.

PostScript

PostScript is a page description language (PDL) that describes a page’s text and graphical content. It can be used to define the appearance of graphics and text for both screen and print. The language was developed by Adobe in 1984 and has since gone through many revisions and updates. Before PostScript was introduced, publishing systems relied on proprietary typesetting systems, which often caused incompatibilities between computers and printing systems. Adobe PostScript makes it possible to produce high-quality page content that can include text, images, and line art in a standard format compatible with multiple devices. PostScript (.PS) files will print out in the exact same way from any PostScript compatible printer. They can also be opened using Adobe Acrobat and will look consistently the same on Macintosh and Windows platforms. The evolution of PostScript led to the development of Adobe Acrobat, which creates PDF documents.

ProcessWire

ProcessWire is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) and framework (CMF) written in the PHP programming language. ProcessWire is built around an API with usage and naming conventions similar to the JavaScript framework jQuery. The stated goal behind the API is to provide the level of accessibility and control to pages in a website that jQuery provides to the DOM. Content is managed either via the API or the web-based admin control panel. ProcessWire is largely used for development of websites, web applications, services, content feeds and related applications.

Processing

Processing is a flexible software sketchbook and a language for learning how to code within the context of the visual arts. Since 2001, Processing has promoted software literacy within the visual arts and visual literacy within technology. There are tens of thousands of students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists who use Processing for learning and prototyping. Processing was initiated in Spring 2001 by Ben Fry and Casey Reas. At the time, Fry was a PhD candidate at the MIT Media Laboratory and Reas was an Associate Professor at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (IDII). Processing began as a personal initiative and it was developed over nights and weekends through 2003. MIT indirectly funded Processing through Fry’s graduate stipend and IDII indirectly funded Processing through Reas’s salary. Due to his research agreement with MIT, all code written by Fry during this time is the intellectual property of MIT.

Python

Python is an interpreted, object-oriented, high-level programming language with dynamic semantics. Its high-level built-in data structures, combined with dynamic typing and dynamic binding, make it very attractive for Rapid Application Development, as well as for use as a scripting or glue language to connect existing components together. Python’s simple, easy-to-learn syntax emphasizes readability and therefore reduces the cost of program maintenance. Python supports modules and packages, which encourages program modularity and code reuse. The Python interpreter and the extensive standard library are available in source or binary form without charge for all major platforms, and can be freely distributed. Python was conceived in the late 1980s by Guido van Rossum at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in the Netherlands as a successor to the ABC programming language, and it was first released in 1991 as Python 0.9.0. Python 2.0 was released in 2000. It introduced new features, such as list comprehensions and a garbage collection system using reference counting. Python 3.0 was released in 2008 and was a major revision of the language that is not completely backward-compatible.

RAWGraphs

RAWGraphs is an open source data visualization framework built with the goal of making the visual representation of complex data easy for everyone. Primarily conceived as a tool for designers and vis geeks, RAWGraphs aims at providing a missing link between spreadsheet applications (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers, OpenRefine) and vector graphics editors (e.g. Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, Sketch). The project, led and maintained by the DensityDesign Research Lab (Politecnico di Milano) was released publicly in 2013.

React

React (also known as React.js or ReactJS) is a free and open-source front-end JavaScript library for building user interfaces or UI components. It is maintained by Facebook and a community of individual developers and companies. React can be used as a base in the development of single-page or mobile applications.

RoboFab

Just van Rossum, Erik van Blokland and Tal Leming developed RoboFab, a Pythonic API to FontLab’s native objects. RoboFab was heavily inspired by RoboFog and their APIs are very similar. A simple toolkit for creating UIs in Python, DialogKit, was also created. All together, this allowed designers to port their old RoboFog scripts to RoboFab. The RoboFab package was distributed freely under an open-source license and worked in both Windows and Mac versions of FontLab. It had a pretty website with very complete documentation and a colorful font object map. RoboFab became popular among font makers and helped them create useful tools to get work done.

RoboFog

RoboFog is a Python-powered version of Fontographer produced by Petr van Blokland in the early 1990s. With Just van Rossum’s help, Van Blokland managed to compile Fontographer with a Python interpreter, and built an API so that the program became scriptable. RoboFog was very successful within its niche market. It included a small toolkit for creating custom UIs in pure Python. Users have a lot of fun with its features, and used it to build tools which were very useful for their workflows.

RoboFont

Written from scratch in Python with scalability in mind, RoboFont is a fully featured font editor with all the tools required for drawing typefaces. It provides full scripting access to objects and interface and a platform for building your own tools and extensions.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is an XML-based markup language for describing two-dimensional based vector graphics. It is a text-based, open Web standard for describing images that can be rendered cleanly at any size without loss of quality and is designed specifically to work well with other web standards including CSS, DOM, JavaScript, and SMIL. In essence, SVG is to graphics what HTML is to text. SVG images and their related behaviors are defined in XML text files, which means they can be searched, indexed, scripted, and compressed. Additionally, this means they can be created and edited with any text editor or with drawing software. SVG has been developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) since 1999.

Scriptographer

Scriptographer is a scripting plug-in for Adobe Illustrator. It enables the user to extend Illustrator’s functionality through the use of the JavaScript language. Scriptographer allows the creation of mouse-controlled drawing tools, effects that modify existing graphics and scripts that create new ones.

Sketchbook

Sketchbook (formerly StudioPaint, Autodesk SketchBook), is a raster graphics software app intended for expressive drawing and concept sketching. The software was first developed by Alias Systems Corporation as StudioPaint, before being acquired by Autodesk and then being spun out into an independent company, Sketchbook, Inc. Originally developed as commercial software, it evolved into a subscription model before eventually being made freeware for personal use.

Turbo Pascal

Turbo Pascal is a dialect of the Pascal programming language which was sold by Borland International during the 1980s and 1990s for use with the MS-DOS and later Microsoft Windows operating systems. A few versions (1.0 and 1.1) were also released for Apple’s System 6 and System 7. It provided an Integrated Development Environment or IDE, which combined editor, program compiler and execution environments for developing, debugging, and compiling Pascal source code.

Turtle Drawing Robot

The concept can be traced back to William Grey Walter’s work in robotics in the 1940s which investigated complex behaviors in simple systems. Turtle robots are generally slow-moving with tight turning radiuses and can trace a design that shows their behavior over time. They make excellent teaching aides because their programmed output can be seen visually.

Type Foundry

A type foundry is a company that designs and distributes typefaces. Before digital type design, type foundries manufactured and sold metal and wood typefaces for hand typesetting, and matrices for line-casting machines like the Linotype and Monotype, for letterpress printers. Today’s digital type foundries distribute typefaces created by type designers, who may either be freelancers, or employed by the foundry. Type foundries may also provide custom type design services for clients.

Unity

Unity is a cross-platform game engine developed by Unity Technologies, first announced and released in June 2005 by Apple as a Mac OS X exclusive game engine. The engine has since been gradually extended to support a variety of desktop, mobile, console and virtual reality platforms. It is particularly popular for iOS and Android mobile game development. The engine can be used to create three-dimensional (3D) and two-dimensional (2D) games, as well as interactive simulations.

User Experience (UX)

User experience (UX) refers to the way a user interacts with and experiences a product, system or service. It includes a person’s perceptions of utility, ease of use, and efficiency.

User Interface (UI)

User interface (UI) design is the design of interfaces for machines and software, such as computers, mobile devices and other electronic devices, with a focus on maximizing usability for the user.

Variable Font

A variable font is a font file that is able to store a continuous range of design variants. An entire typeface (font family) can be stored in such a file, with an infinite number of fonts, styles and widths available to be sampled. The variable font technology originated in Apple’s TrueType GX font variations. The technology was adapted to OpenType as OpenType variable fonts (OTVF) in version 1.8 of the OpenType specification. The technology was announced by Adobe, Apple, Google, and Microsoft in September 2016.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual reality is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. Applications of virtual reality include entertainment (e.g. video games), education (e.g. medical or military training) and business (e.g. virtual meetings).

Web Open Font Format (WOFF)

The Web Open Font Format is a font format for use in web pages. WOFF files are OpenType or TrueType fonts with format-specific compression applied and additional XML metadata added. The primary goals are to distinguish font files intended for use as web fonts from font files intended for use in desktop applications via local installation, and to reduce web-font latency when fonts are transferred from a server to a client over a network connection. The first draft of WOFF 1 was published in 2009 by Jonathan Kew, Tal Leming, and Erik van Blokland. Following the submission of WOFF to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) by the Mozilla Foundation, Opera Software and Microsoft in April 2010, the W3C commented that it expected WOFF to soon become the “single, interoperable [font] format” supported by all browsers. The W3C published WOFF as a working draft in July 2010. The final draft was published as a W3C Recommendation on 13 December 2012.

Web-to-Print

Web-to-Print, also referred to as Web2Print, W2P or Remote Publishing, does not just have one general definition. Many different processes, systems and software fall under this umbrella term. Web-to-Print combines the traditional way of producing print materials, as well as all other processes that take place online, like the creation and publishing process for example. All the following processes are part of Web-to-Print, from the editing of simple templates, uploading and generating print materials to database publishing.

Fig.

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Blob Line Studies, openFrameworks output, Zach Lieberman.
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Detail from the SFPC online site, Zach Lieberman, 2018.
PDGD-ITW-ZachLieberman, Image 3
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Circle Studies, Zach Lieberman.

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