Software Development Tools

When this project started in January 2011, most the team had some basic programming skills, particularly limited to Processing. As the project continued to develop however, we found ourselves learning more and more about different programming languages, IDE’s and coding in general. I thought it would be helpful for us to take a few moments to highlight some of the languages, development tools and software packages that we’ve come across/used over the course of the project.


Processing – As I mentioned much of this project started in the Processing environment. Processing is an open source Java-based language, designed for teaching the basics of programming, specifically in a visual context. It is a great way to get into programming, as you can quickly work your way into “visual results.” Processing has a huge range of tutorials, an excellent documentation, but, most importantly, a highly active community. Processing also has a hardware-based counterpart called Arduino, if you’re looking to make lights blink and motors spin.


Eclipse – After advancing some of our Processing sketches, we learned of the more advanced IDE callled Eclipse. Eclipse is an open source IDE for advanced application development, and comes in a number of different flavors depending on what kind of applications you’re looking to develop (Java, Javascript, PHP, etc). We also incorporated the excellent Processing for Eclipse plugin, which permitted us to continue to use Processing plugins easily. It also has a simple export button to save your Processing applets for web use.


Aptana – Built off of the Exlipse environment, Aptana is an open source advanced application development IDE. It also supports a wide range of programming languages, and was used heavily for the development of this website.


Notepad++ – Notepad++ is an open source advanced text editor, which supports code highlighting for a huge range of different programming languages. It’s great for editing HTML and CSS files on the fly, or for quickly browsing code.  Also be sure to check out the Explorer plugin, which makes file browsing quicker and easier.


WordPress – WordPress 3.1 is used as the CMS (Content Management System) for this website. We also used the Satoshi theme for our basic framework, and then created a child theme specific for our site. Our child theme has a few changes to the CSS, but more importantly has some additional features for quickly creating our “case studies” and embedding our applets.


XAMPP – XAMPP is critical for developing WordPress themes and installations locally on your own machine.  It’s an easy way to run the necessary SQL database while you work on your WordPress site.

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