It’s advantages come with its large community, one that’s already adopted Processing.js as the go-to tool for generative design. Because it renders real-time SVG graphics it allows designers with no development background to create a generative experience given a toolbox. As said on its website: “Whatever you can do with the web, you can do with Processing.js.” Our team discovered the ease with which we could upload graphics to mobile and retina devices, and uploaded a moving graphic in real-time.
One of the most appealing factors of using SVG and D3 is that anything designed in Illustrator can be imported to an SVG scene, and vice versa, all scenes can be exported and edited in Illustrator.
Using D3, our team was able to create some really cool vector shapes in space, animate them, move them around, change their colors and more. We came to the conclusion that D3 is best suited for generating data visualizations; pie charts, graphcs, etc. Check out some of the D3 examples.
Our team spent time investigating Nodebox 3 which is a generative design application designed to be used primarily through a GUI rather than through an command line interface. It was designed to give the user a toolbox of predesignated chunks of code, referred to as nodes, which are then connected to one another using an input/output system to create complex graphic designs.
With generative design often created in applications aimed at an experienced code-writing user base, it was nice for the less code-savvy members in our group to be able to participate in this Sprint via the visual point and click nature of the application. But this doesn’t mean that Nodebox 3 is limited to its GUI interface. More experienced designers are able to import pre-existing and complex code libraries or into the Nodebox’s “code library” to still take full advantage of hand-tailored code, making this tool easy to use, but still with the potential to be an extremely powerful design tool.
Bonsai is a lightweight graphics library that prides itself on its elegant SVG renderer. The syntax is very easy to read and its “Orbit” in browser development environment lets users test out snippets of code on the fly. While it may be preferable for those getting started with creative coding, more advanced users looking to cook up custom solutions will likely find the user base to be painfully small and the documentation difficult to distill.
Great looking vector graphics can certainly be achieved with Bonsai, yet it still falls short of the more powerful, data-driven D3.js in many respects, and finding help with problems can be a huge undertaking due to the virtually inactive community.