Elm Town Podcast on Generative Art

Following my talk on generative art at YOW! Lambda Jam, I had a super fun conversation with Kevin Yank on my work process, design process, inspiration, and most importantly, technical insights using the programming language, Elm

The podcast episode is published at Elm Town, episode 34. You can listen to the episode above, or go to the podcast page and subscribe with one of your podcaster apps.

If you are interested in my presentation recording, video is up on YouTube.

Let's Make Functional Generative Art

Programming generative art, also known as creative coding, is often a trial-and-error process, combining creativity and logic to present something aesthetic. However, creative coding has a high barrier to entry due to the breadth of knowledge and coding skills required. This talk aims to lower that barrier for you to take home and practice creative coding.

I was privileged to speak at YOW! Lambda Jam 2018 on functional programming and creative, generative art. You can get the slides here, and the example gallery online here.

Want to see more of my talk? Get in touch.

Penplotting with the Axidraw V3

Penplotting with the Axidraw V3

I purchased a penplotter called AxiDraw V3, which is a fine-precision 2D plotter that can be used with any implement at 90˚ and 45˚ configurations. My plotter is refurbished with free ground shipping, and delivered by Auspost Shopmate mail redirection service. It works like brand new.

I am working on a RESTful API for the plotter, using their private beta Python CLI which has a permissive open source license. Watch this space.

Guide to WebGL 2.0

View the presentation material here (feel free to skip signing in).

The next generation of computer graphics on the web, an open standard known as WebGL 2.0, has landed in Firefox, Chrome, and Opera, with other browsers fast approaching. This enables an additional layer of GPU-accelerated content. 

Our browsers are already GPU-accelerated; CSS3 Transform is one well-loved example. As designers, developers and creatives, we're empowered by the community that we work with, and the community creates tools to empower our work. So what does WebGL 2.0 mean for the web community?

In this talk, we will discuss the theory of modern design of the graphics rendering pipeline using WebGL as a framework, and go through example code to concretise the theory. Then, we will look at how ThreeJS uses WebGL 2.0, as well as new tools that might change the face of the 3D web for years to come.

This presentation was originally given at Computer Graphics on the Web in Melbourne. Video kindly provided by Common Code.

Maps Visualisation, Web Accessibility, and the Future of the 3D Web

Maps Visualisation, Web Accessibility, and the Future of the 3D Web

I originally wrote this email response to an internal query, but I thought to post it publicly so many may benefit. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts with me. The article has been modified with minor revisions for the public audience.

Maps Visualisation

Check out Mapzen Vector Tile Service  which can be queried as GeoJSON, and transformed into other vector formats that OpenLayers, D3.js, etc. can understand. There are also increasingly more and more vector tile containers, for instance Mapbox, Mapzen, Terria, Cesium, and Leaflet has a plugin

Just like the recent announcement of deck.gl v4.0 being released, these mapping services are native to the web, accelerated by WebGL. The amount of visualisation power through computation has a high potential.

Accessibility for the Web

There are borderline interaction papers, but some interesting ones may be what came out of the W4A Accessibility Hack. The delegate winner, Kieran Mesquita, created a Docker container for TAO (Sam would be proud). Normally, it takes 1-2 hours of setting TAO up just to get it working, but now you can do it in 15 minutes. 

TAO is an open source program that can assess WCAG accessibility conformance, and as all government agency websites have strict accessibility requirements, this will be real handy down the line.

Software Engineering

Terry Crowley wrote an excellent article called Education of a Programmer  and refers to Joel Spolsky’s “Law of Leaky Abstractions”, and managing software complexity. Both are long reads but totally worth the time.

Frederick Brooks Jr. wrote a journal article titled No Silver Bullet—Essence and Accident in Sofware Engineering in 1995. He listed the essences (fundamentals to creating software) and accidents (side effects of using software), and talked about how different solutions may only solve a small set of a general problem, and he defines them well. The 22 years old article stands well against the test of time, I think.

The Future of 3D/VR on the Web

Here are the factors to consider:

  • The web is fundamentally a publishing platform. The strongest strength it has is to deliver content across the globe (and eventually, in space, no doubt). For 3D/VR, the ability to streaming content is continuing to improve.
     
  • WebGL is the principle driver of web-based graphics rendering API. Version 2.0 landed last month in 3 major desktop browsers.
     
  • WebVR is being standardised by W3C (360 videos) and Khronos (OpenXR). Plus the open source effort (OpenVR) in making peripherals available to any desktop machine, I think we’ll see many devices becoming more available as graphics chips get more energy-efficient.
     
  • The leading company in this effort is AltspaceVR, who has seen 1,000+ concurrent users celebrating sports events and presidential campaigns. What is interesting about their technology is that they are built on A-Frame, an HTML-extension library, which means any of their virtual objects can be annotated and fit accessibility requirements. I’m super excited to see what they are doing to translate visuals to text, sound, or any other sensory format.
     
  • It is important to remember that Mixed Reality will continue to grow. This can be a virtual overlay through a transparent, or opaque video feed. 
     
  • We will see a few major paradigm shifts in the coming years:
  1. Smartphones will continue to overtake desktops / laptops. Therefore development efforts will continue to spill over.
     
  2. Mouse and keybaord? Touch screens? Accelerometers? Remote controllers? There will be a standard interaction paradigm across these different inputs.
     
  3. Authoring 3D content will no longer be constrained to the expert users of Maya, Blender, and the like, although these software will continue to be the industry standard for high quality content. TiltBrush, Medium, and SkulptGL are the early drivers of low-level entry content creation. 

What does it mean to browse a 3D/VR website vs a normal flatscreen website? Does that mean people will start strapping phones to their faces? I doubt it. 

People will start using phones in ways we haven’t designed the phones for ever before, because there will be incentives to repurpose a WebVR/WebAR enabled phone to do specific tasks. If there is a need to be filled, be it attending a social event  care for animal welfare or sharing digital worlds they have already begun. 

The next big adjacent idea, borrowing the term from James McQuivey, will be contributing to the 3D Web ecosystem, while being fit for purpose. It could be tools creation, enhancing rendering pipeline, or a platform for publishing. Whatever it is, we’re at the right moment for it.

Moving Towards D3 v4

D3.js is a popular data visualisation framework for Javascript and the web. In July 2016, Mike Bostock released the new version, v4. To celebrate the new release, I gave this talk at the CSIRO data science webinar. The content covers: what is D3? Why do people use data visualisation? What is it for? I show examples of recent works, and point to a couple of resources. Then, D3's enter and exit pattern is briefly outlined. I also talk about the modularisation of D3 v4, as well as a couple of libraries that go with it.