Ted Davis


Interviewed by

Rob van Leijsen

<Ted Davis>4 is a media artist, designer and educator originally from the United States, currently based in Basel, Switzerland. Since 2010, he has been teaching interaction design and coordinates in the UIC/HGK International Master of Design program, which is part of the Visual Communication Institute at the Basel School of Design HGK FHNW. His work and teachings explore the volatility of digital media through glitch and using innovative programming to reactivate “older new media.” His open-source projects (basil.js, XYscope, P5LIVE) enable designers to program within Adobe InDesign, render vector graphics on vector displays, and collaboratively create live coded visuals. Through his international exhibits, lectures and workshops, he empowers students to take hold of the computer’s ability to design possibilities that reach beyond the hand or the mouse.

<GG>4 Who is
<Ted Davis>

I don’t know, and I have no idea. I certainly found his website and didn’t click on any of the links or read any of the information. Because of this, I don’t know whether the website is authentic or not. But because of the high-sounding title and, let’s face it, the promise of helping you lose weight, I’m assuming that it is authentic.

R.v.L.Ted, thanks for inviting us to your studio. Could you introduce yourself, and explain your practice as a media artist and teacher?

T.D.Thanks for involving me in this project, I’m happy to participate. Well, I came to Switzerland [from the US] twelve years ago, initially to do a Master’s degree in Visual Communication. While I was working on that, I got into creative coding and programming.

T.D.I had done websites in the past, but it was while I was working on my Master’s project, specifically learning about how digital images work and how they could be taken apart, that I really got into code, learned PHP , and saw its possibilities for my practice. Since then, I sort of split myself between being an artist, a designer, and an educator in the realm of media.

T.D.Professionally, my initial core focuses were glitches and embracing errors, and the question of digital volatility. Then I got more into generative design. For the last eight or nine years, I have really been getting into what I call new and newer media, which is a sort of dialogue with older new media by way of today’s newer media.

T.D.Some friends had introduced me to a thermal printer, and at the same time, I got an old pen plotter from the 1980s. Over the last few years, I have been really focused on vector displays, like oscilloscopes and lasers, and these different technologies that were seen as innovative in the past, but then got replaced by something else. I realized that, with the computers and programming tools available today, we can use those devices to create new things, so I plunged into this area.

R.v.L.If you have to reflect on your point of departure, how has creative coding evolved over the last decade, from its underground, obscure beginnings to being common and widely used today?

T.D.As I see it, I’m really lucky to have studied and gotten involved in computers when I did, as it was just the right time for the tools that became available to us. It took me seven or eight years to become aware of the tools that I now use daily. Processing (building upon Design by Numbers), was a key development in the early 2000s, but I didn’t really become aware of Processing until 2009 or 2010, because I was so removed from the realm of media art. In California, where I did my undergrad work, graphic design and media arts were separate domains. I studied graphic design and I just wasn’t aware of what media design or media arts could entail. It wasn’t until I came to Switzerland in 2007, and got to visit places like ZKM in Karlsruhe, or the Shift Festival in Basel, that I was introduced to media arts practices.

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Laser Letters: laser and video projector test, Ted Davis, 2016.

T.D.I got the chance to start teaching in 2010. Until then, ActionScript was our institute’s primary tool of choice for creative coding. When I did my Master’s here, we also spent one semester working with ActionScript. That was new to me, the fact that you could add this programming onto these devices, onto these shapes, and create this interaction. When I started teaching in the fall of 2010, I taught ActionScript to our first-year students.

T.D.Then, I saw that Apple was going to kill Flash , and I quickly started trying to learn Processing . I switched to it for the spring semester course, but I was just barely ahead of the students. In 2013, we released basil.js for InDesign , which was based on Processing -style programming, because at that point we were regularly teaching Processing to our first-year students as a core input. I switched to p5.js last year with my students, realizing its potential for the future. There are a couple of other reasons why that’s an even easier language for them.

T.D.In the French part of Switzerland, they were also introducing code to foundation courses, like the pre-design course. I don’t know if it’s a thing around here yet, but I was happy to hear that. Students are learning Processing as a base, next to color theory and other fundamentals.

R.v.L.Can you give us an example of one of your recent courses? What methods do you use? How do you introduce your students to creative coding? What are the starting point and objectives for your courses?

T.D.With the first-year undergraduates, it was always a challenge to try and excite a third of the students to the point that they want to continue doing that for the next two years, because in the first year, they learn about image, type, time-based media, programming, semiotics and drawing. In the second and third years, they focus on type, image, or what we call medium, which is time-based media and interaction. So, out of twenty-five initial students, you’re hoping to convince a third of them.

T.D.With Processing , I immediately started using a library called Geomerative, that enables you to break SVGs and type into points you can manipulate, and explore how code can create new letterforms, or just create other ways of distorting type. Then, because we’re in an interactive, real-time, playground—I introduced audio as a main input and influence on type. The first few exercises I did were about creating audio-reactive type, where each student selects a letterform to program and then they choose how to have audio interact with it.

T.D.In the last two years, as I switched to p5.js , I’ve been using audio-reaction together with pioneering computer works from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. I have students try and recreate those works, and add audio-reaction. At the time, they could only be pen-plotted, and would take a while to render. Now, we can see them in a split second, and audio can be a nice way to bring those works into a contemporary context. This exercise returns to my very first course with Processing , were we focused on works of Georg Nees for an iPad app called P5NEES.

R.v.L.What were the reasons that made you switch to p5.js ? Is it simply the new standard?

T.D.There are a couple of reasons. It took me a while to adopt p5.js , because Processing is amazing. I’ve been using it for years and there are so many libraries, which makes it this really rich tool. The first big reason was that, in the pending version 2.0 of basil.js , one of our contributors, Timo Rychert, was able to remove the “b.” that always had to be in front of all the functions. We always had to code using a “b.”, followed by the Processing function, and that made it basil.js code (to avoid conflicts with built-in InDesign functions). Consequently, you still had to convert Processing ’s Java syntax for basil.jsJava Script. When they figured out how to get rid of the “b.”, you were directly writing Java Script, that’s compatible with p5.js . As a result, p5.js and basil.js became really closely linked. Those are now the two tools that we’re teaching. Our first-year students now need to learn p5.js to create interactive elements in the browser, and then in the spring, they learn basil.js to carry that skill over into InDesign for multipage layout and typographic experiments based on data.

T.D.The second reason for switching, was instigated last year, after creating a live coding environment for p5.js , called P5LIVE , which introduced me to a whole new way to sketch with code. It was made for our Processing Community Day, in order to have live-coded visuals for the evening party. As I made that tool to have fullscreen VJ-style code visible over the graphics, I realized how much faster I could code, compared to Processing or other coding environments, where you usually launch the program to see what happens, then close it and make your changes, and launch it again to see the modifications, etc. In P5LIVE , I could type something, immediately see the change, modify it, and see the change again, all with the program still running.

T.D.The more I played with this tool, the more I realized how much faster Java Script is to learn for beginners. It’s a much more forgiving language than Java . We want to encourage our students to do more and more web design and coding, to make sure that they have these web skills as a sort of a basic skill for the workplace. When you’re working more with the web, then p5.js makes sense for adding interactive richness to websites and developing your Java Script knowledge.

R.v.L.Do you notice students picking up coding more easily now than before? Was there a noticeable shift during the ten years since you have been teaching code?

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P5LIVE: meta sketch interface and concepts of COCODING (collaborative live-coding), Ted Davis, 2019.

T.D.I don’t think we have seen the wave crest yet. I hear that, in the US, coding is being introduced at earlier levels, from elementary school and junior high, on up to grad schools. I know that there have been initiatives in Switzerland to introduce elementary school teachers to some code logic and fundamentals, but I don’t think the shift has quite happened yet. Over the last four or five years, it’s been no problem encouraging a third of our students from the first-year undergraduate courses to select this field of study. They are seeing more and more creative code, and more design studios are coming out with identity projects and works based on creative coding. It’s becoming easier to show students and justify that this is a skill that you can use. The graphic industry is looking for people with this skill set. Still, I rarely encounter students with coding experience arriving in the first year. So we have not quite arrived, in that sense.

R.v.L.Have you also noticed a switch in terms of economic value, and the fact that designers are asked to have coding skills?

T.D.Yes, I think with the current landscape of programming, it’s been interesting to see waves of this. I recall watching a documentary about Turtle, from, I believe, the 1970s in the UK. It was this drawing robot, and kids were learning code with this device. I think there was an expectation that, since computers had arrived, kids would be learning code, that everyone would be coding. That sort of faded away, and I’m not exactly sure why.

T.D.Over the last five years, the idea that code is a basic skill that teenagers and kids should learn has been increasing exponentially. I’m not connected enough with the day-to-day practice at design studios, but I think we’re seeing more and more studios looking for creative coding skills, and big studios coming out with projects to show they have this generative identity or website capabilities. I think that a decade ago, it was unique for designers to have web skills. Basically, you could do print, but if you knew how to work with the web, then you really had a foot in the door. I think there’s been a shift towards these becoming a standard requirement, that you should have some basic web skills, such as CSS , and front-end theme knowledge. Creative coding is now the plus that opens up more possibilities.

T.D.There’s still so much that hasn’t been tried yet. The more we have digital poster facades that allow interaction, the more print-on-demand capabilities we have, the more coded solutions will be required.

R.v.L.While design studios are aware of the possibilities that creative coding brings, and seek out designers with these qualities, would you say clients are doing the same?

T.D.I am the wrong person to ask, mainly because I don’t do a lot of commission work. It’s a big question as to whether code-based solutions are more of a suggestion coming from design studios, or if the clients are coming in and specifically requiring it. I just don’t know.

R.v.L.What do you perceive in terms of the public visual landscape?

T.D.Just in terms of the visual landscape, we are seeing more and more of these media posters being installed in SBB [Swiss transport services] stations and throughout the city. It’s a question of whether those posters should feature an almost static, poster-like animation, or to what degree they should use generative animation.

T.D.I know there are also developments in exploring how interactive those things could be. Do they simply require a twenty-second looping animation, or does it react upon someone physically approaching the device, and to what degree does it have to interact?

T.D.I imagine that displays will become “smarter” and maybe have distance sensors or microphones. I think that would be risky, people probably wouldn’t want that. One wonders what kind of possibilities there will be, and whether clients will take advantage of these technologies?

R.v.L.For what design tasks, or in which design frame, is creative coding most efficient? Where in particular could it be a really powerful timesaver, or generate possibilities?

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Kinectype: still frame from interactive proof of concept, linking Kinect to type points, Ted Davis, 2016.

T.D.I discovered coding when I set out to test out everything I was doing by hand (mouse). It took me several minutes per test, and it was then that I realized code and a computer could do it way more efficiently. I think efficiency is one of the key aspects. Another is designing with the computer as if it is a sort of conversation. At the moment, generative strategies are about using randomizing, noise, or mathematical functions that let you explore possibilities that aren’t just created by the designer on their own. Having a sort of conversation, being surprised by the output, that’s a big part of what creative coding enables you to do.

T.D.Another major aspect, I think, is being able to work with data. Especially with basil.js , in Processing , and p5.js , there is the aspect of interacting with API s [Application Programming Interface] and large amounts of data, and then being able to lend them a graphic form. I think data visualization plays a big role, whether it’s about pulling out patterns in the data, or simply using it as input to determine what the design should look like.

T.D.One of the simplest experiments that we do with basil.js is just talk to the New York Times API . We grab the latest headlines, abstracts and images, and then play with a generative layout. You receive the latest information automatically, and you get to decide how it could be laid out.

T.D.One of the other important points, apart from saving time, is the possibility of iteration. That’s perhaps the most important aspect of creative coding for me, actually. It would ordinarily take me an infinite amount of time to try out an idea by hand, change my mind, etc. When the layout is based on parameters and variables, you have the chance to try things, to modify a value and immediately see how it affects the design. This iterative process, creating, reflecting, changing, creating, and so on, is very quick, and can be endless. The downside is that there’s no reason to stop, when you’re coding a project. The plus side is that you can always reflect, change and update.

R.v.L.How do you guide your students in the selection process?

T.D.That’s where the human side comes in. With just three lines of code, I can easily generate 10,000 possibilities, but then you have to go through them, be human, and say “Oh, well there’s a good one.”

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Animal Farm. Publication designed by students Martina Dolezalov and Annalisa Savin using Basil.js.

T.D.As we move towards machine learning and analyzing the surface of images, it’s interesting to look at what that will mean in terms of the selection process. I’m sure models will be created: someone will say, “those posters won awards, or are well-respected for X reason,” then some model will analyze other images and say “this fits in with that, this doesn’t.” That’s either good, or super dystopic, and it will maintain designs within a certain set of parameters. Still, it will be interesting if/when Adobe introduces some kind of model that makes suggestions about how things should be laid out, based on previous designs.

R.v.L.The tasks of the designer are shifting away from craftsmanship. It always has been thus, but there’s also this curating part entering the equation, namely selecting the output, or the end result of a generated creative process. If we reflect on studio practice, do you see that aspect being the main part of the work for future graphic designers?

T.D.Yeah, I think the field is going to become more and more about creating the parameters within which the output design will exist. I think the web might have been one of the first areas where one has to be fairly forgiving about how the text rags look, because you don’t have so much control. You determine certain parameters and then you get some surprises in terms of how the result looks on different browsers. I could imagine, as things become more and more interactive, that we will be designing situations where an outside influence plays a part in it. Perhaps it will be user interaction, or some other customization, and the design will be contained within a certain sphere.

R.v.L.Do you notice your students having problems being selective in their output, and arguing about their selection? How do they deal with that?

T.D.I don’t think that is limited to creative coding and programming. I think students who focus on photography, or on type, also have to create lots of iterations, lay them out, and evaluate why one is working better than the other. Maybe the difference lies in the way more possibilities can be created within a coded environment, but I think that’s a general skill that’s been instilled at school. Consequently, I don’t think it’s an especially tricky problem in the realm of coding.

R.v.L.Are you also seeing some libraries that tend to generate similar outputs? How do you avoid repetition from an esthetic standpoint?

T.D.That is important, because whatever tool we use, it influences the output. Even if you create your own tools, they’re limited to what you know. In the realm of coding, it’s possibly limited to the number of functions one knows how to create, and then libraries boost those possibilities.

T.D.However, we can also be limited by those possibilities. I might be using a library that’s adding fluid dynamics to a letterform, if so, I will be limited to what has been programmed for those physics and values. I might be able to influence some of them, but others might be fixed. If I did it from scratch, it would probably come out quite differently, but that might require a much greater understanding of programming. As a result, I think the higher and the further one goes in coding, and customizing one’s tools, the more esthetically diverse the output will be.

R.v.L.How is your own practice evolving, both in terms of creative coding, and from your experience with teaching?

T.D.With creative coding, pretty early on I started getting tired of seeing it on the computer screen. That’s where this “new and newer media” enabled me to see far more surprises from the code. The minute the code is output from the computer onto some other display, or printing device, surprises happen—they are part of your code but unanticipated. Then you can modify your code in terms of that specific environment. As a result, things became possible using a pen plotter or a thermal printer, such as over-printing, and seeing what happens when something gets hit twice with that same line. You can’t really see that on the computer screen.

T.D.One year, after having fallen into vector displays, I brought that into the classroom while teaching Processing to our Master’s students, in a course called “Alt-Outputs”. In it they would write code, but it had to be rendered on anything except the computer screen. Some students went with projection, some took apart a computer screen and set it on an overhead projector, to explore what that did. One group projection mapped onto spheres, others inside one. Some used plotting, either building their own pen-plotter, or using an existing one, trying to interface with it in some new way. The thing is that, when you use these other devices, there are weird hiccups that happen, and that you are not anticipating, but they add a really nice quality to the design.

R.v.L.One thing I wanted to follow up on was the fact that you come from a graphic design background, and now you are practicing media arts. If I understand correctly, the creative coding scene started in the media arts field. Did designers adopt a technology that had first been explored in the arts?

T.D.To my understanding, the tools we’re using were created for both artists and designers. I think the design field is more influenced by media arts output: they get increasingly closer, and start to overlap.

T.D.In the US (at least where I studied) the departments of graphic design and media design (or broadcast), were quite separate and distinct. When I arrived here, visual communication was a far bigger umbrella term, because it encompassed type, image, moving [kinetic] images, all of these things. I really like the way it left things much more open.

R.v.L.Have you observed a difference between how designers in the US and Europe use code?

T.D.It’s tough for me to say, having been in Europe for twelve years, but as a general observation from afar, I have a feeling that, in the US, these technologies are used more for commercial projects, making apps and applications. In Europe, it has been used much more in media arts, and less in applied experimentation, but that might just be because there are more media arts museums and festivals in Europe. Perhaps, one might say that the scope is wider and not uniquely client-based in Europe. Part of that might also be due to funding structures. There is so much more government funding for the arts, for festivals, for self-initiated projects in Europe, whereas most of the funding in the US has to come from a commercial enterprise or private company.

R.v.L.How do you see the field of design evolving? Do you think that, at some point, creative coding will be a basic element that all design students will have to know?

T.D.I think on the one hand, right now, creative coding offers us so much, and I’m a huge advocate for everyone learning it. I’m really curious about what the future holds in terms of creative coding becoming increasingly easier to use. Perhaps at some point we may not actually need to type in code, but just dictate the concept we would have previously coded to the computer, and it will just figure that out and do it for us. Maybe some aspects of code will be offset, or replaced in the creative coding process. In the end, what we’re coding could be written out as human-readable instructions, for the most part, reducing some people’s need to learn code.

T.D.On the other hand, I’m a firm believer that code contributes to the evolution of the fields of design, typography, photography, motion, and book design. For quite a few years, we were limited to the tools made available, packaged software that offers so many possibilities, but also has so many limitations. The minute we introduce code, we break those limitations and can go into weird, uncharted territory. For me, code is really about expanding the realm of possibilities and confronting the limitations within the digital domain.

R.v.L.Thanks a lot, Ted.



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 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.


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 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 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.


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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++ 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.


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.


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 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 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.


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.


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, 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 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 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, 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 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 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 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.


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 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 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 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 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, 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 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.


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.


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, 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 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 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 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 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 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.


p5.js’ collaborative live-coding VJ environment.


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® 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 (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.


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 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.


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 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 (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 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, 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.


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Laser Letters: laser and video projector test, Ted Davis, 2016.
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P5LIVE: meta sketch interface and concepts of COCODING (collaborative live-coding), Ted Davis, 2019.
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Kinectype: still frame from interactive proof of concept, linking Kinect to type points, Ted Davis, 2016.
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Animal Farm. Publication designed by students Martina Dolezalov and Annalisa Savin using Basil.js.

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