Addressing the Needs of Creative Coders

Designing and Evaluating a Creativity Support Tool.

Source images credit: Jonathan McCabe and Andreas Gysin

Source images credit: Jonathan McCabe and Andreas Gysin

Abstract

A detailed account of the practice of creative coders is currently lacking, despite a growing interest in the theoretical study of creative coding as a practice. Such an account creates opportunities to support the burgeoning practice through the design of new tools, bolstering engagement and creativity. Insights from the account can be used to guide development of the proliferating coding environments, frameworks, and libraries oriented towards the practice.

This research aims to understand how engagement between creative coder and coding environment can be bolstered. With this goal in mind, I conduct a formative investigation into the practices of creative coders, analysing their approach to a creative design task in the Processing environment. Their inherent needs are identified, discussed, and placed into a taxonomy of needs.

The identified needs are: build code on a modular foundation, initiate the creative feedback loop quickly, make the program state visible, minimise the creative feedback gap, assistance in exploring the space of possible designs, and maintain a robust mental representation of the software.

A creativity support tool arises from these insights, and a prototype is implemented and evaluated for the Processing environment. A discussion of the evaluation highlights successes, limitations, and opportunities for future work. 

Publications

Read the dissertation here.

Mitchell, Mark C., and Bown, O. "Towards a creativity support tool in processing: understanding the needs of creative coders." Proceedings of the 25th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference: Augmentation, Application, Innovation, Collaboration. ACM, 2013.

Presentation slides from OzCHI 2013.

Awards

University Medal, First Class Honours.

Creativity Support Tool in Action.png