We gave our NextText and Mr. Softie workshops today and it went really well. The turnout was a little lower than expected but that ended up being a good thing as we almost had a one-to-one presenter-student ratio. I was a little nervous leading up to the workshops as I realized over the first few days that type designers are not too keen on having their meticulously constructed glyphs tweaked by our software.
The NextText workshop had an extra challenge which was that we had to also teach the basics of programming in that 3-hour slot. It was a lot to cover, but the participants made it through and seemed to have a good handle on things towards the end. A few points to keep in mind for next time:
- When going over the basics of programming, starting with functions before covering variables makes more sense. Functions can be used with literals at first and then variables.
- When building a set of behaviours, it is really helpful to draw the behaviour tree, and to modify it as the code progresses.
- We should have a basic sample sketch for each behaviour to show what it does. This should be included in the documentation, similarly to how it is done in the Processing reference.
- Some of the behaviours should be renamed to something more intuitive.
- We need a simpler way of creating behaviours. Perhaps bringing back the factories would be a good solution for this.
I would be very interested in trying this out again with experienced programmers. This would be ideal to test out the documentation and see how easy it is to understand, navigate, etc. It would also allow more time for free play, resulting in more complex and polished sketches.
The Mr. Softie workshop was a lot of fun and was actually the most time I ever spent in the software. In comparison with NextText, it was easier to grasp as the participants could start working on their visual sketches fairly quickly, and a lot of good looking work came out of it. A good measure of the success was that most people came back after the second break and some even told their friends to pass by and check it out.
- The Textpad is a great tool and has a lot of potential. One feature that would be good to add is to toggle whether white space is sprayed or not.
- The GUI could use a few improvements, mainly swapping the many drop-down menus for sliders, checkboxes, and radio buttons.