nb5.js: a notebook for p5js sketches (proof of concept)
Made for the "Landscape of Creative Technology" track at the 2019 p5.js Contributor's Conference.
I like notebook interfaces. I do most of my work in Jupyter Notebook. Notebooks have a handful of properties that facilitate the kind of work that I do:
- Notebooks are composed of "cells," which are a level of abstraction and reusability that cuts across the level of line and function;
- Cells can be executed out-of-order, making it possible to develop portions of your code independently (without having to re-run everything from scratch);
- Cells can contain code or text, making it easy to interject explanations, documentation and signposts in your code;
- Notebooks can be shared and exported into different formats, producing not "program" but a document of a process.
My criteria for a good p5.js notebook:
- It should work in Global Mode, not just instance mode. Instance mode is awkward and unfamiliar to beginners.
- It should run p5.js sketches live in the browser.
- It should be as purely browser-based as possible, ideally with the ability to run locally.
- It should be freely available and open source.
The primary purpose of of a p5.js notebook should be writing and experimenting with p5.js code, not using p5.js as part of a development process for some other language or framework.
There are a number of other attempts to make notebook-like interfaces for p5.js, or to adapt p5.js to an existing notebook interface. Here are the ones I'm aware of.
- Discussions on using p5.js in Observable notebook on the Processing forum
- p5.js in the Jupyter Notebook using the Jupyter Widgets
- Jupyter Notebook magic for Global Mode
- Processing.js in an IPython Notebook
But none of these attempts meet all of the criteria I outlined above. So I decided to make my own! Hence this GitHub repository.
nb5.js proof of concept
I call it
nb5.js and the code in here is a proof of concept. The primary
structural innovation of my approach is that there are separate cell types for
eval(), while p5.js sketches are loaded in
<iframe> elements with data
URLs. There's a global object,
nb5, that facilitates sharing data between the
What it does so far:
nb5.set('x', val)to make
nb5.get('x', defaultVal)returns the current value for symbol
defaultValif it hasn't been set (or if the sketch hasn't received the global state yet after running)
Missing functionality (pretty much everything):
- Save, load, export notebooks
- Reorder, cut, copy, paste cells
- Markdown rendering
To try it out:
- Clone this repository somewhere
- Start a local web server on port 8000 (try running
python -m http.server)
http://localhost:8000/in the browser
- Have fun!
This is just a proof of concept, intended to help me clarify my ideas and figure out what is possible. It's also a mess. Thank you for coping with it! n its current state!
Copyright 2019 Allison Parrish
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:
The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.
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