Cinder – Begin Creative Coding Book Review

cinder book review

I recently got my digital hands on a review copy of Packt Publishing’s new book Cinder – Begin Creative Coding by Krisjanis Rijnieks, the first of what will hopefully be many books centered around Cinder.

The book begins with a brief description of what creative coding is and eases into how Cinder fits into the equation. Before jumping into any actual code examples, the author does his due diligence and walks through how to get Cinder downloaded and set up on both OSX and Windows, showing how easy it is with the release version of Cinder. To get your first glimpse into seeing Cinder in action, the book guides you through some of the included samples. It’s an exercise that every first time Cinder user should go through anyway and continues to be a good resource when playing with a feature for the first time.

The book helps you create your first (really basic) Cinder app first by introducing you to the included Tinderbox tool. It then walks you through how one would set up a Cinder project manually, which is also something that everyone should walk through at least once to get a better understanding of what Cinder is actually doing and so that you have a better chance of debugging your own issues later. It’s one of the better things this book does.

After that, the following chapters walk you through some basic tasks that every Cinder user will need to be familiar with, such as basic shape drawing, image loading, animating objects, adding randomness, basic 3d, and image manipulation. It’s pretty much everything that you would expect to see in a beginner creative coding book, though it leaves out many aspects in the framework that makes Cinder a fun framework to program with (a beginner might have fun with Perlin noise for example).

As a Cinder user and a fan of the project in general, I’m excited to see this book released. The only problem is that this book is really for novices and doesn’t offer much to developers who have already gone through the trials and tribulations of learning some C++ and are used to the way that Cinder is set up. If you’ve never touched Cinder, much less C++ and prefer learning via books, this might be a good entry point. Regardless of if this is you’re a first time use or not, you maybe left wanting more as it really only scratches the surface of what Cinder is capable of.

For supplemental material or if you’re willing to just jump in to Cinder development without all the book learnin’, you should be able to get up to speed by reading the already well-writted and documented guides on on libcinder.org. I would also suggest using the Cinder forum to get any of your questions answered. The more active users, the better it is for the community. Don’t worry if you think you’re questions are stupid, that’s something I got over quickly. Everyone’s a beginner at some point.

Greg Kepler is an interactive developer at the Barbarian Group. He started as a design student graduating from RIT with a degree in New Media Design and Imaging in 2004 and fell in love with Flash. He worked for 4 years as a designer, developer, and interactive studio manager at Iomedia and moved on to the Barbarian Group in 2010 as an interactive developer where he tries to get his hands dirty with whatever technologies he can.