Why I still care about NodeBox

john's Avatar


02 Sep, 2019 11:51 PM

Over the course of my long career I have been both a coder and a designer. My title now is design architect. Always I have been an architect of the invisible. To do my work I have penetrated to the heart of vast and intricate systems which no one can actually see, and created solutions built on bones which must always hide beneath the skin they support - beautiful bones that no one but me can fully appreciate. This is an experience every coder knows.

Software is ephemeral - like building sand castles - so everything I make is sooner or later washed away. But at least sand castles are seen by someone before they go.

What I love about Nodebox is that I can see it. I can see my bones. I can touch them and drag them, zoom in and out, arrange them as one would arrange flowers in a vase. Coding in Nodebox is more play than work. I sit in my sandbox and play, fitting my bones together until they form a viable skeleton.

Once everything comes together and starts to work I then spend more time tidying up, improving not just the function of my algorithms but their form. I rearrange the nodes and edges to bring out their natural symmetry, to balance them, using negative space to make internal boundaries more distinct and easier to see.

This is not about efficiency. This is about harmony, about simplicity, about understanding. It is contemplative, almost a form of meditation. At its best, it is about beauty.

I want to empower design. I want to make coding intuitive so that more designers can code. I want to make that code visible so that more people can appreciate its beauty. I want to make art with code and I want the code itself to be seen as art.

I am not sure how far we could push NodeBox, how far it could carry us to this goal. But it is already a good start - the best I’ve found. With just a little work it could be much, much better.

I would like to hear from others in this community - artists as well as coders. What do YOU like about NodeBox? What do you use it for? How could we make it better?

Any open source project is only as alive as the people who use it. NodeBox is at a crossroads. It will either find new energy and direction, or it will fade away.

The path to renewal begins with conversation. Why do YOU still care about NodeBox?


  1. 1 Posted by rougeux on 03 Sep, 2019 01:35 AM

    rougeux's Avatar

    Great topic. I care a great deal about NodeBox. It's been an integral part of many projects I've completed over the years. Without it, I don't think I'd be where I am today. It opens the doors for me as a designer who isn't as proficient with coding as others. Being able to see my thoughts come to life without getting bogged down by coding libraries or compatibility has allowed me to create more than I ever imagined and with ease that makes it a joy to use.

    The UI does have its quirks (clicking + dragging) and I long for the day when they get fixed and new features (gradients, blending modes, etc.) are added but I'll continue to use it often until then or even if it doesn't happen.

    I do hope that NodeBox continues to flourish and doesn't fade away. I've recommended it to everyone who's asked about my "go-to" tools for experimenting with art and data visualization.

  2. 2 Posted by Jose on 29 Jan, 2020 11:12 PM

    Jose's Avatar

    New NodeBox user. My background is in traditional illustration, good ol' fashion pencil to paper. I've been working as a graphic designer for the past six years and have always tried to get into some form of coding but I've never been successful at retaining the different coding languages. Finding NodeBox might be what I've been looking for in my form of visual learning. Glad I stumbled upon this program.

  3. Support Staff 3 Posted by john on 31 Jan, 2020 08:25 PM

    john's Avatar

    Hi Jose! Welcome to NodeBox.

    You are bound to run into a few puzzles as you play with NodeBox for the first few times - I certainly did. If you get stuck, please post your situation to the NodeBox 3 forum and I will try to get you unstuck. I actually enjoy doing this and it's a great way for others to learn as well.


  4. 4 Posted by Guilherme Vieir... on 23 Jul, 2020 11:32 AM

    Guilherme Vieira's Avatar

    I have known Nodebox for a long time, and what interested me most about it was this approach that allows you to develop simple and fast things and how much the already developed node structure allows for an infinite number of possibilities.

    I teach some computer design courses and I think it is one of the best tools for a first contact with creative programming. The ease of viewing results, exporting to image and video outputs is a very important factor for beginners. I don't see why it is not as valued as other languages like Processing or one of its descendants Drawbot.

    Rougeux and John, I really like your work on Nodebox, and they are part of my examples of what Nodebox is capable of. Thank you always for sharing and showing the potential of this tool.

  5. Support Staff 5 Posted by john on 27 Jul, 2020 05:39 AM

    john's Avatar

    Thank you, Guilhermesv. You've been using NodeBox even longer than I have. I think teachers have a special fondness for NodeBox; I agree it is a great teaching tool. It encourages play and experimentation in a way more traditional languages cannot. I also agree that it's undervalued (which is why I am always beating the drum for more sharing in the forum and beyond).

    By the way, I looked you up after your comment and found an old question you posted back in 2014. It's a common problem and I think one of the nodes in my library might now be able to address it. Do you get email notifications when I post replies to ancient discussion threads like that?

    I haven't posted in the Share Your Work forum for awhile. Your kind note encourages me to rectify that. Stand by...


  6. 6 Posted by Guilherme Vieir... on 28 Jul, 2020 11:28 AM

    Guilherme Vieira's Avatar

    Hi John,

    Sharing the work done with Nodebox is important to understand his exploratory capacity. I never shared some of my work around here. I usually use Instagram for this.

    It would be nice if the site had a more visible place for work done with Nodebox and more updated. I imagine that many artists would like to collaborate with this updated gallery.

    I don't know if there would be a way to collaborate with something like that, but I would be interested in imagining possibilities and helping to realize them.

    About your other comment in the old post, I got the notification! I haven't been able to look at your suggestion calmly yet, but thanks I will test it!

    Yes, i received the notification!

Reply to this discussion

Internal reply

Formatting help / Preview (switch to plain text) No formatting (switch to Markdown)

Attaching KB article:


Attached Files

You can attach files up to 10MB

If you don't have an account yet, we need to confirm you're human and not a machine trying to post spam.

Keyboard shortcuts


? Show this help
ESC Blurs the current field

Comment Form

r Focus the comment reply box
^ + ↩ Submit the comment

You can use Command ⌘ instead of Control ^ on Mac

Recent Discussions

29 Sep, 2020 03:19 AM
22 Sep, 2020 04:50 PM
18 Sep, 2020 09:16 PM
21 Aug, 2020 09:58 PM
20 Aug, 2020 08:16 PM


16 Aug, 2020 06:40 PM
01 Aug, 2020 11:34 PM
28 Jul, 2020 11:28 AM
27 Jul, 2020 10:47 AM
27 Jul, 2020 08:00 AM
27 Jul, 2020 06:46 AM