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C4 – New creative-coding framework for the iOS

c4main copy

Created by Travis Kirton, C4 is a brand new creative-coding framework for the iOS that lets you build expressive user experiences. C4 gives you the power of the native iOS programming environment with a simplified API that lets you get down to working with media right away. “Build artworks, design interfaces, explore new possibilities of working with media and interaction.”

C4 approaches animation and interaction in a synthetic way so that all its media objects are consistent and similar. If you want to learn from the way they build things the API is open (you can grab it HERE). If you don’t want to learn how they do things, but just get down to using the core API you can include a compiled C4 library in your own projects and take advantage of all the work they’ve  been doing. C4 is written in Objective-C, with bits of Carbon. It is built off of Apple’s Core Animation Framework and takes advantage of other frameworks such as: Accelerate, AVFoundation, Core Image, Core Text, and OpenGLES.

Travis has been working on a version of a creative-coding framework for Mac since the fall of 2010. It started out as an OSX version, which he developed until the end of 2011. After a couple of iterations on the core api he realized that there were limitations in its structure, and wanted to incorporate some new ideas like: no framerate, multitouch, layering of visible objects, inter-object communication, and so on. This he shifted focus to an iOS version that allowed him to build in a lot of interesting functionality while trying to keep the API simple like Processing and OpenFrameworks.

The project has received a tremendous amount of support from the Alberta College of Art + Design and the University of Calgary. Prior to this year, ACAD had provided him with two 1-month residencies, and this year they awarded him a significant 5-month residency to focus entirely on pushing the development of the iOS version.

Travis is continuing to push the development of the project, having just finished a new website he will be able to get back to developing the core. It is open-source and hopes people will get on board to help make this project really great.



The framework works seamlessly with multitouch interaction, all visual objects are intelligent and to which you can add gestures. It takes advantage of really strong media frameworks built into the iOS. It also handles animation in a unique way, making the entire system lighter, letting the coder focus less on constructing the mechanics of how things work and more on constructing user experiences.

C4 is a community project ran by Travis Kirton (lead developer), Kyle Buza (development direction), Kurtis Lesick (support) and David Peñuela (website development).

Project Page