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basil.js – Computational and generative design using Adobe InDesign

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(above: #oneseccond by Philipp Adrian – A connection between 5522 people all across the world that have been active on Twitter within the timeframe of one second.)

basil.js is a scripting library that has been developed at the Visual Communication Institute at The Basel School of Design during the last nine months and is now made public as open-source. Based on the principles of “Processing”, basil.js allows designers and artists to individually expand the possibilities of Adobe InDesign in order to create complex projects in data visualization and generative design.

It is one of our main goals to expand the methodologies of design and to educate our students in developing a set of individual, unique styles and aesthetics. While Adobe InDesign on the one hand is offering a valuable set of pre-defined, common solutions for layout and design problems, a programming language on the other hand allows for questioning the set of available methods and for extending it by creating new tools.

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 20.30.56The team does point out that the Adobe Creative Suite already includes a full set of application level scripting abilities but these are not easy to grasp, especially for designers. This existing JavaScript implementation is somewhat difficult to use and by wrapping it into a Processing like library it is simplified to appeal to designers. See few project examples below created using basil.js.

Core members of the basil.js team are: Ted DavisBenedikt Groß and Ludwig Zeller
Contributors to the project include: Philipp Adrian, Jörg Koch / Frank Weiprecht (be:screen GmbH) and Stefan Landsbek (47Nord)



“The Martian Chronicles” by Gaelle Renaudin


“Linking words” by Timothy Hall, Ondrej Jelinek

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“Word Labyrinth” by Ondrej

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“Affected Perception” by Felicitas Katharina Merz, Inken Zierenberg

Bettina Schneebeli’s basil.js project