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TilePile - Making the art of Java really about art

Posted by turbogeek on August 11, 2005 at 2:38 PM PDT

Greg Barton has created what I think is the first project in the GELC and possibly in all of that might be the first Java software you would find in the art classroom. Conceived by a professional artist and a very smart Java developer, this open source and non-commercial application is available to anyone that wants to use it. This software could make its way to your local high school or university art teacher. read on to learn more from the developer, Greg Barton. Take a look at the TilePile Project too and if you think it is cool as I do, look up your old art teacher and send them Greg's way.

The application is currently used in the classroom. As a part of the Lincoln mural project in Philadelphia, Greg Barton and his brother in law, set up five middle school art classrooms with Tilepile setups. (Two computers donated by IBM, tile racks and grids, and buckets 'o' tile.) The students use the system create tile square sections that will be included in the mural under the direction of volunteers from the Mural Arts program in Philly. Also look at this page on the Mural Arts site about the project, too.

Tell us a little about yourself (work background, hobbies, education, things we would be surprised to know).

I have an MS in computer science, focusing in artificial intelligence. I'm currently working as a GUI programmer for a small startup company based in Florida. My hobbies are playing the bass trombone and messing around with my open source projects. People would be surprised to know that I'm distantly related to the queen of England. I'd be surprised by that, too... :P

Are you a member of any Java user groups?

I'm a member of the Dallas area JavaMug and lead their Rules/AI special interest group.

Why did you start TilePile?

My brother in law is a muralist and needed some software to help him assemble a 30x300 foot glass tile mural. (Well over 1 million tiles.) Java to the rescue! :)

Tell us about the success of the project. Who is using it and how has it helped?

It is currently being used most heavily by my brother in law. One mural has been completed (the Barrio Anita mural in Tucson, AZ: and another is being constructed for the Constitution Center in Philadelphia as a part of their Lincoln exhibit.

Other artists in the Philadelphia area have used it to construct murals as well.

What is the project's current status and plans for

the future?

Currently it's stable. What it's lacking most now is good programmer and user documentation. Planned features for the immediate future include splitting off the data serving and station control functions into different servers, a servlet based mural data server, and integration with outside image editing software like Photoshop and GIMP.

What kind of help are you looking for on this


Testing on Mac OSX, mainly. Also folks with experience optimizing Java2D performance would be nice. Finally, anyone who loves writing user docs. (Like that'll ever happen! :P )

Any suggestions for GELC or

Keep up the good work, and give Dan a raise. :)

Take a look at the TilePile Project too and if you think it is cool as I do, look up your art teacher and send them Greg's way.

Here are a few images that show that the TilePile application is truly a work of art. Great job Greg!!!


Lincoln mural

Lincoln mural with grid grouping overlay

Lincoln mural, excluding sections with out of stock tile colors

NOTE: All artwork copyright 2003-2005 Joshua Sarantitis