In this week’s lab you will:

  • think about how to “model” a simple environment using objects
  • practice storing & manipulating data (variables) whose values are objects
  • make some noise using the built-in p5.sound library

This is a pretty important lab—it’s where a bunch of things come together. I know y’all have a busy week 6 schedule with mid-sem exams and whatnot, but I really want to stress the need to work through the lab content (up to and including part 4), and asking lots of questions of your tutor if you’re not sure how to progress. Remember to push up your PokeGarden (with working sound effects) at the end. Good luck!

Pre-lab checklist

Before you attend your lab session, make sure:

  • you can fork, pull & push to GitLab
  • you’ve watched the week 5 lecture on objects

Seriously, the stuff we’ll cover today is heavily based on the objects stuff in the week 5 lecture, so if you’re unsure about it then go and watch the video.

Part 1: objects and functions

Before we get to the lab content today, we’re going to do a quick review of objects and functions. These concepts are all super important—so make sure you’ve nailed this section before you start the lab! If you have any problems, send a direct message to your tutor.


We use objects when we’re coding because they allow us to group a bunch of variables (or, as we call them in the context of an object: fields) together.

The following code describes a variable called “toast”, with a value which is an object. This object contains three fields:

  • ‘slicesOfCheese’: a number
  • ‘spread’: a string (any selection of characters put between quotation marks)
  • ‘buttered’: a boolean (a special kind of value that can only be true or false)
var toast = {
  slicesOfCheese: 2,
  buttered: true,
  spread: 'vegemite'

Edit the following code to add a field called ‘milk’ which has the value ‘almond’ to the mug object.

It’s important to remember that objects can have any fields in them—no one is going to tell you not to put a ‘pineapple’ field in your ‘pizza’ object while you’re writing JavaScript! An object is just a collection of any old properties & their values, and it’s up to the programmer (i.e. you!) to create & use objects which are useful.

Obviously having all of these fields is great, but what if we want to do something with them? Well, we can access fields in objects using “dot notation”. This looks like the following:

if (toast.spread == 'vegemite') {

The dot allows us to get a value out of an object — the text before the dot is the name of the variable containing the object, and the text after is the name of the field within the object.

Can you edit the following code so it fills up partially drunk mugs? If you can’t remember all the fields in the mug object, that’s okay—take a look at the previous widget, it has the definition in it.

We can use this syntax, along with the assignment operator (‘=’) we’ve been using to set variables to update the values of objects after they’ve been created.

toast.spread = 'jam';

Can you fix the following code so it sets the 'milk' field of the mug object to the value 'dairy'.

You haven’t quite completed all the activities yet. Keep going, you’re almost there! Ask your tutor if you need some help.


Functions are great because we can use them to simplify our code: instead of writing out the same code over and over again, we can store it in a function and save ourselves some typing!

In the following code we declare a function ‘doAssignment’. Note that we’ve only declared the function here, we haven’t actually used it yet (or as we say in the business, “called it”). This function has three parameters: title, topic, and deadline. These parameters are variables which only exist inside the function, and are set when we call it.

function doAssignment(title, topic, deadline) {
  // hello world

To call our function, we need to make sure we provide values for each of the parameters we declared earlier.

doAssignment('The relationship between blue and red: a PhD thesis', 'blue and red', 'next monday');
doAssignment('What I did on the weekend', 'blog post about my life', 'before next weekend');

Edit the following code to declare a function called ringDoorbell with two parameters, one named address and another named time.

Now, fix this code so it calls the function we just wrote.

In p5.js especially, it’s handy to combine objects and functions together. It means we can do things like:

  1. Use the dot syntax mentioned previously to use a field from an object object as a value in a function call
     var shape = {
       x: 100,
       y: 200,
     function drawShape(x, y) {
       rect(shape.x, shape.y, 100);
  2. Use objects themselves as values in a function call:
     function clean(thing) {
       thing.dirty = false;
     var potato = {
       weight: 300,
       dirty: true,

Now, can you fix this code so it calls the sayHiTo function, with the ‘name’ field of the ‘doggo’ object as the first parameter?

And now, finally, let’s put it all together. Edit the following code so it draws the blob in the correct location with the correct size.

You haven’t quite finished the exercises yet — finish them off before you continue. If you’re stuck, message your tutor (they really really want to help you)!

Part 2: welcome to the PokeGarden

Find a partner in your labs Teams channel. If no-one else is currently looking for a partner, send a message advertising yourself—if someone is, join them! Once you’ve found someone, let one of your tutors know and they will set up a meeting for you to collaborate in. There isn’t going to be much actual pair-work today, but it’ll still be nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of while you’re working!

["Pikalikes" by happip](https://www.deviantart.com/happip/art/Pikalikes-297404379) on DeviantArt is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Now, for the actual content of this lab we’re going to make a simple Pokemon “world” where your Pokemon roam free… until you capture them.

Before we start coding, think with your partner: what sort of fields might a Pokemon object have? Come up with some examples and send them to the rest of your lab on Teams.

Fork and then clone the lab 6 template repo, open it in VSCode and start the live server as usual. You’ll notice that there’s a bit more “starter code” this time around—as soon as you start the live server and open the sketch you’ll see the green grass of the PokeGarden. The template repo contains the beginnings of the code for one Pokemon in the garden—her name is Sally (see the variable declaration at the top of the sketch.js file).

Often in these labs you’ve started out with some values (e.g. numbers) and you’ve had to figure out which functions to call, passing the values in as parameters. In this part of the lab, the pattern is flipped around—the drawPokemon() function is already written, and your job is to give sally the right value (hint: it should be a javascript object) so that the drawPokemon() function does something useful.

To complete this part of the lab, you’ll need to modify the initial sketch.js file in two places:

  1. initialise the sally variable in the setup() function

  2. call the drawPokemon() function in the draw loop to draw sally

To do this, you need to look at the drawPokemon() function to figure out what properties it expects its aPokemon parameter to have—can you initialise sally so that it’s got the right properties?

Once you’ve got that working, you’ll see that the drawPokemon() function isn’t very sophisticated. If you like, you can modify it so that it does a nicer job of drawing sally.

Part 3: adding “catch ‘em all” functionality

Pokemon don’t just sit still, though—they’re always on the move. You might have noticed that there’s an updatePokemon() function in the template repo. Can you guess what it does?

Add the line updatePokemon(sally); to your draw loop—this should make Sally move around (once you’ve got the drawing code working in part 2).

Your job in this part is to implement “catching” functionality to the PokeGarden sketch, so that when you click on Sally she:

  1. turns into a Pokeball
  2. stops moving around

You can break this down into three main steps—you need to:

  1. add a new property to the sally variable to keep track of whether Sally is captured or not (what’s the best way to store a true/false value in javascript?)

  2. modify the updatePokemon() function so that it moves Sally if she’s free, but does nothing if she’s been captured

  3. modify the drawPokemon() function so that it draws Sally as normal if she’s free, but draws a pokeball if she’s been captured

  4. add a mousePressed() function (it has to have exactly that name) which contains some hit detection code to figure out if Sally has been captured (and modify her properties if necessary)

This might seem really daunting, but remember to think about Sally as just an object with a bunch of properties, and update the functions to check the values of these properties and behave accordingly.

Are there any other ways I could have added this functionality to my PokeGarden sketch?

Part 4: adding sound effects

As a final step, it’d be really cool if we could play a “pokeball capture” sound effect when the user manages to capture Sally. Luckily, there’s a p5.sound library which makes it easy to do just that.

To use the p5.sound library, you need to include it in your sketch file. The code to do this is already in the template’s index.html file, but it’s commented out.

If you open up the index.html file in VSCode you’ll see the following lines:

<!-- this is the p5 sound library -->
<!-- <script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/p5.js/1.0.0/addons/p5.sound.js"></script> -->

to enable the p5 sound library, you need to un-comment out the second of those lines so that it looks like this:

<!-- this is the p5 sound library -->
<script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/p5.js/1.0.0/addons/p5.sound.js"></script>

One of the objects that this sound libraries provides is a p5.SoundFile object, which you can create using the loadSound() function.

To create a p5.SoundFile object, call the loadSound() function with one parameter: the path (as a string) to an audio file. Since there’s already a soundfile in the template repo (check the assets/ folder) you can modify the “initialisation” code in your setup() function to something like this:

sally = {
  // some properties

  captureSound: loadSound("assets/pokeball-catch.mp3")

Have a think about what you’ve done here: you’ve created a new p5.SoundFile object inside your sally object. There’s nothing wrong with doing this “objects inside objects” thing—just remember that now you’ll need two “levels” of dots (or square brackets) to get at the properties of this “inner” object.

The p5.SoundFile object has a few built-in methods (remember that a method is just a property of an object which happens to be a function). There are methods for e.g. for setting the playback volume/speed/location/mode. But probably the one you’re most interested in at the moment is the .play() method.

Don’t worry if this p5.sound stuff made you feel like you copied and pasted some stuff, and it seemed to work, but you didn’t really understand it. We’ll cover the p5.sound library in more depth in the week 7 lecture.

Modify your “pokemon captured” code from part 3 to call the .play() method on the pokeball soundfile. Remember that you’ll need two dots, because it’s a property of a property!

What does your sally object “look like” now? What properties does it have, and what types of values make sense for those properties? Could you draw a representation of your final Pokemon object on a piece of paper (not a picture of the Pokemon itself, but some sort of diagram to explain the javascript object)?

Part 5: Break it down!

This pattern of mapping functions over arrays of objects is extremely useful! You can do all sorts of things with it! Above we’ve practiced making a simple interactive game. In the break it down this week I was inspired by the amazing painting Sydney Sun by John Olsen which can be seen in this very city to show how this pattern can be applied to modern art.

In your pair, open up a cocoding session on p5live. Copy and paste the code below in so you can work on it together — try and make it your own, be creative!

As always, the break it down section contains things that you might not have seen before, but don’t worry, the aim of this section is to learn by tweaking and experimenting. If you’re lost, try changing the colours in the palette variable or changing the number of brushes.


Congratulations! In this lab you:

  • thought about how to “model” a simple environment using objects
  • practice storing & manipulating data (variables) whose values are objects
  • made some noise using the built-in p5.sound library

Now that you’ve learned about objects, you have all the tools you need to write p5 programs—there’s no more new javascript concepts in the course. So don’t panic if you found this stuff difficult, you’ll get lots of chances to practice it in the coming weeks. Still, it’s really important that you give things a go now and ask for help if you get stuck—the tutors (and Ben) would love to help you out, but you need to ask :)

If you’re really feeling adventurous, try and add multi-pokemon support to your PokeGarden by looping over an array of Pokemon (as we did in the week 5 praxis).

Updated:    11 Jan 2021 / Responsible Officer:    Head of School / Page Contact:    Charles Martin