To develop programs for the Arduino board, you need an integrated development environment (IDE) that runs on a regular computer having a display, keyboard, and mouse. There are many different choices for this environment, but the most popular one is the Arduino IDE, available on Windows, MAC, or Linux. Unfortunately, this does not work on a Chromebook, the most commonly available laptop for the students in our local schools. Here, the choice is limited to codebender, a cloud-based environment that will work, but has fewer features.
Codebender on Chromebook
Begun in 2012, this cloud-based IDE was a very good choice for Chromebook users. Unfortunately, this fall, they have decided to shut down most of what they had offered. See this link for an explanation. They do still offer a limited version for a monthly subscription fee, https://edu.codebender.cc/, but there are a lot of useful features missing. For our N.E.R.D.S team, we have purchased a subscription. There are some alternatives that are expected in the future, but nothing else works for our needs at this writing.
Arduino IDE on Windows
By going to this website: www.arduino.cc and clicking the Download menu item, you can download the latest version. I used the Windows Installer, which gave me an executable .exe file that installed the IDE on my Windows 10 PC. The program needs about 400 MB of storage on your hard drive. If your PC is small and slow (like a Chromebook), consider using Codebender instead.
After installation, double click the desktop icon to start the IDE. This window should appear:
Arduino user programs are called “sketches.” If you have created one and saved it before, the window will open on your most recent. Otherwise, it defaults to a skeleton sketch with a name related to today’s date. Under the file menu, you can save the sketch to a name of your choice and it will create a folder in Documents/Arduino with the same name as your sketch.
The Arduino website is also the best source for learning how to program an Arduino board. In addition to many useful examples and tutorials, there is a Language Reference. https://www.arduino.cc/en/Reference/HomePage
I think of programming as this kind of a process:
- Decide what you want the program to accomplish.
- Design an algorithm or set of algorithms (methods) that will accomplish it.
- Choose the language statements and syntax that will implement the design. Here is where the Language Reference for your chosen language is vital.
- Code the program. Here is where the need for the IDE begins.
- Test the program and fix bugs.
- Publish your results.