But how do we write our programs to drive Arduino? and how do we then insert them in our card to make them run?
To perform these functions, the creators of Arduino have created a development environment that greatly simplifies these operations. This development environment can run on all modern operating systems: windows, linux and mac.
To enjoy this operating system compatibility, the Arduino ide was developed on a java platform thus making the program compatible through its virtual machine and to be able to run it we therefore have to download the java plugin (if not already present in our OS as on mac systems) from the website www.java.com. Once at the site, click on download and we will then be directed to the download page of the plugin for our operating system. Let's install it.
Once we have made sure that the java plugin is present in our operating system we can download the Arduino IDE file that we find at http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Software
The file to download is a zip archive and once downloaded we have to unzip it, after that we don't even need to install it to be able to run it.
Now that we have our development environment ready we can launch it to get to know it.
In the image above we can see how in the Arduino IDE we can distinguish three main areas: the most evident, in the center, in white is the area that contains our code and therefore where we will write it being a real editor of text a bit like the ones we are used to (in this case precise code editor).
Above we have a button bar, the button bar for the main operations, which allows us to perform the operations necessary to execute our code in the arduino board.
Finally, under the code area we finally have an area where the software can communicate any errors in our code or other necessary messages.
If we look at the main button bar in more detail, we can distinguish the five functions that it allows us:
- Check the Sketch with this button we can start a complete check of our sketch (Arduino program) to see if there are errors to be corrected before compiling it to be sent to the board
- Compile and load the Sketch this button is used to compile (translate the sketch into a code understandable by Arduino) and load our program on the board to be able to run it (of course our Arduino Uno must be connected to the PC: D)
- New Sketch is used to create a new sketch from scratch
- Open Sketch Opens a program that we had previously saved on disk
- Save Sketch Save our program to disk for future reuse
Finally in the lower part of the IDE we see the "error console" that is the part where we can check all the errors that are detected before compilation.
Near the error console we can find other small but precious information over time such as the Arduino board model that we connected to the PC, the name that the operating system gives to the USB port where we connected the Arduino and the current line number of the cursor in the 'code editor.
We now have all the necessary means to create our first project with the Arduino board!