Visual programming for Arduino

Visual programming is way to write software by manipulating program elements graphically rather than by specifying them textually. Visual programming isn’t a new concept, it goes at least back to 1975. There are various reasons why Visual programming is sometimes easier way to write code than traditional writing text source code, but it does not suit to all tasks. Will Visual Programming Ever Go Mainstream? That’s hard to say. Critics have mentioned various problems with the paradigm, not the least of which is that programming is hard. Sometimes programmers find the approach useful at least in learning.

Comparision of textual and graphical programming has a good overview of those different ways to write code. With Textual Programming Language you have Low level of abstraction: programming is done at the level of implementation. Inaccurate description of the problem-domain. With Graphical Programming Language you typically work at Higher level of abstraction: programming done on a conceptual level.

Then talking about Visual programming the first tools that usually come to mind are Unified Modeling Language (UML) and LabView. Audio programming environments like MAX/MSP take advantage of visual programming concepts, and more recently mashup creation tools like Yahoo! Pipes and JackBe Presto have adopted the paradigm.

What about Arduino and visual programming? There seems to be some push for that. There are several projects that try to do that.

The most interesting one that I have tried is BlocklyDuino Ardiuno code generator. It is based on blockly visual programming editor that I have already mentioned in Google Blockly post.

BlocklyDuino is designed as very easy way to program Arduino: Learning Arduino through BlocklyDuino To get start, you can link to BlocklyDuino online demos and see what BlocklyDuino provides.

You can do all the graphical code editing on your browser and get out source code that you can copy to Arduino IDE.


void setup()
{
pinMode(13, OUTPUT);
}

void loop()
{
digitalWrite(13,HIGH);
delay(1000);
digitalWrite(13,LOW);
delay(1000);
}

There are also other options to do the same. Visual Programming Arduino: modkit and the others article reviews many other tools for that.

ModKit: a very interesting project in bringing visual programming on the Arduino side.

EduWear objective is to develop an educational low-cost construction kit for wearable and tangible interfaces.

Babuino is a software program that combines the power of the Arduino hardware platform with the intuitive and fun Logo programming language using a click and drag GUI interface. This allows even young children to build their own programs and run them on a microcontroller.

There are also UML tools. Modeling an Arduino App article presents microUML Embedded system programming in UML.

QP is a lightweight, open source, state machine framework for microcontrollers such as Arduino. You can think of QP as a modern real-time operating system (RTOS) specifically designed for executing concurrent state machines. QP is now supported by the the free graphical QM modeling tool, which can automatically generate complete Arduino sketches from state diagrams (can also generate C or C++ code).

DesignNews writes that MathWorks’ Simulink Offers Easy, Graphical Programming for Raspberry Pi & Arduino. It allows you to debug your model (embedded software) before deploying it onto hardware.

27 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    WIringPi
    https://projects.drogon.net/raspberry-pi/wiringpi/

    WiringPi is an Arduino wiring-like library written in C and released under the GNU LGPLv3 license which is usable from C and C++ and many other languages with suitable wrappers

    Reply
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  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Minibloq
    Minibloq is a graphical programming environment for Multiplo™, Arduino™, physical computing devices and robot
    http://blog.minibloq.org/2013/05/sparkfun-electronics-protosnap-minibot.html

    SparkFun Electronic’s ProtoSnap MiniBot tutorial
    http://blog.minibloq.org/2013/05/sparkfun-electronics-protosnap-minibot.html

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    MiniBloq IDE, Graphical Programming For Robots Of All Sizes
    http://hackaday.com/2014/05/08/minibloq-ide-graphical-programming-for-robots-of-all-sizes/

    The Arduino IDE only brings the ire of actual EEs and People Who Know Better™, but if you’re teaching robotics and programming to kids, you really don’t want something as simple as a text editor with a ‘compile’ button. For that educational feat, a graphical system would be much better suited. [Julián] has been working for months to build such a tool, and now miniBloq, the graphical programming tool for just about every dev board out there, has a new release.

    miniBloq takes the same idea and allows the same programming environment to work with dozens of dev boards for robots of every shape and size. Already, the Pi-Bot, SparkFun RedBot, Maple, Multiplo DuinoBot, and anything based on an Arduino Leonardo works with miniBloq, as will any future dev boards that understand C/C++, Python, or JavaScript. It’s not just for powering motors, either: there’s a few Python and OpenCV tutorials that demonstrate how a robot can track a colored object with a camera.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Minibloq
    http://blog.minibloq.org/2014/05/minibloqv082-released.html

    Minibloq is a graphical programming environment for Multiplo™, Arduino™, physical computing devices and robots

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mind+ is a flow-based visual programming software for Arduino.
    Is is designed for learning electronics and computers.
    Mind+ sells DIY kits based on electronics blocks and Mind+ software.

    http://www.mindplus.cc/

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mind+ Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ46mRDYqVY

    The simplest programming tools.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    QM™ (QP Modeler)
    graphical modeling tool
    http://www.state-machine.com/#

    QP™ is a family of lightweight, open source software frameworks for building responsive and modular real-time embedded applications as systems of cooperating, event-driven active objects (actors). The QP™ family consists of QP/C, QP/C++, and QP-nano frameworks

    Free, QM modeling tool for drawing UML statecharts and automatic code generation based on QP

    Event-Driven Programming for Arduino
    http://www.state-machine.com/arduino/

    It turns out that the QP™/C++ state machine framework beautifully complements the Arduino™ platform and provides everything you need to build responsive, robust, and power-efficient Arduino programs based on modern hierarchical state machines.

    The QP/C++ Development Kit (QDK) for Arduino is different from most other QDKs in that it is self-contained and includes the simplified and compacted source-code version of the QP/C++ framework. The QDK-Arduino is designed to plug directly into the Arduino IDE to become immediately useful without building a binary library. The extensive Application Note “Event Driven Arduino Programming with QP” describes the main concepts and how to get started.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    S4A
    http://s4a.cat/

    S4A is a Scratch modification that allows for simple programming of the Arduino open source hardware platform. It provides new blocks for managing sensors and actuators connected to Arduino.

    The main aim of the project is attracting people to the programming world. The goal is also to provide a high level interface to Arduino programmers with functionalities such as interacting with a set of boards through user events.

    Arduino objects offer blocks for the basic microcontroller functionalities, analog and digital writes and reads, and also for higher level ones. You can find blocks to manage standard and continuous rotation servomotors

    S4A works with Arduino Diecimila, Duemilanove and Uno.

    S4A is backwards compatible with Scratch, so you can open Scratch projects in it.

    S4A interacts with Arduino by sending the actuator states and receiving sensor states every 75 ms
    The data exchange follows the PicoBoard protocol and needs a specific program (firmware) to be installed in the board.

    a simple Android application that can communicate with S4A through HTTP by means of the remote sensors protocol in Scratch

    Installing S4A requires you to install software both in your PC and your Arduino board

    S4A works on the three major consumer operating systems: Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux and MacOS.

    The controlling program runs on PC and Arduino does the IO interfacing.

    There is currently no way to compile code into Arduino binaries.

    Reply
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  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Graphical programming with ArduBlock
    http://www.dwengo.org/ArduBlock

    The Dwenguino is programmed in a textual programming language C++ within the Arduino IDE environment. However, for those who are reluctant to start textual programming, a user-friendly textual programming language is made available. It allows the user to acquire the different components of programming languages. One such language is ArduBlock. In this tutorial we get you started with graphical programming of the Dwenguino in ArduBlock.

    ArduBlock is a Java plugin for Arduino IDE which can be found online. As explained in this tutorial of ArduBlock, you will need to download ArduBlock first, and install it in the tools folder of your Arduino workspace. After installing ArduBlock you should be able to see it in the Tools menu of Arduino IDE.

    http://blog.ardublock.com/engetting-started-ardublockzhardublock/

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    miniBloq
    http://blog.minibloq.org/

    miniBloq is an open source graphical programming environment for Multiplo™, Arduino™, physical computing devices and robots.

    Using miniBloq as an IDE
    One of the main features of the new v0.82 version is that it allows to make text coded programs. And not just in C/C++ and Arduino-compatible syntax, but also in Python and, if the community adds more targets, in nearly any imperative/OOP language (such as JavaScript, Java, Ruby, etc.).

    miniSim!
    This is a new, simple 2D robot simulator designed to help teaching simple robotics principles for those who don’t own a robot

    Write both graphical or text based programs
    Or even combine graphical with text-based programming anytime during the development of your program. The new miniBloq can even work as a (simple) standard IDE!

    Thanks to the new backend, there is a lot of new supported hardware (specially robots!), including: Pi-Bot, Sparki robot, SparkFun RedBot and RedBoard, Arduino Leonardo and the new Multiplo’s DuinoBot.v2.3, both in HID and in CDC modes…

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Alternative Arduino Interfaces
    ArduBlock
    https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/alternative-arduino-interfaces/ardublock

    ArduBlock is a programming environment designed to make “physical computing with Arduino as easy as drag-and-drop.” Instead of writing code, worrying about syntax, and (mis)placing semicolons, ArduBlock allows you to visually program with an snapped-together list of code blocks.

    ArduBlock builds on the simplicity of Arduino, and creates a perfect beginner gateway to physical computing. Instead of tearing your hair out debugging, you can spend your time creating!

    Ardublock
    A Graphical Programming Language for Arduino
    http://blog.ardublock.com/

    Getting Started with ArduBlock
    http://blog.ardublock.com/engetting-started-ardublockzhardublock/

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Visual Programming Languages and Ardublock
    http://blog.ardublock.com/2014/09/04/visual-programming-languages-and-ardublock/

    Visual programming languages for their ability to introduce variety of people including non-specialists and students, to programming. With color coded operators, geometrically shaped data types, and no semicolons (!), visual languages have a unique ability to make programming a more intuitive experience. And with the (admittedly necessary) annoyances of syntax removed, more of your programming focus can be directed towards solving the actual problem.

    Why Visual Programming Language?

    By Physical Computing we mean the building of little systems, usually interactive, composed of sensors (like button), actuator (like led and motors) which are linked by microcontroller. Arduino respond to that criteria, it is turning 12 years old to accomplish this need. Nowadays there are more than 100,000+ Arduinos on the market, and within the next 5 to 10 years, the Arduino will be used in every school to teach electronics and physical computing. That’s a big deal because engineers tend to design platforms for other engineers, not for artists, or kids who want to connect stuff up in a simple way to share an idea. The Arduino is simple, but not too simple. There are plenty of other microcontroller boards, but Arduino is probably the best known today and has turned into a global phenomenal. The questions here are:

    How to make it possible for non-programmer to create electronics, fast. How to make Arduino used by everyone?

    Some studied visual Programing languages Visual Programming language is the answer for these questions. There are a variety of visual languages out there, in the following we will list the most known ones and those that we investigated them. To make our exploration more significant we will execute a basic example of Arduino which is blinking led with every VPL tool.

    Scratch For Arduino
    Mindplus
    Minibloq
    Blockly
    Modkit
    Ardublock

    The Ardublock software is a plugin which is added to the IDE of arduino and which allows the user to program in blocks of functions, a little as scracth4arduino, or to appinventor for android. The good point of ardublock is that it generates the lines of codes. In addition to blocks that are literal translations of the functions in the Arduino library, it also provides some predefined blocks for working with a variety of electronic components supported by Scoop ,Adafruit, DFrobot. ,TinkerKit from Arduino and partial support for Grove from SeeedStudio

    Ardublock is a very convenient way to get people to start to learn Arduino.Why?

    We have started to identify the main use of visual programming language, which is let end users program an electronics platform. This work could benefit from comparative studied visual programming environments for Arduino, such as S4A (Scratch forArduino) Minibloq, Mindplus, Blockly, Modkit and Ardublock.

    Ardublock provides an integrated tool that makes it possible to write Arduino programs using the same style of graphical blocks as Scratch and Blockly. In addition to blocks that are literal translations of the functions in the Arduino library, it also provides some predefined blocks for working with third party Arduino components. When programming an Arduino board using ArduBlock, the graphical program is translated to regular Arduino code, not unlike Blockly’s language generators. This facilitates the transition between using graphical blocks for programming and using written C++ code, which is very helpful for novice programmers. Ardublock is a new way of programming physical controllers (Arduino) using drag and drop through graphical methods.

    Reply
  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ModKit Micro – Visual Programming for Hardware
    http://www.i-programmer.info/news/91-hardware/4287-modkit-micro-visual-programming-for-hardware.html

    Modkit Micro is a graphical programming environment for microcontrollers which provides a plug ‘n play visual programming interface to a wide range of hardware.

    modkit

    ModKit Micro allows you to add add behaviors to objects but without have to learn traditional programming. It gives an accessible way to program popular protyping boards such as Arduino or Wiring.

    Once you plug your chosen prototyping board into your PC you can add behaviors simply by dragging and dropping

    ModKit is aimed at inventors and engineers of all ages and its team are keen to see it used by kids

    http://www.modkit.com/micro

    Modkit Micro™ is a drag & drop programming environment that makes it easy to program intelligent electronics projects. It features advanced components and configurations that you won’t find in any other block-style programming tools. Then, when you’ve outgrown block programming, you can see and use the actual code with Code View, making Modkit Micro an unparalleled learning tool.

    Modkit Micro is now free

    Reply
  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    wikitIDE: program arduino 101 visually
    https://hackaday.io/project/16355-wikitide-program-arduino-101-visually

    This is a derivative wikit program for you to control arduino 101 neuron A.I. function with simply drag and drop

    Arduino 101 is a hardware powered by intel which could achieve A.I. by neuron learning. With this program, we can simply programming the most advanced A.I. with simple drag and drop in IPAD

    wikit-arduino101
    https://github.com/wikitIDE/wikit-arduino101

    a program to let you program arduino101 with A.I. function visually on iPAD with wikitIDE

    Reply
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  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Visuino
    https://www.visuino.com/orders

    What is Visuino?

    Visuino is the latest innovative software from Mitov Software. A visual programming environment allowing you to program your Arduino boards. It currently supports the official Arduino boards, ESP8266, Controllino, Goldilocks Analogue, and number of Arduino clones

    9.95

    Example project:
    https://create.arduino.cc/projecthub/H0meMadeGarbage/1-8-tft-lcd-display-test-using-visuino-ac96a5?ref=user&ref_id=82975&offset=2

    Reply
  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    What is Visuino?
    https://www.visuino.com/

    Visuino is the latest innovative software from Mitov Software. A visual programming environment allowing you to program your Arduino boards. It currently supports the official Arduino boards, Teensy, Femto IO, ESP8266, ESP32, Controllino, Goldilocks Analogue, FreeSoC2, chipKIT, Maple Mini, and number of Arduino clones, however it is not restricted to their support alone and requests to support new hardware are welcome.

    The components found in the Visuino software represent their hardware components and you will easily be able to create and design your programs using drag and drop. No equipment or hardware is needed to run the software in design mode. Once you have completed the design, you can connect Arduino board upload and run it.

    For those people who are not strong on writing code then designing, compiling and creating Arduino programs has never been easier!

    Reply
  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Visual Development with XOD
    http://hackaday.com/2017/08/13/visual-development-with-xod/

    Early programmers had to represent code using binary, octal, or hex numbers. This gave way quickly to representing programs as text to be assembled, compiled, or interpreted by the computer. Even today, this remains the most common way to program, but there have been attempts to develop more visual ways to create programs graphically. If you program microcontrollers like the Arduino, you should check out XOD and see how you like visually creating software. The software is open source and currently, can target the Arduino or Raspberry Pi.

    You can launch the IDE in a web browser or download a local copy. You transfer nodes from a palette into a grid-like workspace. These nodes might be inputs, outputs, processing blocks, or represent real-world I/O devices. Nodes have inputs and outputs of specific types and you connect them together, connecting like types only, although there are blocks that can convert.

    There are out-of-the-box nodes for ultrasonic sensors, temperature sensors, servos, LCDs, buttons, and H-bridges. You can create your own super-nodes (patches) and you also can make multiple disjointed flows to execute more than one task at a time.

    https://xod.io/

    Reply
  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    XOD: A New And Open Source Visual Programming Language For Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Etc.
    https://fossbytes.com/xod-programming-language-raspberry-pi-arduino/

    developers have been trying to create what’s called visual programming languages. Many of them are already popular, including the likes of Node-Red and NoFlo, and others are budding.

    One such new visual programming language for Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and other development boards is XOD.

    Developed by Mihail Belogortsev and Nakoryakov Victor, CEO and CTO in Amperka LLC, the biggest Arduino distributor and DIY electronics manufacturer in Russia, XOD aims to make programming more reliable and understandable.

    Compared to other visual programming languages like Node-Red and NoFlo, differs is execution environment. “Node-RED and NoFlo require a full-fledged computer that is capable of running NodeJS programs. At least Raspberry Pi. XOD can be run on much more constrained devices such as microcontrollers and low-end Arduino’s,” XOD creators told

    It should be noted that XOD is a lower-level programming language. Another thing, XOD is able to let the user build up some missing node using other nodes, without switching to textual programming.

    Reply

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