MiniBloq IDE, Graphical Programming For Robots Of All Sizes

MiniBloq

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.

The idea of a graphical programming language for robotics has been done before, most memorably with the Lego Mindstorms programming interface. That was closed source, of course, and only worked with the magical Lego brick that allowed you to attach motors and sensors to a child’s creation. 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.

The current version of miniBloq can be downloaded from the gits, with versions available for Windows and *nix. The IDE is written with wxWidgets, so this could also be easily ported to OS X.

Minibloq Arduino IDE is in Beta and in need of testers

minibloq_beta

If you have been chomping at the bit to give drag and drop Arduino programming a try, Minibloq is finally in Beta and ready for you to test!

We mentioned the application back in April of this year, when [Julián da Silva] was still in the early stages of developing the software. His graphical programming environment is meant to put the power of the Arduino and its derivatives into the hands of children in an easy fashion, with a gentle learning curve.

A lot has transpired since we first wrote about Minibloq, including a very successful Kickstarter campaign, along with many hours of programming and testing. The current Beta release includes a ton of features and programming “blocks” beyond what we saw earlier this year, so be sure to check out the video below for a quick tour of what’s new.

[Julián] says that the application’s source code will be released after they add a few key features, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested in taking a peek under the hood.

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