Minibloq: WinAVR code generator for kids and beginners

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#1
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Hi!

I'm working on an new graphical programming environment for Arduino, physical computing devices and robots, that uses the WinAVR as backend compiler. It's called Minibloq and, although it's not finished yet, it's possible to see something here:

http://minibloq.org

I think it may be specially usefull in schools, and it may have some interesting features as well, like the following:

* Runs completely offline and it's portable (can execute from a pendrive).
* It's fast (C++ native program).
* Really generates C/C++ code, compiles it and sends it to the board's flash, just with one click.
* Wine compatible: It even runs on an OLPC XO (there are videos on the website).
* Expandable.
* Modern GUI, with dockable panes, zoom, key navigation, etc..
* Made with open source tools (basically wxWidgets, MinGW, Code::Blocks, Inkscape...)
* Once finished the v1.0 it will become open source (MIT like license, with just a limitation: non-military use).

I'm trying to finish a first public version (v0.4) for the end of the next month (waiting for a possible kickstarter one-month campaign).

Feedback is welcome!

Ah, and here are some examples:

http://blog.minibloq.org/p/examp...

Regards!
Julián

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Interesting but what benefit does this deliver that's not already available using Arduino? I don't really see the point of a clone?

BTW this doesn't actually seem to be related specifically to GCC - should I move the thread to AVR Forum?

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clawson wrote:
Interesting but what benefit does this deliver that's not already available using Arduino? I don't really see the point of a clone?

If I understood right, here is the difference.

You create Arduino code by pushing letters on keyboard.

You use Minibloq by dragging and dropping graphical symbols to create some kind of flowchart. It gets turned into Arduino code.

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Hi, I know this is project may not see important to the real world programmers, but we work with kids, in schools, and they use here Legos with their graphical environments, so I wanted to create something open source for Arduino and other hardware, but with some advantages, from my point of view:

1. This really shows the code, so the transition to the text based programming is easier.

2. There is more error control to reduce the errors like "I forget a ; but can't see it", so common in a clasroom full of kids, and with short class times (in my country, it's often only 40 minutes a week).

3. This is faster than Arduino, because it's native C++ (not Java), and because the Arduino core is precompiled (so the compile time es about 1/3 the one of the Arduino IDE).

4. This is target-independent: It's not limited to Arduino.

5. And yes, the children, and the beginners just make a few clicks and has it's first program running, and if he wants to see the code, just another click, and if he want to use the code, he copy and paste it into the standard Arduino IDE and goes to the text-based world.

We are testing it with children from about 8 to 13 years old, with RobotGroup (http://robotgroup.com.ar, were we made hardware for children and robotics too) and this is working far better with them than the Arduino-IDE, which we were using a lot too.

Regarding the gcc forum, please put this trhead where you think it's better. I really thought this was the better place, but can be wrong.

Thanks for your comments!
Regards,
Julián

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Julián,

I like the idea and wish you the best of luck.

I've had thoughts of doing a similar thing for many years but never got round to doing anything about it, so well done.

Peter

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Hi Peter, many thanks!
If you want, you can follow the blog. I will publish sources too (first the Alpha release, then the sources). So you can get involved.

Regards!
Julián

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Is this something like Lego Mindstorms then?

Have you seen Google's Android App Developer by the way? Perhaps in 10 years everyone will be programming by putting together the lego bricks? :-)

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Hi, and yes to both questions. It's something like Mindstorms, but with big differences. Regarding the App Inventor, this has differences too, but perhaps the biggest diff is that this is a relative lightweight native app, that runs offline. I don't know, but at least in my country, we don't always have an Internet connection in the classroom, or at least not an stable one. So with this tool, and even with small laptops as the OLPC XO or the Intel Classmate, the teacher and the students can work with physical devices.
Regards!
Julián

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Yeah, I simply cannot get the Android App program to run correctly at all (though I'm sure I have up to date Java and such). I'm just waiting for a new PC to arrive and hop it will just work on that "out of the box" but I'm not a great fan of committing everything to "the cloud" either.

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Well, something I can tell, is that this environment is in fact a reconfigurable (via XML) code generator, so why not use it to generate Android code too? Being it Java, Python, or C/C++, I don' see the limit, if there is people with ideas and a bit of time.

BTW, I'm not a cloud fan either, and I do like native apps too. That's why Minibloq is both native itself (C/C++) and can generate native code too (with gcc by now). But it's not limited to it, could generate interpreted code as well, which may be usefull for interactive programming, specially with kids.

Regards!

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The download section is empty ....
Or at least for me :-(

/Bingo

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Soon, believeme, please!! :)

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Hi, Minibloq is in Kickstarter from today:

http://kck.st/mnWW8y

This means that the release is comming soon!

Any help making this public is very very welcome.

Regards,
Julián

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Hi!
Finally, after a lot of work, the first Minibloq Beta version has been released:
http://minibloq.org

It's just a Beta, but I hope you enjoy it. There is also preliminary documentation here:
http://blog.minibloq.org/p/documentation.html

Thanks!
Julián