Our regular reader already used IBM NodeRED with ESP32 for our few IoT guides. That NodeRED is one example of visual programming system. Visual programming language (VPL) let us create programs by graphically interacting rather than textual coding. Visual programming is not a new concept but goes back to the 70s. Graphical interaction includes spatial arrangements of text and graphic symbols, and also usage syntax or secondary notation. For the their nature they are known as dataflow or diagrammatic programming. They are essentially based on the idea of basic drawing by connecting by arrows, lines to represent relations. The general goal of visual programming is to make programming more accessible, faster. Coding for a simple IoT project like email upon button press would take much more time without NodeRED visual programming. NodeRED users are adult. The reason to write this article is to help the children and teenagers to use their Arduino to create project. Learning programming langugage not always the goal for their projects.
Coding is not an important skill than logical skill. We need to code as we lack standard, robust visual programming for the adults – NodeRED is for the adults though. Other such known open source tools are NETLab Toolkit, Modkit, Scratch for Android etc.
What Are Some of the Visual Programming Systems for Arduino Compatible Boards?
Not many systems actually usable. The systems we will discuss are open source, they do not cost anything (and the advanced users can modify for your custom board). Some of them look like 1990s design, some of them quite advanced to support custom boards. Starting with basic, there is Ardu Block :
Minibloq is similar in look and not at all bad idea to have a look :
There is BlockyDuino :
There is DwenguinoBlockly :
While the above are of definite value for numerous reasons, nothing can beat Microsoft MakeCode for the neat, careful design and it is open source :
BBC Micro:Bit uses the interface too. The editor is online software and can be easily tested :
I designed this thing (it will make beep sound and run animation, you can drag the same blocks like mine) :
Open Source companies like Adafruit uses Microsoft MakeCode for their own development boards (which are Arduino compatible) :