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Getting Started with the Arduino Desktop IDE

Learn how to use the Arduino Desktop IDE at its best and install it on your PC!

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Components and supplies

Ardgen 101
Arduino 101 & Genuino 101
Or any other Arduino board that utilizes the Arduino IDE software
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About this project

Download the Arduino Desktop IDE

The Arduino IDE is a cross-platform Integrated Development Environment. This means that you can run it on every Operating System. To download the Arduino IDE visit the download page and choose the right IDE according to your Operating System.

Install the Arduino IDE

Once you have downloaded the IDE, follow the instructions on how to install it based on your Operating System (Mac, Windows, Linux, or Portable IDE).

Run the IDE

If this is the first time you run the Desktop IDE, you should see a tab (called sketch) filled with the two basic Arduino functions: the setup() and loop().

IDE preferences

By clicking on File->Preferences or using the shortcut CTRL+Comma you can edit your IDE preferences.

In this window you can do very important things like:

  • Change the language of the application
  • Change your sketchbook location: the default path where your sketches (Arduino programs) are saved;
  • Add additional third party boards to your IDE: the Arduino IDE has a built-in function called Boards Manager (explained later on) that allows you to use third party boards in the Arduino IDE.

Let's now open an Arduino sketch (the program that tells your board what to do). We start we the most basic one, the Blink. Go to File->Examples-> Basics-> Blink and click on it. You should now see a window with the Blink program.

Connect your Arduino or Genuino board to your PC via USB cable.

Every sketch needs to have a target board. Selected the board you have just connected using the Tools->Board menu.

The IDE is shipped by default with the so called Arduino AVR core. This core lists most of the Arduino family boards (from the UNO to the Mega and Micro), but not all of them. The missing ones are included in extra cores that can be installed via the Boards Manager (explained later on).

You also have to choose the uploading port, do so by using the Tools->Port menu. Please note that on Windows it can take some minutes to show up the first time you plug your board to your PC, since the drivers needs to be installed.

Last step to upload your code now is to click on the upload button.

Arduino Boards Manager

The Arduino Boards Manager can be used to install additional cores to use boards that are not listed in your Arduino installation.

One of these cores is for example the SAMD core. This core includes boards like the MKR1000, MKRZero and Tian. To install it you have to go in the Tools->Board->Boards Manager.

You should see something like this:

If you want to install the Arduino SAMD core you simply have to click on Install when selecting a menu item. Once the installing procedure is complete, you will see the new boards included in the Tools -> Board menu.

In the Arduino IDE Preferences, is it possible to add third party boards by also adding a simple URL. An example of how to add a non-Arduino board can be the Spence Konde ATtiny core. To install it follow the instruction at the link.

Library Manager

Arduino is a community-based platform, this means that people working with the platform very often share their code and contribute libraries. An Arduino Library allows you to easily use modules, sensors and extra hardware without too much effort, since all the hard work to understand the code is already embedded in the library and only the functions are exposed to you. These functions are called methods or APIs. A library usually comes with a list of examples to practically show what you can do with this package. An example can be the Arduino WiFi 101 library.

The Arduino Wifi 101 library is not shipped within the Arduino IDE installation so you need to manually add it. Open the Sketch->Libraries->Manage Libraries menu.

Something like this will show up:

Once you have selected the library you want select it and click on Install. Now all the examples coming from the installed library will show up under the File->Examples menu.

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