Arduino Labs for MicroPython is a lightweight cross-platform demo editor for MicroPython. Arduino now offers support for the Python programming language as a way to interact with its microcontroller boards.
This means that you can now take advantage of the huge libraries and ecosystem of the language to build more powerful and complex projects. The power of Python along with the versatility of Arduino might be the perfect combination for your next project
Despite being in its beta stage, Arduino Labs for MicroPython has already garnered a lot of interest from the maker community, with many people wanting to give it a try. So, what prompted this move?
Arduino vs. MicroPython
Arduino has long been a favorite among hobbyists and pros alike due to its range of inexpensive hardware options and an active community of users who are always willing to lend a hand in the Arduino forum. There are many Useful Arduino projects that you can tryfrom home automation to robotics.
One of the most important advantages of Arduino is its simplicity. The hardware is easy to use, and the programming language is based on C/C++, which is widely known and easy to learn. You can check out our exclusive guide at What is Arduino and what can you do with it to learn more.
On the other hand, MicroPython is a lightweight and powerful implementation of the Python programming language designed for use on microcontrollers. It provides a powerful ready-to-try programming environment and allows you to take advantage of the rich ecosystem of Python libraries and tools. One of the main benefits of MicroPython is its flexibility – Python is a very expressive language and well suited for prototyping.
Created in collaboration with Murilo Polese who wrote the initial release, the Arduino IDE for MicroPython provides a powerful development platform that combines the benefits of both worlds. This results in a more efficient and effective development experience.
It is not another Arduino IDE extension
While you might think it is just another extension made for the already existing Arduino IDE, it is an entirely separate development platform built from scratch by the Arduino team specifically to support MicroPython. This IDE is similar to the original Arduino IDE, but allows users to write and upload Python code to their boards.
One of the main features of the Arduino IDE for MicroPython is its support for boards with REPL via serial, including the vulnerable ESP8266. This allows you to easily load and run Python instructions on your microcontroller boards, without the need for external tools or complicated setup procedures. The IDE also includes file manager capabilities, which makes it easy to organize and manage Python scripts.
Arduino IDE for MicroPython is available on Windows, Linux, and macOS; Download it for free from Arduino Lab for Micropython page.
Since it uses Real Eval Print Loop (REPL) on the serial, the IDE supports other boards as well, such as the Raspberry Pico.
The REPL shell for Python also comes in store with an IDE that allows you to test small portions of your code when debugging. In addition, it allows you to build your projects faster as it uses a high-level language that is easy to learn – a perfect fit for anyone getting into microcontrollers.
One of the main advantages of using MicroPython is its ability to save on the limited reprogramming numbers of the microcontroller’s program flash memory. This is because the Python script is stored and run in RAM, rather than being written directly to flash memory. This can be especially useful for projects that require frequent code updates or changes.
However, there is no syntax checking for errors at this time, which can make it more difficult to detect errors in your code. Arduino has not yet announced any plans to add this feature in the future.
What is the future of Arduino Lab for MicroPython?
This MicroPython IDE seems to be a perfect fit for those who want more flexibility and the ability to take advantage of the rich ecosystem of Python libraries. With the increasing popularity of the Python programming language, it is set to gain more traction which could eventually drive Arduino to expand the MicroPython library on the platform. Its reception in the Arduino community looks promising and it already has all the signs of becoming a permanent product.
As of now, the MicroPython firmware is only available for the Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense, Nano RP2040 Connect, and Portenta H7 boards. It is not clear when it will be available for other models.
Ready for a Game-Changer IDE for every maker?
All in all, Arduino Lab for MicroPython is a welcome addition to the Arduino ecosystem since it offers the best of both worlds – rich hardware options and a supportive community for Arduino, along with MicroPython’s powerful programming capabilities.
Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting out with microcontrollers, this development is sure to have something for you.
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