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ROBOTC Graphical Programming Preview Available!

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clickanddragAfter months of work, the ROBOTC Development Team is excited to announce the availability of the first preview release of ROBOTC Graphical Language for the VEX IQ platform. This new interface will allow you to program robots from inside ROBOTC with easy-to-use graphical blocks that can be drag-and-dropped to form a program. Each block represents an individual command from the “text-based” ROBOTC and Natural Language. The new click and drag interface along with the simplified commands of Natural Language will allow any robotics user to get up and running with programming their robots as soon as possible.

The first release of ROBOTC Graphical Language is available for the VEX IQ platform for use with the standard VEX IQ Clawbot and Autopilot Robots. All ROBOTC 4.0 users will receive access to the new Graphical Language interface at no additional cost! Our plans over the next few months are to extend the Graphical Language interface to all of ROBOTC’s support platforms, including the Robot Virtual Worlds technology. You can download the preview version today at http://www.robotc.net/graphical/.

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The new ROBOTC Graphical programming environment adds a number of new features we’d like to highlight:

Graphical Language Command List (Drag and Drop)

GraphicalFunctionBar
With the new ROBOTC Graphical Mode, we’ve updated our “Functions Library” to match the style of the Graphical interface. This new mode will allow you to drag and drop blocks of code from the “Graphical Functions” menu into your program to get your program created even faster!

New Language Commands for Easier Programs

NewLanguageCommands
We also added some new language extensions to both ROBOTC and Natural Language; such as the simplistic “Repeat” command. Prior to the Repeat command, users would need to copy and paste large sections of code or use a looping structure (like a ‘for’ or ‘while’ loop) in order to have a set of actions repeat a number of times. With the new “Repeat” command, however, users can simply specify how many times they would like the code to run, with no complex coding required. And users who wish to make an “infinite loop” can use the “repeat forever” command to accomplish this task quickly!

Commenting Blocks of Code!

CommentingOut
Another awesome tool that we’ve implemented in ROBOTC Graphical is the “comment out” feature. You can now comment out an entire line of code just by clicking on the block’s line number. The robot ignores lines of code that are “commented out” when the program runs, which makes this feature very useful when testing or debugging code. This new tool is unique to ROBOTC’s Graphical interface.

Updated and Simplified Toolbar

Toolbar
Sometimes navigating menus as a new user can be a little overwhelming – so many options to choose from and lots of questions about what each option is used for. To help with this, we’ve redesigned ROBOTC’s toolbar to make getting up and running easier. We put the most used commands on a larger toolbar so new users have an area to easily click to download firmware, send their code to their robot, and run their programs without having to use the standard menu interface.

Convert to Text-Based Natural Language

ConvertToText ConvertToText2
Because each Graphical Natural Language block corresponds to a real ROBOTC or Natural Language function, users will be able to graduate from Graphical Programming to full text-based programming with the press of a single button. This allows users to naturally transition from Graphical Natural Language to the text based Natural Language (or ROBOTC), without having to worry about manually converting the code line-by-line!

Teacher’s Guide and Sample Programs

UsersGuide
The new graphical interface includes over 50 new sample programs to help you get up and running with working examples and demo code. In addition, we’ve also developed a 30+page guide to walk new (and existing) users through the new Graphical Programming interface and getting started with the VEX IQ platform. You can find a link to the programming guide here and also on the ROBOTC Graphical page.

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This initial release is only the beginning and we’re planning on improving the software with more features and flexibility over the coming months.

Future Support/Features:

  • Copy and Paste
  • Undo/Redo Support
  • Support for custom robots/configurations via an updated “Motors and Sensor Setup” interface.
  • Dynamic Loop and Command Parameters (based on Motors and Sensor Setup / Robot Configuration)
  • Tooltips, Contextual Help, and more!

Click here to download the installer!

Let us know what you think! If you have any feedback or questions, please send them along via the ROBOTC’s VEX IQ forums.

 
 

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Official Release of ROBOTC 3.60!

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ROBOTC 36

 

We are very excited to announce that today is the first day of Spring and …. the first day of ROBOTC 3.60! ROBOTC is the premiere robotics programming language for educational robotics and competitions. ROBOTC is a C-Based Programming Language with an Easy-to-Use Development Environment. We are really proud of this release and can’t wait to hear what you think! Remember, we could not do this without your support and feedback. We hope you’ll continue to share your comments with us, either in the forums or on our Facebook or Twitter page.
 

Some of the key enhancements are:

  • Added support for proxy server when activating ROBOTC (Proxy Support guide can be found here).
  • Add watchdog timer support to VEX Cortex to alleviate processor crashes that can occur with static (more information on this issue can be found on the VEX IME Product Page).
  • Fixed a bug in the NXT color sensor that now allows you to read individual RGB values.
  • Updated with the latest version of the 3rd party sensor drivers for NXT. (Thanks Xander!)
  • Updated Curriculum Tables included for Robot Virtual Worlds.

See below for the more detailed changelog and download ROBOTC 3.60 here!

ROBOTC Hangout
 

To celebrate the official release, we will be having our first Google Hangout! Tim Friez, John Watson, and Xander Soldaat will be there to discuss the new features and answer some of your questions. To tune in live, visit ROBOTC.net/hangouts at 2pm EST tomorrow (Thursday, March 21.)

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3.59 to 3.60 BETA Changelog

VEX:

  • New Standard Models Added for PLTW.
  • Update VEX Cortex I2C interrupt handler to handle case where interrupt for last received character is not processed until STOP signal has already been sent.
  • Add parameter to I2C Device Driver (VEX Cortex) to indicate whether being called for a “timer tick” or for a “message is now complete”. Add a few more statistics to the error collection.
  • Increase VEX Cortex I2C message timeout to 6 milliseconds from 3.
  • Start sending VEX Cortex I2C polling messages immediately after last poll has finished. Improves I2C responsiveness for VEX Cortex.

LEGO:

  • Xander’s 3rd Party Driver Suite updated to version 3.3.1

Arduino:

  • New firmware conditional compiles to eliminate the get/set property opcodes for ‘long’ and ‘float’.
  • Arduino only. “Copy opcode from flash to RAM” performance improved.
  • On Arduino, sensor initialization incorrectly assumed as sensor types had the extra “sensor buffer” structure. But the extra buffer is only linked for complicated sensor types so RAM was being overwritten. Fixed.

General:

  • Updated application and desktop icon quality.
  • Fix “Multiple overloads match” error introduced with change that did proper validation of pointer expression with point procedure parameter variable.
  • Improved validation of procedure parameter matching for function overloads. Previously when parameter was a pointer, only checked to confirm that calling expression was also a pointer. Check was extended to also (correctly) match on the type of pointer as well.
  • Could not change “check array bounds” in Compiler Code
    cialis

    Optimization tab. The issue was that after changing the check mark the “code optimization type” would be recalculated and then the “optimization type” radio buttons updated. Array bounds checking is not used in determining the optimization type; but in setting the type it is modified. So the changed check mark was being accepted and then software was overwriting. Fixed.

  • Split “auto save” into two individually settable flags: (1) to auto save source files before compile and (2) auto save files when application exits.
  • Incorrect code optimization involving ‘struct’ variable offsets and perhaps other cases. For the assignment instruction “<variable2> is assigned address of <variable1>” compiler was replacing references to “<variable2> with “<variable1>. This optimization should only occur for “simple assignments” of “<variable2> = <variable1>”. Fixed.
  • Change ‘nSysTime’ and ‘nPgmTime’ intrinsic variables to “unsigned”. ‘unsigned’ intrinsic variables were being converted to ‘signed’ when used in comparison expressions generating a warning regarding mixed ‘signed’ / ‘unsigned’ comparison. Fixed.
  • Upper range check for “array bounds check” opcode used “>” instead of “>=” in comparison allowing ‘one past’ array size as valid.

3.54 to 3.59 BETA Changelog

VEX:

  • Add watchdog timer support to VEX Cortex. This will allow the VEX Cortex User Processor to “restart” automatically once the processor crashes/is halted. Useful for any potential static issue that may cause the User Processor to “crash”.
  • Change watchdog implementation from “windowed” watchdog to standard watchdog (no window, reset any time). Increase watchdog timeout to 0.75 seconds.
  • In Debugger Motors display the last motor was not always properly updated. Fixed.
  • Enable emulator for VEX PIC. Fix subsequent bug with “Motors” debugger display for VEX PIC locking up IDE when emulator is enabled; this bug should be limited to VEX PIC Emulator only.
  • VEX PIC downloading was failing when master firmware was out of date. Getting stuck in a repetitive loop that wasn’t exiting. Fixed.
  • VEX PIC was not executing user programs. Bug was that “start of flash file system VTOC” needed to be aligned on 4-byte boundary. Previous change had added a 1-byte field to the header preamble and there was not a corresponding 3-byte file added for VEX PIC. ARM platforms worked OK. This may also have broken Arduino (i.e. any 8-bit) platform).
  • Added a Conditional Compile flag for tUARTs to avoid confusion between uartOne and UART1
  • There are two separate flags for “allow any serial port for communications” — one for VEX Cortex and one for all other platforms. This was not obvious. Preferences “Environment” tab was only updating flag for non-Cortex; this has been changed to update the appropriate flag based on platform setting. The VEX Cortex flag can also be updated in the “VEX Cortex” tab.
  • User configurable UART setup was screwed up for the platforms whose “uart 0″ is fixed as non-configurable and usable only for system communications port to PC — i.e. VEX Cortex, VEX PIC. The ROBOTC IDE was storing the data in the persistent data table (at start of flash file system) offset by one entry. I.E. data for “uart 1″ on VEX Cortex was stored in “uart 2″, etc.

LEGO:

  • NXT color sensor read RGB individual values broken with pointer implementation. Change “getMemoryParmXXX” function calls to “getCommonParamaterValueXXX” function calls. Check rest of firmware for same mistake.
  • New feature for 3rd Party Sensor Driver Suite to set the two digital I/O lines on NXT sensors. Added two new sensor types (sensorCustom, sensorCustom9V) for this along with two new property intrinsic variables to set I/O line direction and values; these intrinsic variables are bit masks (2-bits) for the two lines.
  • “setPixel” intrinsic (and corresponding “clearPixel” and “invertPixel”) take “unsigned” parameters. But implementation was using “signed” parameters and not properly range checking if parameters were negative. If negative, then should do nothing. Instead they were incorrectly wring to invalid buffer address which eventually caused a firmware crash.

Arduino:

  • Fix issue for “Motors” tab for Arduino in “Motors and Sensors Setup” property sheet. Was incorrectly trying to setup “encoder information for motor”, but Arduino platform does not “associate encoder sensor with motor” — which is currently only a feature for VEX Cortex.

General:

  • Added Support for Proxy Server when activating ROBOTC – Users can set Proxy preferences under “Detailed Preferences – General – Environment”.
  • Incorrect generation of compiler error message when double pointer (i.e. “**”) is used.
  • “Print” a range of pages was not working when the starting page was not ’1′. Fixed.
  • Remove incorrect error message from error “Assignment between two different pointer types” when one side of ‘=’ is a ‘void *’.
  • Compiler was incorrectly generating error message for “Expected a pointer expression in a pointer expression with ‘++’ or ‘-+’ operand. Compiler was incorrectly checking to verify the right operand was an integer value.
  • Compiler was incorrectly generating error message for “Invalid pointer expression” in a pointer expression with ‘+’ or ‘-’ operand. One operand of the expression must be a pointer and the other operand must be an integer (without implied conversion of a pointer to an integer). Compiler was incorrectly checking for the integer — the expression incorrectly had a “!” in it!
  • Change code generation of ‘var arg’ for pointers to be consistent with standard C — i.e. the value of the pointer is placed in the argument. This may result in an additional instruction generated when argument is a ‘string’; previously RobotC got too cute trying to save this extra instruction which only worked for “%s” format codes but was broken for “%d” on a pointer.
  • In ‘sprintf” implementation for “%s” and “%p” format codes– change from  “get Address of parameter” to”get value of parameter” to match corresponding change in compiler code. Also minor cleanup of “%s” and “%p” format codes.
  • Assignment expressions of “<char * variable> = <char constant> were generating compiler error because the “<char constant>” was evaluated as a “string” type. Added code in “get expression type” to check for this and not generate error as the compiler auto converts “string” to “char *” during code generation.
  • Fixes an issue with the Live Start Page and “check for updates” that may have caused crashes.
  • Improved validation of pointer expressions. Fix bug in calculating expression type of pointer expressions like “<ptr sub-expression> + <numeric constant>”; the result was (always?) incorrectly set as “long *”? Also added check that “=” of pointer is from a pointer of the same type – otherwise generate error message.
  • Fixed consistency in implementation of “random” intrinsic property.
  • Eliminate compiler error message in constant expression evaluation of sub-expressions using “*” operator. If either of the two operands is ‘zero’ then result is zero regardless of whether the other operand is a compile time constant.
  • Do not generate additional errors — “too many parameters” specified — when procedure is “compiler generated undefined symbol”.
  • When switch between “real robots” and “emulator”, the function that calculates “size of RAM pointer variable” was not being called. It adjusts between 2-byte (VEX PIC, Arduino) and 4-byte (Emulator, VEX Cortex, NXT) pointer sizes. No issue with VEX Cortex and NXT as they only use 4-byte pointers. But a problem with VEX PIC and Arduino where real robots use 2-byte RAM pointers! Added the appropriate call to function setup.
  • Small code optimization for “postfix –”/postfix ++” operators to avoid temporary. In some cases they can be simplified to prefix operands.
  • Incorrect initialization of static variables in “inner scope” for local procedure. They were initialized every time inner scope block was accessed rather than once on program startup.
  • Debugger Panes for “Locals” and “Globals” (especially Globals) was not properly handling updates to ‘long’ and ‘float’ variables. Globals was completely broke — only lower two bytes of 4-byte variables was being updated which broke ‘long’ and ‘float’ variables. In both, ‘char’ variables were updating a short value — i.e. overwriting following characters.
  • Fix problem with incorrect user code using a “short” variable and “sprintf” format code of “%f”. This can crash ROBOTC VM firmware if the short variable is not aligned on a 32-bit boundary.
  • Add additional entries for StringFind for Character Constants and added test program.
  • Redefine datalog opcodes and intrinsics. Legacy datalog incompatible with 3.5x VM operands which split memory variables and intrinsic properties into separate items.
  • Firmware for all platforms now call “datalogHandlerInit()”. Conditional compile will define as NULL macro if a platform does not support Datalog. Datalog support is now conditionally compiled via “bHasDatalog” define rather than hard-coded as NXT only.
  • Fix incorrect compiler type checking error when string constant is assigned to a char pointer.
  • Fix bug in check for “is this a preprocessor string comparison expression”.
  • Eliminate preprocessor string comparisons in Natural Language and replace with “defined(_Target_XXX_) where “_Target_XXX_” are three new system defined preprocessor variables — “_target_Robot_”, “_Target_Emulator_” and “Target_VirtWorld_”. Sample programs modified appropriately. Legacy user programs using legacy definitions will still work but will generate a compiler warning about non-standard extension.
  • Add registry flag to enable compiler extension to allow preprocessor expressions support for string comparisons. Generate compiler error message if encountered without the flag being set.
  • “cast” code generation fix. Previously when cast changed sign of result the ‘cast’ was applied before expression was converted to ‘int’ size used during a calculation. So casting a “ubyte” to “int” incorrectly converted it to a “signed char”. What should happen is “ubyte” expression gets evaluated into an “int” as part of expression evaluation (all expressions are evaluated at ‘int’ (or higher) level in “C”) and then the cast to “int” has no additional effect.
  • Function to extract numeric “COMxxx”. Expanded syntax to support successful parsing of “(COM99)” previously would not accept extraneous characters.
  • Add improved Dialog for selecting Communications Port. It uses a list box to display information about the port. Add check box to select any communications port.
  • Compiler crash when parsing invalid syntax of ‘?’ expression. Compiler was not handling the case when “NULL” pointer returned from parsing sub-expression. The “NULL” was incorrect.

Written by Cara Friez

March 20th, 2013 at 2:58 pm