It is difficult playing with the BBC micro:bit keeping an objective view without enthusiasm.
As much you go in depth discovering the device features as much it is difficult to find limits in this smart device. Especially trying to think like a 7+ y.o. child, approaching for the first time the world of software and micro controllers.
In my opinion the greatest value added of the micro:bit is the availability of an enjoying and game-like environment through which young guys can learn things. And as needs becomes more complex, as much the micro:bit demonstrates to be the right choice with full coverage of its educational role.
Block coding, then ?
After entering to the main page of the micro:bit site you have two main options: create code or watch video. The second option address the user to a large number of educational units, videos, documentation and examples while the create code option opens a door to the user to start a great adventure.
Connecting the micro:bit to the computer
The way the user can flash the micro:bit micro-controller firmware from his computer is easy (and sure, not new and well tested in other environments). As you connect with the USB cable - not provided - the micro:bit and the computer it is automatically powered (no battery is needed while programming) and the desktop recognises it as a storage device just like a memory stick. This very easy step grants the device working on almost any platform; we have tested on Linux, OSX and Windows7, Windows10 with always the same good result.
Well, all that is needed to connect the device and programming is done:)
What should we start with? We can chose between a lot of examples, but - obviously - the better ones remain those published in 10 BBC micro:bit Projects in 10 Days To make the things easy, I just started with the puling heart. But it is better to tell the story by images, don't you think ?
1. The editor just opened: the different set of instructions (blocks) colour-coded are very useful to the left as well the device simulator to the right
2. The first block: easier to do than explain. And in every moment just pressing the play button to see on the simulator how the program is working
An interesting detail is that all the features are well emulated, including the frequency player.
3. The very responsive interface of the editor including zooming, moving on the workbench and accessing the left toolbar instruction set (blocks ) makes programming pretty similar to an online game
4. adding pieces of code blocks is very useful and keeping under control the program assembly checking periodically the emulator is a great help
5. Press the "Compile" button and that's all!
The hex (compiled) program is downloaded automatically to your computer. You should just copy it in the micro:bit folder and as the copy is finished the device restarts and your program runs !
For your reference the other RoadTest articles links: