EV3-Basic: Microsoft Basic Programming for the EV3

EV3-Basic
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Introducing EV3-Basic which allows programming the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 with Microsoft’s ‘Small Basic’. EV3-Basic is a basic compiler to target the Lego Mindstorms EV3 intelligent brick. EV3-Basic is a programming language that is designed to make programming extremely easy, approachable and fun for beginners. EV3-Basic’s intention is to bring down the barrier and serve as a stepping stone to the amazing world of computer programming.

EV3-Basic IDE

Microsoft Small Basic is compatible with Windows 10 Tech Preview, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Vista. If you have Windows XP, you won’t be able to use Small Basic.

 

‘Microsoft Small Basic’ Installation Instructions

If you have Small Basic 1.0 installed, uninstall it. You’ll need to delete all the files in the “smallbasic” folder.

  • NOTE: If you previously set your web browser to block the “C:\Users\xxx\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft” folder, you’ll need to remove that block.

Download and Install ‘Microsoft Small Basic‘ in your preferred language.

This window will appear:

Click Run to begin the download. Afterwards, you’ll see a similar window

Security_Warning

Then click Run again to open the Setup Wizard.

Click Next to start the installation process. Accept the licensing agreement. Then, for each screen afterwards, you can accept the default choice by clicking Next. When done, you should see the Installation Complete screen. Click Close.

Launch by clicking the ‘Microsoft Small Basic‘ program shortcut.

Download the Getting Started Guide in .pdf or docx format, or find international Getting Started Guides.

The ‘Microsoft Small Basic’ IDE

IDE is an abbreviation of integrated development environment. The IDE is an integrated tool for development which includes a editor, compiler.

Microsoft Small Basic

The ‘Microsoft Small Basic‘ Environment is a very simple IDE so that you can learn it in a short time.

  • IntelliSense – shows candidate and help
  • Colorful code format
  • Only 11 commands in toolbar
  • Scalable font size
  • Kind error messages
  • No debugger – just only to (compile and) Run
  • No settings

The ‘Microsoft Small Basic‘ Toolbar contains following commands (icons).

Microsoft Small Basic Toolbar
  • File

     

    • New – start blank Editor for new program
    • Open – open Small Basic (.sb or .smallbasic) file in Editor 
    • Save – save Small Basic file from active Editor
    • Save As – save Small Basic as new file name from active Editor
  • Web

     

    • Import – import Small Basic program from website to Editor
    • Publish – publish Small Basic program from active Editor to website
  • Clipboard

     

    • Cut – delete selected part from active Editor and copy it to clipboard
    • Copy – copy selected part from active Editor to clipboard
    • Paste – paste clipboard contents to current cursor position in active Editor
  • Program

     

    • Run (F5) – compile Small Basic program in active Editor and run it
    • Graduate – convert Small Basic program in active Editor to Visual Basic program and start Visual Studio

The Editor is a place to edit the source code of  multiple programs in different Editor windows.

Microsoft Small Basic Editor

You can also edit and run the program in active Editor mode.  Ctrl+Shift+plus (+) or Ctrl+mouse wheel up is for Zoom In and Ctrl+Shift+minus (-) or Ctrl+mouse wheel down is Zoom Out.  When you right click the mouse button,  a popup will appear with the following selections.

  • Cut
  • Copy
  • Paste
  • Find
  • Format Program

When you are typing a program, you will see the following popup will appear. This is called IntelliSense.

In Help window, detail information will be displayed about an object, its properties, or for an operation or an event in IntelliSense.  At help window, you can push mouse right button to show a popup to select Copy (Ctrl+C) or Select All (Ctrl+A).

 

Get up-to-speed quickly and learn the basics of how to program using Small Basic by using the Getting Started Guide.

01. Introduction 02. First Program | 03. Variables | 04. Conditions | 05. Loops 06. Graphics07. Shapes08. Turtle | 09. Subroutines | 10. Arrays | 11. Events Samples | Colors

 

Introducing the ‘Microsoft Small Basic’ EV3 Extension (EV3-Basic)

To program the EV3 using ‘Microsoft Small Basic‘ (download is free of charge), but you will need to download the EV3 extension to suite. With the EV3 extension, you have an easy to use development environment where you can build and run programs that control the EV3 brick based Robots with the Basic Language.

Installation

  1. Download and install ‘Microsoft Small Basic‘ (requires Microsoft Windows)
  2. Get the ev3extension.zip from the current release.
  3. Find the path where ‘Microsoft Small Basic‘ was installed (usually: C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Small Basic), and extract the file ev3extension.zip to it (this should create a lib/ folder)

Using ‘Microsoft Small Basic’ for the EV3

  1. Start ‘Microsoft Small Basic‘ and begin writing your program. Use the intellisense documentation to learn about the various parts of the EV3 extension.
  2. If you are a novice to programming, use the link “Beginning Small Basic” on the Small Basic homepage to learn about fundamental concepts and how to generally create programs.
  3. Run your program directly from the Small Basic environment. When you access functions for the EV3 brick (Everything in EV3, LCD, Motor, Sensor, Buttons, Speaker), the program tries to access and control the EV3 brick via an USB connection.

EV3 Explorer (with compiler)

The EV3 Explorer can be used to view and organize the files that are currently stored on the EV3 brick. But most importantly it has a built-in compiler that can convert your Small Basic programs to a form that can be executed directly on the brick.

Installation and Startup

Using the program requires at least .NET 3.5 which is the same as is required to run Small Basic.

  • Download ev3explorer.zip from the current release
  • Extract to a folder of your choice
  • Start the file EV3Explorer.exe

EV3Explorer

The main window is divided in two parts. The left one shows the file system of the EV3, the right shows your local PC file system (both with navigation buttons on top).

Example Code:

 

 

To transfer (and optionally compile) files, select one file in the right window and click one of the “Compile” or “Download” buttons. Most programs will compile to the EV3 without much problems as long as you do not use unsupported functions. But there are subtle differences for some language constructs which will cause compilation to fail with an error.

Conclusion

EV3-Basic is really suitable for beginners as an introduction to text-based programming. A big plus is that you don’t have to change the EV3’s firmware or build Boot Images on SD-cards. And it works with the original Lego Firmware coming with the EV3 kits.

EV3-Basic would be very suited to the classroom environment as great introduction to text based programming. And children will be kept engaged, as it is very hands-on and interactive.

I found it very easy to install with virtually no setup, and had code, compiled and download to an EV3 Brick in only a few minutes. All of the supplied Demo Code, compiled, downloaded and ran first try.

 

What a way to learn: LEGO Bricks and EV3-Basic…..

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