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Arduino calls software written for the Arduino type boards SKETCHES

Here we will talk about Software for Arduino, LIBRARIES of Arduino code, PHYSICAL COMPUTING and other subjects.


Physical Computing is quite different than writing software for personal computers where the only physical inputs are the Mouse and Keyboard. With Arduino you can connect and control literally hundreds of different devices, and write software that creates new Intelligent Devices.

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The Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment)

This is the free software you will use to create the Behavior of your project. Here's what it includes:

  • An EDITOR to create and edit the text of your software Sketch. It actively highlights Keywords in the language so typing errors are more obvious.
  • A VERIFY system that runs through your Sketch, verifies that there are no errors, and then compiles it into the machine language program that can be Uploaded to your Arduino board over the USB cable. (This is often called MAKE in other systems, and actually is quite complex, running system preprocessor, compiler, linker etc. "Under the covers").
  • An UPLOAD system that communicates with your Arduino Board over USB, loads your program into Arduino memory, and starts your program running.
  • A SERIAL MONITOR window that allows you to receive and send messages from programs running on your Arduino board. This is often used for testing and "debugging" programs.
  • Many EXAMPLE software Sketches that show how to use many different devices and techniques.
  • A LIBRARY system containing many prewritten sections of software.
  • A FILE system to save and retrieve Sketches.
  • A HELP system that includes the entire Arduino Reference document.

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To download and install the Arduino IDE:

Go our pages that show how to go the official Arduino site to download and install the software for your operating system:

Arduino Libraries:

When you start writing Arduino software Sketches, you are not in a room alone. You are in a Library, with many pre-written examples that make it easy to use more complex functions like connecting to the Internet. Here are the Standard Libraries that come with the free IDE software install:

  • EEPROM - reading and writing to "permanent" storage
  • Ethernet - for connecting to the internet using the Arduino Ethernet Shield
  • Firmata - for communicating with applications on the computer using a standard serial protocol.
  • LiquidCrystal - for controlling liquid crystal displays (LCDs)
  • SD - for reading and writing SD cards
  • Servo - for controlling servo motors
  • SPI - for communicating with devices using the Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) Bus
  • SoftwareSerial - for serial communication on any digital pins. Version 1.0 and later of Arduino incorporate Mikal Hart's NewSoftSerial library as SoftwareSerial.
  • Stepper - for controlling stepper motors
  • WiFi - for connecting to the internet using the Arduino WiFi shield
  • Wire - Two Wire Interface (TWI/I2C) for sending and receiving data over a net of devices or sensors

One of the greatest advantages of Arduino is the worldwide community of thousands of people who are using it. Arduino enthusiasts who have figured out how to do more complex things have shared their work by creating Contributed Libraries. Some of the categories of libraries are:

  • Communication (networking and protocols):
  • Sensing:
  • Displays and LEDs:
  • Audio and Waveforms:
  • Motors and PWM:
  • Timing:
  • Utilities:

See the details of available libraries on the Arduino site here: And when you figure out something cool that other people could use, see the Tutorial on that page about writing your own libraries.


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