Yesterday’s update to the Arduino IDE software offers Arduino fans a new tool to play with. Version 1.6.6 of the software can be downloaded for free (though donations are encouraged) directly from Arduino.cc. Though, with hourly builds underway, you may want to wait a day or so for any kinks to be ironed out.

Arduino IDE 1.6.6 Serial Plotter

The Serial Plotter view in Arduino IDE 1.6.6.

The Arduino IDE software (short for Integrated Development Environment) is the foundation of what has made the Arduino platform so successful. With it, Makers can program a wide range of compatible microcontroller boards using Arduino’s relatively approachable programming language. Behind the scenes, the IDE software translates your instructions into a more complex code required for your board’s specific chip.

Aside from generally cleaning up a number of known bugs, the new update introduces a number of new tools and features.

Arduino-Builder is a new command-line tool that allows advanced users to compile code with greater flexibility and customization. It can also run as a standalone program.

Pluggable USB core

Pluggable USB core libraries in IDE 1.6.6 allow your Arduino to act as an HID, Mass Storage, or MIDI USB device.

A Pluggable USB core (and Pluggable HID core) allows users to create low level libraries that allow your board to take advantage of the MIDI, HID, or Mass Storage behaviors associated with computer USB peripherals. In short, your Arduino’s USB connection can more easily mimic the behavior of a USB-connected MIDI instrument, mouse, computer keyboard, or storage device.

A Serial Plotter function has been added, allowing you to natively graph serial data from your Arduino to your computer in real time. If you’re tired of seeing your Arduino’s analog sensor input data pour onto your screen like The Matrix, this looks like a prettier way to visualize what’s going on.

You can read more about the IDE 1.6.6 update on the Arduino.cc blog, as well as a full list of revisions on GitHub. Again, as with any new software release, it may be worthwhile to wait to download the update until bugs have been discovered and addressed. I’d also recommend taking a look at the updated FAQ to get a sense of what changes to the software may be confusing people.

And of course, let us know what you think of the new software by leaving a comment below.