When the project that would eventually be named Arduino started evolving in the early 2000s, their goal was to make microcontrollers more accessible to non-engineers. So in addition to an easy-to-use dev board, they needed something more approachable than the complicated toolchains required by their professional-focused contemporaries. They solved this by creating a simple IDE based on Processing, a Java-based tool that is used to create advanced visualizations from simple code “sketches.” Beyond the nickname for code files, Processing’s legacy lives on in many ways, almost two decades later, resulting in the latest 1.8.19 release sometimes feeling like a relic of another era. With the 2.0 release, however, Arduino’s development environment sails kicking and screaming into the future.
Once again refusing to reinvent the wheel, the Arduino IDE 2.0 is based on the Eclipse Theia framework. If mention of the word “Eclipse” already has you running, let us reassure you that Arduino have not simply jumped from one clunky Java-based IDE to another. Theia is based on the same underlying code as Microsoft’s wildly popular and extensible Visual Studio Code. This allows Arduino to start with a powerful, modern editor and focus on the Arduino-specific functionality.
In addition to modern conveniences like code completion and assistance, the new IDE integrates directly with the Arduino Cloud, allowing users to pick up right where they left off in the browser-based Web Editor. The new IDE is based on Arduino’s powerful CLI, vastly streamlining underlying library, board and dependency management. Other quality of life improvements include integrated debugging, an improved serial monitor and plotter that can even be used simultaneously, and, at long last: DARK MODE!
Just shy of two years from the first preview of what was then called the Arduino Pro IDE, the 2.0.0 release offers a vastly improved experience to both beginners and seasoned developers. And with auto-updates for boards and libraries, plus the software itself, users remain on the cutting edge as the platform continues to evolve and improve. We’ll miss the familiarity of the old 1.x IDE, but with the tremendous advances that 2.0 brings, we’ll gladly trade those humble beginnings for a deluxe editor in the (or at least connected to the) cloud.