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  • Alternative Programming Software

    Our region is part of the pilot program for using alternative programming software for the season. One suggestion was the MakeCode software which is web based. I showed them the MakeCode website and they played a little with it but couldn't figure out how to program a "gyro reset" myblock. They used the gyro last year quite a bit and want to use it again this year. Can anyone recommend some good training websites/books to learn this software?

    On a separate note, are there other programming languages that we should look at? What would the advantages/disadvantages of switching to these other programming languages?

    Thanks
    A Blocks / JavaScript code editor for the LEGO
    2014 World Class Learning (coach Stealth Bots #3233)
    2015 Trash Trek (coach Electric Trashbeards #8039)
    2016 Animal Allies (coach Plank Robit Rovers #8039)
    2017 Hydrodynamics (coach Rogue Robotics #30453)
    2018 Into Orbit (coach Rogue Robotics #30453)

  • #2
    Somewhere recently I saw a google-sheet by the Seshan Brothers and David Lechner that listed the pros and cons of each language.
    I'm not sure where it was listed (here, or on the FLL share and learn?). Fortunately, Google Drive had it in my "recent" folder

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing

    Hope this helps. I hadn't seen a comprehensive list like that before.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by cschaffer View Post
      Somewhere recently I saw a google-sheet by the Seshan Brothers and David Lechner that listed the pros and cons of each language.
      I'm not sure where it was listed (here, or on the FLL share and learn?). Fortunately, Google Drive had it in my "recent" folder

      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing

      Hope this helps. I hadn't seen a comprehensive list like that before.
      Thanks for the comparison sheet of the various programming languages. I'll have to investigate further and present to the team to see what they would like to do. Thanks again.
      2014 World Class Learning (coach Stealth Bots #3233)
      2015 Trash Trek (coach Electric Trashbeards #8039)
      2016 Animal Allies (coach Plank Robit Rovers #8039)
      2017 Hydrodynamics (coach Rogue Robotics #30453)
      2018 Into Orbit (coach Rogue Robotics #30453)

      Comment


      • #4
        What am I missing here? Most of those languages can't be used for FLL:

        R07 - SOFTWARE The Robot may only be programmed using LEGO MINDSTORMS RCX, NXT, EV3, or RoboLab software (any release). No other software is allowed. Patches, add-ons, and new versions of the allowable software from the manufacturers (LEGO and National Instruments) are allowed, but tool kits, including the LabVIEW tool kit, are not allowed.

        But that spreadsheet says pretty much everything is OK for FLL. What am I missing?
        Norfolk, Virginia, USA
        FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014

        Comment


        • #5
          It's interesting to learn that there is a pilot program for using alternative languages. I'm both relieved and disappointed to learn that my region is not part of the pilot. It will be fun to hear about the experiences of teams using alternate languages.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by SkipMorrow View Post
            What am I missing here? Most of those languages can't be used for FLL:

            R07 - SOFTWARE The Robot may only be programmed using LEGO MINDSTORMS RCX, NXT, EV3, or RoboLab software (any release). No other software is allowed. Patches, add-ons, and new versions of the allowable software from the manufacturers (LEGO and National Instruments) are allowed, but tool kits, including the LabVIEW tool kit, are not allowed.

            But that spreadsheet says pretty much everything is OK for FLL. What am I missing?
            The comment at the top of the sheet that says these languages are only allowed in regions participating in the "Open Software Rule pilot". I am not looking forward to software judging sessions with 9 year olds trying to describe Java or Python.

            Comment


            • #7
              Introducing multiple languages would definitely change how I do robot design judging for programming.

              Of course, the concepts for different languages are usually the same/similar, but I'd be less able to rely what I know of the programming and require the kids to explain more.

              Some would view that as a good thing, because the kids should have to explain everything, but with only a few minutes to assess a lot, knowing the programming language helps to double check if what the kids are claiming is the reality. I view it as being similar to having to judge the physical design of the robot without being able to see it. Sure, it can be done and you can listen to the kids explain what their robot can do, but its harder to ask questions like "why did you..." without being able to see/understand it.

              To be a good judge, I would likely just start to learn each of those languages, even though few teams in my region would be likely to use them.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Dean Hystad View Post

                The comment at the top of the sheet that says these languages are only allowed in regions participating in the "Open Software Rule pilot". I am not looking forward to software judging sessions with 9 year olds trying to describe Java or Python.

                Yes. And those regions have a special Rule Update that allows all software except for any that are tethered to the robot to run (bluetooth or a cable).

                Rule Update: https://www.facebook.com/ohfll/photo...type=3&theater
                Last edited by EV3Lessons; 08-09-2018, 03:22 PM. Reason: Added Rule Update Document
                **************************
                EV3Lessons.com and FLLTutorials.com Founders
                FLL #51 World Festival Champion's 2018 (retired)
                FRC Not the Droids You Are Looking For (Rookie season 2020)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Here is the document for our region (IL) that modifies the Robot Game Rules to allow for alternative software use. I'm curious to see if my team will actually want to change since they know the existing software. My guess is they won't want to learn new programming software during the season and will wait until the off season to learn but I've been surprised before.

                  Thanks for the feedback.
                  Attached Files
                  2014 World Class Learning (coach Stealth Bots #3233)
                  2015 Trash Trek (coach Electric Trashbeards #8039)
                  2016 Animal Allies (coach Plank Robit Rovers #8039)
                  2017 Hydrodynamics (coach Rogue Robotics #30453)
                  2018 Into Orbit (coach Rogue Robotics #30453)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SkipMorrow View Post
                    What am I missing here? Most of those languages can't be used for FLL:

                    R07 - SOFTWARE The Robot may only be programmed using LEGO MINDSTORMS RCX, NXT, EV3, or RoboLab software (any release). No other software is allowed. Patches, add-ons, and new versions of the allowable software from the manufacturers (LEGO and National Instruments) are allowed, but tool kits, including the LabVIEW tool kit, are not allowed.

                    But that spreadsheet says pretty much everything is OK for FLL. What am I missing?

                    Most of the languages are allowed in regions participating in the pilot this year. They have a Rule Update just for those regions that allows the alternative languages.
                    **************************
                    EV3Lessons.com and FLLTutorials.com Founders
                    FLL #51 World Festival Champion's 2018 (retired)
                    FRC Not the Droids You Are Looking For (Rookie season 2020)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by EV3Lessons View Post


                      Yes. And those regions have a special Rule Update that allows all software except for any that are tethered to the robot to run (bluetooth or a cable).

                      Rule Update: https://www.facebook.com/ohfll/photo...type=3&theater
                      One section of that communication posted on Facebook stood out to me:

                      All teams should be prepared to describe their programs to Judges who may not be familiar with the programming language the team used. Teams using alternate programming software are required to use the new Robot Design Summary worksheet (coming soon) to help document and explain their programs to Judges. We highly recommend all teams use this worksheet.
                      If anyone gets their hands on the new RDS, please post it here.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The portion of the post on Facebook that should out to me was

                        Any other software that is compatible with LEGO MINDSTORMS and does not violate other FIRST LEGO League rules may be used in competition, but they are NOT supported by LEGO. Support for other software must come from the developers of that software.
                        One advantage of using the standard EV3 programming environment is that it is fairly easy to get help from other FLL teams or other people involved with FLL. If you choose to use one of the alternatives, it may be harder to get assistance if you run into problems. Even if the alternative environment uses a seemingly well-known language such as Python, C, or Java, there may be relatively few people using that language in conjunction with the EV3.

                        So if you do choose an alternative programming language and environment, be sure to research the community and support provided by that alternative. You don't really want to find out the week before the tournament that it is hard to get answers when you are stuck with a problem.
                        Last edited by timdavid; 08-10-2018, 12:09 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by timdavid View Post
                          So if you do choose an alternative programming language and environment, be sure to research the community and support provided by that alternative. You don't really want to find out the week before the tournament that it is hard to get answers when you stuck with a problem.
                          I definitely agree with what you said, but there is another side of the coin too... A member of my team had an incredible idea, for a 12 year old, about how to approach the mission game or any mission game. It's something that I know has not been done before. I won't go into detail about it, but his idea is not be possible to make given the standard EV3 programming environment. Given more advanced programming languages, the concept is not nearly so hard to implement (it's almost trivial). Seeing other regions are experimenting with alternative languages, I think I'll help get him in flushing out his idea.

                          If I were to encourage someone to explore one/more of these alternate languages, I would ask them to build/test their current tools first to prove out the way commands behave, then expand from there.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by cschaffer View Post

                            One section of that communication posted on Facebook stood out to me:



                            If anyone gets their hands on the new RDS, please post it here.


                            Here is the optional RDS that I got when presented with the option of using alternative software language.
                            Attached Files
                            2014 World Class Learning (coach Stealth Bots #3233)
                            2015 Trash Trek (coach Electric Trashbeards #8039)
                            2016 Animal Allies (coach Plank Robit Rovers #8039)
                            2017 Hydrodynamics (coach Rogue Robotics #30453)
                            2018 Into Orbit (coach Rogue Robotics #30453)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by thudthud View Post



                              Here is the optional RDS that I got when presented with the option of using alternative software language.
                              WOW! That's a pretty good way to abstract out the programming languages and give the judges some good content to focus on. All of the information that would be conveyed in there is stuff I would hope my team would share with the judges.

                              Thanks for sharing!

                              Comment

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