The rollout of Arduino Pro IDE (alpha) introduces a new look and more advanced features. Let's take a look!

At Maker Faire Rome this month, Massimo Banzi and Luca Cipriani unveiled Arduino Pro IDE, which is currently still in alpha release.

This rollout shows that the default Arduino IDE has had a facelift. Don’t worry if you love the old IDE, Arduino has promised that it will be available forever! 

Figure 1 – First look at new Arduino Pro IDE

Figure 1. A first look at the new Arduino Pro IDE.

Arduino announced that they have updated a range of improvements, and with the release of the alpha version we can get a sneak preview of its new graphical user interface and features.

So what can we expect from the new version?

A New Look and Feel

Perhaps the first change you’ll notice is that the interface has a more modern look and feel to it. 

The Pro IDE has been developed using Eclipse Theia which brings it up to date with newer source code editors such as Visual Studio Code or Atom. It has useful side panels that contain shortcuts to the file explorer and git. The interface is switchable between advanced and normal mode. It’s a lot easier to change the text size than before and now it even includes a dark mode as shown in Figure 2. 

Arduino dark mode

Figure 2. Arduino dark mode

In this alpha version, there are still old favorites such as the verify and upload button, so it will be easy to start using if you're familiar with the old version.

Board and Library Manager

The board and library manager have been incorporated into a single interface, they no longer open up in a separate window, they now appear next to the left-hand side panel (as shown in Figures 3 and 4).

board manager

Figure 3. Board manager

library manager

Figure 4. Library manager

Find Command

Very much like Visual Studio Code or Sublime Text, there is a new “Find Command” function. This allows you to search for functions that you would normally find in menus — for example, file open and save, which also has a helpful search facility.

using find function in arduino pro ide

Figure 5. Using the find command in Arduino Pro IDE.

Autocomplete

One change that will be very welcome is the incorporation of autocomplete. 

In the Pro IDE, whenever you type, a box will appear which offers functions and variable names based upon what you have inputted. This can really speed up your development and is helpful for the more absent-minded programmer! 

Autocomplete in arduino pro ide

Figure 6. The autocomplete function in Arduino Pro IDE.

Git Capability

Git isn’t often used by those who are beginners in programming, but it is a very useful skill to master. 

Git is a version control system that stores all changes that happen in your code, this means its easier to work collaboratively. Hopefully, the addition of Git functionality will see more programmers introduced to this essential development tool.

Support for Other Programming Languages

The new IDE appears to offer support for languages other than C++, meaning that it will render and syntax highlight a file according to its file type. For example, if you open a JSON file, it will display in json format (see Figure 7).

Arduino Pro IDE in JSON mode

Figure 7. Arduino Pro IDE in JSON mode

Final Thoughts on Arduino Pro IDE

Although this is an alpha version and has several bugs, I think that these improvements go a long way addressing some of the shortcomings of the original IDE, which has long been due for an update. 

The new git functionality will be welcomed by many professions and the dark mode is certainly easier on the eye.

Why not give it a try, give it a download, and have a play with the new features? I would advise against using it for serious development until it has an official release.

Have you played around with Arduino Pro IDE? What features are most exciting to you? Let us know in the comments!

Paul Lunn
Dr Paul Lunn is a Lecturer in IOT at Coventry University, UK. He enjoys tinkering with music, programming, Arduino, ESP32, and Raspberry Pi's