- Flashing programs to the micro:bit is awkward. First you download the hex file from your browser, find where the browser stored it, open up the micro:bit drive, then you drag it to the micro:bit drive. Far too many steps.
- Program errors are almost comically hard to trace as the micro:bit slowly scrolls the error messages across its tiny display.
- Python programs are best developed in combination with access to the command line (which Python calls a REPL). This allows you to try out commands and snippets of code without having to write a test program. If you've ever used BASIC on an old computer - that essentially what the REPL gives you. The default micro:bit IDE does not give you any way to access the REPL.
Mu is a free, open source, cross platform IDE for MicroPython on the micro:bit. It allows you to quickly and easily create and edit MicroPython programs and to flash them to your micro:bit for testing. You can also access the MicroPython REPL, giving you a command line and console output for the language. Finally, it allows you to manage files stored on the micro:bits local file system - something that we'll come to that much later on in our journey.
With Mu installed you solve the big limitations:
- Flashing programs to the micro:bit is as straightforward as pressing the "Flash" button on the editor.
- Program errors are reported in full to the REPL console, making debugging so much easier. You can also now use Python's print() command to send output to the console - and that makes debugging even easier still.
- You can access the MicroPython "command line" via the REPL, meaning that you can poke around inside the micro:bit and prototype code much more quickly.