Flowboard

Abstract

With Maker-friendly environments like the Arduino IDE, embedded programming has become an important part of STEM education. But learning embedded programming is still hard, requiring both coding and basic electronics skills. To understand if a different programming paradigm can help, we developed Flowboard, which uses Flow-Based Programming (FBP) rather than the usual imperative programming paradigm. Instead of command sequences, learners assemble processing nodes into a graph through which signals and data flow. Flowboard consists of a visual flow-based editor on an iPad, a hardware frame integrating the iPad, an Arduino board and two breadboards next to the iPad, letting learners connect their visual graphs seamlessly to the input and output electronics. Graph edits take effect immediately, making Flowboard a live coding environment.

FlowboardFigure1Condensed

Flowboard is an ongoing research project that brings flow-based programming to Arduino microcontroller boards with an innovative hardware and software design.

Project Description

Learning embedded programming is hard as you require knowledge in coding and basic electronics skills. We developed Flowboard, which uses Flow-Based Programming (FBP) instead of the usual imperative programming paradigm. Instead of command sequences, learners assemble processing nodes into a graph through which signals and data flows. Our Flowboard prototype includes a touch-based visual FBP editor, and a hardware design that integrates a large iPad running the editor with an Arduino microcontroller board and two breadboards for input and output circuitry. Flowboard is a live coding environment, with program changes taking effect immediately, and a seamless environment, with a direct link from virtual connections in the program graph to physical I/O pins connecting to the user's electronics.


Team:

Publications

    2019

  • Anke Brocker, Simon Voelker, Tony Zelun Zhang, Mathis Müller and Jan Borchers. Flowboard: A Visual Flow-Based Programming Environment for Embedded Coding.  In to appear: Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI '19, ACM, New York, NY, USA, May 2019.
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