An Arduino IDE Alternative

It seems like it was only yesterday when I first downloaded Arduino 1.0.1, when I first discovered the magical world of embedded programming. I clicked on the upload button … “serial port not found. ‘Ok,’ I thought, ‘I’ll change the serial port’. So I clicked on the serial port menu and waited for it to list the available ports …

It took over a minute for the ports to load on Windows. That was in 2012.

I hate the Arduino IDE. It’s sluggish, ugly, and barely usable. To be fair though, a lot of the developers behind it do it for free, and over the past year or two, I’ve seen a steady improvement in it’s usability.

An alternative? Over the past few years, I’ve tried it all: Sublime Text with the Stino plugin; Visual Studio with the Visual Micro addon; and even makefiles. Stino is plagued with bugs but is sleek and portable; Visual Studio is a heavy and a full blown IDE; and makefiles just weren’t Windows’ best friend.

Ever since the Arduino 1.5.2 beta, the Arduino team on Github were experimenting with a command line interface so that users could use the Arduino program as a compiler instead of an IDE. I tried it two years ago, but it was just not practical since it would actually cause the Arduino IDE to open, load the sketch, and then finally compile/upload. Now they’ve fixed it.

Interestingly, no one has really made a tutorial on how to make Sublime Text work with Arduino’s command line interface. Well here it is.

  1. Get Sublime Text 2/3
  2. Add the Arduino directory to your system PATH (edit environmental variables)
  3. Go to Tools->Build System->New Build System…
  4. Create the new build system as below
     "cmd": ["arduino_debug", "--upload", "$file"],
     "selector": "source.ino"
  5. Save the new build system as “Arduino”

To use it, just make sure you set your build system to “Arduino” and press Ctrl+B to upload!