Sniff is a "Scratch-like" programming language that's designed to help Scratchers move gently from Scratch to more conventional languages. They can start writing programs, without having to learn a new language because Sniff is based on Scratch. They learn a little more about variables, compiling, syntax errors (!), and they can have fun controlling real hardware while they're doing it.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Release 14: The Parallax Propeller

It's time for another release of Sniff!

The headline feature this release is that we can now compile for the Parallax Propeller chip. This is a pretty cool CPU designed with education and hackers in mind. It's main feature is that it has 8 cores!!! So far Sniff can only use a few of those, but in the future we hope to make more use of them. Also pretty neat is that its available in a standard old-school 40pin package, so you can build your own machine on breadboard (details later). Parallax are based in the USA, and as a small company haven't really broken into the European market (as far as I can tell), and the boards aren't that common in the UK, so if you're using one we'd love to hear from you.

To use propeller with Sniff, install the Parallax SimpleIDE first, then just use prop-sniff.

The other big feature is that windowing now works natively on OS X, which most signifigantly means that the sniffpad side (Which is written in Sniff) works on OS X too.

For those of you working at the lower hardware levels, we've introduced a new timer: Timers are difficult! On Arduino there are two methods of getting the current time: micros() and millis(). The problem is that millis() fails after about an hour, while micros() can run for weeks, but is less accurate. For data logging you want millis(), while for low level hardware you want micros(). We've tried it both ways, but there's always been gotcha's. Now we have "timer", and "fast timer". They both return the time in seconds, but fast timer is more accurate, while timer works for longer time periods.

There are also a bunch of other improvements and fixes. Let us know how you get on, either on the forum, or by emailing us.

Ian@dctsystems.co.uk

Release 14 for Linux/Mac
Release 14 for Windows

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