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ROBOTC Drivers: Winding road

I don’t usually use graphs but when I do…

Ever since I started writing my drivers back at the end of 2008, I would not have thought that I would now be almost at 6000 downloads. I was pouring over the stats and I noticed something quite cool.  It is not hard to tell that my main user base are students and FTC teams:

Lies, damned lies and statistics

There is a distinct dip around the summer months that repeats itself each year, with a peak around the start of the FTC season.

I was also surprised to find out that, after the United States, the second country with the most downloads was actually France (ooh la la!):

Top 3 countries

Who knew ROBOTC and my suite were so popular in France?  The Germans are not far behind, of course.  There are a total of 92 countries (there’s an “unknown” and “unspecified European countries” as well, not counting those), from countries ranging from Viet Nam to Sweden and everything in between.  Seems someone in Angola likes ROBOTC, too.

Are we there yet?

I have some grand plans for version 3.0 of the driver suite that involves quite a rewrite of some of the code.  It will mean more clearly named functions, more data encapsulation, all the stuff that good programming practices are made of.

Inspired by the code I saw in this ROBOTC forum post, I’ve now got the first working driver and test program.  This is a small snippet of the Dexter Industries dCompass driver test program:

dCompass driver - new style

I still need to come up with a better naming convention for the actual driver files and functions.  One recurring comment I‘ve had is that it is very hard to be able to see which driver you’re supposed to use for a specific sensor.  You could read the documentation and find out that way but that’s not always practical.

The suite also needs to have a proper tutorial; a step by step guide needs to be made that takes from you from downloading the zip file, configuring the sensors to writing your first program with them.

The Suite need YOU!

Without all the support and feedback of my users, I would’ve never gotten to version 2.x of this suite, so if there are any specific features in the driver suite you find missing now and leave you wanting, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me via email.  It’s at the top of practically every file in my suite, so I am sure you’ll find it.

A MASSIVE thank you to…

In alphabetical order:

I cannot thank you enough for supporting my habit over the past few years.  Without you guys, I wouldn’t even be able to do what I enjoy doing the most; writing driver software for new and exciting hardware.  You continue to make the Mindstorms NXT an interesting platform for both the novice and the more experienced roboteers.

About Xander

Xander Soldaat is a Software Engineer and former Infrastructure Architect. He loves building and programming robots. He recently had the opportunity to turn his robotics hobby into his profession and has started working for Robomatter, the makers of ROBOTC and Robot Virtual Words.