Creative Coding Quick Reference Sheet

In this page we shall begin to program our robot. To understand how to program we first need to know how a computer works. A computer understands nothing. It is up to the programmer to tell it what to do. At the heart of the computer is a CPU. The CPU translates a piece of machine code into a series of mathematical operations it performs on its inputs. When we program, we program in a structured language such as C++ or Java which is then translated by a program known as the compiler into machine code. The machine code is interpreted by a CPU and translated into the mathematical operations. Java is a little special in this aspect as when you compile a piece of Java it gets converted to Java byte code. The program/application file gets interpreted when a user runs the application through a program known as the Java Virtual Machine. The Java VM translates byte-code to machine code on the fly.

Key components of a programming language

Programming languages are the way we instruct our computers. In this club we will use JAVA and C++. For our purposes, Java is used by the processing application on our desktop and the mobile phone and C++ is used by the Arduino micro-controller. The two languages have their similarities in terms of the way we express ourselves. Most other programming languages follow a similar pattern. Click on the tables to enlarge them.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.54.49 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.55.42 PM

The semicolon (;) and other grammar

In both Java and C++ one must put a semicolon at the end of every statement made. Its basically like a full stop. Both languages also ignore spaces.


Computers are stupid, so apart from the table above the computer understands nothing else. Thus there is no such thing as special words that mean something. What programmers have done is created their own words known as functions.

In C++(arduino) a function looks like this:

void left(){
     \\tell your robot how to turn left

One would invoke the function:


A function can take an input and give an output:

    int add1(x){
       return x+1;

One can call this by


To handle output one would create a variable to store the data returned.

int val = add1(1); //val will equal 1+1 = 2


Now how do you use these? Well, generally the Arduino and Processing environment come with what is known as a library. The libraries provide a list of functions to make life easier (otherwise you would have to write a whole operating system, or tell the arduino how to turn on a pin which is fairly nasty compared to digitalWrite(9,HIGH);

Where to go from here


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