I am glad to announce the open alpha of mblock 5 (now for Windows and Mac OS), our next generation of mblock. It currently (only) supports Codey, our new going-to-market coding-learning robot. But more hardware support is coming soon.
mblock has been widely acclaimed as one of, if not the best visual programming software for making with electronics. With its extension center, mblock is able to embrace a broader open hardware community. Thanks to this, over 3 million users use mblock in their classrooms, workshops, summer camps, and in their home for kids and adults who are eager to be inspired by new digital tools from our time. Now mblock 5 will take over the flag and carry on our mission: creating a world that everyone can make, can learn to make and can make for an impact.
mblock 5 is based on Scratch 3.0 (currently at alpha stage). This is important because now we can deliver a continuous learning experience for users who are already familiar with Scratch, and at the same time keep a consistent experience between PC, Chromebooks, Raspberry Pis, Web, and mobile devices(platform support will come gradually). Furthermore, using today’s web technology enables us to keep improving the software and solve some long-lasting issues.
Major changes and unique superpowers of mblock 5
Unlike cluttering everything in the “Robot” block category, mblock 5 introduces hardware sprite, a sprite type just for hardware and robots. Blocks in this sprite are neatly placed in their own categories, and they are mostly able to be uploaded to the robots (much fewer “unsupported block found” errors).
But how can hardware communicate with sprites on the screen? mblock 5 comes with the innovative “communicative variable”: it acts just like a normal variable but is automatically synced between the computer and the hardware. Besides this, broadcasting now works on the hardware (when supported). Scratchers can bring their creativity to the physical world with the same set of knowledge they learned from Scratch.
Python will be supported in mblock 5. For now, it works on our new robot “Codey Rocky” and micro:bits, but you will be able to control the stage sprites later.
Is that the end? No. Users now can collect data with our new cloud list(only support Codey now), visualize them beautifully in a line chart on a web page. Not satisfied? Simply download your data into Microsoft Excel document and do whatever you want.
Microsoft cognitive service is back, more stable and easier to use. There is a new AI-related application waiting in line. All of these thanks to our new extension architecture, making extending mblock never as easy as it is now. A better developer center and documentation / SDK is coming soon.
We respect the IT management needs in schools, and administrative privilege is no longer needed for mBlock to run or upload programs to the devices(For Linux users in the future, you will still need to add the USB device to your trusted device list. Otherwise it is not discoverable).
mblock 3 will still be there
Do not worry about your books – mblock 3 will still be available to download. It will be considered the stable version until mblock 5 is full-fledged. Even after then, it will not be removed from our website. But trying mblock 5 is also highly recommended: new features will appear only in mblock 5, and it will be actively maintained.
Codey Rocky, the best companion for mblock 5
Codey Rocky is a code learning robot for kids with a detachable vehicle base. It is the perfect robot to demo the prowess of mblock 5: it not only supports all useful functions such as multi-threading through broadcasting, and it also has a set of advanced sensors such as RGB color sensor to tell the color of the line drawn on the ground. Furthermore, its 16*8 led matrix creates great facial expressions and can also be used for creating retro gaming experience. And it can also make with intriguing sounds.
What lies ahead?
Still, we are missing some essential functions in mblock 5, such as support for other Makeblock robots, Neuron, and Arduino-based boards. The extension center is also on its way.
Manager of Software Product and Operation
Makeblock Co., Ltd.