Chapter 2. Setting up the Free Tools

Netduino apps are built using Microsoft’s C# programming language. Straightforward yet powerful, C# allows us to focus on the “what” and “when” of programming, while letting the Netduino take care of all the low-level details.

Microsoft creates a world-class code editor (with a rich development environment) that you can use to write and debug Netduino apps. This editor is named Visual Studio, and there are both free and paid versions available. You’ll use the free version (Visual Studio Express) for the examples in this book; for programmers who already own a high-end version of Visual Studio 2010, you can safely skip to Step 2: Install the .NET Micro Framework SDK.

Apps written using C# execute within the Common Language Runtime (CLR). This Runtime provides the rich feature set used by C# apps. It works with other programming languages as well—but for the purposes of this book, I focus on C#.

Netduino uses a custom runtime designed especially for microcontrollers: the .NET Micro Framework. This scaled-down runtime needs only a small amount of storage space and working memory, unlike the higher-end editions that run on phones and computers. It also includes a number of features specific to development boards like Netduino, such as the ability to input and output electronic signals and values.

To create Netduino apps, you need to install three software packages on your computer:

  1. The Visual Studio development environment.

  2. The .NET Micro Framework software ...

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