Arduino.cc has released the latest version of its integrated development environment (IDE) this week with some shiny new features, but reports of bugs mean that those looking to upgrade may be better off waiting for the next build.
The Arduino IDE is one of the jewels in the project's crown. Designed to mimic many of the features of professional-grade development environments but in a beginner-friendly cross-platform format, the open-source software package is all you need to get started with programming an Arduino microcontroller bar the hardware itself. As well as allowing you to write your program, it handles compilation, flashing it to the microcontroller, and even includes a serial console for interacting with the device once it's running your program, not to mention easy access to a wealth of libraries and example Sketches.
The latest release, Arduino IDE 1.6.6, was announced by Arduino.cc this week and brings some major enhancements. The biggest among these is a built-in serial plotter which allows you to visualise input readings over time - something which previously required a third-party program to achieve. For advanced users there's also arduino-builder, which allows you to manage and compile Sketches at the command line and is ideally suited for plugging in to a continuous-integration environment. There's even a pluggable USB core architecture, which allows you to write libraries - or use libraries written by others - that modify how the Arduino's USB port works, turning it into everything from a keyboard or mouse to a MIDI controller.
Sadly, in building these new features a few bugs have been introduced. Testing in the wild has revealed a variety of issues with the Arduino IDE 1.6.6 release, ranging from the IDE failing to load properly to compilation of certain Sketches failing. Although the problems aren't affecting everyone, they're annoying enough that our advice is to wait for the 1.6.7 release before upgrading - or, if you absolutely must play with the shiny new features, using the hourly build which includes the latest bug-fixes. Those who have upgraded to version 1.6.6 and are experiencing problems can either try installing the hourly build or downgrading to 1.6.5 until the next proper release arrives.