Itty Bitty Buggy: Online vs Offline Mode (mDesigner)

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"Online" vs. "Offline" modes

mDesigner can operate in two different modes: "Online" and "Offline" modes.

In the Getting Started guide. Here you will learn about "Offline" mode and its importance.

mDesigner can interact with Itty Bitty Buggy in two different modes. Each mode has its own pros and cons. It is recommended to use Online mode initially before exploring Offline mode.

Online mode is Scratch, but with added blocks which are designed to interact with Itty Bitty Buggy and Microduino modules. This means the user has access to the stage and actor blocks. Projects (hardware, such as Itty Bitty Buggy) need to be connected to the computer running mDesigner. mDesigner communicates with the project (hardware), namely the Core+ module (embedded inside mCenter+), in "real time" over the USB connection by sending commands for the Core+ module to perform. This means that "Online" mode requires a constant connection with the computer running mDesigner.

Offline mode acts as a "visual" drag and drop coding editor. The script (code) is converted to "Arduino" (text code) code and then compile and uploaded to the attached the Core+ module (embedded inside mCenter+). This means that code can run even when detached from the computer. The stage and actor are disabled in this mode since the code runs independent of mDesigner.

Capability Online Mode Offline Mode
Drag & Drop programming Yes Yes
Supports Microduino modules Yes Yes
Stage and actor enabled Yes No
Real time code testing Yes No
Code compiled and uploaded No Yes
Can run WITHOUT being connect to computer No Yes

Communication Overview (Online Mode)

The communication between mDesigner running on a computer and the project (hardware) is outlined below.

MDesigner Live Mode.png
Computer running mDesigner sends commands or receives data with mCenter+ over USB.
mCenter+ acts as a communication bridge with the Computer (running mDesigner) and the Core+ module.
  • The Core+ module must be programmed with a special firmware designed to work with mDesigner. See Section Preparation
  • The Core+ module receives commands from mCenter+ which originate from the Computer running mDesigner. Core+ performs the requested commands.
  • The Core+ module can send back information (if requested) back to mCenter+ which ends up at the computer running mDesigner.

Connected to Computer Requirement

In this mode, to control the modules, the user will need to have their project (hardware) connected to the computer sending commands in real time.

Note: If the project (hardware) is disconnected from the computer running mDesigner, then the project (hardware) will stop receiving commands and thus does nothing.
MDesigner Live Mode Disconnected.png
Computer running mDesigner cannot send commands or receive data with mCenter+ over USB since it is disconnected.

The Core+ module is no longer receiving commands and does nothing.

Programming Overview (Offline Mode)

The programming of a script (program) is outlined below.

MDesigner Live Mode.png
Computer running mDesigner (in Offline mode) compiles the script(program) and sends the compiled code to mCenter+.
mCenter+ contains a programmer which programs the Core+ module with the compiled code.
The compiled code is programmed/flashed onto the Core+ module. The compiled code can run independent of mDesigner. The project (hardware) can be disconnected from the computer.

Note: After uploading the compiled code onto the Core+ the project can be disconnected and can run independent of the computer and mDesigner.
MDesigner Live Mode Disconnected.png
Compiled script (program) is programmed directly onto the Core+ module and can run independently of a computer and mDesigner.

Switching to Offline Mode

Switching to offline mode is done simply buy clicking on the mode slider on the top right of mDesigner.

IBB mDesigner Configuration Online Mode Offline.png

Uploading the program in Offline Mode

Select the COM port.

Windows Mac OS
Port will be listed as COM__ (w/ a number). Port will be listed as /dev/tty.SLAB_USBtoUART

MDesigner v1.6 Offline Mode Select COM Port.png

To upload a program in offline mode. Click on the Flash firmware button as shown on the arrow.

Note: Do not use the Flash firmware under COM port selection!

MDesigner v1.6 Offline Mode Flash Firmware.png

The program will begin to compile. Then upload.

MDesigner v1.6 Offline Mode Compiling.png

When complete there will be a "Done" message.

MDesigner v1.6 Offline Mode Done.png