Instructional Material: Installing RoboRio Programming Tools

Before we get into installation of the software tools, we will go over some basics.

The documentation for the RoboRio based robot control system is located on-line at the ScreenStepsLive web site. This site contains fairly complete documentation of the RoboRio based FRC Control System. Here is a discussion on how to use the ScreenStepsLive site. In addition to the on-line documentation, there various other web sites and PDF based manuals that provide valuable information. Note that links to ScreenStepsLive topics in our lessons point to the current competition season version of the documentation. The documentation is updated near the end of each year for the upcoming competition season.

The software development SDK you will use for RoboRio programs is provided by Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is called the WPILib. Here is an overview of the WPILib.

In our lessons we are only going to be covering the development of Java programs for the RoboRio and the tools you need to do that development. Be aware that  the complete robot control system involves many more software tools that need to be installed and configured. This is typically done by senior team members is not something every Java developer will need to do...but it is important to have an understanding of these other components and how they fit into the complete control system. We are not going to discuss these other components in detail but you should study the ScreenSteps documentation about these other components for best results.

The RoboRio control system can be programed in Java, C++ or LabView. We will only be looking at Java.

Starting in 2019, the supported IDE is Visual Studio Code (VSCode). Prior to 2019, the IDE was Eclipse. It is possible to use Eclipse, but configuring Eclipse for 2019 robot projects is complex and outside the scope of this curriculum.

Follow these instructions to install the Java SDK, VSCode and the WPILib plugins/tools. The single installer will install all of these components. You can uncheck the box for C++ as you will not be using it.

The section that follows the VSCode install instructions titled "Installing the FRC 201x Update Suite" is not needed for most developers. This section is for lead or master FRC programmers and relates to installing software for the driver station, LabView and some other tools used in FRC. Most developers will not need these tools and this area is beyond the scope of this curriculum at this time.

However, if you do not install the Update Suite, there is one software tool you need that is part of that suite. This is the mDNS service. A lesson on mDNS will be added, but for now just know that it is a needed component for communication with the RoboRio. mDNS is installed as part of the Update Suite or is already present on your PC if you have iTunes installed. If you do not have iTunes, you can install the Apple BonJour service (which is mDNS by another name) manually from here.

When you have completed the Java SDK, VSCode, WPILib plugins and mDNS installation you are ready to ready to take a closer look at using Java to program the RoboRio control system.


Material Type: 
Education Level: 
Middle School
High School
Focus Subject: 
Computing / Computer Science
Robotics Software
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