The Next Generation
"From the beginning it has been our goal that beginners who use KPL have an easy time moving onto a professional software development environmentand our own IDE [integrated development environment] of choice is Visual Studio.Net. We mention this every time we get a chance to speak or write about KPLand this was, logically, the issue that led us into contact with the Visual Studio Express team." Soren Lund, director of Lego Groups Mindstorms division in Billund, Denmark, said, "Visual Studio Express is targeting next generation of developershobbyists, students and kids. The aim is to get this group to learn how to program. It is basically the same thing we are doing with Mindstorms. We just start out with robotics where VS Express starts out with programming. The short version of what Lego and Microsoft is doing together regarding VS Express and Mindstorms is that we provide kids, students and hobbyists with a strong link between the world of robotics and the world of programming."Indeed, Lund said Legos FLL (First Lego League) Program features 70,000 children from 25 countries. The FLL features an event where youngsters have two months to build and program a Mindstorms robot and to conduct a research assignment around the theme of the year. Meanwhile, in November 2005, Microsoft released a kit to help student developers get more adept at using the Visual Studio Express technology. The kit is known as Mint Source. According to the Microsoft download site, "Mint Source is the unconventional new starter kit for students that enables you to quickly get your hands on the freshest, hottest technology from Microsoft. Think of it as direct line to Microsoft information. Well give you samples of what you can do and the tools to do it." Moreover, a document Microsoft provided eWEEK about Mint Source describes it as technology that came out of Microsofts United Kingdom Academia team. "The UK Academia team is aiming to broadly connect with students to enable students to realize their potential through technology," the document said. "Mint Source is a student offering to help them play around with the new Express line of products. The software is a kit that enables them to look at a working app, play with the graphical elements and enter some local competitionswhilst learning at the same time about the framework and how to get codingit has been written by our student intern who came to MS in the summer with a non-MS development background." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.
In addition, Lund said, "With the LEGO RCX Programmability for .Net application, we believe that we have created a unique opportunity to inspire a new generation of developers to explore that world of programming and the world of robotics."