The Integrated Development Environment (IDE) speeds up the Arduino development process considerably. You’ll first need to download the latest version (available from this link) and install it on your machine. I use a mac computer. Subsequently, the screenshots I provide will be of the Mac Arduino IDE. That said, I can’t imagine the Windows or Linux version will vary too drastically to prevent you from following along. If in doubt, google it!
To avoid any niggling hiccoughs, I find it’s best to have your Arduino connected to your computer before you start up the IDE, although this isn’t absolutely necessary.
The IDE exists to do a lot of the complex yet trivial work of translating your code into a form you board can understand (a process called compiling), and subsequently delivering that program to the board. These two steps can vary depending on your board and setup. The IDE is smart enough to take your code and compile it correctly for whichever type of Arduino board you’re using. All you have to do is tell it what board you want to program to run on, and it will do the hard work for you.
This is a ridiculously simple task. Navigate to the top menu bar and select the ‘Tools’ dropdown menu. From here, hover over the ‘Boards’ option. A list of Arduino boards will appear. Choose the model you’re using (this is invariably displayed somewhere on the board itself) and hey presto, the IDE knows how to compile your code.
The only thing left is to tell the IDE how you’ll be communicating with your Arduino board. When starting out, you’ll want to use the simplest option available to you, USB. Navigate again to the ‘Tools’ dropdown. This time hover over the ‘Serial Port’ option. From here select the ‘dev/tty.usbmodem621’ option.
Et voila! We’re ready to start programming for Arduino.