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thonny / MicroPython

MicroPython support in Thonny

Since 3.0.0b1 Thonny has basic MicroPython support built-in. In addition to this, there are several plug-ins which add more complete support for specific devices:

Installation

If your device is supported by a more specific plug-in (listed above), then it is recommended to install that plug-in first.

For this, open Thonny's plug-in manager (Tools → Manage plug-ins ...), enter the name of your chosen plug-in name and press "Search". You should now see the details. Press "Install" to install the default version or "..." to choose specific version.

Note that you need to restart Thonny for the plug-ins to take effect.

Configuration

Before continuing make sure you have your device attached to a USB port. If required, install necessary drivers for serial communication.

In Thonny open the back-end manager (Tools → Options → Back-end) and choose the type of your device from the drop-down list. If your device doesn't have specific plug-in, then try "MicroPython on generic device".

Now you can specify the port your device is connected to, but if you have only one board connected, then you could leave this setting for automatic detection.

If you press "OK", then after a moment you should see the prompt of your device's REPL in Thonny's Shell view.

(If you don't have suitable MicroPython (or CircuitPython) firmware installed on your device yet, then see see below for the section about firmware installation.)

Usage

Each time Thonny connects with your device, it first interrupts the current process and enters the REPL, which is supposed to work just like Thonny's regular Python REPL.

During writing your scripts, Thonny also offers autocomplete (performed by jedi library). At the moment this is based on the API-s scraped from specific devices with specific MicroPython / CircuitPython versions (different for each backend type). This means that if you are using a different version of firmware then autocompleter may offer some names that are not present on your device and miss some that are. Most often used names should be correctly offered, though.

This plug-in allows you to run your scripts without storing them to the device first. You just save your script to a location on your main computer, hit F5 and the script will be executed on your device.

Once you are happy with your program, you can store it as device's main script which is run each time you reset the device. For this you just need to select Device → Upload current script as main script or press Ctrl-U. (Note that with micro:bit and Calliope mini this feature requires that firmware doesn't have a main script embedded into it.)

You can list files on device's filesystem with magic command %lsdevice.

If you want to test the uploaded main script via Thonny, then select Device → Soft reboot or press Ctrl-D. (This is also the way to enter auto-reload mode with CircuitPython -- just follow the Ctrl-D with a Ctrl-C.)

Even with devices which allow easy saving of scripts to their flash memory, we recommend keeping the originals of your scripts in your main computer (preferably under version control) and copy them to the device as required. It's too easy to lose your work if you rely only on the device's flash memory. Still, Thonny also tries to support the working mode where you save your scripts to the device directly -- each save is performed together with a synchronization command which reduces the possibility of corrupting your flash memory with an unprepared unplugging or hard reset.

Firmware installation / upgrade

Device specific plug-ins in this plug-in line also offer support for uploading or updating devices firmware. Look for suitable commands under "Device" menu. In some cases latest firmware is provided by the plug-in, in some cases the plug-in assists you in downloading one and in some cases you need to download and point it yourself.

Thonny REPL vs. plain MicroPython serial REPL

After connecting with your device Thonny switches it to raw REPL mode and uses this mode under the hood to run the scripts, query global variables, etc (don't worry, Thonny doesn't make any permanent modifications -- after resetting the device, the REPL is back in regular mode). For the user it is still presented as regular REPL.

Because of using raw REPL under the hood, Thonny doesn't support Ctrl-A and Ctrl-B for switching between raw and regular REPL. It also doesn't support Ctrl-E for entering paste mode -- this is not necessary as you can paste any amount of code into regular Thonny REPL.

We hope that most users will find it convenient that upon connecting to a device Thonny interrupts the currently running program and presents the REPL. Depending on the device, this may still leave the possibility to inspect the program's global variables (this doesn't work in CircuitPython, as it clears the variables after interrupt). But this approach doesn't support connecting to a device to observe its serial output. Therefore, if you have a MicroPython device running and you want to see it's output without interrupting it, then you should connect to it via another program (screen, Putty, mu). If you don't mind restarting the process, then you can still use Thonny -- just issue Device → Soft reboot after connecting.

Support

At the moment, the plug-ins for specific boards are developed by Thonny's main developers, so you can use Thonny's forum for asking help.

General bugs and proposals should be registered under Thonny's bug-tracker. Device specific issues should be reported under specific projects' bug-trackers.

Updated