Snek — a tiny python-inspired language for embedded computing
Snek is a tiny embeddable language targeting processors with only a few kB of flash and ram. Think of something that would have been running BASIC years ago and you'll have the idea. These processors are too small to run MicroPython.
The Snek Home Page provides more information about the language and community.
Snek is packaged for Debian and is available for the unstable release.
Packages for Linux, including older versions of Debian, Mac OS X and Windows are available in the Snek Dist directory
Snek supports analog and digital I/O operations on all of these boards. Snek also has some support for built-in devices on boards as described below.
Adafruit Crickit. This is sold as an expansion board for other Adafruit products, but Snek is able to run on the local processor. Snek supports the motor controllers and Neopixel.
Adafruit Feather M0 Express. Snek supports digital and analog input and output with this device.
Seeed Grove Beginner Kit for Arduino. Snek supports the LED, Buzzer, Light, Sound, OLED Display, Button, Rotary Potentiometer and 3-axis Accelerometer.
Circuit Playground Express. Snek supports the NeoPixels, sound, light sensor and temperature sensor. It does not support the accelerometer yet.
Snekboard. This board was designed to run Snek and control Lego Power Function motors.
LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3. Snek supports EV3 motors and sensors.
To Do list
I think the basic Snek language is pretty complete at this point, but there are always improvements that can be made.
Here's some places that have seen recent work
Arduino Uno port. This port, is mostly the same as the Duemilanove port but includes replacement firmware for the Atmega 16u2 on the Uno board which acts as the USB interface.
Handle 'chained' comparison operators (a < b < c) correctly.
Add sound output support for the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express board.
Use Optiboot on the Duemilanove board so that Snek can be replaced without needing a separate programming device.
Build and Run!
If you want to build Snek yourself, you'll need to have the build tools and other dependencies installed.
To build Snek you need these dependencies:
- python curses
On Debian unstable, you can get everything from the main archive:
# apt install lola gcc-avr avr-libc python3-serial \ gcc-arm-none-eabi gcc-riscv64-unknown-elf libreadline-dev \ picolibc-arm-none-eabi picolibc-riscv64-unknown-elf
Building and install
Here are some useful options to control the build. Each of these is run from the top level directory.
If you just type 'make', the system will build all of the embedded binaries and a native binary to run locally.
$ make install
'make install' will copy all of the built programs to /usr/local
$ make PREFIX=$HOME/.local
This compiles everything to run from your home directory, instead of /usr/local.
$ make PREFIX=$HOME/.local install
Make sure you use the same PREFIX value everytime you run make so that the snek install scripts (which get PREFIX embedded in them) that are installed know where to find the snek binaries for each device.
Running on Embedded Devices
Snek is designed to run on small embedded devices with 32kB or more of flash and 2kB or more of RAM. Snek has been ported to a variety of embedded devices, providing access to pins as GPIOs as well as some built-in peripherals. Documentation about the supported boards can be found in the Snek Manual.
Running on Linux, Mac OS X Windows
Snek is also built to run natively on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. When installed, you'll find it available in the regular system menu.
The Mu Editor
The Snek Development Environment
Snekde is provided on all three platforms; you'll find it in the system menu on Linux and Windows and down in your personal Applications directory on Mac OS X.
The snekde window is split into two parts. The upper 2/3 is a text editor for source code. The bottom 1/3 lets you interact with the Snek device over the USB port. The very top line lists functions that you can invoke by pressing the associated function key:
- F1 — Device. Connect to a serial port.
- F2 — Get. Get source code saved to the Snek device eeprom into the editor pane.
- F3 — Put. Put code from the editor pane into the Snek device eeprom.
- F4 — Quit. Exit snekde.
- F5 — Load. Read source code from the file system into the editor pane.
- F6 — Save. Write source code from the editor pane to the file system.
There are a couple more keybindings which you'll want to know:
- Page-up/Page-down — Switch between the editor pane and the interaction pane.
- Ctrl-X/Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V — Usual cut/copy/paste commands.
- Ctrl-C — In the interaction pane, this interrupts any snek program running on the device. Note that this means you don't get a Copy command in the interaction pane.
- Ctrl-Z — Undo.
Tab auto-indents the current line. Backspace backs up over a tabstop when appropriate.
There are examples provided, some of which work with both Python and Snek, and some of which show how to use SoC-specific APIs that aren't available in Python.
I'd love to receive more contributions in the form of patches, suggestions and bug reports. Please feel free to send mail or use the github process. I've created a mailing list for collaboration; you'll need to subscribe to be able to post. Subscribe to the snek mailing list here