Block programming a BIG liability !?!

Please take the following w/a grain of salt.

Just got back from a match last Sat. and it broke my heart.

One of the other teams were having weird problems w/the same ‘reverse motor syndrome’ as I’ve been wrestling w/V5 since day one.

I wanted to help but they were using VEX Block programming - here’s some thoughts:

  • they were using the drivetrain object & I had zero control over motor configurations!
  • block programming would be great for introducing programming but quickly become way-to-hard and time consuming

I spent >1hr trying /wno avail (in retrospect maybe could have opened in text editor or reversed motor on brain?)

So the ‘promise’ of puzzle pieces seems so alluring. Until you start poking around trying to do real-world work: tweaking system or using the AWESOME capability of V5!!

…and this is where, IMHO, Block programming is a liability

For many programming is intimidating - all that strange syntax and all. When they see a ‘pretty’ graphic interface they expect this to be easiest way to program. But after all the time trying to figure out and assemble the pieces only to find it doesn’t work - this further exacerbates their anxiety that programming is just hard - that text would be insurmountable.

Which is the exact opposite of the truth!!! From my experience there seems 2B a hand-full of code you need to learn - it just builds on that.

If your team is struggling w/getting robot to do what you want you may want to bite-the-bullet and learn the text version.

RMS & VCS have a great feature where you can put a block together and see the actual code. Start small and understand this.

Open some text examples and see how this builds on it self.

Once you get comfortable you can branch out and look at functions, objects, APIs and really unlock the power of you V5



Go to the devices configuration panel - you can reverse the direction of the drivetrain there. There are excellent built in video tutorials and examples. Also excellent articles at

Thanks - did try this. The drivetrain can reverse but that swapped motors directions - instead of right going backward the left one did.

I’ve seen this for 2yrs now & know how to work-around in code, but point of post maybe blocks harder & limiting &, IMHO, may do more long-term harm than good.

Once familiar text is faster to program & much more empowering.

One of my teams was 11th at the world championship last year and all graphical. It’s very robust of you know how to use it.

Also, the RMS (reverse motor syndrome) is a known bug and will be fixed.

(I never have them use the drivetrain.)

1 Like

very impressive - so it’s learning curve?

How did you team overcome the reverse motor ? W/Text we simply have to multiply by -1 - but didn’t see any of the controller’s code w/the Block drivetrain (text it’s editable in expert mode)

I only seen VEX Blocks - never took time w/RMS

Do you believe blocks is worthwhile then? Interesting…

I had the same issue, during the last competition I was at, I had a team approach me and ask for programming help because their robot wouldn’t move during the driver control period. I went over thinking I would be able to help them solve their problem but I couldn’t figure it out because they were using blocks. I’m on the same boat as you and would recommend teams to use text but considering it can be daunting I can understand why they would rather use blocks.

Furthermore, just as we spend time to learn text, if you spend time learning blocks I’m sure you could achieve similar if not identical things in both.

Thanks for trying to help - that’s one of the cool things is VEXters like to help others! OT, but kind of why I didn’t like Turning Point - ppl were just plain ugly b/c it wasn’t fun.

I thought the same about spending time learning blocks but still can’t imagine, in the long-run, it being either as easy & powerful as text, nor in the student’s best interest.

VCS and RMS having both is great though - I’d suggest VEXCode Block somehow consider exposing the text even if we have to open the Blocky file in a text editor…

In blocks you could simply rename the directions instead of reversing the motor to get around that bug.

We definitely want kids to transition to text when they are ready. You can do more with text than graphical, but they keep closing the gap with improvements over time.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.