Writing data

While you’re using MakeCode, all data written by the serial functions is recorded by the MakeCode editor. This happens when you try your code in the simulator and also when the micro:bit is connected to a computer running the MakeCode app with USB.

Data formats

The Data Viewer recognizes the format of your output and decides how to display it. If your data is a stream of values it will plot them in the chart window and show them as text in the console. If your data is just text information, it appears only in the console window.

You can write data in these format types:

Text output

Text is formed by simply using string data. The text data is not recorded in the console until a complete “line” of text is written. A line is just a string with some special characters (ones you don’t actually see printed) at the end. You can write several strings, say:

serial.writeString("Hello ");
serial.writeString("from ")
serial.writeString("micro:bit")

This text, though, won’t appear in the editor console until it becomes a complete line. If you follow the string writes with a line in your code, then the line will show up:

serial.writeString("Hello ")
serial.writeString("from ")
serial.writeString("micro:bit")
serial.writeLine("")

Text output is used mostly for messages since number formats have meaning when used for data analysis.

The blank ||serial:serial write line|| adds the special line ending characters and turns the previous strings into a complete line of text. The whole line could simply be written out with just one function:

serial.writeLine("Hello from micro:bit")

When you’re writing only text, it appears only in the console view and not in the chart window. This example writes four messages of text:

for (let i = 0; i < 4; i++) {
    serial.writeLine("Hello from micro:bit " + i)
}

The four messages appear in the console window:

Console output

Writing numbers

In order for the Data Viewer to recognize a number as value and show in the chart, it has to be in a line by itself. So, numbers written individually won’t be charted:

serial.writeNumber(1)
serial.writeNumber(2)
serial.writeNumber(3)

The numbers don’t show up as single values because they appear in the output as a string: "123". Also, the string doesn’t form a complete line so it doesn’t show up in the console window either. You could add a blank line to the numbers already written. If you did this, you would have just one value charted which is 123:

serial.writeNumber(1)
serial.writeNumber(2)
serial.writeNumber(3)
serial.writeLine("")

Here’s a way to chart the numbers individually:

for (let i = 0; i < 4; i++) {
    serial.writeNumber(i)
    serial.writeLine("")
}

It’s much better though to use a value stream by writing the numbers as name value pairs.

Number arrays

Numbers in arrays are displayed on separate data lines on the same chart. You can use ||serial:serial write numbers|| to write several values at once. The numbers are written to the output as comma separated values (CSV). The array of numbers:

let values = [0,1,2,3,4];

is written to the output in the form of a CSV string as: "0,1,2,3,4".

The Data Viewer recognizes this as an array of numbers and charts them on separate data lines:

let values = [0, 1, 2, 3, 4]
basic.forever(() => {
    serial.writeNumbers(values)
})

Data lines are shown for each value in the array:

Data lines on chart

Give this example a try and watch the chart make a diamond pattern from two triangle waves:

let diamond: number[] = []
basic.forever(() => {
    for (let i = 0; i <= 10 - 1; i++) {
        if (i < 5) {
            diamond[0] = i
            diamond[1] = 5 - i
        } else {
            diamond[0] = 10 - i
            diamond[1] = i - 5
        }
        serial.writeNumbers(diamond)
        basic.pause(500)
    }
})

It will look like this:

Data pattern on chart

Name value pairs

A very common way to report and record data is to use a name value pair (NVP). A value is given a name so you know what it’s for or where it came from. The name value pair is written with the format of name:value. There is a name, a colon character, and the value all together on one line. The line is written to the output and the Data Viewer recognizes it as a value and charts it as part of a value stream. The value stream is based on the name so any new values received with the same name are displayed on the chart that’s showing values for that name. If more than one type of name value pair is found, the Data Viewer makes another value stream and shows those values on a different chart.

If you want to report the values for both temperature and light, you can make separate name value pairs for them. The name value pairs are written using ||serial:serial write value||. This function writes the values to the output as lines in a format like this:

temp:17
light:118
temp:18
light:117
basic.forever(() => {
    serial.writeValue("temp", input.temperature())
    serial.writeValue("light", input.lightLevel())
    basic.pause(5000)
})

Two charts display each value stream:

Two charts for each value type

The console output shows the different name value pairs too:

Two values in console output

Writing subvalues

Similar to number arrays, different name value pairs are shown on one chart by using subvalues. You make a subvalue by combining a first-level name and a second-level name with a '.':

"firstLevel.secondLevel"

The first-level name is value name for the chart. The second-level name is the name for the actual value displayed.

If you want to show all three values of acceleration on a single chart, then use each axis as a second-level (subvalue) name, "acceleration.x".

serial.writeValue("acceleration.x", input.acceleration(Dimension.X))

To show the values for each axis together:

basic.forever(() => {
    serial.writeValue("acceleration.x", input.acceleration(Dimension.X))
    serial.writeValue("acceleration.y", input.acceleration(Dimension.Y))
    serial.writeValue("acceleration.z", input.acceleration(Dimension.Z))
    basic.pause(500)
})

Each subvalue 'x', 'y', and 'z' is displayed on the chart named "acceleration" in the Data Viewer.

Three subvalues of acceleration in one chart