FIRST Tech Challenge Software Development Kit
The Software Development Kit (SDK) is the collection of tools for developing software and executing it on a FIRST Tech Challenge robot. SDK Software includes:
FIRST Tech Challenge Driver Station App
Includes Self-Inspect, Robot Configuration, and others
FIRST Tech Challenge Robot Controller App
Includes Blocks Programming Environment
Includes OnBot Java Programming Environment
Android Studio Project for building the Robot Controller App with Android Studio
Season-Specific Assets (TensorFlow models, Vuforia databases, etc…)
All released apps/source can be found in the SDK GitHub Repository.
The Software Development Kit is developed and maintained by a core group, known as the FIRST Tech Challenge Technology Team, within a private GitHub repository. This repository is kept private in order to prevent leaking the details of future FIRST Tech Challenge game secrets, features in development, and other aspects of development. Development and maintenance is ongoing year round.
Once the SDK is ready to be released, the private SDK repository is built and exported. This build consists of:
Built Driver Station App (
Built Robot Controller App (
Android Studio Project source code (
Season-Specific Assets (TensorFlow models, Vuforia databases, etc… hosted separately)
The export is then pushed to the FtcRobotController GitHub Repository as a software release.
The FtcRobotController GitHub Repository is also updated with the exported Android Studio Project source so that changes can be tracked and the GitHub repository can be forked or cloned by teams. This update is a one-way push, however, which is why public contributions (Pull Requests) to the FtcRobotController repository are not accepted. The community is free and encouraged to create issues at the repository for the Technology Team to consider and address, however.
Some season-specific assets, such as TensorFlow models and Vuforia
Databases, are not included directly in the FtcRobotController GitHub
repository. Instead, they are packaged in an
.AAR hosted on
Maven Central. When using the Robot Controller App, these assets are
included in the app. When using Android Studio, these assets are
downloaded and included in your project the first time you compile
the project (so an active internet connection is necessary).
These releases happen on a regular schedule, even if the exact dates aren’t specifically defined:
Kickoff SDK Release - Generally released within a week or two of the FIRST Tech Challenge Kickoff. The Kickoff SDK is typically the minimal software version required for use during the season.
Update / Patch Releases - These are typically released during the FIRST Tech Challenge season, when critical issues or helpful features are available for teams. Update/Patch releases aren’t generally required for competition unless a critical patch or bugfix is issued.
Offseason Release - Offseason releases are used to prepare teams for breaking changes or to provide a technology preview for new features in the upcoming season.
Software SDK updates are announced via the FIRST Tech Challenge Blog and on social media.
SDK Release Notes
One of the most important elements of the SDK Release is the SDK Release Notes. The SDK Release Notes contain important aspects of each release, including breaking changes, enhancements, and critical bug fixes of note.
Breaking changes are as the name suggests, which are changes made within the SDK’s APIs or general architecture that may break existing code or configurations that may already exist. It is especially important for all users of the SDK to read the Breaking Changes section of the release notes, if one exists for a given release, and determine the impact on their existing code.
Enhancements are new features or (non-breaking) improvements made to existing features of the SDK. Enhancements might include items such as improved logging, new user interfaces (UI), better user experience (UX), new APIs, better performance, or greater reliability. Not all enhancements of the SDK are listed in the release notes, but those that have a direct user impact should be listed.
Virtually every release of the SDK includes bug fixes, but when the Technology Team wishes to elevate the visibility of an important bug fix it is included in a Bug Fixes section of the Release Notes. Sometimes team code can be affected if the bug required a workaround, and being elevated in the Release Notes is a way for the Technology Team to notify teams that the workaround is no longer necessary.
Updating SDK Software
It is important for teams to update the SDK software. Updates mid-season may not be required. Teams can check the minimum software version required for a game in Game Manual 1. It is recommended to use the REV Hardware Client to update hardware, if a 64-bit Windows computer is available. If not, then alternate methods provided can be used to update the software.