The Arduino IDE (integrated development environment) is a beginner friendly text editor and compiler for the Arduino language. Arduino is a language almost identical to C++ (a common programming language).
You must first download the drivers for your operating system so the microcontroller and communicate with your computer. Look on the bottom of your NodeMCU board for the type of driver chip you have. If you have the CH340G version, you can download the drivers for your operating system from this github page. Simply download the ZIP file, extract it, then double click the application to run it.
Download the latest version of the Arduino IDE from here. Simply scroll down and select your operating system. After selecting the operating system, it will ask you if you wish to donate. If you do not wish to donate, you can click Just Download to download for free.
Click on the downloaded .exe file after it finishes downloading. If your device asks if you want to allow this app to make changes to your device, click yes. You will then be prompted to select which components to install. The defaults will be fine, so click next. You will then be prompted where you wish to install the components. You can choose to modify this, but the default is usually fine. Click install when you are ready. When the installation is finished, click close if the window does not close on its own.
Extract the downloaded zip file. Copy the Arduino Application into the your Applications folder.
Extract the downloaded zip file. Open the arduino-1.x.x folder extracted from the zip file. Right click on the install.sh file and choose Run in Terminal. If this option is not present on your Linux version, you will have to open a terminal, navigate to this directory, and type ./install.sh.
Open the Arduino IDE and click on the File tab. From there, select Preferences. In the Additional Boards Manager URLs, enter: http://arduino.esp8266.com/stable/package_esp8266com_index.json. If you have other URLs listed here already, you can enter a space and a comma to separate them. Click OK when done.
Next, select the Tools tab. Scroll over Board and click on Board Manager. In this new menu, type esp8266 in the Filter your search field. Select the most recent version, then click Install.
The last step is to set the NodeMCU as our current board. Select the Tools tab and scroll down to the Board tab. Scroll down through all the boards until you find the NodeMCU 1.0 (ESP-12E Module) board and click on it.
Two libraries the clock board uses are the LedControl and Ticker libraries. Libraries are files that contain sets of like functions. For instance, the Ticker library allows us to use timers on our board and the LedControl library allows us to easily set the 7-segment displays.
Select the Sketch tab from the top menu and scroll down to Include Libraries. Click on the Manage Libraries tab. In the new window, type Ticker into the Filter your search field. Select the most recent version, then click Install. After this type in LedControl into the Filter your search field. Select the newest version, then click Install. You can now close the window.
You are now ready to start writing your first program!