The Arduino IDE is heading into a rather neat consolidation of the numerous Arduino inspired boards out there. The introduction of a mechanism, in version 1.6.2, to allow people to plug their boards into the IDE easily is starting to snowball. To understand why this is important, before 1.6.2’s release if you had a custom board and the tools to make it work with the IDE, then to install them involved copying files into directories, editing files and crossing fingers (and being disappointed often). Anyone who used a lot of boards would find themselves with multiple copies of various versions of the IDE just to keep life simple.
It didn’t really register with me though that when the board manager arrived in the 1.6 version of the IDE how important this would be. Firstly, official board support can be diconnected from releases of the IDE. One of the most recent changes in the Arduino world is the adoption of the Adafruit Gemma as an Arduino board. The Gemma’s a tiny board ideal for wearables, but setting up the IDE was the same nonsense as described above. And then Arduino IDE 1.6.4 arrived with official support through the board manager.
But that wasn’t all. The officially supported boards can now be joined by unofficial board support – just enter a URL and boom – you are downloading the appropriate code for your new board. But what URLs are available you wonder. The Arduino folks give a link to unofficial board support URLs and there’s some interesting boards on there. Adafruit’s boards like the HUZZAH ESP8266*, the Ariadne bootloader for ethernet connected boards, a whole set of ATtiny boards…
And barebones Atmel controllers which means you can make and program devices for the close to the price of the chip, like the Shrimp. Oh, its an exciting time for Arduino…
*More on the HUZZAH when I get to pick some up in the US soon.
**Apologies for the low number of posts… trying to fix that.
Node-RED 0.10.6: Nick O’Leary has announced Node-RED 0.10.6 with various changes to the editor, nodes and API. If you don’t know Node-RED, it’s a rather graphically splendid way of wiring the internet of stuff and stuff in general together – I did a few bits with it on here. With this release, there’s also a new command line administration tool for Node-RED so you can control nodes without having to restart the entire process…. and that uses an Admin API which is now stable and documented. There’s also been a switch in versioning to an easier to track odd/even (development/released) scheme. I’ll be getting back into Node-RED soon myself, ideally when it supports Node 0.12 – currently you’ll need a Node 0.10 to hand to run it.
MOAR PI POWAH: The Raspberry Pi 2 has a lot more power than the older version in terms of CPU, but those USB ports are still pretty power anaemic. By default the total power draw can be 600mA, tweakable in software to 1.2A. That tweakability led to this fine Hackaday hack which involves swapping some components on the board to get a full 2.1A to the USB ports, 500mA a port. The reason the USB is so weedy is good; the Pi is designed to be powered by a Micro-USB connector, so available power is that minus the CPU. Not a lot. And now you have a reason to buy a decent PSU for your Raspberry Pi. The official PSU pushes out 2A into the microUSB.
Arduino IDE gets its groove back: After ages spinning its wheels, the Arduino IDE 1.6 came out and surprised many people. Even more surprising is that its getting new features and quickly. In the March 28th release Arduino IDE 1.6.2, the latest features as a Library Manager which can install from Github repos and a board manager which should make adding new boards much easier. These have been two real pain points in the IDE so to see them addressed is great news. The really great news though was that by April 2nd, the team had released Arduino IDE 1.6.3 which addressed various bugs and responded positively to feedback making it even easier to adopt and use.
ESP8266 adapting: A breadboard adaptor design for an ESP8266 in Makezine since the little ****ers don’t like going into breadboards. Is anyone making these for sale in the UK? Let me know!
JetBrains has announced that PyCharm 3, its Python IDE, is following the route pioneered by their Java IDE, IntelliJ IDEA and getting an open source community edition and a feature laden professional edition. The JetBrains idea is that the core features of an IDE, the editing and debugging, are better built in the open while they look at developing features that users can get a reasonable return on investment. “The ROI on code completion is huge” has been said by no-one ever while “Having the IDE handle my database models and framework integration has saved me hours” is a thing.
The differences between the two editions are listed in a comparison matrix. The shorter version is the community edition includes the smart code completing editor with error highlighting, code refactoring, integrated debugger and unit testing, version control integration and UI customisation options including VIM emulation with all of that under the Apache 2 licence. PyQt and PyGTK are also supported.
Going open source doesn’t mean there aren’t any new features in PyCharm 3 though. The What’s New lists a fully featured terminal (so you don’t need to leave the IDE), new refactorings like invert boolean project-wide and replace duplicates, non-Python code injection, better analysis and improved type inference in both the community and professional versions. The professional version has acquired SQLAlchemy, Pyramid and Web2Py framework support, better Django code completion and duplicate code detection.
Download your preferred edition at the JetBrains site; there’s a 30 day trial for the professional version and you’ll need Java 6 or later installed along with Python 2.4 or later.