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Modkit Micro is the easiest way to program a growing list of open hardware platforms from Arduino to Wiring.
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981 backers pledged $53,217 to help bring this project to life.

Pulling it all together...

Posted by Modkit (Creator)

Hi Everyone!

It looks like it's time for another update.  When we put Modkit Micro on Kickstarter, we did so explicitly to get Modkit Micro out to the world as a stable, commercial product.  While this journey has taken us longer than we had hoped, we thought we'd share some of what we've been up to so that you can understand why we feel we're on the right track now more than ever.

I've been on the road for much of 2013 solidifying deals and partnerships that have and will continue to allow us to invest in Modkit Micro and its related products. It's often a tough decision to put off the next release (and impending flash drive mailings) so that you can hop on a plane to invest in a partnership that will pay off for your users and supporters sometime in the future. One of our most important partnerships is not yet public (will be in about 2 weeks) but there's no secret that we've been working with Texas Instruments to provide support for a number of their Launchpad-based microcontroller platforms. We're really excited to work directly with one of the worlds largest chip-makers to bring you an accessible (price+ease-of-use) experience right out of the box. I caught up with Adrian Fernandez of TI at South by Southwest (SxSW) to push support of the MSP430 Launchpad and had a chance to meet with many exceptional TI-ers who work to enable the growing Launchpad ecosystem.  We'll be out at Maker Faire in May demoing Modkit Micro support for TI Launchpad at the TI booth so if you're in the Bay Area, make sure to check us out.

While we think adding multiple platforms gives our users and educators important new options, every new microcontroller platform or board presents new challenges for integration.  Luckily, there is a defacto standard for high-level microcontroller programming called Wiring created by Hernando Barragán.  This is the platform behind Arduino and many similar programming environments and is the basis for Modkit Micro's board support.  We've connected with Hernando and Wiring to work on some changes that will make it easier for us and others to support multiple boards as well as some features that will change the game in simple yet powerful microcontroller programming once again (Hernando's 2004 thesis already changed it once.)  Our goal is to bring all the Wiring derived platforms and IDEs back into Wiring so that we can work together to create the most compelling user experience possible. Wiring will also have a booth at Maker Faire so expect to see us there as well.

But with all these partnerships and initiatives, how are we going to support our current software?  Exactly!  This has made us think smarter and a little bit longer term.  Besides the complexities introduced by multiple board support, our editor's user interface has been getting a bit hard to manage.  This is because in order to create a desktop-like experience on the web, we had to invent our own user interface framework.  As we've been building that alongside Modkit Micro, it doesn't always have the cleanest interface and we often need to tack on new framework features just to add a simple feature to Modkit Micro. Lately the cracks have started to appear and we've been forced to start building tools to help us test, inspect, and re-factor our custom framework.  Again, we believe spending additional time to get things right (and have the right tools) is in the best interest of our company and our users.

So where does that leave the final Kickstarter rewards?  Collin and I fly back to Boston later this evening and we'll start pushing again towards the next release.  We've learned to try to stay optimistic yet cautious about making promises, but I can say we'll be motivated by all the postage-paid packages just waiting for drives that our new intern Noah has prepared while we've been away.  And we have some really powerful new debugging tools to track down a few important remaining bugs.  Also, Noah's been teaching himself programming by automating address verification emails so if you have not yet responded with your address verification, please do so to ensure the drives can go out to you ASAP.

Thanks again for your continued support and patience as we turn Modkit Micro into a real product and Modkit into a real company!

Ed and the Modkit Team

Comments

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    1. Hal Gottfried on

      I think you guys are doing excellent and this is a great idea, something I would support even without the software. Oh and I will see you in San Mateo guys... I will try to get away from our displays and make it over to you!

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      Stephen Kenney on

      In the case of this project, I think the Modkit team has been open and honest about their progress. They gave us early access (before the KS campaign was finished) and we have gotten use of their product via download and the web. From that perspective I don't have a problem with how this has progressed.

      Modkit referred to the closing of Tinkercad. I know getting the business squared away is very important. I would cautious about not going the way of the Chumby either. There was a good interview with Bunnie (in MAKE iirc) in which he stated that he waited too long to ship to get the Chumby perfect.

      Like I said, I don't have a problem with how this project has progress and I appreciate all the hard work from the team.

    3. Modkit 3-time creator on

      Hey Anthony. Yes we've learned that regardless of the name Kickstarter, some people just look at their pledge as a purchase. We're not sure if we like this but we think it is a reality that needs to be understood by groups who put up projects. We've also learned that people value getting software on tangible media. We've been releasing this stuff since day one via web browser and then desktop downloads and haven't heard of any specific bugs from anyone who's posted negatively about us not shipping drives (will they actually use the drive?). Sure, we have serious quality standards but this stuff is being used in a bunch of educational environments. Finally, we've realized that you can't please everyone and we're really not trying to. After we posted that we'd offer refunds for anyone upset about the delay of physical media, we felt we were then free to continue to do what we felt was right for our company and users. With the sad announcement of the impending shutdown of Tinkercad ( https://tinkercad.com/), we think getting the business right is just as important as the product.

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      Anthony Webb on

      I appreciate the nuts and caramel you are adding to the chocolate ice cream I ordered. Sadly, 1) all I wanted/expected was chocolate ice cream, and 2) you've lost something far more important along the way, trust. Hope you've learned a valuable lesson, it came at the expense of your reputation.

    5. Modkit 3-time creator on

      Thanks for your feedback Steve and for recognizing our good intentions. Focusing on the deals that will keep our product/company alive beyond an initial release is what has really held up an official release since the 50k we raised does not cover even one Boston based developer for more than 6 months. I also hope you and your kids have played with the versions we released via Kickstarter as they have been pretty stable around the popular Arduino Uno. We just wanted to admit that we've been distracted by things that we believe will make for a more solid product/company in the future, but those postage paid envelopes (~$2000 worth) will motivate us to get the drives out soon ;)

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      Steve Jones on

      It seems that this project has suffered from "scope creep", in that in the good intentioned desire to support every platform, both in the "web/windows/linux/mac" dev environment, and on the device side, where as each new device comes out, the system gets delayed just a little longer to support this cool new widget that is almost released.. The result? You're coming up on a year late, and still dont have the original product out.

      Freeze your target, decide on a limited set of supported devices (Who can't afford a $15-$20 Arduino to play with, which is what this is perfect for learning on) and just release it already!! You can expand it as new devices come out, but as you burn through your kickstarter money, your excited backers' kids are growing up, and that's who we wanted this stuff for..