Pulling it all together...
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