mbed Blog RSS Feed

Check Out the New Components

A few months back we ran a promotion giving mbed-enabled platforms and a shield in exchange for a component database entry. We're quite pleased with the results and wanted to share some of them with the community!

Be on the lookout for more MBED enabled FRDM platforms!!

Seeed Sparkfun

NXP

Shield RecipientComponent Entry
Boris AdryanSparkfun GPS Shield
GPS Breakout
Ciseco Rf
Chris DicknRF2401A
Gameduino
MMA8451Q Accelerometer
Sophie DexterSeeed Can Bus Shield
Peter AmptSeeed SD Card Shield
Neil ThiessenSeeed 2.8" TFT Touch Sceen
PCA9955 LED Driver
liyou ZHOUSeeed Wifi Shield
Koen KempeneersFreetronics LCD Shield

When starting your next project head over to the Components Database and take a look around. Getting your next project started should be a snap. Here's a brief example

You can also check out the conversations that went on during development. Lots of good tips and tricks to consider when developing with ARM Cortex M Microcontrollers.

STM32 support is coming in mbed!

We are very pleased to announce that we're working with ST on enabling STM32 microcontrollers in mbed!

/media/uploads/simon/st-logo.png

This has been a very exciting year for us (more on that later - lots has been happening), so it is great to have ST joining us to help make mbed the best software platform for developing all sorts of new microcontroller devices. As you can probably guess, we'll be doing a lot next year especially to enable creation of IoT devices.

The support for the first STM32 Cortex-M based microcontrollers is being developed now, and in February you should see this support go live in the software and libraries alongside the first of a new line of mbed-enabled boards released from ST. Please tell us if you want to be one of the alpha and beta testers (along with your credentials as an alpha and beta tester!)

This is going to be an exciting 2014!

New mbed features available for testing

A new public beta is now available for testing. It aims to deliver new features in different areas of the mbed ecosystem.

Website

To complete the set of community features, we've added questions and forum discussions for teams, platforms and components, which can be accessed either through their home pages or through the global forums page for faster access. Any activity will be also listed under Activity on mbed home page.

The team pages now also have wiki sections, where team related information can be structured into wiki pages. This can be disabled through the team administration page if needed.

We're planning to announce the team features in a separate blog post.

Click to enlarge

Repositories can now be redirected to other repository URLs, allowing seamless repository migration from user account to team account without the need for all end-users to update with the new repository URL. This can be controlled through the administration page of a repository.

We've also improved the website load time and responsiveness by packing the top 70 most used 16x16 icons into image collection.

Online Compiler

The Compiler Editor now offers a lightweight markers bar, next to the vertical scroll bar, to visualize compile warnings/errors and user markers/bookmarks, with the latter being remembered across sessions. To bookmark a line simply click the line number or hit F2 for the current line. The displayed markers on the bar will show the compile warning/error or the contents of the bookmarked line when hovered with the mouse, and will scroll to the corresponding line when clicked. These can be removed by clicking the line number/F2 or by using the line numbers context menu to clear them all.

Click to enlarge

We've also improved white space handling in the Editor, where new lines will be indented based on the indentation of the previous and next lines and also based on the presence of curly braces before the new line.

In a previous release we've added the ability to export programs into ZIP archive that will also include all repository files. We've now extended this for all supported tool chains, so when you export to your favourite tool chain, you will also get all repository files needed for one-click offline setup. You can then easily pull changes from the designated repositories, commit and even push your changes back to them.

Build system

The build system now supports the latest ARM compiler - ARMCC 5.03. Programs compiled with it will be slightly faster and slightly smaller in size. To use the latest ARM compiler, you can either update the mbed SDK build in your program to revision 69 or later, or use the mbed SDK source.

We've also fully integrated the mbed SDK github repository with the mbed build system and the mbed Compiler exporter, so its easier and faster to add new platforms to the mbed ecosystem.

Also

Note that this post doesn't cover all changes and improvements introduced in this beta, but focuses on the new features instead.

If you're curious what else is there, then enable beta mode on http://mbed.org/betamode/ and explore it yourself! :)

Don't forget to let us know what you think or what can be improved on http://mbed.org/forum/bugs-suggestions.

Happy testing!

Service problems, 11 Dec

You may have noticed that we have had a downtime of about 45 minutes. All systems should now be back up and functioning normally.

The cause was scheduled maintenance which did not go as planned, and is related to the earlier outage this previous weekend.

In summary:

On Sunday:

  • Scheduled network maintenance caused an unexpected panic and reboot of one of our two redundant storage nodes.
  • Storage automatically failed over to the other storage node, but a misconfiguration meant that that our servers were not able to access the storage on the other storage node
  • Due to another misconfiguration, our monitoring/alerting systems did not detect the problem, and so remained undetected for several hours
  • After investigation, we were advised to replace the motherboard of the failed storage node by our vendor

Today:

  • The replacement of the motherboard took place, which should not have caused any downtime due to the redundant node
  • For an undetermined reason, the failover yet again failed to work (in a different way to before) and mbed had to stay down while the motherboard was replaced.

We will be investigating the root causes of these problems with our in house storage specialists and the vendor to avoid a recurrence of the problem.

Apologies for the inconvenience, and I will update this post with more as I know it.

Faster, smarter - the latest Online Compiler

We are happy to announce a faster, smarter version of the mbed Online Compiler, which is now rolled on the live servers.

There's a huge amount of changes behind the scenes, which will give a noticeable performance boost to all areas of the Compiler.

Faster

We've enhanced multiple aspects of the Compiler - rendering and interactivity, server requests and caching, and notably - the build system.

Render speed improvements

The mbed Compiler's responsiveness when rendering UI elements - Editor, panels, bars, buttons, tabs etc - is crucial for a positive experience when using the IDE.

This is highly dependent on your computer CPU performance and browser family, thus we took an older computer hardware configuration as a base for comparison and then implemented browser-specific optimizations for each browser family to maximize performance.

The chart below illustrates the improvements per UI elements per browser:

/media/uploads/screamer/ide_rendering_by_component.png?v=3

Information

Values may be different across computer systems, though the proportion between the values of the old and new Compiler should be the same.

"Other" represents rendering routines that have been optimized or dropped entirely, so they no longer consume CPU or rendering time.

The next chart represents the time taken to fully render the IDE when initializing and when resizing the browser window:

/media/uploads/screamer/ide_rendering_totals.png?v=3

These charts show that the fastest browser with the mbed Online Compiler is a WebKit-based browser like Chrome or Safari, though Firefox is still a solid option if you're looking for an alternative.

Server side improvements

The server side also plays important role in how one interacts with the mbed Compiler.

We have enhanced and enabled the server side caching for the whole IDE interface and in the same time we've reduced the number of server requests by joining most of the images in 2 distinctive image collections. By doing so the mbed Compiler now fully loads in under 1 second with 30% less requests:

/media/uploads/screamer/server-side_caching_and_requests.png?v=3

Information

This is also dependent on your internet connection. The values above represent the time taken to generate server responses and does not take into account your actual connection speed and delay.

Generating a list of revisions in Revisions History has been optimized for speed by reducing the number repository backend calls and improving the quality of the processed data:

/media/uploads/screamer/revisions_list.png?v=3

Build System

And last but not least, we've improved the build system, which is now over twice as fast!

This is due in part to a complete redesign of the build system, completed earlier this year. We now distribute build jobs evenly among a flexible number of backend build servers, ensuring both that performance is maintained even at our busiest times, and we can also easily add as many build servers as are required to meet demand. We currently handle about 2,100 compiles per hour, and the new system ensures we can scale to handle a lot more in the future.

That part addresses the scalability and reliability and gave a slight speed increase, but what has really boosted the compilation speed is the next improvement - we now simultaneously compile each of your source files in parallel across as many as 8 CPU cores. Once all the objects are created, we then link and prepare the binary as a final step. This change means that we can make the full use of our build servers, and you will hopefully see a noticeable increase in compile speed, especially for larger programs.

The chart below shows the comparison between the old and new Build System for 3 programs:

/media/uploads/screamer/build_system_-_clean_compile.png?v=3

The bigger the program is, the faster it compiles compared to the old build system!

We've also improved incremental (non-clean) compiles, for when you're doing incremental edits and compiles in between:

/media/uploads/screamer/build_system_-_incremental_compile.png?v=3

Give it a try for yourself, and you might even find that a program compiles faster using the mbed build system than on your desktop system - thanks to our investment in the mbed build system, which has been designed with horizontal and vertical scalability in mind.

Smarter

Definition lookup

In a previous mbed Compiler release we've introduced the Interactive mode feature, which allows quick definition lookups using Ctrl+click combo on words in code.

This now takes into account your currently selected board and attempts to filter out code definitions intended for other platforms in multi-platform libraries like the mbed SDK and similar libraries. Effectively it reduces duplicate definitions for when using such libraries.

The base convertor (when clicking numbers) has been enhanced to support clicking on floating point and negative numbers, and also reports the float/double precision and unixtime representation of a value.

The definition tooltip UI has been redesigned, with a better focus on the definition itself, yet we've kept the definition and documentation reference links as buttons.

The definition tooltip will also try to adjust to your screen size and the amount of data to be displayed in attempt to deliver better representation of the definitions:

Click to view in original size

Additionally it is no longer required to hold Ctrl - just click anywhere in code!

Warnings and errors during compile

Have you ever wanted all compile errors and warnings to be somewhat more visible? May be like highlighted lines in your code? Well, that's one of the new features of the mbed Compiler.

When an error or a warning occurs during compile, the Editor will highlight the reported lines in the currently open files, and will remember compile messages for files that aren't open yet, so as soon as you do it will highlight them as well.

The column number of a highlighted line can be clicked, which will display and position a tooltip with the compile message just under the reported location:

/media/uploads/screamer/compile_messages_in_editor.png

To clear highlighted warning/error lines you can either modify them or close and reopen the file to clear them all.

New program templates

We've added support for multiple templates when creating a program, including the option to create an empty program.

This takes into account your currently selected board and offers program templates which we verified to be working with that board and that are also interesting and/or easy to start with.

If you'd like a program of your own to be added as a program template for a board, then write us at support@mbed.org.

Other improvements

The following features have been enhanced to deliver a better or new functionality:

  • "Format Code" will format/indent only the selected code with text selections in the Editor.
  • "Compile Output" panel now supports selecting (including Ctrl+A combo) and copying of multiple compile messages. The format of the copied messages has been improved as well.
  • The column number for compile messages have been restored.
  • "All changes" in Revision History will now highlight code based on the mbed colorizing standard. It will also properly indicate line numbers for diffs.
  • A new dependency progress dialog will appear when attempting to commit, update or publish a repository. In the old mbed Compiler this was a silent check that especially on big programs can leave the impression that the Compiler has hung.
  • The "Who" field in Revision History will now handle email addresses, allowing you to click them.
  • The platform selection dialog is now slightly bigger and supports more than 10 platforms (virtually unlimited). Also the pinout images have been resized to fit better.
  • A new ZIP export option is available, which exports all internal repository files (.hg, .hgignore) of a program, allowing you to quickly setup an offline development environment. The legacy ZIP export option has been renamed to "mbed Online Compiler" and the new one replaces it.
  • The mbed Compiler now shows a "Beta mode" button if you have beta mode enabled. Clicking it will take you to the beta mode page if you want to turn it off. If you do - remember to refresh the mbed Compiler.
  • You can now convert mbed library builds into normal library with a single click by using the "Covert to Library" context menu option.
  • We've prepared a new introduction video to the mbed Online Compiler.

Final words

If you've read this far then you must be really excited about the new mbed Online Compiler!

Let us know what you think on http://mbed.org/forum/bugs-suggestions.

Happy coding!