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Connecting Networked Devices by Brian Jepson, Alasdair Allan

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Chapter 3. Your Developers’ User Experience

Chapter 2 talked about reconciling the two main constituencies of your device: users and developers. This chapter digs down more into the developer experience and looks at how your prototyping decisions affect your future developers. A connected device is rarely just a black box. At a minimum, your customers will need someone to integrate that device into their system. But as more computational power comes to the devices you create, there’s more opportunity to enable customers to customize well beyond the initial feature set you envisioned for your product.

The Two Platforms

There was a time when, if you wanted to build a connected device, you’d need to research all the chip vendors, spend hundreds of dollars on evaluation boards, sign nondisclosure agreements to get access to SDKs, and then swim upstream into the vendor’s sales funnel when you needed any kind of guidance developing your prototype.

This old way of doing things was turned on its head with the arrival of the Arduino, an inexpensive microcontroller board for prototyping that allowed anyone with an idea, a modest understanding of electronics and programming, and motivation to create a connected networked device.

More than 10 years later, and Arduino will forever be remembered as the platform that launched the desktop 3D printing revolution. Without Arduino, the creators of 3D printers such as MakerBot, RepRap Prusa, PrintBot, Ultimaker (and many more) would have had to ...

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