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Version 5.0.x Release Notes

July 19th, 2013, by Phil

The 5.0.1 release represents a significant step forward for the NETLab Toolkit (formal release notes at the end of this post). For the first time, we have posted all of the source code on GitHub, and given the software a formal open source license. In addition, we’ve updated our versioning approach to be more consistent — From now on, compatible versions of the Widgets and Hub will always have the same primary version number. If we change the protocol between the two, we’ll jump to a new primary version, as we did this time from 4.x to 5.x.

For the longer term, this version sets the stage for a full rollout of the HTML5 Widgets, which will be our next major focus. More news on this in the coming months, but we can say a few things now. Our overall philosophy for the toolkit going forward is to make it usable across a range of devices and applications, from a completely self-contained version running on the BeagleBone Black, to a Cloud version of the Hub. You can try out the Linux version of the Hub and the HTML5 Widgets on the BeagleBone Black for your self – take a look at this brief video demo to see it working.

We also plan to completely redesign the HTML5 widgets with a more modern visual and interaction design approach, including better usability on mobile devices. Here are some explorations:

Blank_Skitch_Document  NETLab_Toolkit_HTML5_Widgets_-_Tangible_Interaction   justing_widget-6

5.0.2 Notes (Sept 29th, 2013)

This release fixes the security problems with OS X Mountain Lion for the Hub and MediaControl apps, since we have now signed these apps as an official Apple Developer. This release also introduces the StepperOut widget, which (with the Adafruit motor shield v2, and a special Arduino sketch) allow the control of multiple stepper motors running simultaneously.

There are two bugs in the 5.0 series that we hope to fix in the coming weeks

  • Mac: An issue when connecting to an Arduino the first time which results in an error of “Please use Tools ? Fix the Serial Library.” The work-around for this is to execute the following commands in the Terminal app:
    • sudo mkdir /var/lock
    • sudo chmod 777 /var/lock
  • Mac & PC: The serial “controller” for AnalogIn does not work.

5.0.1 Notes

For this release, we’ve added raw serial support to address user requests to use the toolkit with new devices we don’t yet support. We’ve also added a new widget that listens to the keyboard, especially handy for working with the Makey Makey board. We also fixed a problem that prevented the VideoControl from playing video smoothly in “speed” or “time” modes. The Hub gets some major updates as well, including support for all the ins/outs on the Arduino Mega, and a better WebSockets library. You’ll also notice a new interface, and the ability to get more information about the Hub through its new browser based Dashboard – this Dashboard supports a complete Hub restart in case you run into any problems or need to release any serial ports in use by the Hub.

Widgets Enhancements

  • Added raw serial support to AnalogIn and AnalogOut – This capability allows the Analog widgets to receive and send numbers with any serial device. This is especially useful if you have an application not currently supported by the toolkit, such as controlling stepper motors on an Arduino – you can modify an existing control program to accept serial text from the toolkit. Separate Serial In and Out widgets to come in next release for more complex uses.
  • Added KeyboardIn widget – This new widget responds to the keyboard and outputs a number corresponding the the key pressed. Especially useful for working with the Makey-Makey and other Key Press generating applications
  • Restored support for the Make Controller – Support back in AnalogIn, DigitalIn, AnalogOut, DigitalOut, ServoOut
  • Added StartSound() api to SoundControl

Widgets Fixes/Changes

  • Fixed VideoControl to play video more smoothly – On recent versions of Flash, the playback of video using the TIME or SPEED settings could be very choppy. This was fixed.
  • Changed name of Insert widget to Code – This seems more clear, and anticipates the separation of the logging functions into a separate Log widget.
  • Fixed problem in SoundControl where sound would restart improperly – In restart mode, if a sound finished and the widget received an input above the threshold, the sound would restart. Fixed so that a restart only occurs if input values have dropped below the threshold first, before going above the threshold.
  • Cleaned up how gated inputs work in IfThenElse
  • Fixed problem in ClipControl where it didn’t work correctly with frameNo – Rounded all inputs to integers to correspond with frame number requirements.
  • Updated CloundIn/CloudOut changing COSM to new name of Xively
  • Improved Easing and Smoothing – More smooth and less jittery, especially easing – did this by increasing the frame rate of updates for both. Changed defaults for both to 15.
  • Fixed bug in MediaControl that prevented MidiNoteOut from working
  • Added open source licensing and posted on GitHub

Hub Enhancements/Changes

  • Added support for Arduino Mega and other Arduinos
  • Using improved Webbit web sockets library
  • Added web browser admin interface to Hub (click on Dashboard)
  • Improved interface of Hub, including showing serial device names
  • Added open source licensing terms and posted on GitHub
  • Added a complete restart function which releases any serial ports the Hub is using
  • Merged core plug-ins with main Hub application
  • Changed Hub command /service/core/ to /service/tools/
  • Miscellaneous fixes and improvements