Summer 2015 Update – Beta Coming Soon

Posted on: 08/20/2015

We’re making great progress towards our Beta release which is coming in September or early October  UPDATE Oct 26: we’re planning for Beta release by early December, and we wanted to update you on how things are coming along. The stability of the system has greatly improved, and we’ve squashed a lot of bugs. Thing are good enough that I’ll be using NTK in my classes which start in a couple weeks. We encourage you to download NTK today and try it yourself.

Here’s what we’re covering in this post:

  • New Design for NTK
  • Running NTK on the Intel Edison
  • Simplified Installation Process
  • What We’re Working on Next

New Design for NTK

As previously mentioned, we’ve been working on a more refined design for NTK. Most of the approach the Justin Gier developed has now been implemented, and we’re really happy with how much easier it is to use, and how much cleaner it looks.

localhost_9001

Running NTK on the Intel Edison

While we still love the Arduino and fully support it, one of the goals of the new NTK is to support the next generation of embedded linux systems. The Intel Edison is a very powerful and very small system that we think will help lead the field in a new direction. It has WiFi and Bluetooth built in, and runs a full version of Linux. And as it turns out, it runs NTK very well.

One of the great things about these new embedded systems is that they are complete computers in themselves and support the full suite of open-source software that underlies NTK, in particular Node.js. This means that a full version of NTK runs on the Edison (and we plan to add support for the Raspberry Pi 2 in the near future). You simple point your browser at the IP address of the Edison on your local network, and you can begin authoring.

This also means that once you have an NTK project running, you can disconnect the browser in your tablet or computer and the project keeps running! This is a major new feature of the new NTK – i.e. the ability to both author and deploy a project without the need for a dedicated computer. Watch the video to see it in action.

Simplified Installation Process

Up to now, installing and running NTK has been more difficult than we’d like. But our goal has always been to make it simple, and to make NTK accessible to as wide an audience as possible. And while we’re not yet to the point of having a downloadable standard app that you double-click on to start, we have greatly simplified the installation process. In summary, you only need to install Node.js/NPM using the installer from the Node website, download NTK and place the application folder on your drive, and then run a simple installation process and start it.

More details are here: www.netlabtoolkit.org/install-ntk/

What We’re Working on Next

As we move towards the official Beta Release early this Fall, we’ll continue to squash bugs, refine the user experience and add features. Here are a few of the things we’re working on:

  • Multiple Platforms – Improving the architecture so that it easily supports a wide range of different platforms.
  • OSC In/Out – As part of the above item, we’ll be soon releasing widgets that support the OSC protocol. OSC is a widely used protocol for music (it is replacing MIDI in many situation) that works across networks and has a tremendous flexibility.
  • Simpler Installation and Start Up – We’ll be making the installation and running of NTK even easier.
  • Improved Sharing and Extensibility – We want to make it as easy as possible to share your projects, and extend the capabilities of NTK.
  • New Widgets
    • DigitalIn/Out – Supporting the digital ports on devices
    • HTML – Allow users to put their own HTML/CSS on the authoring stage so they can create truly custom, interactive visual designs.
    • Animate – Allow users to create sequences that can be used to animate visuals or motors, e.g. 1-90 in 2 seconds, then 90 to 180 in 20 seconds, then…
    • Your suggestions – please send them to us