Bus Pirate documentation and demos are all buried in a huge wiki and around the blog, this is less than ideal for such an expansive project. We’ve been working on a new site just for Bus Pirate stuff.
This site is full of hacks that automate boring development stuff.
- Documentation and tutorials are updated through test scripts and a templating system
- The latest code in the git repo is compiled continuously and always ready to download
- Firmware releases are packaged and announced automatically
There’s a broad overview of the site features below, we’ll follow up with detailed posts later this week.
Big obvious menu options
It’s a simple thing, but it makes a big difference. Obvious menu options dedicated to the Bus Pirate are a nicer experience than digging through a wiki with stuff about dozens of (partially) completed prototypes.
Versioned tutorials you can download in PDF
Bus Pirate documentation is full of version caveats like “Hardware v4+ only” and “Firmware v5.1+”. BusPirate.com docs are versioned, they only show info that applies to a specific hardware and firmware combination.
Docs can be downloaded as a PDF. We tried to use PDF specific stylesheets so the docs look as good printed as they do in a browser. wkhtmltopdf handles the conversion to PDF, it’s by far the best conversion tool we’ve worked with.
Automated firmware builds and release packages
An automated build server compiles new firmware every time there’s a commit to the git repo. This is a huge improvement for everyone. Users get the latest bug fixes without compiling from source, and developers don’t have to make interim releases for a bunch of platforms.
Currently the build server compiles firmware for four hardware versions (v3/4/5/NG1) under two different compilers (MPLABX/XC16, ARM GCC). We’ll document the build server on Thursday.
Firmware releases are packaged and announced automatically. The release is a tidy archive with the latest firmware, update tools, readme.txt and updated history.txt.
Notification of new tutorials, releases, and firmware builds
Subscribe to be notified of new developments. Firmware builds and releases mailing lists can be limited to a specific hardware version to cut down on noise.
Taking it further
Later today we’ll post about the system to automate updates of the Bus Pirate tutorials and documentation. Thursday we’ll show how we setup an update automated build server to compile PIC and ARM firmware on a $5/month virtual private server.