Cant Activate Electron SIM in Chrome - A plea for bug fixing already

Fixed now, but this post is going up for other reasons.

When I swapped over to my completely unupdated and mostly unused Firefox browser, activation worked instantaneously, I tried probably 6-10 times in Chrome and all it did was sit there and give me a spinning particle logo…

This is probably the 10’th device I have used and I can swear out of all 10 I have had problems with at least 6+ when getting them up and running.

I keep seeing beta programs and feature additions in the forums, the last electron that had issues (a week or two ago) I posted a similar plea - PLEASE, SOMEONE put some more focus on UX, documentation, error feedback, and initial user experience, PLEASE!!!

I have plenty of beginner to intermediate experience by now with Arduino for a couple years, and now the Particle side. If I didn’t have the years of Arduino experience before this Particle stuff, and on top of the decades of Systems Administration experience, this would all be maddening, it still kind of is when I just want to plugin one of the electrons in a box on my shelf and do some work.

The platform, once you are up and running is pretty stable and the community is there to help, but with the consistent problems getting it off the ground I imagine it turns LOTS of folks off immediately. Willing to bet you could even semi-confirm this by just looking at your sales numbers and seeing the 1-Off purchasers that never even activate the device.

Maybe I am wrong, or maybe I literally got all the black sheep off every run, but it just seems way too coincidental.

There’s not just one person working on this. There are multiple people, working on multiple projects. The fact that a beta launches for a specific part of the ecosystem doesn’t mean the rest gets neglected. The folks running a Beta might not be the ones responsible for the places where finishing touches are lacking (e.g. the Mobile Dev running a Beta shouldn’t be responsible for back-end infrastructure).

Though I agree that improved UX, docs, etc is definitely something that needs continued attention, I’d say the currents docs are pretty good. The first microcontroller/programming experience I ever had was the Spark Core, just after it launched, in a time where the tools/docs were in a much more peril state. Even then, they sufficed to get a noobie up and running.

I’m not disagreeing on the fact that UX deserves attention, but I just wanted to point out the situation isn’t as bad as you may think it is. With that said, if you’ve got specific things you can point out, with reproducible errors, and suggestions for improvements, that’d be great. “Someone please fix the docs” is a bit too broad of a plea to act on unfortunately.

Just my two cents :slight_smile:

There’s not just one person working on this. There are multiple people, working on multiple projects. The fact that a beta launches for a specific part of the ecosystem doesn’t mean the rest gets neglected.

I get how teams work, but when there are major issues with components of a given system generally you pool your resources, and documentation isn’t so much the issue that I am focusing on here, it’s one of them, but I wouldn’t rank it as high as UX and error feedback and initial experience.

I have been here since the kickstarter, and this experience was stellar for a little kickstarter project, but we aren’t that anymore and there are less excuses for simple fixes like this going unfixed.

Even then, they sufficed to get a noobie up and running.

I understand this mentality, but what I think we are missing is that Particle effectively stands on the shoulders of the Arduino movement. Arduino, while obviously FAR less feature rich than Particle, is stable and starting out is simple. If Particle is going to continue to thrive they can’t ignore what started all this.

I actually liked the docs that we started out with, I didn’t see the problem with them, if anything lately (after having to go look for Particle Functions again recently) they are actually worse off than they were.

but I just wanted to point out the situation isn’t as bad as you may think it is.

Reading what I said is probably important, I am telling you I have had problems with 60% of my initial interaction with these devices. Were my experiences translated to a grade for Particle’s “Getting Started” it would be failing by definition.

“Someone please fix the docs” is a bit too broad of a plea to act on unfortunately.

Not to be insulting, but when a user posts here don’t do this… If you are quoting, then quote, but don’t change the argument in doing so. You are taking what I said and removing the context. I saw a bunch of folks do this to a newbie the other week voicing his frustration, this isn’t helping the community.

This is not a focus on the Docs, I brought up the other issues I am seeing in the first post (and if you noticed I made reference to my other recent posts on other issues). Some of these problems don’t even take a line of code to fix, this one obviously does, but others could be alleviated with the simplest of design / user considerations.

It’s just really frustrating, and I am not a newbie. Having to remember all the stuff I have to do just to get one of my devices online is kinda crazy.

  1. Plug in the Electron via USB to a computer, attach antenna
  2. Download Drivers
  3. Download Ming
  4. Download Particle cli
  5. Download Particle Dev
  6. Put the device in DFU mode
  7. Open the CLI
  8. Login to Particle Cloud
  9. Run: particle update
  10. Start activating the Electron
  11. Goto particle.io/start
  12. Look around trying to figure out how to activate the device
  13. Find SIM activation on a page titled “Connecting over USB”
  14. Try and activate, go to setup.particle.io (why isn’t that particle.io/setup ? ok whatever)
  15. Spinning logo, nothing happens for 10min
  16. Refresh page, try again, wait another 5 min
  17. Repeat ad nauseum for the next 20 min
  18. Start googling for errors
  19. Finally find https://docs.particle.io/support/troubleshooting/common-issues/electron/
  20. No mention of the simplest and quickest solution “Try activating in another browser”
  21. Open FF, Activate SIM

That’s the process to get the Electron working, and it’s kinda terrible. It takes an hour, for a non-newbie, an hour? I have been hamfistedly writing code for these since they came out over a year ago, and it takes me an hour to get one off the ground?

I can’t even imagine a newbie starting on an Electron, and maybe that’s not the target. I mean, I hope it isn’t the target at least. If it was then this would take days if not weeks just to start writing code as someone just starting out. If that isn’t the target market then fine I get it, but shouldn’t it be? Is the Particle market only looking at seasoned Arduino folks and not the general population as a whole?

I have to agree with much of what boswell said. I love the particle products, and have never had any issue once they are set up. But its the setting up that has always aggravated me as its not consistent enough that I would even begin to call reliable. I always dread setting up a new Photon or P1.

As I have said in the past, they need to drop the wireless setup option. They need a GUI interface that detects the board plugged in the USB, and allows one to fully configure it via that GUI interface, from downloading the latest firmware to downloading the users app, to claiming and setting up wifi. Far to many people have trouble with the wireless AP setup.

This one simple thing would sold everyone’s problems.

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@will @KyleG might want to look into this further.

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As I have said in the past, they need to drop the wireless setup option.

Yeah bringing the initial setup back locally and coordinating it all through an app would certainly simplify it and give the Particle folks WAY more control and centralization. I mean, nobody is starting development on a phone, it’s probably handy for classes or something else, but having a single app you install that gives you Drivers, the CLI, Device firmware, and the Development all in one package and self-updates then kinda guides you into the Cloud API would be fantastic for the newbies, it would also give the vets a one stop shop to get everything online in a single step.

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@jboswell

Thank you for the feedback on your experiences with setting up. I have passed on what you have said to colleagues of mine to see if we can address the issues that you are having. Were you able to get them all set up, or do you still have some that are having issues?

Kyle

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@KyleG

I can get them all setup usually, just takes time and I seem to find new bugs with each and every setup. Generally I order a few at a time, pull one out to work on and the others sit in their boxes in a cabinet somewhere until I need them a week or a month later. I put the first one in somewhere and then pull another off the shelf and voila, I find a new bug.

It would be fantastic if it were just: 1. Plug in device to USB, 2. Run Particle App

A lot of times I develop wherever I have time on whatever computer I have time, so I have to figure out which steps I haven’t been through on which machine and it just tends to be frustrating enough to not really want to bother.

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Hey there,

Thanks for the feedback. I understand that getting stuck in setup can be a frustrating experience, and we rely on community members like yourself to understand bugs and edge cases that we don’t discover through our own internal testing.

It sounds like you had a problem activating an Electron in Chrome, and were only able to proceed by trying a new browser – that’s no good. Many of the engineers on our team use Chrome, so we’d love to know what the reported errors in your browser console were so we can fix this problem for future developers.

With respect to your other comments about setup, just a few bullet point responses:

  • Agreed that most newbies don’t start development from the phone. We’d also love to avoid forcing a user to download files to get going, which is why we’ve build a setup experience for both the Photon and Electron via http://setup.particle.io. This also allows us to deploy setup improvements instantly rather than grouping them together into releases that may or may not be pulled down by the user.
  • For setup to run most smoothly, devices need the most recent version of firmware. One note I’ve taken away from your feedback is for us to ensure that users have an opportunity to update to the most recent version of firmware before they configure their device for the first time, rather than having them hit an issue, discover documentation or community posts that help them upgrade, and get started again
  • We’ve kicked around the idea of a Particle GUI app, but want to make sure we have the internal resources to support a new software product. We’ve heard this feedback and are planning to take steps in this direction.
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I am sure if I had cleared cookies and restarted Chrome that it would’ve likely fixed the issue, but nobody closes their browsers anymore, much less clears out cookies, and I am sure this isn’t a unique challenge. That being said it is certainly a challenge.

so we’d love to know what the reported errors in your browser console were so we can fix this problem for future developers.

And I would love to tell you, unfortunately this ties right into my point about Error Feedback / Detection. I have no error telling me anything, and I let this thing try and activate a SIM for 10 minutes… Just a spinning Particle logo, that was all I got. Check my last post in the forums regarding other error feedback stuff in the Billing section of the Console, meaningful feedback and direction in error reporting is important.

We’d also love to avoid forcing a user to download files to get going, which is why we’ve build a setup experience for both the Photon and

Completely agreed but totally unavoidable in this case. Failing that however, we can at least make it 1 package instead of 4… Rolling the Drivers, CLI, Dev and that other lib tool into 1 installer that handles EVERYTHING is truly needed. Having the ability to do all this ONLINE is absolutely important, but not critical. Being able to just plug in a device and let the app update it and do whatever it needs should be the primary step, and then eventually as the cloud stuff stability is worked out the local process can fall back into a secondary workaround or something. Or you could keep it as the primary step and just do bleeding edge stuff out on the cloud, but something needs to be straightforward and quick and as little error prone as possible, ideally.

We’ve kicked around the idea of a Particle GUI app, but want to make sure we have the internal resources to support a new software product.

Couldn’t you just take the teams on the other apps and roll them all into 1? Drivers / CLI / Dev all in one Particle app?

We’ve heard this feedback and are planning to take steps in this direction.

I appreciate that!

I guess Will was thinking of some info what Chrome logged in the dev console (CTRL + F12).
Stating your OS & Chrome version would be good too.

Ah, no idea, I will try activating another one (not sure I have a spare one on the shelf, I will check when I get home tonight).

Chrome was the latest version, and Windows 7 SP1

I would also recommend incognito mode in Chrome. Lots of web sites don’t work for me after a while in Chrome and incognito always fixes it even when deleting website data does not.

Looks like I need to order some more anyway, my shelf is empty. Will report back on the next batch.

I hear your point, and you should expect us to move towards this kind of an integrated, beginner-friendly solution in the future. FWIW, we’ve begun experimenting with installers and standalone applications that try to solve the problem of complicated installation – if you have feedback on them we’d love to hear it:

Firmware manager - https://docs.particle.io/guide/tools-and-features/firmware-manager/core/
Windows CLI Installer (link at bottom of page) - https://www.particle.io/products/development-tools/particle-command-line-interface

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FWIW, we’ve begun experimenting with installers and standalone applications that try to solve the problem of complicated installation

I would suggest you try and just lookup a consultant that specializes in MSI package building stuff - they must exist and you certainly don’t want to hire someone fulltime for this.

Someone with experience might even be able to get you guys an initial workflow that gets an installer built and does all the escalation, process starts and stops and driver installations and everything you need automated together and then you can just take over updating it from there. If I knew anyone I would certainly send them your way, sadly, I do not.

MSI package creation is no small feat and you don’t want to waste peoples time doing it, it’s one of those things that’s hard to do really well.

I just put “MSI Packager” into LinkedIn and got a lot of promising results, betting at least 90% of them would be interested in a quick remote freelance gig.

Thank you for the feedback…Definitely agreed that an experienced native developer would be able to improve the experience beyond what it is today.

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