Particle Mesh update — a note from the CEO

While I understand your sentiment, your Xenons won’t be killed off as such.
As long you stick with device OS <= 1.6.0 your devices will still be able to talk to eachother even after sunsetting mesh and your gateway device will still be able to communicate with the cloud.
So not all is lost.

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Yeah, true, but there is not going to be any way to add a new mesh point, or maybe replace a defective device, very useful.

If I’m not mistaken you should still be able to add a device via CLI - just not via mobile app or cloud - but maybe @zach can comment on that.

If I’m wrong about the above that would be something I’d suggest as a way to mitigate the sores that will come with the deprecation: Allow for new nodes to be added to an existing mesh without the cloud ever needing to know about it.

He did already in the announcement. It says in the PARTICLE MESH DEPRECATION TIMELINE:
Dec 31, 2020 : ability to set up new mesh networks, or add devices to existing mesh networks will be removed from the mobile app and cloud APIs
Jan 31, 2021 : Network management features (the “networks” page) in the Console will be removed

So, no network management anymore. Any existing Mesh setup will have to remain as they are.

This is the part that I understand as a limiting clause to the preceding statement.
CLI is neither touched by the mobile app, nor does it have to use the cloud API - nor console.

Still, I might misunderstand that, but as said above

There are still two main releases (1.5.0 and 1.6.0) expected to come and in one of these any device OS limitations that would prevent adding nodes to a mesh locally could - and should IMO - be lifted.
I’d be fine with the Xenons becoming invisible for the cloud but still locally connected.

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Let me address one of the more common concerns being raised: “how can I ever trust Particle again?”

First, let me start by saying: I don’t think it’s unreasonable for any of you to have lost trust in us. Now it’s our job to earn your trust back, and I hope you’ll give us the opportunity.

One of the things that I personally learned from the Mesh launch is that we need to think differently about product launches for technologies that we are still exploring. We launched Mesh the same way we launched Wi-Fi and Cellular – with a bang. We did a big pre-order campaign, generated a lot of excitement around it, and made it a major element of our product portfolio.

In hindsight, this was foolish. At the time of the launch, we were absolutely excited about the potential for Particle Mesh, but we didn’t yet know how customers were going to use it in practice. The product needed some market discovery before we could really build confidence that the underlying technology (802.15.4 Thread-based mesh networking) was going to work for our customers.

What we should have done – and have now built into our product development process – is launch the product in beta. We should have been more transparent that there was still work to be done to explore how and when Particle Mesh would (or wouldn’t) be a good fit for customers.

The “Product Lifecycle Policy” that I’ve linked to in our documentation is somewhat new; we defined this policy after the Mesh launch was behind us. But going forward, it is something we intend to stick to. If we launch a product in GA (“generally available”), it’s fully supported and production ready. If we launch a product in beta, we’re still testing it.

If you’re going to trust us, it shouldn’t be blind trust. It should be because we’ve learned from the experience of this product launch and have baked those learnings into how we will do future product launches so that you can feel confident about the future of products in GA while, if you’re interested in doing so, exploring new technologies with us in beta.

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Oh, this makes me feel so much better now.

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that will be extremely cool!

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I know this sucks for many. I’ve been there myself with other products. The worst hit was using the Intel Edison module for me. My spidey senses told me don’t use it. The forum is riddled with issues, and it’s too new of a product. Not to mention Intel never made something like this before. But it was cool, and I could not resist. I paid a big price for not listening to myself.

The lesson i would take away from this is to look to the forums to see if you should invest in a new product just yet. Reading the forums will give a glimpse into how they handle things, and if its really ready.

NOTE: I say the rest not to dig at particle, but to offer a few suggestions since you said:

I have started with particle when the Photon first came out, and loved it. Then I moved onto the P1, and made a few commercial products that run 24/7. Not had one fail yet in over 4 years.

These are the things I see that you need to do / address.

#1) Get rid of that dam CLI interface. It’s absurd to say the least, and should have been a GUI interface long ago. All of my industrial customers will never allow a internal device to be connected “to the cloud” to get its updates through the Particle servers. If there is a update, the customer needs to do it, and there is no way they are going to understand CLI.

#2) This one may hurt. Stop releasing products before they are ready for prime time. This has been the theme of Particle from day one. Every new product release you give a big blurb of info showing it off, saying the product is coming out in x months from now. Everyone gets so excited, and when it hits the streets it has many (software) issues that clearly shows you did not spend enough time proving it all out. The hardware has always been is solid IMHO. It takes a special kind of engineer to final test a product. The kind that can switch gears in their head and think like a new customer which typically does not read the docs and does silly things that cause it to have problems.

I would have agreed with you whole hardheartedly months ago, and I tried hard to tell Particle just that. Sadly, they had other plans. That awesome window of opportunity for them is now gone. Others have filled the gap like VisualGDB & PlatformIO, and even now espressif has release a plugin for Visual Studio Code. IMHO, Particle could have made more money than they ever did, and became the new “Arduino” for ESP32. I started using the ESP32 about 8 months ago, and bang for buck you just cant touch it with anything else that is out there.

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I want to make sure it is clear that we are not bricking any Xenon hardware, and previously activated Xenons will not lose connectivity to the Particle Cloud.

Rather, we are ceasing new feature development for Particle Mesh, will not be actively manufacturing new Xenon devices, and will be allowing new Xenons to be activated and added to Mesh networks through the end of 2020.

We have no plans to discontinue cloud connectivity, OTA, or cloud API functionality for Xenons.

What are we deprecating?

  • In March we will release the Device OS v1.6.X line which will be the last with new feature development for Particle Mesh (and Xenons)
  • We will no longer be manufacturing new Xenon hardware, and will be selling through our remaining inventory at discounted rates
  • At the end of 2020 it will no longer be possible to activate new Xenon devices with Particle
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I really appreciate the kind words in your post and am glad that you have felt that Particle has demonstrated genuine care and support in your interactions with us. That is always our goal, and while it is clear we have not succeeded with every customer I’m glad to know you have felt that way :slight_smile:

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And this is because I totally lost interest in mesh last year:

One more thing:

why are you going to cease Xenon production if BLE is here to stay and an ETH featherwing is available ? Am I missing something ?

Thank you.

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I am currently working on a project that relies on the Particle Mesh. You(all guys from Particle) said that we can use BLE - which is fine for my use case. But my question is: If I stick to Particle, would you develop and provide us with an easy pairing method as you did with Mesh(just scanning the DataMatix on the device) and also an easy way to publish messages from the BLE nodes to the Particle cloud as it was with Particle.publish with mesh?

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Zach, thank you for your honesty.
Having worked in the professional electronics industry I know how easy it is to get all too excited about new technology (or market opportunities) and not taking the time to do in-depth exploration. “Fake it until you make it” is unfortunately also too common. Having that good Product Management Process in place forces you to ask questions at the end of each phase so you are not caught by unpleasant surprises downstream. Really important if you, like in our case, make products with an extended life span (> 25 years). I hope this event was the wake-up call Particle needed to get to a more mature organization.

I want to make sure I understand your question – do you mean:

  • Easily pairing a Particle device to your phone using the data matrix code -OR-
  • Easily pairing two Particle devices to one another using the phone as the interface (like it is used during Mesh network setup to “introduce” the joining device to the commissioning device)?
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This is the most concerning part to me. The hardware appears to be done and Particle provides a great quality and price on nRF52 boards. I can understand dropping backend support for the hardware. I haven’t yet seen a good argument for stopping manufacturing.

As a company that creates hardware I think it’s important that people know that hardware will be available when replacements are needed. I appreciate that you’ve open-sourced the design files and am hopeful someone creates a xenon-clone. I’d much rather buy from Particle though.

If I was looking for hardware to run a new project on I’d have to take in to consideration that Particle boards may not be available when I need them.

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With the removal of Mesh, will more program space be made available?

As an aside, I was in your presentation at Embedded World 2019 and got to talk to you at your booth, and I don’t doubt the effort that was put into developing the mesh api’s, and it was exciting to see the jump into trying something new. I think the mesh capabilities that were hoped for initially are met better with LORA, and the writing was on the walls with the amount of limitations of the interactions and setups of the mesh networks.

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Originally missed this in the backscroll, so just wanted to provide a definitive statement that the P1 is a generally available Particle device with full enterprise support. Its current inventory status at any moment is not an indication of future plans for the SKU.

If its lifecycle status ever changes (we presently have no plans to do so), we will communicate those plans clearly in accordance with our Product Lifecycle policy.

Thanks for your feedback, and I really appreciate that you have been satisfied by the quality of our hardware.

Ultimately, though, our goal is to assist customers in building products that connect to the Internet. The Particle development model, which includes key tools like OTA updates, device vitals, and device messaging, relies on a managed connection back to the Particle Cloud.

Without a persistent Cloud connection to support these features, much of the value of the Particle platform is eroded for that device. In other words, Xenons without a Particle Mesh backhaul to our Cloud no longer meet the bar that we’ve set for “first class” Particle devices.

We feel there are many companies that can build high quality development kits for bluetooth chips like the nRF52840, and want instead to use our expertise to focus on making the deployment and management of connected products as easy as possible for our customers.

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@will From memory (so I might have some dates wrong) the P1 became unavailable somewhere last year. The statement on your site was availability back in may (or so). May came and went and the statement was updated to August (or so). At some point the P1 was indeed available for a brief period (days). It became unavailable again and the dates shifted some more etc. Your site currently states that they are out of stock till Feb 29. For a while, the P1 was not listed as a product on your site. All that makes one wonder.

I asked for clarification on your site/sales/tech team. I asked for clarification on the boards. Crickets.

I understand part outages and will not hold that against Particle. I know you don’t make that part and are reliant on other partners/market. It is the lack of open communication that does me in.

But don’t worry, I have moved on. The photons and p1s I still have will not go into production with us.