What we're up to, Photon Progress, Fleet Management

Greetings all. Spark is busier than ever, but it’s important to me that we keep you in the loop. Here’s the latest.

Photon Progress

Our Photon prototypes are functional. We have the soft AP setup process working in the happy path with early versions of the firmware and iOS SDK. We are squashing the common errors quickly and building our list of edge cases to tackle next.

Here’s a tale of one of the perplexing bugs we recently crushed, related to a specific moment in the soft AP process when the Photon scans for Wi-Fi networks in the area, reporting them to the mobile app. Broadcom provides example scanning code in the WICED SDK in an app called snip.scan which works on their standard eval board. We ported it to our firmware, which is running on quite different hardware, but few modifications were required.

When there are only a few networks around, like in @mdma’s dev environment, everything works perfectly. However, when we tried it at Sparkhaus (or basically anywhere in San Francisco) we would see a couple odd behaviors. We would never get more than about 5 Wi-Fi networks from a scan. The more networks there are in the area, the less likely it becomes that your desired network was in the list of 5 shown in the mobile app. Worse, the dev Photons sometimes crashed during the scan! We had all eyes on the code, testing it everywhere from Mangalore, to Tel Aviv, to San Francisco. Everybody was reporting results back to Mat in Norway, where he couldn’t reproduce the failure.

And then he awoke in the middle of the night with an idea. I was still sitting at my desk in SF, and we went back and forth testing a few things, narrowing down potential causes. And then it suddently became clear. Hidden networks were the issue. They showed up in the list but without an SSID. Null references were getting passed through to underlying WICED code anytime there was a hidden network around. Once we pinpointed the problem, the fix was obvious. And there was much rejoicing.

You might wonder where you can watch the firmware development. We’ve gotten this question from many product creators. Broadcom’s WICED SDK is proprietary and closed source. We’re negotiating with them to be able to distribute it with our open source stack, and we’re hopeful that an agreement will be reached soon. For the moment we’re working on the firmware in a private repo, and we will open source it as soon as we get the go ahead from Broadcom.

Fleet Management Coming…

We’re starting to have more meetings with the product creators who are farthest along. We have the beginnings of a fleet management system and are building more features every day. We are aiming to be the best solution for managing your massive deployments of amazing connected products.

And then…

Some big things are happening soon.

Really big.

Are you ready?



@zachary, would you like to pin this? :smiley:

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Spark IPO?

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Ready. Except I can’t back it because Kickstarter is having server issues…

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@naikrovek they’re back up now :slight_smile:

Yep, and I backed the campaign just before they reached the “finish” line. Congratulations, all!

Hi @zachary,

I wonder what the current status of the fleet management is. Should I proceed with building my own ‘solution’ or should I wait a couple of weeks?


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+1 very interested in this also

Did you guys who are interested in fleet management see the Dashboard (alpha) release?

I think that is the first step on the path but for commercial customers they are working on a more ambitious offering.

Yes @bko,
I am literally the first user Of the dashboard ;). If you would have followed the AMA last week with the makers of the dashboard than you should know :smile: And what I mean with fleet management has more to do with getting customer’s sparks online in a fleet account and not on one’s personal account.

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@marcus & @mtnscott — yep the dashboard is the personal view of some of the same tools we’re building out for fleet management. This is one of our top priorities within :spark: right now, so if you can wait a few weeks, I’d recommend you do. Keep giving us feedback on the dashboard you see today, and the organization & product views are coming within weeks. :+1:


W’ll do!

Zach -

Really excited about the things going on with Particle now. It would be great if we could get a general product roadmap with some swag timelines of when things are going to be available. For example, the product I’m prototyping right now really needs a solid IoT data capture and dashboard solution and fleet management is also very important. I’m stuck on using the current Spark.publish mechanism and waiting for the dashboard and other tools to evolve or using another IoT service which will require way more investment on my part.

All of this leads to me being stuck in an indecision loop right now. Any help you can provide will be great.

Understood @hortocam, that’s a tough spot to be in! I don’t have any hard timelines for you, but I will tell you the the dashboard will be evolving very quickly over the next 6–8 weeks. It’s top priority for some of the cloud engineers. Lots of wireframing is happening now, and also several people who have worked extremely hard to get the Photon shipped are taking some well deserved vacation. Smart firmware deployment management is among the things people are actively working on.