nScope update – May 2017

Hello everyone!

It’s been a long time since we’ve communicated about nScope. Time has been flying and nScope has had a hard time keeping up with all the work that needs to be done. In this update, we’ll discuss our progress (or lack thereof) in both software and in labs. If you want to come meet us in person, Nick will be representing nScope at the Maker Faire in San Mateo this weekend along with Jarvis Schultz, the Associate Director of the Northwestern University MS Robotics program.

Software

nScope v0.8 was scheduled to be released back in the fall. We missed that schedule by a long shot, and in the end, it’s because our build environment came crashing down. nScope is built on the wxWidgets, as to be as cross-platform as possible. However, to maintain that cross-platform compatibility, many build configurations are necessary to release nScope. At the time we wrote nScope, David compiled all of these versions in virtual machines on his 2013 Macbook. Since then, we have learned that standing up software for long-term use is a much more difficult task than getting the build to run a few times on some virtual machines.

For the past three months, we have shifted focus entirely to build infrastructure. These two words wouldn’t have meant anything to us prior to nScope, but now they are all we think about. Essentially, build infrastructure is a set of software and servers that run builds of nScope independent of our individual development machines. That means when the 2013 Macbook crashes or gets lost, our ability to build nScope isn’t lost. It seems simple, but it’s actually a ton of work, and it’s really not well documented how to do this for a cross-platform wxWidgets application. In a series of upcoming blog posts, we’ll be carefully documenting how we’re building our build machines. To read on, follow the series starting here.

Another reason we need build infrastructure is so that we can keep up with a community of developers. That’s right, we’re going to release the source to nScope. Timing with the release of v0.8, which will be timed with the completion of our build infrastructure, we’ll make public our git repositories that house our wxWidgets application for nScope.

Labs

Developing course curriculum is still a priority for us. In fact, we have been working with an increasing number of universities to spread the hands-on learning that nScope is perfect for. We will be uploading and reformatting our labs for the web this summer while classes are out of session. We are hearing your feedback, and we are committed to producing high-quality learning material free for all right here on our website. Stay tuned for more.

With that, we’ll be back soon with some details about our epic build infrastructure.