Storyboard Suite support for the NXP i.MX RT1050

Storyboard on the NXP i.MX RT

Last week at Arm TechCon, NXP announced the new i.MX RT Series, a crossover processor that’s optimized for low power and high performance and features advanced multimedia for enhanced embedded GUIs.

Of course, we support the i.MX RT! We are working on updating our Storyboard demo images for NXP to include a demo for the i.MX RT in the coming weeks. In the meantime, check out the following video showcasing Storyboard multi-market applications on the i.MX RT 1050, which is based on the Arm Cortex-M7 core.

In addition, our friends at EmCraft Systems have created a short demo built with Storyboard Suite and instructions for quickly installing it to an NXP i.MX RT1050 EVK board. Check it out.

What?! You don’t use Storyboard Suite? Download our full-featured 30-day FREE trial today and test drive it for your embedded UI development.

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Creating a medical HMI with Storyboard Suite

The following is a post from Nik, our awesomely bearded and multi-talented Field Application Engineer. Nik recently attended the Microchip MASTERs event in Phoenix, Arizona, and describes the making of the medical demo that we brought to the show.

Storyboard Suite medical demo for the Microchip sama5d2

If you were at Microchip MASTERs 2017, you might have seen the Patient Monitor demo at the “Ask the Experts” table. Perhaps you saw the demo at the Crank Software booth and spoke to Jason Clarke or me about it. If you didn’t get the opportunity to see it live, read on to learn more. This medical HMI, created in collaboration with the fine folks at Microchip, showcases how Storyboard Suite can help you quickly prototype your UI, foster collaboration between designers and engineers, and deliver a polished product to market faster.

The goal of this medical demo was to take real data from medical devices and display it in an aesthetically pleasing, feather-rich, and user-friendly UI. The system powering this demo is the Microchip SAMA5D2 Xplained board running Linux. The following Microchip medical breakout boards are connected to the SAMA5D2:

With multiple pieces of hardware communicating to the UI, we needed a couple of design iterations to create the UI we envisioned for this setup. Storyboard allowed us to iterate designs quickly and easily by importing and reimporting content from Photoshop. We did not have to start from scratch each time the design changed. The application logic and event bindings that were previously declared stayed in place and Storyboard took care of managing the new assets. When we had a design that we were happy with, we moved on to integration.

In the integration phase, UI and engineering teams come together and connect the UI to real data. Storyboard IO enables this merger by allowing an IO interface to and from the UI. Defining a structured event and data protocol over Storyboard IO has a number of benefits. It forces a clean separation between low-level business logic and UI logic and it allows the UI to be developed in parallel to any back-end systems. The event protocol was defined early on in the design, which made the integration cycle fairly seamless. I was able to work on the C application which handled all the interfacing to hardware devices while one of our designers built the UI in parallel. When implementing features like live trend data in the UI, we were able to easily inject simulation data via Storyboard IO without needing to connect to actual hardware. With the hardware interface completed, it was simply a matter of dropping it in place. Many bugs had already been ironed out due to the ability to use simulated data, so the final stage of this project was focused on fine-tuning and tweaking the experience.

When I hooked up the UI to real data we were finally able to polish and stress test the system. The final phase was to ensure that the UI was smooth and responsive under heavy load before demo completion. Initially, there was some event flooding when all four breakout boards started sending event data at the same time. Having four active data streams also highlighted some areas for optimization in the UI which led to faster redraw times. While the designer worked on tweaking the UI, I was able to modify how frequently the back end sent data. After a few quick iteration cycles, we were able to finalize the Medical demo that shipped to Microchip MASTERs.

This easy iteration and Storyboard’s collaboration support meant we were able to work in parallel without compromising the design or underlying code in the process. The end product is a user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and high-performance medical UI.

To try a Storyboard application on a Microchip platform, download one of our pre-packaged and easy-to-install demo images.

If you aren’t using Storyboard, start your free trial now and see how easy it is to create beautiful embedded UIs from concept to production.

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Try it now: BeagleBone Black demo image

Curious to see Storyboard Suite in action on your hardware? Our pre-built and packaged demos make it easy for you to test drive different types of applications designed for specific hardware platforms, letting you experience the powerful controls and smooth animations that create beautiful UIs and rich user experiences.

BeagleBone Black demo for medical, white goods, and home automation

The BeagleBone Black, powered by a Texas Instruments AM335x processor, is a popular platform with a rich development community and is small, easy-to-use, and powerful for creating innovative applications.

This demo image includes the following applications:

  • Smart washing machine – drill down into operational settings and track progress through cycles
  • Medical – browse through typical patient diagnostics, electronic health records (EHR), and security verification
  • Home automation – play with temperature controls, check out local weather, and customize lighting throughout the floor plan

Also included are the instructions you need to easily and quickly get the demo running on your own BeagleBone Black platform.

Download the Storyboard BeagleBone Black demo image

To try Storyboard Suite for yourself, start your free trial now and see how easy it is to create beautiful embedded UIs from concept to production.

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Supporting UI scalability – from MCU to MPU

We are often asked the question, “what platforms do you support?” or variations on the same that include operating systems, GPUs, rendering technologies, and more. Development teams want to know if Storyboard Suite supports the environments they have, or want to build out.

We always give the same answer: All of them.

Of course, the details are important, so this blog explains exactly what Storyboard Suite supports.

Support across the boards

Storyboard supports a wide range of ARM architectures, from the low-power Cortex-M series used on MCUs to the powerful Cortex-A series used on MPUs. We’ve also supported PowerPC, x86, and SH4 architectures, among others. Storyboard runs on everything from task-based RTOS such as Micrium µC/OS-II and FreeRTOS to full-featured, general purpose RTOS such as Linux, QNX Neutrino, and Green Hills INTEGRITY.

This means you can build user interfaces (UI) for everything from tiny industrial controls to complex automotive instrument panels without having to worry about the particulars of the platform or the effort required to port to different environments when your product line grows.

Here are examples of our demo images running on the STM32F4 (Cortex-M4) and the NXP i.MX 6QuadPlus (Cortex-A9):

STM32F4 (Cortex-M4)

NXP i.MX 6QuadPlus (Cortex-A9)

We support this wide range through extensive development and testing on each platform, ensuring the Storyboard Engine takes advantage of specific board features, such as proprietary graphics libraries, 2D or 3D hardware acceleration, and memory management functions.

The ease at which we provide support for multiple platforms is a result of the way Storyboard is architected: it’s purpose-built for maximum performance and customizability. This flexibility is also exposed to the user, allowing fine control over application configuration and performance:

Application size – The Storyboard Engine is based on a modular plugin system, such that only the required components are included in the system configuration and deployed. Not only does this reduce the application’s footprint, it allows the user to scale functionality down for systems with minimal memory and CPU resources, including:

  • Screen transitions
  • Animations
  • 3D models
  • Input methods
  • Rendering types (polygons, circles, raw canvas, etc.)
  • Lua scripting

Scalability across platforms – Storyboard uses a fixed data model to represent the UI, not generated code, which means the same model can be used across multiple platform-specific runtimes that are tuned for the features and hardware optimizations of the platform. The model itself is event-driven and uses a well-defined API between the UI and the event/messaging system native to the deployment platform, meaning it isn’t tied to a specific environment.

Graphics rendering – Storyboard lets you choose how you want to render graphics, from writing directly into the frame buffer to taking advantage of any 2D or 3D hardware rendering available on the board.

Flexible filesystem – The standard Storyboard deployment uses a filesystem to store the UI data model and associated resources but, if you don’t have a filesystem, you can compile and bind resources directly to Storyboard Engine and flash to the target system.

Font usage – A Storyboard application can either use a font engine to load fonts directly from TrueType or OpenType files, or use pre-rendered glyphs that are stored in ROM.

To try out Storyboard on different platforms for yourself, download and run our ready-to-go demo images.

 

See scalable Storyboard demos on the Microchip SAMA5D2

Curious to see Storyboard Suite in action on your hardware? Our pre-built and packaged demos make it easy for you to test drive different types of applications designed for specific hardware platforms, letting you experience the powerful controls and smooth animations that create beautiful UIs and rich user experiences.

Scalable UIs across display sizes: SAMA5D2 demos for medical, white goods, and home automation

Storyboard applications are scalable across a variety of screen sizes and resolutions. Experience this on 480 x 272 and 800 x 480 displays with Storyboard demo images for the Microchip SAMA5D2 platform. These images include everything you need to get up and running in minutes, offering the following demos in both resolutions:

  • Smart washing machine – drill down into operational settings and track progress through cycles
  • Medical – browse through typical patient diagnostics, electronic health records (EHR), and security verification
  • Home automation – play with temperature controls, check out local weather, and customize lighting throughout the floorplan

Also included are instructions for flashing the image to an SD card and running it on your own board.

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To try Storyboard Suite for yourself, start your free trial now and see how easy it is to create beautiful embedded UIs from concept to production.

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