Developing brilliant embedded UIs for the i.MX RT1050

Storyboard on the NXP i.MX RT

Late last year, NXP announced the i.MX RT Series, a crossover processor that is optimized for low power and high performance. Built for efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and lower power usage, the i.MX RT Series doesn’t compromise on what’s important to end users; high-performance, usability, advanced multimedia, and impressive graphics. This series fills a gap and hits a sweet spot that offers the best of both the MCU and application processor worlds to provide an excellent platform option for medical, IoT, building/home automation, and smart appliance applications.

Helpful resources to get you started with embedded GUI development for the RT1050

Check out the following resources to understand more about building applications for NXP RT1050 platforms.

Demo images: We’ve been building up our inventory of NXP demo images to make it fast and simple for you to see applications on your i.MX RT1050 platforms with both uClinux and FreeRTOS variants. Download them and try them out!

On-demand webinar: In addition to demo images, we also have an on-demand i.MX1050 webinar, “Delivering performance, functionality, and stunning design to embedded products” available that we hosted with NXP.

EmCraft demo: Our friends at EmCraft Systems created a short demo built with Storyboard Suite and instructions for quickly installing it to an NXP i.MX RT1050 EVK board.

Haven’t tried Storyboard Suite yet? Download our full-featured 30-day FREE trial today, and test drive it for your embedded UI development.

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Tutorial: Defining and Testing UI Communication

One of the most exciting new features from the Storyboard 5.2 release is Storyboard Connector. Storyboard Connector makes it easy for teams to define the events that are passed back and forth between the UI and the backend system processes. Once a team defines their events in Storyboard Connector’s event editor, the UI and system teams are able to develop and iterate faster while working in parallel.

Tutorial: Define and test UI communication

Let’s see it in action! In the video below, Nik will give a quick tutorial on the following capabilities in Storyboard Connector.

  • Define an event
  • Test the event during simulation
  • Export a C/C++ header of the events for the development team

Test drive Storyboard 5.2 for yourself. We provide a full-featured 30-day evaluation for you to try it out first hand.

 

Bringing Sketch designs to Storyboard

Sketch to Storyboard Suite

We talk a lot about removing barriers to embedded development for Graphic Designers, keeping them engaged and supported throughout the lifecycle, and enabling them to work in popular 2D and 3D design tools. Adobe Photoshop has been the most popular in the design toolkit, so we’ve worked hard to ensure that designers could leverage the best of Photoshop when creating artwork for import into Storyboard. Because of this, importing PSDs into Storyboard is a quick and easy way to create applications.

Growing adoption of Sketch for user interface design

So, have you heard about Sketch? If you’re a designer, we are willing to bet you’ve either heard of it, work with it currently, or are planning to evaluate it. Sketch has garnered rapid adoption for UI design.

“It has grown in popularity like I’ve rarely seen an app do in the recent past, and for a good reason: The developers of Sketch have figured out exactly what interface designers have been looking for and have steadily added functionality to address those needs.”
Why I Switched To Sketch For UI Design (And Never Looked Back), Smashing Magazine

While we aren’t advocating the use of one design tool over another, we always work to stay educated on industry trends, tool adoption, and how to best support our customers. In fact, we have several in-house UI designers, so they have their finger on the pulse of the design industry and provide valuable feedback to our R&D team so that we can improve Storyboard release-over-release.

With the growing adoption of Sketch as a UI design tool, we’ve started working with it here at Crank, and have committed to supporting it as another source for importing content into  Storyboard applications. In our next release, you will be able to export your UI design from Sketch to be packaged for import into Storyboard. This feature is still in development being tested and refined, but if you are currently working with Sketch and Storyboard and want to get early access to the functionality, contact our Support team and we will hook you up.

You aren’t using Storyboard Suite? Take it for a spin. Download our FREE 30-day trial.

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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