Crank IT! Fall 2012
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Welcome to the Fall 2012 issue of CRANK IT! — the newsletter for UI designers and embedded systems engineers. We have cranked out a number of articles for you this month.


Storyboard Suite 3.0 Release

Crank Storyboard™ Suite enables UI Designers and Embedded Developers with the ability to quickly prototype, develop and deploy rich animated user interfaces for embedded devices. The upcoming Storyboard Suite 3.0 release has a number of new and improved features including animation timeline, iOS support, custom shaders, internationalization, and image optimization just to name a few.

Click on the video to see a sneak peak of what to expect with the new animation timeline!


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TI Sitara A8 Starter Kit

Texas Instruments Incorporated introduced the $199 Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 Starter Kit with a 4.3-inch LCD display supporting rotation and tilt capabilities via the on-board accelerometer that provides an affordable platform for smart appliances, industrial automation and networking applications and other devices requiring a touch screen interface. The low-cost development platform, based on the Sitara AM3358 ARM Cortex-A8 processor, integrates multiple communication options such as Dual Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for the creation of highly connected devices.

At speeds up to 720 MHz, the AM335x Starter Kit accelerates designs with a ready-for-production hardware and software platform. This board is an affordable tool that offers the ability to quickly evaluate the features of the processor and accompanying TI components, taking the guess work out of hardware design. This allows both experienced and novice designers to focus on product differentiation such as advanced graphics and connectivity. Developers can accelerate time to market and reduce costs when creating connected thermostats, security panels, wireless hard disk drives and portable hot spots.

Crank Software's Storyboard Suite for User Interface (UI) development combined with Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 Starter Kit is a powerful combination for rapid development of state-of-the-art Human Machine Interfaces (HMI). Crank worked closely with TI's Android and Linux Software development teams to fully integrate Crank Storyboard suite complete with out of the box demos so users can evaluate how Crank delivers an easy to use, drag and drop, development environment for rich animated UIs while fully leveraging the graphics acceleration of the platform.

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Segger embOS Support

Crank Software will be introducing support in Storyboard Suite 3.0 for non MMU targets by offering a runtime for Segger's embOS. New and existing Crank customers will now be able to use Storyboard Suite 3.0 as a single solution to support traditional 32 bit family processors and lower level non MMU platforms.

Storyboard Suite enables customers to begin prototyping and development before a final hardware platform has been chosen. Developers can use the included simulator within Storyboard Designer to test the graphical user interface to verify touch or press events are working as defined in the product specification.

Adding support for non mmu platforms opens up additional hardware opportunities for Storyboard applications. Giving customers more choice on what platforms they can deploy their Storyboard Application on is an incredible value add.

Stay tuned for more information on our non MMU support as we get closer to the Storyboard Suite 3.0 release.

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HTML5

There have been some great articles written about using HTML5 as a UI for mobile and embedded devices. The same message that seems to come across throughout most of these articles is that HTML5 is useful in some situations but definitely has its limitations. HTML5 is not the silver bullet everyone might of thought it was going to be ...

HTML5 is an interpreted solution that requires a web browser (commonly WebKit, an open source project) to convert html content into something viewable to the end user. It is the web browser that is the area of concern since it is usually large in size and fairly complex. Not really something you like to hear especially in the same context as embedded systems because of the browser's need for memory and system resources.

Supporting the web browser is another concern. In the event a customer comes across a bug how does one go about addressing the issue? A customer can get the source to WebKit and try to make the changes themselves but they will quickly see that might not be the best approach especially if they do not have anyone internally with WebKit knowledge. Speaking from experience, WebKit is a complex beast that needs expertise to navigate and to truly understand what is taking place.

Another area to be aware of is certification. Some certifications require documented processes on how a third party's software was written, maintained, tested, and verified. WebKit does not fit very well into this scenario with being an open source, community maintained project.

HTML5 has its place and I can see the allure of it but, even in the case where the advantages of HTML5 out weight its' limitations you still do not want it to be your entire UI solution. Crank Storyboard Suite along with other UI providers have the ability to integrate WebKit into your GUI application. With having HTML5 contained within its own controlled area the rest of your product is not hindered by the performance and memory requirements of HTML5.

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New Videos

Crank has put together some great new videos to help you get started with Storyboard Designer.

Storyboard Naming Conventions

Provides some guidance on how to organize and name content in Photoshop before importing into Storyboard Designer.

 

Storyboard Tips and Tricks

Offers some tidbits to help speed up application development.

 

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More Stuff

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