BasicX Documentation

Started by John Piccirillo June 4, 2003
Frank,

Can we get more than an agreement that the docs need to be improved?
I'm grateful for Netmedia's generous on-line assistance but the
documentation issue has been around for a long time. Perhaps
this task could be subbed out to someone who is not as close
to the BasicX as Netmedia and would have more of a naive user
perspective.

John- > > [...] The non-professional microcontroller user base has
> > grown substantially in the last decade and the decision to
> > use or switch products depends, for the less sophisticated
> > users, on the ease of use. This is where the documentation
> > is crucial. There needs to be longer and more complete
> > examples for each command and much more on the unique
> > features of the BasicX, such as the multi-tasking OS.
>
>Yes, I agree. We need to improve the docs. >-- Frank Manning
>-- NetMedia, Inc.





I can attest to this. I am a newbie with microcontrollers in general and the first thing I did after purchasing the bx2 was not to start testing what I could do with it but to redesign a better help file system so I could find out what I needed to do to get this or that. I was very disappointed with the help files being in a word document no search (except for built in), no index, no categories. I did however do something about it. I took a day and made a program that imported the documents into a database and created a more user friendly interface. Now for me this worked fine but this should not have been necessary. I know it isn't much but again I will lend a hand and be more than happy to turn over both the source code to it with all rights and the source code for the script I used to import the data into the database. If nothing else this should give you a good starting point. This would allow not only a more user friendly help system but also easier updates and better room for growth. The current source is in VB.NET with a MSDE database but I will be happy to port this over to VB5 or 6 if the .NET is a problem.

Personal wants:
Better Help file system
Integrated samples/examples
Auto update ability

Again, I will agree the help we get online is excellent. Not to many companies will answer questions directly or provide a better one-on-one relationship between manufacturer/client and I thank you for that.

Bryan
----- Original Message -----
From: John Piccirillo
To:
Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2003 6:36 PM
Subject: [BasicX] BasicX Documentation Frank,

Can we get more than an agreement that the docs need to be improved?
I'm grateful for Netmedia's generous on-line assistance but the
documentation issue has been around for a long time. Perhaps
this task could be subbed out to someone who is not as close
to the BasicX as Netmedia and would have more of a naive user
perspective.

John- > > [...] The non-professional microcontroller user base has
> > grown substantially in the last decade and the decision to
> > use or switch products depends, for the less sophisticated
> > users, on the ease of use. This is where the documentation
> > is crucial. There needs to be longer and more complete
> > examples for each command and much more on the unique
> > features of the BasicX, such as the multi-tasking OS.
>
>Yes, I agree. We need to improve the docs. >-- Frank Manning
>-- NetMedia, Inc.


Yahoo! Groups Sponsor


Hi,
Just need to get my two cents in. I've been involved with computers since
1964 and there is no substitute for good documentation. But at what cost. Most
of us would expect to pay $40. - $60. for documentation that wouldn't even
come close to what is currently available "for free". Let's not forget that the
cost of more documentation which would help a few would likely drive the
price of the product up to the point where those who would gain the greatest
benefit would be driven away from the product. Perhaps, as you suggest, some other
interest would be able to provide a different set of docs which any who were
interested could purchase separately. In any case, I am continually amazed at
the amount of documentation that is available for a processor of this price!

Lets not kill the golden goose.

Mike Lemp



yeah.... i think the documentation was fine. I was able to figure out stuff.

-Trevor

At 01:10 PM 6/5/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>Hi,
>Just need to get my two cents in. I've been involved with computers since
>1964 and there is no substitute for good documentation. But at what
>cost. Most
>of us would expect to pay $40. - $60. for documentation that wouldn't even
>come close to what is currently available "for free". Let's not forget
>that the
>cost of more documentation which would help a few would likely drive the
>price of the product up to the point where those who would gain the greatest
>benefit would be driven away from the product. Perhaps, as you suggest,
>some other
>interest would be able to provide a different set of docs which any who were
>interested could purchase separately. In any case, I am continually
>amazed at
>the amount of documentation that is available for a processor of this price!
>
>Lets not kill the golden goose.
>
>Mike Lemp >">http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/




Ok..... Lets be realistic here. Anyone care to check any of the competitors IDE's, website's, examples and help file system's? Here is one http://www.parallax.com/html_pages/downloads/software/software_basic_stamp.asp Not that it is the best I have seen but at least you have a searchable help file system, index, better example structure, working IDE, and a website overflowing with information. Did I mention it cost the same (http://www.parallax.com/detail.asp?product_id=BS2-IC)? Granted I think the basicx kicks basic stamps butt in the hardware corner, support (phone or email) is absolutely great and I wouldn't change back now if you paid me but that's irrelevant to this discussion. And Mike you mention you have been paying extra for help files? I have so ocean front property in Arizona I would like to talk to you about. I have NEVER paid for any help files (excluding losing the originals and needing replacements) for any software I have been in contact with. Now my microcontroller/electrical experience is very limited but Mon-Fri I do nothing but programming and web design/development so I can say I know a vast amount about software. Again looking at it from a newbie perspective I would have been completely lost had I not came from a programming background and I would hate to think of trying the basicx before trying the basic stamp. I absolutely would NOT recommend the basicx to a user who has not had any experience in microcontrollers. I would tell them that the basicx is a great microcontroller but not for a beginner due to the things listed above.

Oh and Mike not that im trying to nit pick you but if you would, please point me to the "amaz(ing) amount of documentation that is available for a processor of this price". I swear I have searched google, yahoo, newsgroups, a few other search engines and im yet to find this honeypot. It would sure help a beginner like myself. Bryan

----- Original Message -----
From: Trevor Pinkney
To:
Sent: Thursday, June 05, 2003 9:21 PM
Subject: Re: [BasicX] BasicX Documentation yeah.... i think the documentation was fine. I was able to figure out stuff.

-Trevor

At 01:10 PM 6/5/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>Hi,
>Just need to get my two cents in. I've been involved with computers since
>1964 and there is no substitute for good documentation. But at what
>cost. Most
>of us would expect to pay $40. - $60. for documentation that wouldn't even
>come close to what is currently available "for free". Let's not forget
>that the
>cost of more documentation which would help a few would likely drive the
>price of the product up to the point where those who would gain the greatest
>benefit would be driven away from the product. Perhaps, as you suggest,
>some other
>interest would be able to provide a different set of docs which any who were
>interested could purchase separately. In any case, I am continually
>amazed at
>the amount of documentation that is available for a processor of this price!
>
>Lets not kill the golden goose.
>
>Mike Lemp >">http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/


Yahoo! Groups Sponsor


Hey,
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to start any scuffles. But I was
referring to the documentation that is available free for the downloading directly
from Macromedia. Every instruction is clearly described with a real life
example. That in itself beats much of the documentation from the giants. I have
been through reams of documentation from IBM which after boiling it down to what
was meaningful would fit into a few pages. Not sure just how effective "help
files" would be for a product that has the potential for such entrepreneurial
development as this.

Oh, and by the way, I didn't choose the BasicX because of it's documentation,
I chose it because it was so superior. The documentation is a big bonus.

I'd be interested in the languages that you program in as that may give an
indication as to why we see the existing documentation so differently.

Oh, and I would like to see more documentation too, but I like examples like
the code that Frank so frequently provides even better.

Mike



>
>Message: 13
> Date: Fri, 6 Jun 2003 02:45:53 EDT
> From:

Since I started this thread, this time, I'd like to add some more comment
on the subject of documentation.

1. Personally, I don't need help files; the BasicX system isn't complicated
enough to require them. If they are available, I'd use them.

2. The BasicX is IMO so superior to the Basic Stamp you have to wonder
why anyone uses the Stamp. I started with it before the BasicX was available.
When I found out what the BasicX could do, I didn't hesitate to switch and
I didn't know any VB; I didn't find that a problem. I think the reason the
BasicX
doesn't have a larger market share (besides the ads being ineffective compared
to the competition) is that prospective users look at the documentation and
figure
the BasicX is too complicated. There are even Tab books on the Stamp, the
8051,
the 6811, and the PIC but none on the BasicX. This may be an alternate way
to get a third party
to give the BasicX a more complete going over, including using some advance
features. The current discussion, as many past ones, indicates a lot of
problems
using SPI on the BasicX. How much information is in the docs on that? Given
that SPI is not unique to the BasicX, why not go over it anyhow. One of
the features
of the Stamp that a lot of people like is the Serial In/ Serial Out
commands. After
the initial manual, Parallax went into a lot of detail on using the
commands, the options,
and even gave a small tutorial on RS 232. That's why people use the Stamp.
Selfishly, I think we'd all get more advanced products from Netmedia if the
company
sold many more units and had capital to work with. Better ads and
documentation
is the way to lure people into using the product.

3. I like the code Frank posts also and I try to keep a note book of his and
others contributions. These examples would be more widely available,
consistent, and in context if put in the product documentation.

John Piccirillo

>Hey,
>Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to start any scuffles. But I was
>referring to the documentation that is available free for the downloading
>directly
>from Macromedia. Every instruction is clearly described with a real life
>example. That in itself beats much of the documentation from the
>giants. I have
>been through reams of documentation from IBM which after boiling it down
>to what
>was meaningful would fit into a few pages. Not sure just how effective "help
>files" would be for a product that has the potential for such entrepreneurial
>development as this.
>
>Oh, and by the way, I didn't choose the BasicX because of it's documentation,
>I chose it because it was so superior. The documentation is a big bonus.
>
>I'd be interested in the languages that you program in as that may give an
>indication as to why we see the existing documentation so differently.
>
>Oh, and I would like to see more documentation too, but I like examples like
>the code that Frank so frequently provides even better.
>
>Mike




Well said John.

I keep a notebook too and find that to be part of the fun of the whole
concept. Trying to decide if there is even the remotest possibility of using what
is available, then trying to remember where I saw the info that I had
previously decided I would never be interested in.

Mike


Greetings all -

I have just recently purchased my first pair of BX-24s, in the hope of using
them to do a little aircraft instrument panel simulation control.

I decided to get a pair of Proto 24 development PC boards with them and
although I've just got them stuffed and have just a few LEDs and pots and
switches in the protoype area I'm really looking forward to figuring out how
to use the digital I/O to log switch positions and pot settings and drive
some LEDs for annunciation. It's been many years since I programmed
anything in any language, but I'm hopeful that I can get up to speed on the
fundamentals of program structure for these BX-24s and start to sucessfully
acquire data and drive lamps and servo positioners. The Proto 24 board
made the hardware piece very easy.

Now if I can just get the vision on how these BasicX microcontroller
programs are structured....

-df


From: Dexter Francis <>

> [...] It's been many years since I programmed anything
> in any language, but I'm hopeful that I can get up to
> speed on the fundamentals of program structure [...]
>
> Now if I can just get the vision on how these BasicX
> microcontroller programs are structured....

Once you know Visual Basic 6 standard modules, you know the
general structure of BasicX programs. If you can get a hold of a
VB6 compiler, that would be easier than trying to learn a language
by using a cross compiler targeted to a microcontroller.

-- Frank Manning
-- NetMedia, Inc.