Where Parallax Heading to

Hi P2 Designers,

I want to share my opinion on latest status of the P2 forum. According to my observation, Parallax grew by making micro-controllers easy for engineers and hobbyist with products like basic stamp not by making microcontrollers.

In P1 philosophy, there was a statement saying that in a development of a project, major expense is a software development side.

I think, consumers does not want a super sophisticated product from Parallax, consumers want something easy to use. Company owner Chip also may have forgotten this.

Focusing on the "silicon die", "in-depth technical things" is good for technical success but this does not guarantee commercial success. Looking back to consumer needs is important.

P2 OBEX or documents like "Propeller 2 Education Kit Labs Fundamentals" are things which are as important as the silicon die. This is my feedback to you guys for commercial success before P2 becomes alive. I also should note that, although i am 10.000km far away from you, i m excited for the new product and plan to buy "Propeller 2 ES Evaluation Board" when it is available.
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Comments

  • I am by no means a programming wizard....it's only a part of what I do. I see messages on other forums where professional developers are struggling to achieve things that even I can achieve on the P1 in a heartbeat.
    Failure is not an option...it's bundled with the software.
  • Mickster wrote: »
    I am by no means a programming wizard....it's only a part of what I do. I see messages on other forums where professional developers are struggling to achieve things that even I can achieve on the P1 in a heartbeat.

    Having said that; I can't get others interested in the Prop because the first impression that one gets when visiting the site is Toy & Hobby.
    Failure is not an option...it's bundled with the software.
  • Peter JakackiPeter Jakacki Posts: 8,725
    edited 2019-07-28 - 12:02:28
    Mickster wrote: »
    Having said that; I can't get others interested in the Prop because the first impression that one gets when visiting the site is Toy & Hobby.

    Perhaps there is some truth to that, or more correctly, kids and education, certainly not engineers and commerce. I went to the Parallax site and took a "screenshot" of my impression, and that is what it was.

    Parallax did setup a website many years ago just for the commercial engineering side, but that was a bit premature. Maybe it's not a bad idea?

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  • MicksterMickster Posts: 1,462
    edited 2019-07-28 - 12:42:18
    Parallax did setup a website many years ago just for the commercial engineering side, but that was a bit premature. Maybe it's not a bad idea?

    IIRC, it was where all the app notes were but apart from that, a bit short on content.

    Failure is not an option...it's bundled with the software.
  • IIRC, it was where all the app notes were but apart from that, a bit short on content.
    Mickster, That was my recollection as well.
    I thought it was a great idea but it seemed to just blink into existence, not be actively updated or maintained then *poof* gone.
    Parallax did setup a website many years ago just for the commercial engineering side, but that was a bit premature. Maybe it's not a bad idea?
    Peter, I agree very much with your observation.

    The difference between theory and practice is that, in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is.
  • I think it's a worthwhile question.

    Ken seems to have done an amazing job keeping the parallax brand on-track with it's core educational robotics business with Chip doubling down with a 'build it and they will come' mentality.

    It's unclear to me what the P2 offers to the core education market that the P1 doesn't already offer.

    Without doubt the P2 is a serious personal achievement for Chip and I for one am looking forward to use it in a commercial project which outgrew the P1.

    I use PASM and since anyone choosing a P2 for a commercial project almost certainly cares mostly about getting the maximum performance out of the P2's unique features I wonder if any of the high level language efforts will ever get any traction.

    Maybe parallax should sponsor a PASM backend blockly interpreter for the absolute beginners and then just move them directly into PASM and then stop there. At least there would be clarity. Sometimes it's knowing what NOT to build or so said Steve Jobs.
  • My thoughts are, the goalpost has moved, even in education.

    I can remember being personally disappointed with PBASIC and such back when I was in school.
    Who cares about simple and easy to use when the end result is underwhelming.
    I had barely enough memory in my Stamp 1 to even get my math fair project done.
    I wasn't wowed... Moved over to messing with DirectX 3.0 and the then new idea of 3D graphics accelerators on a windows PC.

    Who knows what kids nowadays see: Arduino is that thing you can use to blink an LED or set colors on light strip? yaawn.

    Kids are smart.
    The spin language is easy enough to take an existing program as reference and add to/change it.
    And when the disappointment from friends or oneself kicks in, you can jump into the compiled languages or assembly.
    At the clock speeds we're talking about with P2, it can get exciting again.

    So right now it's a matter of building the foundation for excitement.

    I do agree documentation is lacking. No app notes.
    I was hoping the same continuous iteration as on the Verilog would have been happening with the P2 documentation manual.
    There are a bunch of suggested edits never touched. People get discouraged when even simple edits collect and stagnate. It's like... why bother.

    Another thing I think I see we're collectively getting bogged down on is the smartpin signal path latency.
    Without diagrams from the designer himself, our mental models of what we expect to happen are woefully incomplete to what we actually observe.

    Being an engineer, at work my bosses never visit any of the vendor webpages I use, so who cares about website appearance? Sterile white background pages, headshots of suits, fake excellence awards, a map of all the continents with dots on it, and models smiling at each other all reaching inward at some nightmare conference table? Not necessary.

    The vast majority of professional views of Parallax should be on the digikey, mouser, etc. supplier pages. If Parallax marketing doesn't botch the company description there, everything will be fine and the purchasing bureaucrats won't alert the head honchos.
  • David BetzDavid Betz Posts: 13,541
    edited 2019-07-28 - 21:17:13
    I guess it depends on what you think BlocklyProp is all about. Is it about teaching students about programming or is it about leading them to using the Propeller professionally. I think BlocklyProp currently generates C code because that is what the schools demanded since C is viewed as a professional programming language. Is BlocklyProp an easy way for students to learn C which they can then use for more advanced projects or professionally? If so, going directly to PASM would not really achieve that goal.
  • If you want to see what the “kids” want, ask them! They arent shy. Or spend a day in a classroom just watching.

    I can tell you that if you toss a P1 board into a high school STEM classroom and throw-down a challenge with a bit of hands-on guidance, kids will turn into hungry little monsters and will shock the HECK out of you. Its a beautiful thing to behold. Some wont get it, but those that do... man. Now give the top 20% of these kids a P2 and you better invest in some serious safety glasses and extra fire extinguishers. Kids are amazing adopters of technology.

    I do agree that with regards to the P2 doc, things seem to be lagging a bit, but I am also sensitive to the fact that this impression is enhanced because we’ve all been a fly on the wall during the development of this product. We are getting a view into places we normally would not. The P2 hasnt been officially released yet, so the grumbling about “no manuals” or “wonky tools” is premature if we use a “normal” product release as our reference point.

    So I’ll withhold judgment until we see what happens, but given everything that I’ve seen about the P2 thus far (even with the occasional warts and snakes) it still makes me scream “I WANT!”, and I think the vast majority of the lurkers on here would agree.

    “...If you build it, they will come...”, indeed!
  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,015
    whicker wrote: »
    Another thing I think I see we're collectively getting bogged down on is the smartpin signal path latency.
    Without diagrams from the designer himself, our mental models of what we expect to happen are woefully incomplete to what we actually observe.
    ....

    Certainly the smart pin documents and examples, need work, and it is important that happens, because the Smart Pin Cells are a key difference point.
    The details matter as you push the limits, and it is important to work out what the limits are.

    I expect a significant easy deployment of P2, will be as a flexible peripheral, where users want easy access to the Smart Pin Cells, and cannot care less about the P2-Opcodes.

  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,015
    VBBSim wrote: »
    ...
    I use PASM and since anyone choosing a P2 for a commercial project almost certainly cares mostly about getting the maximum performance out of the P2's unique features I wonder if any of the high level language efforts will ever get any traction.

    PASM certainly should be "easy to get to", but users are not going to be interested in being told they have to learn PASM, in order to use P2.

    Coding these days, is done to avoid Assembler wherever practical, and only drop into ASM when you really have to. More powerful MCUs give that luxury.

    For that, it is important compilers offer clean in-line assembler, and can mix HLL and PASM modules, and compilers should give good listings, showing the Assembler generated.
    In many cases with HLLs, you can simply re-code things, to get better assembler, and the listings show users where they need to focus.

    P2 looks like it is going to mix languages very well, so you can have PASM on one COG and even Python on another and Spin or compiled P2.FreeBASIC etc on a third....

    VBBSim wrote: »
    ...
    Maybe parallax should sponsor a PASM backend blockly interpreter for the absolute beginners and then just move them directly into PASM and then stop there. At least there would be clarity.

    Blockly generates C code, and I am sure getting Blockly working on P2, will be a significant focus of Ken's.
    Python is already working on P2, and that uses C pathways, so getting to a functional stage for Blockly may not be too difficult. Someone has mentioned it needs P2 libraries.

  • I suspect BlocklyProp is about making something 'parallax' work with the robots which are actually the money generator.
    jmg wrote: »

    I expect a significant easy deployment of P2, will be as a flexible peripheral, where users want easy access to the Smart Pin Cells, and cannot care less about the P2-Opcodes.

    Yes this is how I want to use the P2. Maybe something like the Microchip Harmony 'configurator' code generation system could generate templates for common tasks. It's something I am interested in.
  • I'd say there are two major things that P2 can do that P1 cannot...

    One is make things simple. For example, things like Micropython will open up a lot of doors.
    I'm sure there will be BASIC for P2 at some point too.
    It can also self-host a development environment. I think Micropython is essentially there.
    I'm sure Spin2 and some form of BASIC will follow...

    But, the main thing I'm interested in is more power and pins...
    The P2 will let us do really professional projects. I'm always out of pins and memory in my big P1 projects...
    Prop Info and Apps: http://www.rayslogic.com/
  • Also, the Parallax products now let you make the full journey from novice to pro...
    I started out with Basic Stamps many years ago and they taught me a lot.
    But, it was hard to do real projects without adding in a lot of extra boards and chips.

    P1 changed that to a large degree as you can do neat stuff with little extras.
    But, large projects still need the addition of other boards and chips.
    Also, you run out of pins and memory quickly.
    And, there are many things that you just can't do with P1.

    P2 opens a lot of doors. I think this will let me do pretty much anything I want.

    So for me, the timing was close to perfect. As soon as I felt trapped with Basic Stamp, P1 came out.
    Then, when I wanted more that P1, P2 started coming out.
    Prop Info and Apps: http://www.rayslogic.com/
  • whicker wrote: »
    Who knows what kids nowadays see: Arduino is that thing you can use to blink an LED or set colors on light strip? yaawn.

    I guess 15 could be considered “a kid”. I see the Arduino as over-pepped.(No offense to any Ardu-ites here.) I see much more in the P1, and I love the “no SERIN/SEROUT, but there are drivers for it” functionality of Spin1. With P2, the smartphone eliminate much code needs, and thus opening up memory.

    Maybe I just need to get with the flow, but I like using pure Spin/I am the guy who is still wanting the p8x64b. This is what I think the P1 with expanded I/O would be called.
    Returning to Spin after two months of not coding micros at all, forgetting to use :=
  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,015
    Rayman wrote: »
    I'd say there are two major things that P2 can do that P1 cannot...

    One is make things simple. For example, things like Micropython will open up a lot of doors.
    I'm sure there will be BASIC for P2 at some point too.
    It can also self-host a development environment. I think Micropython is essentially there.
    I'm sure Spin2 and some form of BASIC will follow.....

    ? BASIC is already on P2, incuded in ersmith's language suite.
    Similar to FreeBASIC, looks good to me...

  • iostreamhiostreamh Posts: 20
    edited 2019-07-29 - 05:11:24
    I would like to use a propeller chip 1 or 2 but I wish there was a good book series like the Basic Stamp 2 had back in the days... making the learning curve easy and fun to use with examples for various devices like Lora, Bluetooth LE, WiFi chips, SPI bus, I2C bus and of course with electronic theory will be awesome...
  • Failure is not an option...it's bundled with the software.
  • Having been waiting for the propeller 2 since 2013, when I REALLY needed it... I believe they are headed in the right direction. Although I still am able to break new ground with the P1, making it do things I never imagined it could, I see a huge potential for this chip. The language accessibility will make it a very interesting tool for educators to showcase different languages and I think this should be a REAL focus point of the chip.

    From my understanding, one of the reasons the P1 was not taken seriously was it's C support. Or I should say, the lack of C support on release. Some people say the the beanie didn't help. What I think really didn't help was it's unique idea of multi-core microcontroller. At the time it was just so different from what most chip manufactures were doing and what developers were searching for. I think times have changed a bit and I hope once the hardware design is LOCKED, the support software is a good beta quality, and the documentation package is done, Parallax does some serious marketing.

    ?11 years? on and this is STILL early in the game for the P2. Heck, we know it's not even fair to call it a P2 because that chip never got released :angry: This chip is now a P8, after so many revisions and changes and this and that. Chip's not even finished with his Spin2 and I think the reason most of the seasoned developers are having "trouble" is because we're trying to break new ground and test the limits of the chip.

    Once the silicon is locked (and Ken starts breathing again) I hope to see some real resources begin to develop. Obex2, Appnotes2... Datasheets and Spec sheets.

    2019 and still waiting. Glad the P2 isn't TRULY vaporware, I mean I've got a p2es I can work with and wasn't forced to buy a FPGA. I'm sure I would have gotten 0 propeller work done if I had... Still, the chip we have today doesn't have the feature I needed the propeller 2 for back in 2013. CODE PROTECTION. Hopefully the P2 can get some commercial support without this. Still, I think the education market is going to have a field day with this new chip. I'm betting 2020 will be a good year for Parallax indeed. :smiley:
  • Mickster wrote: »

    There has to be a more modern book explaining how to use SPI/I2C peripherals: like touch screens, sound, and cell phone technologies for example...
  • Oops. I momentarily forgot that BASIC for P2 already exists in the FastSpin package.
    Thanks for reminding me...
    Prop Info and Apps: http://www.rayslogic.com/
  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,015
    Rayman wrote: »
    Oops. I momentarily forgot that BASIC for P2 already exists in the FastSpin package.
    Thanks for reminding me...

    Easy to do :)
    FastSpin really does need a better name, as it is now so much more than fastspin....
  • jmgjmg Posts: 14,015
    cheezus wrote: »
    Having been waiting for the propeller 2 since 2013, when I REALLY needed it... I believe they are headed in the right direction. Although I still am able to break new ground with the P1, making it do things I never imagined it could, I see a huge potential for this chip. The language accessibility will make it a very interesting tool for educators to showcase different languages and I think this should be a REAL focus point of the chip.

    Yes, it's actually quite impressive how many languages have a pulse on P2 already.
    cheezus wrote: »
    Chip's not even finished with his Spin2 and I think the reason most of the seasoned developers are having "trouble" is because we're trying to break new ground and test the limits of the chip.
    There are two types of testing, the limit-testing can appear to have endless problems, because that is what it actively looks for :)
    There is also a lot of compiler testing, which does a lot of silicon exercising, that does not push the limits.

    When the new silicon arrives, there will be another burst, to recheck the limit tests to see what has improved/not changed/got worse.
    cheezus wrote: »
    Still, the chip we have today doesn't have the feature I needed the propeller 2 for back in 2013. CODE PROTECTION. Hopefully the P2 can get some commercial support without this. Still, I think the education market is going to have a field day with this new chip. I'm betting 2020 will be a good year for Parallax indeed. :smiley:
    Code protection is missing from other solutions too, and during the P2 gestation, MCUs with unique IDs have gotten very cheap, and better, and there are whole new families of ARM with security as a focus.
    If code protection/security really matter, someone will drop in a MCU that is designed from the ground up that does that.
    A simple secure serial number MCU is under 50c, and ARM parts are in the $2 region.
  • tonyp12tonyp12 Posts: 1,950
    edited 2019-07-29 - 22:13:25
    As the prop2 needs spi flash, just get one that can aide in security

    P25Q32H-SSH-IT cost $0.16 for 100 units, a 4MB (32mbit) soic8 spi flash

    128 bit unique ID for each device
    but also:
    "The device also contains an additional 3*1024-byte security registers with OTP lock (One-Time Programmable),
    can be used for purposes such as unique device serialization, system-level Electronic Serial Number (ESN) storage, locked key storage, etc. "

  • tonyp12 wrote: »
    As the prop2 needs spi flash, just get one that can aide in security

    P25Q32H-SSH-IT cost $0.16 for 100 units, a 4MB (32mbit) soic8 spi flash

    128 bit unique ID for each device
    but also:
    "The device also contains an additional 3*1024-byte security registers with OTP lock (One-Time Programmable),
    can be used for purposes such as unique device serialization, system-level Electronic Serial Number (ESN) storage, locked key storage, etc. "

    This was plan B but... Things change and the projects I was working on have ended, now everything I do is for personal use. It's nice being the person in charge and being able to pat myself on the back for having something instead of beating myself up for not having EVERYTHING. I'm not sure what the current volume market take on code protection is but it's no longer a problem for me, thankfully.
  • It seems to me (and I may be wrong here) that Parallax is putting all their eggs into the "education" basket.
    All the new products only have "blocky" or "C" drivers. I haven't seen SPIN or PASM code for any new products for quite a while.

    From the web site, it looks like they are catering to the grade-school educational market. I'm not sure how the P2 fits into that ???

    From what I've seen, the P2 is an very complicated beast. I hope there is some very detailed documentation for it when it becomes available.

    Bean
  • I am the guy who is still wanting the p8x64b.
    42 * :+1:
    Where can I sign the P8x64B petition?

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  • Bean wrote: »
    It seems to me (and I may be wrong here) that Parallax is putting all their eggs into the "education" basket.
    All the new products only have "blocky" or "C" drivers. I haven't seen SPIN or PASM code for any new products for quite a while.

    From the web site, it looks like they are catering to the grade-school educational market. I'm not sure how the P2 fits into that ???

    From what I've seen, the P2 is an very complicated beast. I hope there is some very detailed documentation for it when it becomes available.

    Bean

    That's what's been paying the bills. We haven't been much into the hobby or industrial market for a while. With the P2, we can go back into those areas. The educational market can keep going like it has been, alongside the new.
  • cgracey wrote:
    We haven't been much into the hobby or industrial market for a while. With the P2, we can go back into those areas.
    Perhaps bringing someone on who knows those areas and how to market to them would help. It's way different than selling to a school or to an individual student.

    The P1 is still a made-in-heaven chip for industrial applications, and "Parallax Semiconductor" was a great idea; but IMO the execution fell a little short of what it would've taken to make it fly.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • cgracey wrote:
    We haven't been much into the hobby or industrial market for a while. With the P2, we can go back into those areas.
    Perhaps bringing someone on who knows those areas and how to market to them would help. It's way different than selling to a school or to an individual student.

    The P1 is still a made-in-heaven chip for industrial applications, and "Parallax Semiconductor" was a great idea; but IMO the execution fell a little short of what it would've taken to make it fly.

    -Phil

    Yes, we kind of abandoned the "Parallax Semiconductor" marketing effort. It didn't have any effect on our current customers, at least.
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