Our friends, Mu allies and all-round superheroes at Adafruit have asked, “What do you want from CircuitPython in 2019”? This is my personal response. :-)
For those of you who don’t know, CircuitPython is Adafruit’s “flavour” of the amazing feat of engineering that is MicroPython. MicroPython is a complete reimplementation of Python 3 for microcontrollers and embedded devices. MicroPython has all the features of regular Python (sans standard library) and can run in as little as 8k of RAM. CircuitPython builds on MicroPython’s rock-solid foundation with education/beginner friendly libraries and APIs. They provide a consistent way to interact with Adafruit’s amazing line of boards for learning about and hacking around with electronics. The following video (featuring Adafruit’s founder, Limor “ladyada” Fried, and friends) sums up their aims pretty well.
Mu has an Adafruit mode which makes it very easy to program Adafruit devices running CircuitPython. This is how Mu and CircuitPython are related in a technical sense, above and beyond the complementary educational aims of both projects.
There are two items on my list for CircuitPython in 2019. The first is easy, the second is hard:
- It would be really helpful if there were a friendly CircuitPython landing page to which we can point folks and from which visitors can easily find the chat, tutorials, list of supported boards, source code, technical docs and other good stuff.
- Continue to inspire a community of learners (no matter how long we’ve been programming, we’re all still learners, right?).
The second point needs more explanation.
The CircuitPython folks at Adafruit take great care and attention over how they facilitate the community growing around the project. The result of their efforts is a welcoming, diverse and supportive group of people championing CircuitPython through their projects, code and interactions with the wider “tech” community.
CircuitPython is one of the best examples of this sort of community organising that I know of.
Why is this important?
At a time when technology is finding its way into every aspect of our lives it is important that everyone has access to the tools and knowledge needed to learn how to take control of their digital world. Rather than being tech “consumers” I hope folks become tech “makers” armed with the skills needed to make the digital world reflect their own desires and needs.
Sadly, the tech world has a history of being open only to certain types of people (mainly people like me: white straight dudes with the privilege of money to buy equipment and time to attend to their education). It means technology usually only reflects the desires and needs of just these sorts of people.
We can do better than this skewed state of affairs.
In a very practical sense Adafruit’s CircuitPython is an antidote to the exclusion of folks in tech. They are fostering an open and inclusive community around an easy-to-learn and affordable project that helps folks learn about technology.
Such community building is incredibly hard to pull off and sustain. So my wish is that Scott, Kattni, Dan, Phil, Limor and all the others working so hard in this respect with CircuitPython find the energy, support and compassion needed to continue to inspire the community growing around their amazing project.
Best wishes from your friends working on Mu!