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NanoPlay
Demonstration image of the NanoPlay

NanoPlay OS

NanoPlay OS, the operating system and firmware that runs on the NanoPlay device.

nanoplay.subnodal.com

About NanoPlay OS

NanoPlay OS is a small operating system written entirely in JavaScript which runs on the NanoPlay device, powered by Espruino. NanoPlay OS allows users to create their own apps in our IDE and then upload their apps to their NanoPlay via Bluetooth Low Energy. With a feature-rich yet easy-to-learn API designed to allow apps to access the versatile features of the NanoPlay, the NanoPlay can be used as a multifunctional yet portable device.

The NanoPlay API allows apps to:

  • Display shapes, text and other graphics on the NanoPlay's LCD
  • Get the current state of the NanoPlay's four buttons
  • Read and write values to the six analog pins exposed on the back of the NanoPlay
  • Read and write data files which are stored in non-volatile flash storage, as well as list the data files on the NanoPlay
  • Set the NFC chip to emit a specified URL to nearby devices
  • Get the current fullness percentage of the on-board CR2032 battery
  • Get the current environment temperature in degrees Celsius, degrees Fahrenheit or Kelvin
  • Get the locale code of the chosen language to allow for multilingual interactivity

Building

Prerequisites:

  • Python 3
  • Node.js
  • terser (sudo npm install -g terser)

To build NanoPlay OS, run the build.py file. Once building is complete, upload the files in build/ to your NanoPlay using the Espruino Web IDE. Don't forget to upload the .bootrst file (which may be hidden in your file manager) since this ensures that the OS runs at startup.

Distributing

After building NanoPlay OS, you can generate a distribution file that can be used to update existing NanoPlay devices over-the-air. To generate this file, run the dist.py script. Once distributing is complete, you can use the npupdate.json file in the dist/ directory to apply the update.

npupdate.json should not be uploaded to the NanoPlay (it won't even fit, so good luck getting it on...). The file is intended as an archive that is supplied to the NanoPlay Web API for updating the NanoPlay file-by-file.

The beauty of this over-the-air update method as compared to the previous update method (where one had to manually upload each file through the Espruino Web IDE) is that updating is fast and all automatic, and apps and other user data will not be erased when updating.

Contributing

Contributions to NanoPlay OS are very much welcome! You may want to search for issues tagged with good first issue since resolving those issues will help you learn how to write code for NanoPlay OS. If you fork the repo (since you won't be able to make changes to the main NanoPlay repo), you can then submit a pull request for us to review.

Writing apps

If you know how to write JavaScript, then you'll find making apps for NanoPlay easy and intuitive. NanoPlay apps are constructed of two files (which both must bear the same filename, disregarding the extension). Your main code will reside in a file with the file extension of .np, and the app manifest will reside in another file with the file extension of .npm.

See the test app to see an example of a NanoPlay app.

In the .np app, JavaScript code that resides in a function called start will run once when your app is opened. Code that resides in a function called loop will run continuously (for every frame) until your code either makes a call to the close API command, or if execution is interrupted by holding down all four buttons on the NanoPlay.

We suggest that you define your variables outside of the two functions. All other code must reside in either of the functions. Defining the functions is optional, so if you don't need to run any code at start, then you don't have to define the start function.

In terms of the manifest (.npm) file, it is formatted as a JSON file. A very minimal manifest would be:

{
    "name": "App Name"
}

In this example, the same app name will be used no matter what locale is chosen. The app's icon will be the default icon which is shown when the icon key of the JSON file is undefined.

A complete manifest would look like this:

{
    "name": {
        "en_GB": "App Name",
        "fr_FR": "Nom d'app"
    },
    "icon": "AAAAAAAAAA ... AAAAAAAA=="
}

Here, the name of the app will be chosen depending on the current locale. If the current locale doesn't have a matching app name in the manifest, the filename (without the extension) will be used instead. Also, the icon is a Base64 representation of a 44x17 raw binary matrix.

Uploading apps to the NanoPlay

As a user, you can write code and upload it to your NanoPlay via the NanoPlay IDE, which is a web app that is usable from our website. The IDE uploads apps using Web Bluetooth, so a browser that supports this feature is required. A simulator is also integrated into the IDE for rapid prototyping, so that you don't have to upload your app to your NanoPlay to test small changes.

Screenshot of IDE

An added bonus with the IDE is that you don't need to write a manifest ─ it is automatically generated for you based on the app settings.

If you're looking to interface the NanoPlay with your very own web app, you can use the NanoPlay Web API to control various aspects of the NanoPlay. It is the same API that's used in the IDE to send the code to the NanoPlay.

About

NanoPlay OS, the operating system and firmware that runs on the NanoPlay device.

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