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"App Fairy" for ThingPulse ESP-based Devices Released

Reporting from Shanghai, China
Apr 30, 2021

ThingPulse recently released a user-friendly app store for their ESP8266- and ESP32-based devices.

ThingPulse has recently developed the App Fairy, in order to make their ESP8266- and ESP32-based devices more accessible and user-friendly. The App Fairy is a self-contained app store for your computer. It allows you to install and configure applications for ThingPulse devices, without editing any source code.

As is explained in the ThingPulse blog, the reason for building the App Fairy in the first place was to reduce the complexity of installing and configuring applications for non-makers. Installing USB-to-serial drivers, setting up a development environment, checking out the source code, changing a few settings and finally flashing the built artefact to the device may be an acceptable process for developers. However, for everybody else it may be too cumbersome and error-prone. So, this is exactly where the App Fairy comes in handy, for it does not require any installation itself; it’s just click-and-go!

The App Fairy is built on top of ThingPulse’s widely popular GUI wrapper for the Espressif esptool.py. The aggregated app binaries, including bootloader, partitions, etc., are built with PlatformIO. App binaries and configuration templates are stored on ThingPulse servers in Switzerland.

When the user hits the install button, the App Fairy creates a SPIFFS image containing an /application.properties file with all the configuration values the user has entered. The SPIFFS imaged is flashed together with the app binary by esptool.py. When the app boots on the device, it checks for /application.properties on the SPIFFS and applies its values over the default values the app was programmed with.

The App Fairy 3.0 is ready for downloading without installation at: https://github.com/ThingPulse/app-fairy. The only requirement is that you install a Serial-to-USB driver first, which will allow your device to receive data from your computer. The list of application releases per device and their respective configuration options are completely dynamic. Hence, when ThingPulse publishes a new app or a the new version of an existing app, with possibly extended configuration options, customers can install those without upgrading their app store application.

To get all the information about how the App Fairy works, you can check out the official website of ThingPulse.

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