Although software is increasingly built to be deployed, maintained, and scaled in the cloud, physical products still require solutions embedded into their hardware. These sensors and microcontrollers are functionally similar to the chips that power your phone and computer, but they are smaller and lower-powered. Web developers can leverage a nearly infinite ecosystem of libraries and tools to triangulate their desired behavior. On the other hand, embedded systems require simplicity and precision to map physical chunks of hardware to their specific tasks.
At 8th Light, we place the highest priority on quality, teaching others to craft sustainable and reliable systems. In many ways these practices are only catching up to the reliability and durability of embedded solutions. With the work more narrowly defined and focused on specific outcomes, embedded programmers have spent the last five decades refining their approach in a more focused way than the sprawling web development sphere.
In this talk, 8th Light principal crafter Chris Wilson dives into embedded development from the perspective of someone who’s worked primarily on the web. He introduces some of the key concepts and constraints that inform code architecture, and draws out some corollaries for web development — interrupts are like async callbacks, and choosing and configuring modules is akin to linking and bundlers.
This talk goes beyond this conceptual overview, as Chris also walks through the implementation for a custom Pomodoro timer device that he began building during an online class.
Join the Dialogue
Resources shared during this talk:
- Adafruit IO - projects & tutorials
- Wokwi online simulator
- 3-part course on microcontrollers, RTOS
- Amazon’s version of FreeRTOS
- Prototype to Product (book)
- “Practical UML Statecharts in C/C++” (book)
- “Making Embedded Systems” (book)
- Make Magazine - tutorials, diagrams, articles
- Andreas Spiess - tutorials & wireless
- “Making Embedded Systems” Classpert course
About Chris Wilson
Chris Wilson is a software developer with, depending on how you measure it, 20 years of experience (1990s Angelfire website, FTW!). He's worked in research science, healthcare software, and now consulting.
About 8th Light University
8th Light University (8LU) is a semi-regular virtual event that is managed by 8th Light Inc, a global software consultancy. Topics focus on improving the craft of software development. Developers of all skill levels are welcome! Watch past event videos on YouTube or join the 8LU group to find out about upcoming events.