Best Software Tools for IoT Developers
Now let’s change gears to “pure thought-stuff” and talk about the software tools that we use on a daily basis — and we’re not just talking about programming languages like Python. Of course, we use all the regular software tools that are common to the tech industry, but we want to focus on some of the more unique options that our hardware developers prefer.
1. CAD Tools
By far one of our favorites is Onshape, a computer-aided design (CAD) tool that gives us a centralized platform for designing, managing, and visualizing the physical product that we’re working on. What sets Onshape apart from other CAD tools is that it runs in a browser and is completely cloud-based. This means that, instead of devoting our computer’s entire CPU to running the software and locking us out of other work, we can offload the workload to a remote server instead. Not only does this let us continue to multitask, but it also reduces the compute power requirements on our developer machines.
While we use OnShape for mechanical engineering, our ECAD (electronics CAD) tool is KiCAD. We use this because it's free, so our clients can easily open any of our files in their native format. It's also incredibly extensible so that we can create custom scripts that automate tasks to improve quality in document generation.
2. UX Design Tools
One tool that our product designers and developers use to stay on the same page is Whimsical, a visual workspace that lets us share tech diagrams, schematics, and user workflow mappings. For instance, we’ll make mind maps at the early stages when we’re brainstorming features and requirements, and we’ll use flowcharts later on to show the step-by-step process of our application logic or user journeys.
We also use Whimsical for creating block diagrams of the hardware we build. This allows us to create a very rough version of the design that is a much higher level and understandable version compared to the schematic. This allows us to get feedback from clients to ensure we're on the right track.
The Sketch + InVision combo is another software toolset that enables rapid design and prototyping. This one hones in on the UX side of the equation by giving us a tool for creating wireframes, connecting pages within an application, and making sure that our IoT users have a seamless and simple way to interact with their new devices.
3. Collaboration Tools
Our teams use a knowledge base software called Guru as our primary source of truth for work policies and best practices. We make concerted company-wide efforts to ensure that the information in Guru is always reliable and up-to-date as processes evolve.
Finally, our remote teams also rely on familiar collaboration tools that have become even more familiar in a COVID-affected world. These include Slack for text chat (check out how our developers solve problems in Slack here), Zoom for video chat (where we have an “always-on” video camera policy, absent extenuating circumstances), and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) for just about everything else. We shouldn’t need to say too much else about these programs other than that they’re what enables our day-to-day communication, and they keep our operations in sync.
When most people think about mechanical and electrical engineering, they think of workshops—not home offices. However, we’re living proof that remote hardware engineering is very possible. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that our remote work culture is largely responsible for our close-knit teams and our ability to move quickly in this growing industry.
Want to learn more about how Very takes big ideas and turns them into real-life IoT products? Check out our IoT hardware engineering services now.