26 May Announcing Advanced Tools for Makers
Calling all makers, hobbyists, enthusiasts, builders, developers or just folks that want to get more out of their smart homes. Stringify already connects to more than 600 amazing products and services, but we recognize that some users want to connect more Things and do even more with the Things we already provide. To that end, we are proud to announce a suite of advanced tools that allow users to connect any web service or any Node.JS compatible hardware platform as well as add functions to any Flow that can manipulate variables, summarize text or even perform math calculations. There’s quite a bit here so let’s get started.
The Stringify Developer Module
While the module can be installed on any piece of hardware that runs Node.js, our guide discusses installing and using it on a Raspberry Pi. If you have experience with Node.js it should be pretty easy to get it up and running on other devices, but we’ll leave that exercise to the reader.
If you’re a maker or DIY-er you likely already know what a Raspberry Pi is and how cool it is, but just in case the Raspberry Pi is a series of small single-board computers developed in the United Kingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and in developing countries. It has since become a very popular device in the maker and DIY community. It’s a very capable, low-cost board, and is ideal for IoT projects.
The Raspberry Pi 3 has a 1.2Ghz quad-core ARM processor and can be connected to a mouse, keyboard, and screen. What’s more interesting however is that the Raspberry Pi has networking capabilities and supports GPIO (General Purpose Input and Output) which means you can connect cameras, sensors, motors, LEDs and more. You can also connect your Pi to the Internet which makes it a great candidate for IoT projects and a powerful addition to the Stringify platform of products.
Whether you want to make a personal weather station, a connected robot, an internet-enabled drink dispenser (we built one, and it’s awesome), or a connected mirror, the possibilities are endless with the Raspberry Pi.
Once you’ve decided what to do with your Pi, you can then use it in Stringify Flows to make it even more useful. You can send events from other things to your Pi, or have your Pi send events to other Things. A couple quick ideas:
- Build a Flow that speaks the daily weather report to you via a speaker connected to the Pi.
- Use the Pi to announce when a package has been left by the front door via a motion sensor.
- Have the Pi take a picture when your front door is unlocked.
The Stringify developer module is designed as a plug-in architecture. Initially we are releasing three plug-ins:
- Developer Template. Use this to create your own integrations into Stringify. It supports Triggers and Actions and lets you write custom code.
- RPI-GPIO. Use this to create triggers & actions using the Raspberry Pi GPIO pins.
- Speaker. Use this to send text or sound clips through the audio port of your device, including a Raspberry Pi.
A detailed technical guide on how to download, install and use the Developer module can be found here.
The Connected Suite
In addition to the Developer Module, Stringify has a couple more connectivity tools, including our Maker and Flow Things.
The Maker Thing allows users to connect to virtually any web based service, regardless if we directly support it. The Maker Thing can trigger Flows via HTTP and it also allows users to send HTTP GET, POST and PUT actions in Flows. This is a great tool for tying into security systems, media platforms like Plex, online services such as random number generators or homemade bots.
We also have a Flow Thing that gives users the ability to tie multiple Flows together. Some of us have some pretty advanced Flows with dozens of Things in them, and this Thing allows users to run multiple experiences off a separate Flow. This is a useful tool to help manage/edit complex Flow libraries and experiences.
The Function Suite
Finally, in addition to connecting new products, services and interconnecting Flows you already have, we also provide tools that allow users to manipulate data within a particular experience. There are three primary pillars to this suite, giving users control over both textual and math data, as well as creating their own variables for a wide variety of uses.
The Math Thing allows you to perform math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) as well as evaluate comparisons of numerical inputs (greater than, less than, equal to) to determine whether or not to continue a Flow. Hero use cases here revolve around saving money on utility bills based on inside/outside temperature comparisons. In addition, external temperatures can be translated to colored lighting, fans can be turned on instead of AC, and more.
Similarly, the Text Thing allows you to summarize text, look for matching text, convert text to upper/lower cases, replace text, extract substrings and more. A favorite use case here would be syncing your Google calendar with your home, since the Text Thing can look for guests and set the home accordingly (such as turning off sprinklers, unlocking the front door or setting party modes).
Finally, the Variable Thing gives you ultimate creative license, where you can get and set variable names and values and increment/decrement them accordingly. This is a great tool for creating rewards systems for kids, keeping track of guests in your home or simply checking to see if a Flow has already run.
Sharing is Caring
We also figured this was an opportune time to point out the sharing functionality. In short, all of your Flows can be easily shared at the tap of a button
To do so, simply tap the triple dot icon next to any Flow and select “Share”. A picture and description will be automatically generated and once you are satisfied with any additional textual edits, simply tap the “Share Flow” button and you will be able to send your Flow to anyone via text, email, Facebook, Slack, Twitter, What’s App and more. The functionality will generate a URL, and your friend can simply tap the URL and import the Flow into their library and assign their own Things to the experience.
Phew…I think that’s enough for now. There’s quite a bit here and we obviously are looking forward to seeing all the unique ways folks are able to use these tools. We are always happy to help, and please continue to send us feedback. We really want to keep making Stringify better for you.
Talk soon, and Happy Connecting!
– Mike & Dave