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Getting started with Visual Studio Code

The official development environment for Zerynth is Visual Studio Code powered by the Zerynth VSCode extension.

The extension is a plugin that adds Zerynth functionality to VSCode.

First, you need to install the Zerynth SDK, it takes just a couple of minutes. If you have VSCode already installed, the Zerynth VSCode extension will be added. Otherwise, we will also install VSCode for you.

1. Run Visual Studio Code

If you were already using Visual Studio Code, you can just start it as usual. If you never used it before, there is a detailed introduction here.

You can start VSCode:

  • in Windows, from the Start Menu or by typing zcode from Powershell
  • in Mac and Linux, from bash or zsh terminals by typing zcode

The extension adds some panels and tabs. In particular, in the Explorer tab (Ctrl+Shift+E) three more panels are present for managing projects, searching examples and integrating with the zDeviceManager. Moreover the extension also modifies some standard panels adding shortcuts to common actions.

Let's quickly go through them.

Explorer Tab

When no projects are opened, VSCode shows a No Folder Opened panel with some shortcuts to create a new Zerynth project from scratch or from existing examples.

VSCode opening page

Zerynth Control Panel

The Zerynth control panel is the main entry point for the SDK functionalities and its content is available as soon as a Zerynth project is opened. You can perform all common actions on a device in this panel: from configuring the current project for a specific Zerynth hardware to sending an over the air update to devices.

Zerynth Control Panel

Zerynth Examples

From this panel the vast collection of examples can be browsed by category or searched by content. Cloning an example is the quickest way to create a working new project.

Zerynth Examples Panel

Zerynth Device Manager

From this panel you can interact with the zDeviceManager (ZDM) by browsing through the fleets of devices connected to the zCloud

Zerynth Tab

In the Zerynth tab reachable from the Zerynth logo on the VSCode sidebar, you can access a new view with the list of opened serial consoles, the list of supported devices and a ZDM panel.

2. Create and run a project

Let's create a new Zerynth project by pressing Ctrl+Shift+P, typing new and selecting Zerynth > New Project. You need to specify a folder where to create the project and the Explorer tab populates itself with a minimal Zerynth project with:

Zerynth Examples Panel
  •, the entrypoint for the firmware
  • config.yml, the advanced project configuration
  • resources, a folder with an image of the internal filesystem
  • .zerynth, a folder with automatic configuration, don't modify it!

Now plug your Zerynth hardware into a USB port and click Physical device in the Zerynth Control Panel or press Ctrl+Shift+P and type Zerynth > Set Device type.

The hardware is automatically recognized and the project is configured for it.

As usual you can either click Run or press Ctrl+Shift+P and type Zerynth > Run to build the project and transfer it on the hardware to be executed.

Notice that the various terminal tabs on VSCode are displaying the output of each operation.

Run output on a terminal

3. Debug and monitor

Now that the project is running, click Console and a terminal tab will open showing all the output printed by the device. This is the standard way to debug and monitor the output of a program.

However sometime a program may fail with an error that in Python is called an Exception. When this happens, in the tab Problems one can easily click on the problem itself and being redirected to the source code line that caused the error.

4. Access the documentation

In the Zerynth Control Panel there are many shortcuts to the documentation, a core part of an IoT development journey. By clicking Device documentation the documentation page for the device is opened in the browser. If you need the names of pins or the position of a communication bus, just click Device pinmap and you will be taken to the device schematics page.

5. Explore the zDeviceManager

The extension is also integrated with the zCloud, in particular with the zDeviceManager. The Zerynth Control Panel allows interacting with the cloud counterpart of the physical device. To start accessing the cloud, just press Provisioning and accept the warning about the current program being deleted. The provisioning process creates a cloud device and associates it with your physical device in your Zerynth account.

After a successful provisioning your physical device can connect to the zDeviceManager and send data. Moreover you can jump directly to the cloud device web page by clicking on Cloud device. You can also perform an over the air update of the firmware by clicking FOTA! The over the air update is one of the essentials features of the zDeviceManager that allows managing all your devices remotely with just a click.

Zerynth ZDM panel