Brewblox release 2021/05/25 (updated 2021/06/04)

Relevant links:

Brewblox release 2021/05/25

firmware release date: 2021/03/09

For this release, we’ve made some significant improvements to the Builder editor, and adjusted our long-term plans for automation features.
For the latter, we decided to stop development on our own automation service, and focus on integration with third-party platforms such as Node-RED.
More on this below.

Builder improvements

Until now, the Builder editor was unusable on mobile devices, to the point where we disabled it on small screens. We tackled some of the biggest deficiencies, and reworked the tools to improve compatibility with touch devices. The result is a much improved experience for everyone.

The Builder editor, widget, and page now all support mousewheel / pinch zooming. You can drag to pan the view, eliminating the need for scroll bars.

To simplify navigation, the editor now uses the default sidebar. You can select the active layout in the left sidebar, and editor tools from a sidebar on the right side.

Editor tools and mouse actions have been merged. Select a tool in the sidebar, and click or drag to manipulate part(s). Keyboard shortcuts are still available, and act on hovered or selected parts.

With the ability to arbitrarily zoom and drag the layout, we have also repurposed the grid.
Parts can now be placed or moved anywhere, but the Builder widget will set the initial zoom level to make the grid fit the widget. You can use this to manipulate the default placement and zoom level.
To help with this, we added a new editor tool: Resize grid. With this tool, you can click and drag to define a new grid area.

Automation service deprecation

We’ve taken a long hard look at our automation service and its backlog, and concluded that we need to drastically curtail our ambitions here.

The purpose of the automation service is to support custom functionality that is not (yet) provided by the Spark firmware. There are plenty of use cases for this, ranging from recipe integration to automated alerts to custom sensors and actuators.

Backlog estimates, and our experience making the main UI more user-friendly paint a less rosy picture.
The runtime engine for executing custom automation functionality is relatively simple.
Building an editor UI to handle all desired native and custom functionality is not complicated either, but it is a lot of work. Making said UI intuitive and user-friendly while handling complex control logic takes even more work.

Brewblox is process control software with an emphasis on brewing. Adding a generic low-code platform would be a prime example of the Not Invented Here syndrome.

A happy compromise is to make our software compatible with one or more off-the-shelf low-code platforms.
The important thing is that users should not have to switch UIs when brewing. This can be accomplished if the external editor is only required for creating the custom subroutines, and the Brewblox UI is used to start/stop/monitor them.

We’ve had good experiences with our prototype integration with Node-RED, and will continue development there. Integrations with Brewfather, Home Assistant, and IFTTT are also under consideration.

To summarize:

  • We are ending development of the current automation service.
  • We will keep developing automation functionality.
  • You can use a third-party editor to create and edit automation subroutines.
  • You should not have to switch UIs during brew days or active fermentations.

Automation editor deprecation

The UI components for the automation editor came with heavy dependencies.
We don’t want to yank the rug out from underneath the users that already make use of the service, so we settled on forking the editor components to a separate service.
The new automation-ui service is added automatically if you have an automation service in your docker-compose.yml file. You can access it by navigating to /automation-ui.
The Automation widget still exists, and will open the editor UI in a new tab if you click on a “edit process” button.

Changes 2021/06/04:

  • (enhancement) By default, scroll wheel zooming is also blocked for the Builder widget.
  • (enhancement) You can still interact with parts by clicking on them if pan/zoom is disabled in the Builder widget.
  • (fix) Chip elements in the Logic Actuator widget now correctly respond when clicked.
  • (fix) Elements in the Logic Actuator widget are now rendered with the correct color if the widget is shown in a dialog.
  • (fix) The “add constraint” button now always opens a dialog to select new constraints.

Changes:

  • (feature) The Builder editor is now enabled on mobile.
  • (feature) The Builder editor now uses the default sidebar.
  • (feature) Added the Pan tool to the Builder editor.
  • (feature) Added the Resize grid tool to Builder editor. Drag to define the new grid area.
  • (feature) The Builder grid area is now used to set the default shown area in Builder widgets. Parts can be placed outside the grid.
  • (feature) Scroll or pinch to adjust zoom in the Builder editor, Builder layout page, and Builder widget.
  • (feature) Merged Builder editor Mouse actions and Tools.
  • (feature) Placed Builder tools in the right-hand sidebar. Swipe to collapse/expand the sidebar.
  • (feature) Reworked Builder tools to be compatible with both mouse/keyboard and touch-based interfaces.
  • (feature) The Valve and Actuator Valve parts in Builder are merged into Valve. The valve is controlled manually if unlinked.
  • (feature) Added drag-to-pan to the Builder layout page and Builder widget.
  • (feature) Added toggleable scroll blocking overlays for the Builder widget on mobile dashboards.
  • (feature) Renamed the Display Settings block to Spark Display.
  • (feature) Spark system blocks can now be shown on dashboards. This includes:
    • Spark System Info
    • Spark Display (previously Display Settings)
    • Spark 2 Pins
    • Spark 3 Pins
  • (feature) Changes in Quick Actions are automatically converted whenever the system temperature unit changes.
  • (feature) Markdown-formatted text in session log notes is now rendered in the widget.
  • (feature) The session log note editor now shows a Markdown preview to the side.
  • (feature) Click on the dashboard/service/layout title in the top bar to edit.
  • (deprecation) Deprecated the Automation service.
  • (deprecation) Moved the Automation editor from the UI to a separate automation-ui service.
  • (deprecation) The automation-ui service is added if the automation service is detected during updates.
  • (deprecation) The Automation widget now links to the external editor at /automation-ui.
  • (enhancement) When removing a block on the Spark page, the option is given to automatically remove dedicated widgets from dashboards.
  • (enhancement) Improved responsiveness of dialog sizes.
  • (enhancement) The block actions menu now shows what Spark service the block belongs to.
  • (enhancement) Added custom styling for the dashboard page scrollbar.
  • (enhancement) The message log in the bottom bar now renders html formatting.
  • (enhancement) dashboard/service/layout titles are now shown centered in the top bar.
  • (enhancement) All arguments to brewblox-ctl up/down/restart are passed through to the underlying docker-compose command.
  • (enhancement) Date/Time pickers now use system-native input fields.
  • (enhancement) Improved start/end date handling for graphs in the Session Log widget.
  • (fix) After running brewblox-ctl service remove, the removed service is also stopped.
  • (fix) The RIMS Builder part now has a minimum width of 3.
  • (fix) Builder parts now show an error if the linked block is of an incompatible type.
  • (fix) The Stopwatch widget now shows the correct time if the dashboard is reloaded while the timer is stopped.
2 Likes

Pushed a small hotfix for a bug in quick start wizards.
To get it, run brewblox-ctl service pull ui, and reload the page.

1 Like

Hi Bob, I’m having a lot of problems with the new UI updates on iOS, which is my main interface on brew day. The widgets no longer fit on the screen, and with the new UI for the builder layout, I can’t interact with the elements on the dashboard. Maybe I’m missing something? When I tap the little finger icon, I can interact with the elements, but then when I try to scroll down, it scrolls the builder layout, not the page. It makes the iPhone interface almost unusable. Also, something is buggy in this quick action. I recorded a little video of some of this. What’s the best way to send it to you? I can’t upload a video file to the message forum apparently.

If you tap the finger icon again, it will disable builder interaction again. Is this undesirable?

If it’s a small video, you could zip it. For longer videos, you could upload it and share a link.
The forum upload protections are not terribly sophisticated: renaming a video to video.mp4.txt will bypass the upload rules.

Pushed a small hotfix for bugs in the Logic Actuator UI component.
This also includes improvements for the scroll blocker in builder widget.

Properly not the correct place, however - did you just to something that could make the service unreachable?

I am in the middle of a brew and just kegged as well. Now I need to stop the current fermentation process, clean and start a new one. Suddenly, I am unable to reach the service. I haven’t touched anything for well over a year.

What do I do - and how to I troubleshoot.

I love your setup. It is perfect when working - however very hard to understand what to do, when something goes wrong.


spark-one

Troubleshooter

refresh

04/06/2021, 18:16:31

Last update

Unable to connect to service

Service not connected to controller

Handshake not performed

Service not synchronized

Your Spark service is offline.

  • Is your backend reachable?
  • Is the container present in your docker-compose file?
  • Is the container running?

/Jeppe

In this case, you can run docker-compose ps to check if everything is up and running on the backend.

brewblox-ctl log collects a lot of relevant troubleshooting data, including service status and logs. You can share the URL here.

If your services are running, I suspect that your SSL certificate may be expired (it is valid for a year).
To update it, run

brewblox-ctl down
brewblox-ctl makecert
brewblox-ctl up

If your version pre-dates the introduction of brewblox-ctl makecert, you can either update Brewblox, or run the commands manually:

brewblox-ctl down
docker run --rm --privileged --pull always -v "/home/pi/brewblox/traefik":/certs/ brewblox/omgwtfssl:edge
sudo chmod 644 "/home/pi/brewblox/traefik/brewblox.crt"
sudo chmod 600 "/home/pi/brewblox/traefik/brewblox.key"
brewblox-ctl up

What do you mean by stop, clean and start a new one?
In brewblox, all data is logged continously.

The session log widget lets you create a set of notes and graphs. The graphs are just a selection of keys for which lines you want in the graph, and a start and stop timestamp.
You don’t need to explicitly start logging, but there’s a handy start/stop button that sets the timestamp to ‘now’.

For easier starting/stopping of your temperature control, which is separate from data logging, we recently added the “temp control assistant” widget.