There is a big interest from the community to get hold of the prototypes we are working on and to try out the latest and greatest designs. Since we very much recognize that urge and sympathise with those feelings, we want to make new stuff available to the community as soon as possible. We call this the “Early access” program.
“Early access” means that the hardware design is finalized and available in the online shop and from distributors, but the software is still in a rudimentary state. There are probably drivers to communicate with the hardware, but no higher level functionality is implemented yet.
You can read more about how “Early access” fits in the bigger picture on the product cycle page.
The benefits are mutual, we make it possible for our users to get started with new hardware and development at an earlier stage in the development cycle, in return we hope the community will help out with important feedback and contributions towards finalizing the product.
This approach corresponds greatly to our view on how we want to work and develop our products. We see this as a further way to extend our efforts in collaborating with others in the spirit of open source and sharing knowledge.
We run each “early access” project as an open project on Github with a a repository named “early-access-XXX” as the focal point. Since many changes in the Bitcraze software stack spans over multiple repositories (firmware, clients, radio and so on), this “early-access” repo is where to post issues or feature requests, discuss solutions and what to implement. We love to collaborate with the community, join the fun!
The goal is to break down the work into issues that are well defined and reasonably sized, to make it easy for everyone to join. Grab an issue and get your hands dirty! If you need help, ask for it in the focus repo.
We use the blog to communicate new “Early access” projects and we mark products on the product pages with an “Early access” logo.
Should I buy an “Early access” product?
If you are eager to get your hands on the latest hardware and are prepared to dive into the code to make stuff work - then you should.
If you prefer a more finalized product that you can simply plug in and use, or feel that you need documentation and example code, then you should probably not buy it - yet.