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Device
Maintain and update the firmware on your devices.
Cloud
Manage orchestration across your device fleet.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

Find the answers to the most common Toit questions.

General

Why Toit?

Toit is revolutionizing the IoT development process. The current state of IoT development has not changed for decades, and our goal is to change that paradigm: We turn firmware development into software development, enabling every software developer to become a successful IoT software developer.

What is Toit?

Toit is an end-to-end IoT software platform. Toit is also a new programming language tailored for embedded devices, and Toit provides powerful API endpoints such that your data can flow from your devices into your own IoT cloud system.

Toit offers a device dashboard where you can orchestrate and monitor your device fleet, and the Toit cloud allows for easy and flawless over-the-air firmware upgrade of your devices, as well as application deployment even if your devices are offline.

How is Toit different from other IoT platforms?
  • The Toit VM - Our Virtual Machine completely isolates you from the underlying microcontroller and peripherals, and lets you focus on building your solution, not battling hardware.

  • Robust sandboxing - You can update your apps as much as you want without affecting the other apps already installed on your devices

  • The Toit Language - Work in a modern, high-level language with all the perks that come with it, but with an execution speed that is an order of magnitude faster than MicroPython.

  • Over-The-Air updates - It does not matter if your device connections are slow or intermittent: Don't worry; your code and updates will come through.

  • The Toit API - Our API is your gateway to your devices and your data. You do not spend time setting up and keep the infrastructure running. Just plug into our API and start pulling your device data.

Platform

How do my devices communicate with each other using Toit?

Toit offers easy, out-of-the-box device communication using the publish/subscribe pattern.

Publish/subscribe is an asynchronous messaging service that decouples the services generating messages from the services processing them.

The applications running on your devices can communicate with each other either directly, if they run on the same device, or via the Toit cloud if they are installed and running on different devices.

An application can publish serializable data on a topic which is sent to all subscribers. Another application can then subscribe to the same topic to receive the published data.

All this can be achieved with only a few lines of code in your applications.

How can I get the device data into my own backend?

Toit offers publicly available APIs, which are designed to make it easy to ingest collected device data into your own IoT backend.

Toit provides a GRPC API for communicating with the Toit console from your client application. We have example implementations of client applications written in Java, Python, Dart/Flutter and NodeJS.

Toit also offers high-level APIs for metrics and logs, that are optimized for size.

How fast can I get started using Toit on my hardware?

There are only a few steps required to get started with Toit. First, you need a Toit account.

Then, provision your hardware, thereby installing the latest released Toit firmware and adding initial WiFi connection settings. This step links your hardware to your Toit account.

At this point you can push code to your hardware, either by using the web-based Toit console, or by using the Toit CLI.

How fast are over-the-air firmware updates of my devices?

We have designed the over-the-air firmware updates to only transfer the changes in each update, not the entire bundle. If the connection to your hardware is unstable, the update will eventually succeed, so you don't need to worry about placing Toit devices in poorly covered areas.

Firmware

Why add a virtual machine to an embedded device?

When you install the Toit firmware on your hardware, the Toit virtual machine is installed on top of the operating system. It isolates the embedded IoT applications from each other and provides a robust, resilient, and secure execution environment.

Watch how Toit allows you to deploy, update and uninstall three apps, including one that would crash any other IoT device, on an ESP32 microcontroller with Toit.

Which chip models does Toit support?

Toit runs on the ESP32 chip from Espressif. We have chosen the ESP32 because it offers the best price and performance out of all the MCUs out there. For $2 or less you get 520 KB RAM, built-in WiFi, and 34 pins for peripherals configurable to be used for communication protocols (SPI, I2C), analog/digital interfacing (ADC/DAC), Ethernet, and much more.

The deep-sleep mode of the ESP32 allows for extremely low power usage and you can run on a couple of AA batteries for years. All this at a price that is a fraction of that for comparable or even inferior chips.

How do I write my own driver in Toit?

With Toit, you get build-in access to embedded procotols such as I2C and SPI, as well as GPIO support, which makes it possible to write drivers directly in the Toit language. The documentation contains a tutorial on how to write drivers. Furthermore, we have published drivers for some common peripherals on Github. These are often good starting points for your own drivers.

If you need help or have questions regarding drivers, don't hesitate to ask us either using the public Slack channel or by writing to developers@toit.io

Which types of connectivity does Toit offer?

The ESP32 and Toit offer out-of-the-box WiFi connectivity. It is also possible to add Cellular connectivity with the operator of your choice.

We're also working on bringing Ethernet support to the platform.

Language

Why create a new programming language?

Because of the resource constraints on embedded microchips, an IoT computing platform needs to be tight in order to work. Previous IoT languages (such as Java SE Embedded and MicroPython) were generated as a limited version of the corresponding standard language by removing classes and other tools. With Toit, we wanted to create a high-level language that would avoid the limitations of the existing languages used in IoT development. On top of this, the Toit language had to be intuitive to learn and safe to use.

The Toit syntax is similar to Python, but compared to MicroPython, Toit’s execution is 20 times faster.

With Toit, you use only one language for all logic on your devices, whether it is the driver for a sensor, or the applications running on the device.

Why use Toit over C?

C is a low-level language that allows full access to the system. It's a great language for operations that require precise memory layouts or interact a lot with system calls. In fact, we use it, and C++, under the hood.

However, C is harder to program in and requires the developer to focus on things that a high-level language, like Toit, can take care of. For instance, Toit comes with a garbage collector which makes dealing with memory much easier. Not only that, but automatic memory management also avoids many crashes that would bring down the full system. Toit programs are sandboxed and can't write to arbitrary memory locations.

Also, Toit is a much younger language and has incorporated lots of the language lessons that were learned in the meantime. It features classes, interfaces, named arguments, etc.

Finally, the Toit language comes with high-level libraries that abstract away the low-level operations. We, the Toit developers, fiddle with C, so that you don't need to.

Why use Toit over MicroPython?

MicroPython is a stripped-down version of Python that was not tailor-made for IoT. It is high-level, but it does not really behave as Python does, so the switch from Python to MicroPython requires adjustments similar to the ones needed to switch from Python to Toit.

Since Python wasn't designed for embedded systems, it doesn't perform as well in that task either. Toit programs run typically 20x faster than MicroPython programs. Furthermore, the memory layout of objects in MicroPython is not as efficient as the one in Toit, which means that bigger programs (with many heap objects) are handled better by Toit than by MicroPython.

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