We are launching today MadeForSTM32™, a new label destined to single out software solutions that will significantly enhance the experience of engineers and designers building applications on our STM32 microcontrollers. There are today two major types of applications under this label: software development tools, such as IDEs, among others, and software expansion packages. The latter are easily recognizable as they use our STM32CUBE nomenclature, meaning that they all integrate our STM32Cube ecosystem. However, unlike STM32Cube expansion packages, which start with the letter “X” (X-CUBE), our partners’ software expansions begin with an “I” (I-CUBE). Very simply, the label is essential for enthusiasts and professionals alike because it represents a guarantee that a particular tool offers a great experience and remains accessible because ST itself vetted it using a stringent evaluation process.
Two companies earned the MadeForSTM32 at launch, RoweBots and SEGGER, the former with its I-CUBE-UNISON and the latter with its I-CUBE-EMBOS. These solutions are symbolic because they’ve been significant assets to the STM32 ecosystem for years as they enable developers to reduce their time to market by offering efficient and powerful real-time operating systems. The MadeForSTM32 label thus shines a new light to ensure our community is aware of these RTOSs and to help developers find their respective free evaluation version quickly, such as with a link within a product page on the st.com website. Behind the scenes, the MadeForSTM32 label took years to come to fruition in part because of the work that went into designing a vetting process that aims to gain the utmost trust of our users. Let’s thus see some of the requirements of MadeForSTM32 v1.
MadeForSTM32, Bringing Convenience and Confidence to Users, Feedback to Partners
Before a company can apply for the MadeForSTM32 label, it must be a member of the ST Partner Program, an initiative we launched in 2017 to power innovation and unify our network of collaborators. This requirement serves as a first guarantee since solutions that earn the new label are necessarily from companies we trust and work with closely. Another condition is that a solution that will receive the MadeForSTM32 stamp must have a free version for evaluation. It was crucial for us to facilitate access to more tools. For instance, I-CUBE-UNISON is a free version of RoweBots’ kernel for STM32 users, while I-CUBE-EMBOS offers an evaluation version of its popular and efficient RTOS and tools for various development boards. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of free evaluation software, but it often is the only way for some engineers to judge if a solution fits their needs.
MadeForSTM32 demands that a software product undergo an approximately three-to-four-week testing period at ST. At the end of this process, we send our decision whether to award or not a product with the MadeForSTM32 label, as well as an analysis of a solution’s strength and weaknesses. Among many other things, we look at the user experience after downloading and installing the software and the technical support available. It’s rare to have an actor like ST offer practical and objective advice, with supporting documents, to help companies improve their services and spot potential issues. Beyond the recognition and marketing opportunities that come with the new label, the process is also highly instructive to the partners themselves who benefit from a thorough study.
MadeForSTM32, Bringing Customizations and Pertinence to the Industry
Traditionally, software developers tend to write general solutions that fit a vast multitude of microcontrollers. It enables them to save on development costs and target as many platforms as possible. Unfortunately, it’s detrimental to developers who must work to optimize the tools for their particular environment. The MadeForSTM32 label bucks this trend by rewarding companies who optimize their solution for our MCUs and allow our users to spend time on their features rather than low-level work. It also recompenses companies like SEGGER and RoweBots who’ve worked on versions of their RTOSs for STM32 MCUs for years. By granting them the new label, we are encouraging our other partners to follow in their footsteps and join a new trend that increases the accessibility and practicality of our ecosystem.
MadeForSTM32 is also a living project that we will continue to update. The label is now using v1 specifications, but we are already looking into a v2 version. We do not have any particular dates at the moment, but we will update our blog readers once details become available. Partners who got the v1 label will also have one year from the publication of the newer version to make any changes and apply for the new label. Beyond keeping the specifications relevant, it is also a guarantee that any company sporting the MadeForSTM32 logo has a current label, which is another crucial guarantee in an industry that can sometimes suffer from obsolete solutions.