30. May 2015 16:44
Micro-controller circuit board manufacturers Arduino, Sparkfun, Adafruit and the entire community have joined together to make installing and programming micro-controllers much simpler. Previously different files and instructions had to be discovered from various places on the web, then downloaded and installed.
Arduino.cc have designed and included a tool in their development software called a 'Boards Manager'. The Boards Manager provides a simple way to see and install available hardware. The hardware is discovered from .json file(s) that are located under the arduino ide folder. The files contain definitions for avr and sam (arduino uno, arduino due boards)
The Boards Manager is supported with a free respository (managed by arduino.cc) that enables any software author to register (and make available for programming) packages of hardware and software tools.
Arduino have been bold and allowed competitive hardware manufacturers to also use the system, this provides a great facilioty for us all! Therefore, the facility also exists to add additional urls of package.json files that contain the software tools to build programs for different types of Arduino compatible hardware. This can be Arduno clones or entirely different hardware. For example sparkfun boards, adafruit boards, intel boards or the new esp8266 $5 programmable wifi server.
For more information about how to add your own .json urls please see the viaual micro "Ide locations configuration window" or the "arduino ide" file>preferences window. Both Visual Studio, with Visual Micro installed, and the arduino ide use the same system. Some arduino.cc approved thrird party urls are located on ths page
The list of urls shown at the bottom of this page result in the ability to install any of the hardware (and more) shown below. A clever design by Arduino.cc, Federico Fissore and the community.