ProtoPie Connect 4 min read

Intro to ProtoPie Connect 6 of 7: Writing Your First Bridge App

Learn how to connect to write custom code that provides the date, time and weather to your Pies.

Jeff Clarke
Jeff Clarke, UX Designer & ProtoPie EducatorJuly 20, 2022
Intro to ProtoPie Connect 6 of 7: Writing Your First Bridge App

Introduction

ProtoPie Connect comes with a number of useful and easy to use plugins out of the box for integrating with things like IFTTT, the Logitech G29 steering wheel and Arduino — both via blokdots or direct serial connection. But what if you want to interface with something not covered by the plugins? If you subscribe to the ProtoPie Enterprise plan, it’s possible to write your own bridge app to connect your Pie with any product or service.

What you’ll learn

In this lesson you’ll explore a Node.js app that interfaces with ProtoPie Connect using a connection technology known as Socket.io. In particular, you will:

  • Start with some standard “boilerplate” code that will get you connected quickly to ProtoPie Connect from your app.
  • Use the Moment.js library to provide a formatted date and time to your Pie.
  • Use OpenWeather’s API to retrieve current weather conditions and provide them to your Pie.

Time to complete: ≤45 minutes

What you’ll need

A ProtoPie Enterprise subscription

Writing custom bridge apps for ProtoPie Connect only works with the full version of Connect included with the ProtoPie Enterprise subscription. Enterprise subscribers get the added ability to use and write custom plugins with ProtoPie Connect.

Some coding experience

You won’t need to be a professional developer to follow along with the examples below. If you’ve ever coded with JavaScript before — even simple stuff — you should be fine. But if you’ve NEVER coded before, you’re going to be in way over your head.

If you’re brand new to coding, I suggest going through the following tutorials first:

Learning to code is a time commitment for sure, but it’s a really useful skill for a prototyper, and even as a designer, knowing just a little bit about coding will do wonders for your relationship with your engineering team.

A decent text editor

We’re coding, so we need to use a good text editor. Utilities built-in to your OS like Notepad will work, but they’re not ideal. Fortunately there are many great editors available:

I’ll be using Sublime Text in my examples, so if you want to see what I see, use Sublime Text.

An OpenWeather account

Head over to OpenWeather’s web site and make an account. You’ll need one in order to connect to their weather API. We’ll be using a free service, so no need to set up a paid account.

The starting code and Pie

I’ve written some code to get you started. Download this ZIP file and extract it somewhere convenient on your computer. And open the Pie file in ProtoPie Studio

Let’s do this!

Follow along with the video below.

Lesson 6: Bridge App 1 - Date Time Weather

Code

At 25:39 in the video I paste in a snippet of code for the Icon Map. Here is that code so you can copy and paste it in to your project.

const ICON_MAP = {
  "01d" : "clear-day",
  "01n" : "clear-night",
  "02d" : "partly-cloudy-day",
  "02n" : "partly-cloudy-night",
  "03d" : "cloudy",
  "03n" : "cloudy",
  "04d" : "cloudy",
  "04n" : "cloudy",
  "09d" : "rain",
  "09n" : "rain",
  "10d" : "rain",
  "10n" : "rain",
  "11d" : "thunderstorm",
  "11n" : "thunderstorm",
  "13d" : "snow",
  "13n" : "snow",
  "50d" : "fog",
  "50n" : "fog"
};

Here is the complete finished code.

To use this code:

  1. Install dependencies with npm install.
  2. Edit index.js and add your Open Weather API Key on line 66
  3. Run the bridge app with npm start.
Edit line 66 with your API Key
Edit line 66 with your API Key

Finished Pie File

Here is the finished Pie file in its completed state:

And there you have it! But we won't stop here. Let's go and try to take this to another level in the final installment in this series with Intro to ProtoPie Connect 7 of 7: Advanced Bridge App - Connect to Your Smart Home .