Pigweed

Pigweed is an open source collection of embedded-targeted libraries–or as we like to call them, modules. These modules are building blocks and infrastructure that enable faster and more reliable development on small-footprint MMU-less 32-bit microcontrollers like the STMicroelectronics STM32L452 or the Nordic nRF52832.

Pigweed is in the early stages of development, and should be considered experimental. We’re continuing to evolve the platform and add new modules. We value developer feedback along the way.

Getting Started

If you’d like to get set up with Pigweed, please visit the getting started guide.

What does Pigweed offer?

There are many modules in Pigweed, and this section only showcases a small selection that happen to produce visual output. For more information about the different Pigweed module offerings, refer to “Module Guides” section in the full documentation.

Note: For now the full documentation is not available online; you must build it. Building the docs is easy; see the getting started guide for how.

pw_watch - Build, flash, run, & test on save

In the web development space, file system watchers are prevalent. These watchers trigger a web server reload on source change, making development much faster. In the embedded space, file system watchers are less prevalent; however, they are no less useful! The Pigweed watcher module makes it easy to instantly compile, flash, and run tests upon save. Combined with the GN-based build which expresses the full dependency tree, only the exact tests affected by a file change are run on saves.

The demo below shows pw_watch building for a STMicroelectronics STM32F429I-DISC1 development board, flashing the board with the affected test, and verifying the test runs as expected. Once this is set up, you can attach multiple devices to run tests in a distributed manner to reduce the time it takes to run tests.

pw watch running on-device tests

pw_presubmit - Vacuum code lint on every commit

Presubmit checks are essential tools, but they take work to set up, and projects don’t always get around to it. The pw_presubmit module provides tools for setting up high quality presubmit checks for any project. We use this framework to run Pigweed’s presubmit on our workstations and in our automated building tools.

The pw_presubmit module includes pw format command, a tool that provides a unified interface for automatically formatting code in a variety of languages. With pw format, you can format C, C++, Python, GN, and Go code according to configurations defined by your project. pw format leverages existing tools like clang-format, and it’s simple to add support for new languages.

pw presubmit demo

pw_env_setup - Cross platform embedded compiler setup

A classic problem in the embedded space is reducing the time from git clone to having a binary executing on a device. The issue is that an entire suite of tools is needed for non-trivial production embedded projects. For example:

  • A C++ compiler for your target device, and also for your host

  • A build system or three; for example, GN, Ninja, CMake, Bazel

  • A code formatting program like clang-format

  • A debugger like OpenOCD to flash and debug your embedded device

  • A known Python version with known modules installed for scripting

  • A Go compiler for the Go-based command line tools

  • … and so on

In the server space, container solutions like Docker or Podman solve this; however, in our experience container solutions are a mixed bag for embedded systems development where one frequently needs access to native system resources like USB devices, or must operate on Windows.

pw_env_setup is our compromise solution for this problem that works on Mac, Windows, and Linux. It leverages the Chrome packaging system CIPD to bootstrap a Python installation, which in turn inflates a virtual environment. The tooling is installed into your workspace, and makes no changes to your system. This tooling is designed to be reused by any project.

pw environment setup demo

pw_unit_test - Embedded testing for MCUs

Unit testing is important, and Pigweed offers a portable library that’s broadly compatible with Google Test. Unlike Google Test, pw_unit_test is built on top of embedded friendly primitives; for example, it does not use dynamic memory allocation. Additionally, it is easy to port to new target platforms by implementing the test event handler interface.

Like other modules in Pigweed, pw_unit_test is designed for use in established codebases with their own build system, without the rest of Pigweed or the Pigweed integrated GN build. However, when combined with Pigweed’s build, the result is a flexible and powerful setup that enables easily developing code on your desktop (with tests), then running the same tests on-device.

pw_status test run natively on host

And more!

See the “Module Guides” in the documentation for the complete list and documentation for each, but is a selection of some others:

  • pw_cpu_exception_armv7m: Robust low level hardware fault handler for ARM Cortex-M; the handler even has unit tests written in assembly to verify nested-hardware-fault handling!

  • pw_polyfill: Similar to JavaScript “polyfill” libraries, this module provides selected C++17 standard library components that are compatible with C++11 and C++14.

  • pw_minimal_cpp_stdlib: An entirely incomplete implementation of the C++17 standard library, that provides some of the primitives needed by Pigweed itself. Useful for projects that want to use Pigweed, but don’t enable the typical standard C++ libraries like GNU’s libstdc++ or LLVM’s libc++. Don’t use this module unless you know what you are doing.

  • pw_tokenizer: Replace string literals from log statements with 32-bit tokens, to reduce flash use, reduce logging bandwidth, and save formatting cycles from log statements at runtime.

  • pw_kvs: A key-value-store implementation for flash-backed persistent storage with integrated wear levelling. This is a lightweight alternative to a file system for embedded devices.

  • pw_protobuf: An early preview of our wire-format-oriented protocol buffer implementation. This protobuf compiler makes a different set of implementation tradeoffs than the most popular protocol buffer library in this space, nanopb.