I played around with the NodeMCU firmware for a while but you have to upload files to the chip line by line and often the transfer gets interrupted in the middle. It got a little bit better when I switched to a dedicated power supply. But still, uploading code is cumbersome and takes too much time.
A better way of programming…
What I really wanted is a web based IDE like the one used on the Spark.io platform. The Spark Core is an Arduino compatible chip which initially will be connected to your Wifi network. Once connected it can be programmed in the browser: you use the same code as you’d use for an Arduino, save the file and choose “Flash it to my Spark Core” and bang! your Spark Core gets updated! But of course there is a catch: a Spark Core costs around $39.- and this is a lot more than the $3 for a ESP8266 board. But thanks god there are skilled people in the world. Harold Mars is developing something very similar for the ESP8266!
You can even activate a specific ESP8266 to send debug output back to the browser. Another nice feature is the cloud feature: with only two lines of code you can send or receive data from the chip to or from the cloud. This lets you log the humidity in a room with just a few lines to a web chart!
While I think NodeLua is looking very promising it doesn’t yet offer the whole feature set of the NodeMCU firmware. The TCP client and server methods are currently disabled. I also tried to get my DHT22 humidity sensor working, without success.
I hope Harold will continue the great work he has started. It is so much more fun to program in NodeLua’s web IDE than going through the hassle of the Uploader tools like ESPlorer needed for the NodeMCU firmware…