We are happy to announce that OpenGarage firmware 1.2.0 is now officially available. The main change of this firmware is on cloud connection options for remote access: it now supports both Blynk and OpenThings Cloud (OTC) connections. Previous firmwares have only supported Blynk. The motivation for this change is the fact that the Blynk team is officially ending the Blynk legacy app and legacy server; in the meantime we have developed our own cloud proxy called OpenThingsFramework. So it’s the right time for us to push out our own cloud framework.
What are the technical differences? With Blynk, data is stored on the cloud server, which serves as a ‘cache’ between the application and firmware. In contrast, OpenThingsFramework is a proxy — it does not store data on the cloud server, instead, when a request comes from the application, it’s forwarded directly to the firmware, which sends responds back. This is implemented using WebSocket and persistent TCP connection. There are pros and cons of each approach. For example, Blynk has a faster response time, since the data is ‘cached’ on the cloud server; however, the firmware design is more complicated as the built-in web interface of OpenGarage cannot be easily replicated using Blynk. Also, some users may have privacy concerns over data stored on the cloud server. With OpenThingsFramework, data is never stored on the cloud server; and its proxy nature allows the same built-in web interface to be remotely accessible. This significantly simplifies the firmware design: only a small number of changes are needed in firmware code to allow remote access. On the other hand, the response speed can be slow, since the server does not ‘cache’ any data.
Both Blynk and OTC options are supported by our OpenGarage mobile app, as well as a simple OpenGarage web app that I wrote. To users, the practical differences are as follows: push notification is only available with Blynk, and you must have the Blynk legacy app installed on your phone. This legacy app is no longer available in the app store (since the Blynk team has discontinued it). However, if you are Android user, you can still find and install this app manually. That said, you can always use IFTTT for push notification, which is independent of either Blynk or OTC. If you need the ability to remotely access the full built-in user interface of OpenGarage, including changing settings and viewing log data, only OTC supports it. Otherwise, if you just need the ability to check door status and car status, and trigger door actions remotely, you can go with either of them. Please note that as the official Blynk server is going offline soon, if you want to use Blynk, we recommend you to create your Blynk token on our own server at openthings.io. The support article here explains how to create and use Blynk and OTC tokens respectively. I’ve also created a new OpenGarage video that gives you a quick walk-through of the steps. The section starting at 7:25 is about cloud tokens:
If you decide to upgrade to firmware 1.2.0, please note that it requires ESP8266 WiFi chip that has 4MB flash. Most OpenGarage units sold in recent years have 4MB flash, the only exceptions are the early versions (v1.0, 1.1 and 1.2 I believe). Also, as this firmware has changed the flash memory layout, it will trigger a factory reset so it will lose all settings and WiFi configuration. You will need to reconfigure WiFi after the firmware update. Finally, you can choose to use either Blynk or OTC, but you can’t use both of them at the same time.
That’s all. Thanks!