Using Raspberry Pi to build IoT gadgets just got a lot easier

Raspberry Pi's official OS Raspbian now bundles IBM's Node-RED JavaScript editor to speed up coding when building networked systems with the new $5 Pi Zero.

IBM's IoT Node-RED application is now bundled with the Raspbian OS for Raspberry Pi. Image: IBM Node-RED

On the heels of the new $5 Pi Zero, Raspberry Pi has updated its Raspbian OS to support the tiny device, and now includes IBM's Internet of Things app Node-RED.

The new version of Raspbian, Raspberry Pi's official OS, makes it easier for hackers and tinkerers to wire up different nodes, such as sensors, to Pi devices thanks to the inclusion of Node-RED.

The IBM IoT application offers a graphical user interface that takes out some of the coding that would otherwise be required to connect hardware and software to create a bigger system. Or as Node-RED explains, it's run-time built on Node.js offers users a browser-based flow editor that lets them write and save JavaScript functions, template and flows for reuse.

Node-RED's GUI removes some of the coding that would otherwise be needed for IoT apps. Image: Raspberry Pi

Node-RED now sits alongside Mathematica, Python 2, Scratch and Sonic Pi under the programming tab in the main menu of Raspbian Jesse, essentially making the visual tool for IoT creators more accessible. Raspberry Pi has published a blog post explaining how Pi makers can get started.

Of course, the headline feature of the latest version of Raspbian is its support for Raspberry Pi Zero, the $5 computer released last week, which again is a potential boon to IoT creativity given it's even cheaper and has a faster processor than the wildly popular $35 models.

In three years, seven million Pi devices have been sold to enthusiasts, while Raspberry Pi manufacturer Element 14 is opening up to custom builds for larger orders. On a side note, Windows 10 IoT for Raspberry Pi 2 doesn't support the Pi Zero.

The Raspbian update also includes a new option to add and remove software to Pi devices, located under Preferences in the main menu, and improved support in the Epiphany web browser for playing back videos from YouTube and Vimeo.

"Many more videos should now play than in previous releases, and overall stability when playing video should be improved," Raspberry Pi promised on its blog.

Additionally, Scratch has been updated to support MIDI instruments while the Raspberry Pi Configuration application has received numerous fixes.

Read more about Raspberry Pi