HardOps: Utilising the software development toolchain for hardware design
preprintposted on 01.08.2021, 08:56 by Julian StirlingJulian Stirling, Kaspar Bumke, Joel Collins, Vimal Dhokia, Richard Bowman
Preprint of journal article.
Collaborative design of physical products between remote partners poses unique challenges. This is due to both the complex and interconnected data required for product design and manufacture, and to the centralised computing infrastructure traditionally used to manage product lifecycle data. While modern cloud based solutions to collaborative design are gaining popularity, they diminish the control of each design partner. In contrast, software designers readily collaborate on highly complex software, while retaining direct control of the files they are editing due to the dominance of distributed version control. This version control can be coupled with ``Developer Operations'' or DevOps tools to automate critical processes and facilitate communication. In this paper we explore how DevOps workflows can be adapted to the development of hardware. We include concrete examples of how this can be implemented in practice from a case study of the OpenFlexure Microscope project. While much ground remains to be broken in this field, we believe DevOps for hardware can support a new paradigm of distributed hardware development, with enormous benefits for both commercial and open-source hardware.