What is Bluetooth Developer Studio?
Bluetooth Developer Studio (BDS) was officially released by the Bluetooth SIG back in October 2015. It allows you to focus on the high-level design of your Bluetooth low energy devices, whether it’s a central or peripheral device. It offers a clean and simple interface where you can drag and drop profiles, services and characteristics to design your system. This is very useful because you can start designing your system before even deciding what your target platform will be.
It consists of two main views:
- Designer view: used to design the system and grants access to the adopted, custom and local profiles, services, characteristics, and descriptors.
- Workbench view: used primarily for virtual (emulated on the PC) and physical testing (requires a special USB dongle to interface with actual peripheral devices)
Here’s what each of these views looks like:
Why should you use it?
There are many benefits to using Bluetooth Developer Studio first before you dig deep into a specific platform or start writing any code for your BLE device. The top reasons are:
- Design the system before choosing a target platform or writing a single line of code.
- Easy import (via drag and drop) of adopted profiles/services/characteristics in addition to custom ones that are shared by other companies and the community. The list is also always up-to-date as it is continuously pulled down from the Bluetooth SIG repository.
- After you’ve designed your system, you can then use plugins that are provided (usually for free) by vendors to generate source code for a target platform. (This is very powerful and is my favorite feature!)
- Ability to write your own plugins to export the system design and use externally to BDS.
- Perform virtual testing for both peripheral and central roles.
- With the use of a USB dongle (PTS dongle) that can be purchased from the Bluetooth SIG’s site you can perform physical real-world testing of peripheral devices and utilize the power of the scripting capability. Basically emulating a central side on the PC.
Missing features and cons
Of course, no tool is perfect (especially in its early stages) and so it’s always a good idea to know the downsides upfront.
- Windows only. (as of April 2015)
- Lacks the ability to emulate the peripheral side on the PC and allow interaction with a central device via the USB dongle. (This would be especially useful for mobile app and other central device developers)
- Missing code generator plugins for some vendors’ targets. (I’m sure this will change over time as more vendors start to adopt the usage of the tool)
- No way to import legacy/existing projects into the tool.
How to get it
In order to download Bluetooth Developer Studio, you need to be a Bluetooth SIG registered member. Thankfully the Adopter membership level is free and all you need is your company email address to sign up.
Bluetooth Developer Studio allows developers, systems engineers, and testers to design a peripheral or central BLE device with no coding skills required. The simplicity of the tool and the testing capabilities make it a compelling go-to tool for designing your BLE devices.
Please share your comments or questions in the comments section below.