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Wednesday
Jul172013

The 3.7.0 Release

Strangely, I seem to be the last to report our first major release of the 3.7 GNU Radio branch. We've been working on it for over a year and a half and it represents some serious improvements both structurally and stylistically. But luckily other's weren't as lax as I was in promoting the good news.

In the development of 3.7, we have introduced so many new and powerful features of GNU Radio that it's hard to keep track of them.  Let me just try to list off a few:

  • Message passing interface and easy Python access
  • ControlPort
  • Performance Counters and Performance Monitor
  • VOLK (been here for a while, but a new structure in 3.7 makes significant improvements)
  • A full logging API
  • Metadata files and sources/sinks to work with them
  • Block thread affinity (and thread priority)
  • Tagged stream blocks
  • New and improved OFDM implementation (and in GRC)
  • Improved support for packet data transmission

Each of these items deserves its own write-up. Luckily, another major improvement in our work on 3.7 is a lot more documentation. The main GNU Radio manual (our 'Doxygen' manual) has more and more pages dedicated to explaining these features such as how to use the API and examples of using them in your own code or application. So keep an eye out for improvements in the documentation as we move forward with 3.7.

The Vision for 3.7

It took us a year and a half to produce 3.7. In some respects, that feels like a fairly long time between an API release like this. And we felt that, too, when the 'master' and 'next' development branches were diverging so much and so quickly that we couldn't merge one into the other without major conflicts. But on the other hand, with so many changes and new features, we needed to make sure we had everything where it needed to be before a release.

That having been said, I'm going to say now that we probably won't see a 3.8 for about as long, maybe even longer. One of the drawbacks to all of this new stuff in the code is that we tend to leave people behind. The API changes alone are going to take a lot of projects some time to update their code. And it will also take a lot of time, documentation, and examples to help use the new features. So while we will continue to innovate and push forward with new stuff in an ongoing effort to improve GNU Radio, we are also increasingly interested in building and helping to build new applications that take advantage of all of the new features and improvements. There will be a lot more writing, examples, and example applications being written this year towards this end.

 

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