Why hardware designers should switch to Eclipse

Discussion in 'VHDL' started by Philippe, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. Philippe

    Philippe Guest

    Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) have long been the primary
    tool for software engineers. Like an airplane cockpit, an IDE is the
    control center from which the engineer accesses all of the data and
    tools that he needs. IDEs, and especially Eclipse, have proven to be
    extensible, open, high quality platforms.

    However, until now, IDEs have not been popular in hardware development
    circles. This is partly because many of the available IDEs for
    hardware development have not lived up to the potential of IDEs that
    is typical in the software world. Instead, IDEs tend to be overly
    complex, closed, and they lock the customer in.

    Today, though, Eclipse is finally gaining traction among EDA
    (electronic design automation) and FPGA companies. One such EDA
    company, Sigasi, has just released the first commercial VHDL plugin
    for Eclipse. Now, at last, hardware design teams can use Eclipse as a
    basis for their own customized IDEs, based on the commercial and open-
    source plugins that they need in their central cockpit for hardware

    I've published a white paper on this subject.
    I'd be interested to know what you guys think.

    kind regards

    Philippe Faes
    Founding CEO Sigasi
    Philippe, Mar 22, 2010
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  2. Nothing beats Emacs
    General Schvantzkoph, Mar 22, 2010
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  3. Philippe

    M. Norton Guest

    On whole I agree with you, however let's be realistic, the learning
    curve for Emacs is incredibly steep. For folks who are eyeball-deep
    in VHDL code 100% of the time, learning Emacs pays off in dividends
    that continue for years to come. However, not all engineers are in
    positions where that payback will be as great or continuous. For
    those, something like Sigasi might work pretty well.

    I have done a little bit of work with Sigasi in the last week or so.
    As IDE's go, it's pretty decent. It's far more code centric than most
    IDE's I've used, and seems well put together. While I suspect I'm
    faster with Emacs (and as such, some of the refactoring tools Sigasi
    implements aren't as useful) I've been very interested in how someone
    new would respond to the environment. It's a lot better than shoving
    someone into the text editors in any of the vendor tools, and similar
    products like HDL Designer have the siren call of the schematic
    capture design which I think leads into bad design practices.

    Anyhow, Sigasi does seem to be a good tool. I don't know if the price
    point will make it successful -- another reason emacs is kind of
    amazing is that it's entirely open source and free, but I wish the
    developers the best of luck. I daresay it's a hard market to break
    into. If we get into a position to be purchasing more tool licenses,
    I'll definitely ask folks to evaluate it. I know I'd feel a lot
    better about someone using that tool, rather than HDL Designer.
    M. Norton, Mar 22, 2010
  4. I agree! I hate Eclipse.

    Petter Gustad, Mar 22, 2010

    Eclipse is painful to use for me. I'm a Vi guy.

    Let the Vi/Emacs wars ensue :)
    Jason Thibodeau, Mar 22, 2010
  6. Generally I use nedit and a whole bunch of perl scripts/java apps I've written
    over the years. I'm not totally against eclipse. I use it with the Lattice mico32
    environment for instance.

    Regarding the Sigasi tool, the price on the website is 'within reason'. What's not
    within reason, IMHO, is the licensing model. If I don't fork out every year it
    will stop working. I would never even look at a tool that I can't get a perpetual
    license for. If I develop a project with it then I want to be able to come back to
    it again in five years if I have to regenerate the project from my archives.
    Charles Gardiner, Mar 22, 2010
  7. Philippe

    Eric Smith Guest

    A steep learning curve is a Good Thing. If it was shallow, it would
    take you a very long time to learn it.
    Eric Smith, Mar 22, 2010
  8. Philippe

    Eric Smith Guest

    Eclipse is slow even on fast machines. My most recent experience with
    it is on a Phenom II X4 965BE machine (quad core 3.4 GHz), and it
    still is noticeably sluggish.

    Years ago, people used to criticize Emacs for being slow and a
    resource hog. By today's standards, Emacs is lean and mean.
    Eric Smith, Mar 22, 2010
  9. Philippe

    Michael S Guest

    I hate Eclipse too. But I don't like Emacs.
    Gimme something simple, preferably Multi-Edit.
    Michael S, Mar 22, 2010
  10. Philippe

    Chris Abele Guest

    Wow! That's a blast from the past - I used Multi-Edit for years and
    loved it.
    Chris Abele, Mar 23, 2010
  11. Philippe

    rickman Guest

    I didn't see a smiley at the end of that one... is it possible you are

    rickman, Mar 23, 2010
  12. Philippe

    Eric Smith Guest

    Think about it. When you graph the learning curve, what are the axes?
    Eric Smith, Mar 23, 2010
  13. You can't find fast enough machine to make eclipse fast. It is always

    Kim Enkovaara, Mar 23, 2010
  14. Hi Alan,

    I've been using Makefiles and Emacs for many years. Using Eclipse I
    have to search the hierarchy of perspectives, menus, tabs, etc. to
    click a button in order to add -Os to CFLAGS for gcc!

    Also I don't like the concept of workspaces which are using files and
    directories in a fixed place in the file system (even it it's your
    home directory). I like to check out my design (being software or HDL)
    from a revision control system anywhere and build it there, which
    means using relative pathnames.

    Petter Gustad, Mar 23, 2010
  15. Philippe

    Philippe Guest

    Dear Petter,

    In Eclipse, you can check out a project in any location at all, and
    then point your Eclipse to that location.
    While the conventional place to check out projects would be ${HOME}/
    workspace/projectname, you can use any other location on your file

    kind regards

    Philippe, Mar 23, 2010
  16. But it's not a relative pathname, is it? If you copy it or use it on a
    system where the filesystem is mounted elsehere it will fail to find

    Petter Gustad, Mar 23, 2010
  17. Philippe

    Hendrik Guest

    Moving files around within your project is a no-brainer. Sigasi will
    even update your Makefile if you wish.
    And it is also no problem to move 'projects' around on your computer
    (or network). You just have to point Eclipse to the new location.

    Hendrik, Mar 23, 2010
  18. Philippe

    Nial Stewart Guest

    Generally I use nedit and a whole bunch of perl scripts/java apps I've written
    Similary, I use Textpad with perl scripts and a lot of tool customisation.

    I started looking at Sigasi but stopped experimenting when I found out the price/
    licensing model.

    Nial Stewart, Mar 23, 2010
  19. That's one of the things I don't like: absolute pathnames.

    In my typical makefile based environment I don't have to change
    anything to point to the new location if I should switch back and
    forth between computers where the directory is mounted at different
    mount points since the paths are all relative.

    Petter Gustad, Mar 23, 2010
  20. Problem is that in Eclipse you don't seem to be able to specify
    *project relative* paths for resources (aka project files), except via
    user variables which is annoying. All paths are either absolute or
    relative to the workspace.

    As for the speed, once started up, Eclipse/Win32 runs with decent
    performance fast even on my old laptop. Even closing it an restarting
    is not too bad. The startup delay is due to the JavaVM I suppose.

    I know (former) passionate Eclipse haters who have just switched due
    to the impressive speed improvements in recent versions.

    Disclaimer: I use Eclipse for certain C development only, so my
    opinion might be impacted by behaviour specific to ARM Embedded
    Workbench/CDT plugin features.

    Marcus Harnisch, Mar 23, 2010
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