Microchip Masters 2012 / chipKIT

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Jacob Christ
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Microchip Masters 2012 / chipKIT

Post by Jacob Christ » Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:12 pm

This last week in the sweltering hot 113 degree F (45C) desert heat of Phoenix, Arizona, USA, the Microchip MASTERs 2012 Developer Conference took place. In attendance were hundreds of Microchip developers. Amongst the developers were a humble group of approximately ten chipKIT core developers, many chipKIT users, as well as many more developers that were learning how to migrate to chipKIT platform by taking classes offered by Digilent, Inc.
Some fantastic learning and synergistic efforts were made by the chipKIT core development team to move the chipKIT and Arduino platforms forward.
Of primary concern is how to turn the chipKIT (and possibly Arduino) into a more sophisticated development environment without compromising ease of use for a beginner. At the heart of the conversation is that MPIDE does not use a 'make' like build system, but instead does some internal prepossessing to determine what the compiler command line will look like. This system is buggy and does not properly handle some preprocessor commands like #if. Additionally this is making it difficult to restructure the core libraries to really be able to harness the power of C++ and to use some best practices for object oriented development. Due to this MPIDE preprocessing, it is not straight forward to use a non-MPIDE environment to build a project and it was decided that this needs to be fixed. The efforts of Christopher Pherpeplin to make it possible to develop for chipKIT in X Code are surely to be harnessed in this effort (http://christopherpeplin.com/2011/12/ch ... -makefile/). These changes could be used to allow the use of alternative IDE's that have features that more experienced developers require and that others may want to migrate to once they gain experience. Rick Anderson (a maintainer of MPIDE) mentioned that there have been some rumblings in the Arduino Duo community to switching to QT Creator for the development environment, as well as other mentioned possibly using netbeans for a more sophisticated environment. Whatever the fruits of the effort, MPIDE will be maintained as a great entry-level tool for cross chipKIT and Arduino development.
The meetings also allowed developers of the chipKIT core to learn from each other to make development more efficient. Some developers were learning how to use git while others were learning how to build MPIDE from source (myself included, and I took notes so that we can publish the requirements for others to be able to do the same in the near future).
Several developers have been able to get source-level C++ debugging working in MPLAB X and hopefully we will see some tutorials on this soon as well.
In a breakout session with Microchip XC32 Compiler developers, a suggestion was made to create tools that allow for easy reuse of code between applications and bootloaders running on a PIC32. Since bootloaders and a running application have some common communications features these tools could be use to eirck more functionality out of the bootloaders without compromising application features.
During the conference Microchip had a predominate chipKIT booth in the center of the action which gave many Microchip developers an opportunity to check out some exciting projects for chipKIT and other Microchip educational offerings. Of the chipKIT boards on display were all of Digilent's chipKIT products including their new uC32 (an Uno32 with larger program space and ram) and their new WiFi shield. Brian Schmalz was showing his UBW32 (which can be purchased from Sparkfun) and the Fubarduino and Fubarduino SD boards. PONTECH had on display the UAV100 Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle Controller and the quicK240 industrial controller running a web server serving html from SD cards while processing http GET messages to control transducers.
The synergy that was present at Microchip MASTERs 2012 is only going to boost the speed at which great things are going to happen for the chipKIT platform.

Jacob Christ
http://www.pontech.com
PONTECH Quick240 an industrial form factor platform for chipKIT and Arduino users.

avenue33
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Re: Microchip Masters 2012 / chipKIT

Post by avenue33 » Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:46 pm

Thanks for the feedback!
Jacob Christ wrote: Of primary concern is how to turn the chipKIT (and possibly Arduino) into a more sophisticated development environment without compromising ease of use for a beginner. At the heart of the conversation is that MPIDE does not use a 'make' like build system, but instead does some internal prepossessing to determine what the compiler command line will look like. [...]
The efforts of Christopher Pherpeplin to make it possible to develop for chipKIT in X Code are surely to be harnessed in this effort. These changes could be used to allow the use of alternative IDE's that have features that more experienced developers require and that others may want to migrate to once they gain experience.
Christopher Peplin did a really great job with the makefile.

I use parts of it in :arrow: embedXcode, a Xcode 4 template for Arduino, chipKIT MPIDE, LaunchPad MSP430 Energia, LeafLabs Maple and Wiring boards / IDEs. I've tested successfully the set of makefiles with NetBeans.

Wiring is currently working on a new release of the framework based on makefiles. According to the :arrow: roadmap about IDE development,
Expected in release 1.1 is the removal of the compiler backend from the IDE, and will move to a makefile based compiler and uploader. This will open up the development of the back-end to new platforms almost instantly, as well as the development of front-ends.

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Jacob Christ
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Re: Microchip Masters 2012 / chipKIT

Post by Jacob Christ » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:01 pm

I apologize, I locked this topic, trying to make it sticky and only moderators could comment on it. Its now unlocked.

Jacob
PONTECH Quick240 an industrial form factor platform for chipKIT and Arduino users.

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