17-02-2016 | | By Paul Whytock
The integrated development environment (IDE) technology sector is a pretty crowded and competitive area of business these days and new systems entering it need to have some attention grabbing features rather than a meaningless list of shameless superlatives that can all too often herald the launch of new products.
So hard-hitting technological realities coupled with the words, 'freely available' should get the attention of the electronics designer community.
Enter Microchip's MPLAB Xpress Cloud-based Integrated Development Environment which the company claims is the easiest way to get started with PIC microcontrollers (MCUs) with zero downloads, sign-in or setup needed. In essence this product brings all the features of the MPLAB X IDE to users of Internet-connected PCs, laptops and tablets.
But what are the attention grabbing features of this new development platform? For a start it is the only cloud-based IDE interface to MPLAB Code Configurator (MCC) 3.0 for GUI-based MCU peripheral setup and automatic code generation. In addition it has integrated MPLAB XC compilers, support for programmer/debugger hardware and also10 Gbytes of secure online storage with a myMicrochip account.
Cloud-based hardware development is supported by connecting any USB-enabled PC, laptop or tablet to tools such as the MPLAB Xpress Evaluation Board. This development board features an integrated programmer, a PIC16F18855 MCU and a mikroBUS header for system expansion with MikroElektronika’s more than 180 Click boards. It also supports Microchip’s Curiosity Development Board which has an integrated programmer, debugger and expansion options for add-on boards and external connectivity. This IDE can be used with Microchip’s PICkit 3 In-Circuit Debugger/Programmer which works with over 1,000 PIC MCUs.
Basically, users open a browser and generate code via the integrated MPLAB Code Configurator. They can then test that code with the included simulator, compile the code and then programme and debug their target MCU.
The MPLAB Xpress Community allows users to get their project up and running quickly and also to share ideas and knowledge with other users. The examples section provides access to MCU code developed and validated by Microchip engineers, such as setup, basic functions and advanced projects. Designers can add to this knowledge base by making any of their stored projects accessible to the rest of the user community. To facilitate further discussion and collaboration, a dedicated MPLAB Xpress User Forum and Wiki are also available.
In addition MPLAB Xpress provides a library of Microchip-validated code examples. Users can easily migrate their projects to the full, downloadable MPLAB X IDE.
OK, so those are all the technical realities which make the MPLAB Xpress cloud-based development platforms a very capable system and here’s how readers of this Electropages blog can get one free. Mouser Electronics is giving away 100 of the MPLAB Xpress platforms at the Embedded World Exhibition in Nuremberg 23-25th February. The prizes will be won on a lottery number basis so get along to the Mouser Electronics exhibition stand (Hall 4A, stand 101) at the show to enter. http://www.mouser.co.uk/embeddedworld/