Cross-platform development is old hat for embedded engineers and programmers, but typically, there's one target platform and one development platform. Unfortunately, moving from one development platform to another often meant learning a whole new set of tools. This was usually due to the proprietary nature of the development platform, not just individual tools.
Times are changing, though. The open-source Eclipse project could wind up changing the lay of the land. It's a Java-based development environment, giving it portability and a plug-in architecture for extending it in all directions, including debugging and support for different compilers.
Switching platforms without having to learn new methodologies comes in handy. I started this column on Linux employing AbiWord. Then I moved the document over to Microsoft Word running on Linux via CodeWeavers' CrossOver Office, from there to OpenOffice operating on Linux, and next to OpenOffice running on Windows. Eventually, the document wound up in Quark running on Windows because that's the program we use here at Electronic Design.
This document swapping was great. But even though the word processors are very similar, they only function with each other through document exchange. An add-on only works with one processor.
The ability to use add-ons will be key to the success of Eclipse. Plug-ins like profilers and debuggers will operate regardless of the development platform, or possibly even the target platform. I hope that this will lead to a more generalized and robust debugging environment. Currently, too many unique debuggers exist.
What kind of experience have you had with Eclipse? Do you prefer something else? Send me an e-mail to let me know.