The Eclipse framework is becoming an extremely popular basis for software development tools. Eclipse is a software platform comprising extensible application frameworks, tools, and runtime library for software development and management. It is written primarily in Java to provide software developers and administrators an integrated development environment (IDE). So, it is not a software development tool. It is a software development environment. The beauty of the package is its extensibility.
Users can extend its capabilities by installing plug-ins written for the framework, such as development toolkits for other programming languages and can write and contribute their own plug-in modules. You can use Eclipse as the basis for your own in-house development environment. With the exception of a small runtime kernel, everything in Eclipse is a plug-in. So, every plug-in developed integrates with Eclipse in exactly the same way as others, and all features are created equal.
The beginnings of the framework
The root of Eclipse was in an IDE called VisualAge, born in the IBM development lab in North Carolina, which was established in 1984. VisualAge for Java was based on an extended Smalltalk virtual machine that executed both Smalltalk and Java byte codes. VisualAge Micro Edition, which supported development of embedded Java applications and cross system development, was a reimplementation of the IDE in Java. This version of VisualAge morphed into the Eclipse Framework.
Free and easy
Eclipse is released as free software licenses. The Eclipse SDK includes the Eclipse platform, Java Development Tools (JDT), and Plug-in Development Environment (PDE), and both user and programmer documentation. The article, “Notes on the Eclipse Plug-in Architecture,” is one good description on the framework and can be found at www.eclipse.org/articles/Article-Plug-in-architecture/plugin_architecture.html. And, you can find sources for Eclipse at http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/.
A few examples of MCU Eclipse environments
STMicroelectronics (http://www.st.com/mcu) has several IDEs available, including an Eclipse-based package from iSYSTEM. This software includes a plug-in that allows debugging directly from within the Eclipse environment. Eclipse is used as an editor, project and build manager, and debugger. It provides all standard CDT debugger functionality in addition to SFR view and Real-time Expressions view. STMicro also offers DS-5 Application Edition Eclipse-based IDE from Keil for developing Linux applications targeting ARM-based platforms.
Keil’s (http://www.keil.com/dd/) ARM Workbench is also available for Analog Devices, Atmel, Freescale, Infineon, NXP, Renesas, Silicon Laboratories, and Texas Instruments processors among many others.
Additionally, Infineon (www.infineon.com) offers the Altium VX-toolset, a complete programming package for the XC2000/XC166/C166 family with a C/C++ compiler, assembler/linker, and seamlessly integrated debugger (simulator, ROM monitor, OCDS) integrated into an IDE based on Eclipse.
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