Recently we’ve seen a few options for compiling and programming your processor of choice in the cloud. Online IDEs offer a lot of convenience, as you don’t have to worry about OS idiosyncrasies or implementation details on your specific machine. You simply put in source code and get compiled files out. Power users may want alternatives with more features, but just like other app categories, we’re guessing online development environments will get more polished as time goes on. Most online environments are limited to standard desktop languages, but lately some online options have popped up in the microprocessor arena.
First on deck we have the mbed platform, which intends to be a rapid prototyping solution for embedded systems. Mbed offers two boards that are powered by an ARM Cortex-M0 and Cortex-M3 respectively, so you’ll have plenty of horsepower. Their compiler is an online C/C++ IDE that lets you save projects to the cloud and download them to your chip whenever you’re ready. You can also publish code to the mbed developer website if you want to share or collaborate. If you get to a point where you need more advanced development options, you can export the project to an offline toolchain such as arm-gcc.
Inventor Town is an online firmware editor for TI’s MSP430 series of micros. The site is relatively new and still in beta, so it doesn’t offer a lot of features. It only supports open source projects at the moment, so be careful about what you save. However, it seems to have potential, and it’s certainly a good alternative if you find yourself stuck without your normal development box at some point.
The last tool isn’t purely for microcontrollers, but it’s definitely useful for integrating your chip into a project. fUpverter is an online tool for electronics development. It includes a schematic editor similar to what you’d find in Eagle or Altium, and incorporates Github-like community features that allow you to version and share your work. The team are Y-Combinator graduates and have some interesting ideas about expanding open source hardware. Upverter doesn’t have the features to be a full EDA suite yet, but it’s definitely an area to watch.
Do you know of other online development tools for embedded systems? Let us hear about them in the comments!