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Thread: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

  1. #1

    Lightbulb Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    Mid last year I purchased an s2 robot for myself and my child from a shop in Chicago. I must say it was a wonderful experience and soon I was fully entranced in programming new things for the little red guy to do. Addicted I purchased various other parts from the Parallax store as well as a Quick Start board and the Gadget Gangster board. While I found the Propeller Tool nice, I have certain features I wanted while programming so I made my own IDE interfacing through the Propellent DLL. That is one of the great things about Parallax, they let you do things the way you want. Anyway, about six weeks ago, I decided others might want the tool too, so I polished it up for distribution. The IDE should be ready for beta next week.

    Screen Shot

    Click image for larger version

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    Features

    - Parameter Hints for functions as you type (for both your files and those you link to as objects)
    - Long descriptions of functions pulled from the source code and updated as you work
    - Function lists, with the ability to click on them and advance to them in the source
    - Help for built in functions
    - all those other IDE sort of things like code multi-file editing, highlighting, search, undo, etc.

    The Question

    I have more ideas for the tool too and I'd love to support it and add to it. So here is the question. Would there be an interest in paying say $30 for such a tool so that I can support it and move forward? Or am I dreaming and free is the only way people like tools.

    Thanks,
    Keith Leinenbach

  2. #2

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    That looks really neat! I like the parameter hints idea. (They should be shown in the Parallax font, though, for correct alignment.) What kind of executable would you provide? (It doesn't require .NET, does it?)

    -Phil

  3. #3

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    The executable is just an EXE with no other DLLs other than the Propellent DLL. And of course you can use the Parallax font when installed. No .net involved.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    Perhaps another option would be to put it up on google code, releasing it as open source, and let others move it forward?

    Roy

  5. #5

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    They should be shown in the Parallax font, though, for correct alignment. -Phil
    Phil, sorry, I didn't get the meaning of your statement. You're talking about the attached picture. Yes, I should provide help in the Parallax font so that the help lines up correctly. No problem. I figure other issues will come up in beta as well. ;-)

  6. #6

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    If you could also include a terminal-panel .. maybe directly switching to it when programming the propeller has finished ... and using the propeller font there as well .... then I definitly would be willing to buy.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    I'll keep a list of requests and evaluate what could still be added in this release and what would be in next.

    terminal panel - I've played a bit with adding this already, so we'll see.

    Keith

  8. #8

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    MagIO2

    Do you know what features of the serial terminal do people use? Just to do basic debugging or do they use all of the extended cursor placement functionality as well?

    Keith

  9. #9

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    Debugging via PST is propably the MAYOR usage currently, but having a terminal which also supports the propeller font together with positioning would open it for a new usage!
    For example
    - you can develop some code which in the end will run on a VGA or TV / keyboard combination. But during development you'd simply use the terminal without the need to switch keyboard/monitor or even have the hardware at hand when starting with the project. (put your QuickStart in your pocket and change the code anywhere you want without carrying around the TFT/KB ;o)
    - you can use textmode windows for showing ... dunno ... debug information ... states ... input-masks ... menus
    - you could use the characters meant for creating digital signal diagrams to implement a pocket-money Logic-Level-Analyzer
    - .....

  10. #10

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    MagIO2. Wow! I guess I asked ...

    Keith

  11. #11

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    Always interested in a new Spin IDE and you have some attractive features there. I need a Linux or Mac version of every thing use.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    Heater.

    I wish I could support these platforms, but I developed the application in Delphi. Delphi seems to be moving toward being multi-platform, but the current offering is not really useable for anything but windows. Sorry about that.

    Keith

  13. #13

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    Keith,

    The current Propeller Tool is also written in Delphi and uses a proprietary edit module that makes it ineligible for open sourcing. This is one reason it will ultimately be abandoned in favor of an open-source, multi-platform IDE. I'd hate to see you put all that effort into it only to find yourself in the same dead-end that Parallax did. A Windows-only IDE will not enjoy the same acceptance that a multi-platform IDE would.

    -Phil

  14. #14

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    I wouldn't mind paying for a useful IDE, but like others have said, two drawbacks stand out - it would be great to not be tied exclusively to Windows, and it would be good to have open code for community bug and enhancement support.

    I'd also really like to have a combined IDE/programming tool with a "terminal" for runtime interaction. I quote "terminal" because I've gotten used to using a full-featured homemade PC-propeller interactive environment that I wrote in Delphi where the PC "terminal" can receive and display messages like a terminal, but also lets you program pushbuttons for interacting with the propeller program, can receive data and plot it graphically or write it to file, etc.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    The current Propeller Tool is also written in Delphi and uses a proprietary edit module that makes it ineligible for open sourcing. This is one reason it will ultimately be abandoned in favor of an open-source, multi-platform IDE. I'd hate to see you put all that effort into it only to find yourself in the same dead-end that Parallax did. A Windows-only IDE will not enjoy the same acceptance that a multi-platform IDE would. - Phil
    Thanks for the advice Phil. By the way I have already fixed the help window so that it displays help in the Parallax font. Good catch!

    As for building it in Delphi, I realize the limitations. My edit module is also proprietary. But realistically, I am not looking to produce the end all of SPIN IDEs. I have found the IDE quite useful so far for myself and I think others will too. The source code people edit is all in SPIN and they will always be able to change to any IDE they wish. So by using this IDE no one will lock themselves in, but I do think they will enjoy the advantages this application can offer. I hope this will save people time and give them a pleasant experience when editing. Choices are always nice.

    So I guess what I am saying is, this is how I developed it. I had a good code base for this sort of application in Delphi. It is what it is. If you have a windows machine, I believe this will be a nice IDE to SPIN your code in.

    I will be releasing the BETA next week. I encourage you to try it out and let me know what is missing, what could be better, etc. My aim for the first release is to include the major needs and make it as smooth of an experience as possible.

    And as always, though I can't always change things, I appreciate the comments.

    Keith

  16. #16

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    David,

    The "terminal" window seems to be a make it or break it feature, so I am working on adding this. Flexibility in this feature also seems to be a big deal. Besides just the basic terminal, I think this can be used at minimum to provide a more convention (however a bit intrusive) debugger. There is definitely a lot to improve on here. As for programmable feedback, if this is what people want, I have a lot of experience in this sort of thing and would love to add it in the future.

    Keith

  17. #17

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Leinenbach View Post
    I wish I could support these platforms, but I developed the application in Delphi. Delphi seems to be moving toward being multi-platform, but the current offering is not really useable for anything but windows.
    Have you looked into Lazarus?

  18. #18

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    Will this new IDE run under Linux?

  19. #19

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Leinenbach View Post
    Do you know what features of the serial terminal do people use? Just to do basic debugging or do they use all of the extended cursor placement functionality as well?
    I use the clear (0) and home (1) commands a lot, but I rarely use the other commands. If you do add this, it would also be good to do the disconnect / reconnect when the application loses/gains focus. I use this behavior in many of my custom debug apps so I can just alt-tab between them and the IDE without having to constantly hit buttons to disconnect and reconnect. I wish the PropTerm had the option to auto-connect when it regains focus.

    It looks really good. And I'm fine with Windows.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Anyone interested in a new SPIN IDE?

    Looks great!

    could you please explain this one a bit more
    - Parameter Hints for functions as you type (for both your files and those you link to as objects)
    Do you mean that if you declare an object "myobject", and then later on in the program you type
    myobject.

    and as soon as you type the . it comes up with all the PUB methods of that object in a dropdown menu?

    Because that would be really cool!

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