For a lot of newbies meddling in the field of DIY electronics, making use of the Arduino IDE—software for writing sketches, programming, upload these programs and communicate. This is due to the fact that Arduino microcontrollers are currently the most used tools in electronics, and Arduino offers its own IDE which every newbie generally uses to learn the basics of creating sketches with Arduino. But in time, a large percentage of electronics enthusiasts end up searching for alternative software tools due to the limitations of the Arduino IDE.
This post is for anyone who has come to the crossroads where you are willing to give up developing electronics hardware if the Arduino IDE, is what you must work with. In that vein, the top 5 alternatives to Arduino IDE that can provide you with the versatility you crave will be listed below for your reading pleasure. But before going into specific details, it is important that you know the parameters we used in judging and selecting the IDEs that made it to the top;
- Programming and support features—the ability of an IDE to provide enough support for newbies as well as experts in the electronic community plays is a criterion one must consider when choosing an Arduino IDE alternative.
- A Built-in Debugger—creating smart electronics hardware requires one to have a passable understanding of coding. With your limited knowledge and an excellent IDE platform with debugging capabilities, writing codes becomes quite easy.
The top 5 Arduino IDE Alternatives
Here you have what I call; a new generation IDE designed or developed with its users in mind. PlatformIO is a free open source platform billed as an integrated development environment for IOT hardware and it offers multiple features and adequate support for your IOT projects. In terms of features, you get an IDE that is compatible with every operating system—Windows, Mac, Linux, Atom—you can think of.
Some of the features it incorporates to help beginners include; intelligent code completion and smart code linter to support you during the programming stage. It is also embeddable with 400+ boards, comes with a unified debugger which allows you debug 100s of embedded boards. PlatformIO is also totally free which means you do not need to shell out extra cash when in need of an IDE.
Ktechlab is another open-source IDE that was built as a supporting platform for microcontrollers and electronics projects. The platform supports a wide range of development activities in its environment which includes supportive features missing in the Arduino IDE. This IDE is supported by the Windows and Linux ecosystems which are widely used by electronics enthusiasts.
With the Ktechlab, you can simulate circuits, manage codes, create projects, and import old projects for editing. It also allows you debug your codes as well as embedded boards. The Ktechlab is also totally free and quite easy to use which makes it another solid IDE platform you can consider using when searching for something similar to the Arduino IDE. You can easily access this IDE on Github by simply searching for it.
As you may probably know, XCode is Apple’s official environment for programmers looking to create on the Mac. Its status as the major development environment for Mac users is one of the major reason why it makes this list. It is important to note that with the embedXCode, you can create Arduino sketches or codes that run on Arduino boards through this platform. So in terms of usability, the embedXCode currently works solely on the Mac OS.
The features of this alternative IDE platform are many but to simplify things, we will limit its feature list to only the ones that simplify the creation of Arduino sketches. embedXCode provides you with a smart environment for carrying out all your electronics related work. It is integrated to have a simulator for circuit simulation, an intelligent debugger—which helps you find faults as well as provide you with accurate solutions for the rectification of errors. Unlike its predecessors on this list, embedXCode is a ‘freemium’ IDE which means you can access its most basic features but would have to pay a price to use its more advanced features.
The Eclipse ecosystem is actually a software development platform that also provides support or can serve as an IDE for Arduino projects. Eclipse provides its user with unmatched versatility and this means it allows you to directly edit the source codes of your Arduino library as well as write new sketches.
The features of Eclipse are quite many as it provides you with; an intelligent compiler which allows you to use commands with ease, a debugging framework and the ability to edit 3rd party libraries of different microcontrollers. Eclipse is also a free open source IDE which makes it one of the best alternatives for students working with microcontrollers to develop electronic hardware. The Eclipse plugin is compatible with Mac, Windows, Linus and Arduino IDE.
The continuous advancements witnessed in the cloud computing community have led to the development of cloud-based IDEs which you can use for your Arduino. And in this category, the Codebender web-based Arduino IDE leads the pack. The Codebender leverages the power of cloud thereby making it easy for multiple developers to collaborate on one electronics project via its web interface.
Its features include an intelligent compiler, a smart debugging tool as well as extensive support for any microcontroller board you intend to use. Last but not the least, is its much-touted cloud sharing capabilities which serve as its major selling point. On Codebender you can learn, create and collaborate with seasoned professionals in order to help you learn faster. To get started with this IDE, all you need is a web browsing app as well as the monthly $10 fee needed to access the Codebender.
Here we come to the end of the list featuring some of the best IDEs you should consider using if you believe the traditional Arduino IDE hampers your creative abilities.