After years of being the lastest (and only) official IDE for AVR microcontrollers, Atmel decided to launch a new version of the famous AVR Studio. Of course between this AVR Studio 5 release (which is still beta) and AVR Studio 4, Atmel tried a new IDE for AVR32 based on Eclipse.
From my point of view the AVR32 Studio based on Eclipse was the best decision Atmel did. It brought something new all the developers that love and use AVR products. The fact is that having an IDE based on Eclipse (which is based on Java) let users run the IDE in several platforms and not only Windows (as AVR Studio 4 did). Moreover, Atmel delivered an AVR32 Toolchain for Windows and Linux, and the lastest one was easily ported to OS X.
The new version of AVR Studio (5) is based on…. Visual Studio! Yes… it can only runs on Windows (don’t try Wine, it’s like trying to drive a new BMW X5 with an old FIAT 600 engine, you will not go very far). But, let’s judge it by how it works, and not how it was constructed.
As you might image when listening that it was based on Visual Studio, the ASM/C/C++ compiler is integrated with the instaler. And also the software framework, even though this last one is only available for AVR32 and the XMega series. There is no ASF for the 8bit family (yet).
Once the project is created, everything is very similar to AVR Studio 4. May be this is one of the reason why Atmel choose Visual Studio instead of Eclipse for the new IDE.
At a glance there are a few interesting things that were necessary to have. For example, you can import an AVR Studio 4 project into this new IDE.
As it happens with AVR32 Studio (based on Eclipse) you have a few predefined code snippets, and can add yours.
The project properties panel is more complete, you can choose different microcontrollers, and configure the toolchain in the same way you do it with Eclipse (for AVR32)
To sum up, AVR Studio 5 it’s a better IDE than Studio 4, it’s not perfect or portable to other platforms, but it gives me a good impression.