Many would say that Visual Studio is superior to that of Eclipse and I would tend to agree. Momentics, which is the IDE of choice for programming in the QNX environment, mainly on the PlayBook, is based on Eclipse. The guys at QNX have done a great job coding plugins for Eclipse that allow it to talk to a PlayBook. Unfortunately, because it is based on Eclipse, it lacks in many areas where Visual Studio usually shines. It is the main reason for my abandonment of Momentics.
This blog entry is the first of many, in which I will dive into a world of intrigue and pain. My quest, is to find out if Visual Studio can replace Momentics. The results of this quest, thus far, looks promising:
- Visual Studio can be configured to use makefiles as part of its toolchain. This is done by setting it up as a Pre/Post build step. This process will be detailed in Part 1 of this series.
- Makefiles are wonderful beings. Using them, you can set up your environment and invoke the Gnu Compiler (gcc). There is a tool that will translate gcc output (error/warning) messages to the Visual Studio output and Error windows. The details of this will be in Part 2.
- Debugging will be a challenge. There are a few plugins into Visual Studio that allow communication with the Gnu Debugger (gdb) on the device. I will attempt to use them to communicate to the debugger in Part 3.
- Lastly, automation. Many questions still loom over the this topic. Are there ways of combining the above steps into an automated tool chain? Will this process be easier in Visual Studio 2012? I’ll attempt to explore this in Part 4.
Alternatively, Marmalade already has a toolchain for developing applications on many mobile devices. If at any point they develop a way to integrate QNX development with their Visual Studio suite, I will throw in my towel. They are, of course, a subsidiary of RIM and are being pushed to develop a QNX front-end to their tools.