Frustrated with MPLAB X!!

Frustrated with MPLAB X!!

Postby peterg1000 » Fri Feb 05, 2016 1:58 pm

As a retired hobbyist I wanted to use a simple chip to allow me to produce a configurable crystal controlled local oscillator frequency for a 60 KHz receiver. Using a timer and preset register gave an ideal solution in a low end 8 pin PIC12F part. Initially I chose a low end part that wasn't supported by MPLAB IDE 8.92, so took the plunge and downloaded and installed "X".

Having spent a whole day trying to get to grips with this new IDE, I've now given up and changed to a part that is supported by 8.92!! I personally found "X" to be a really user unfriendly piece of software, whilst 8.92 is almost untuitive to use and configure. For example, even a simple task such as changing the font size on the "Output" window on "X" I found impossible to accomplish (the default happens to be so small as to be almost impossible to read!!). Similarly the ability to have multiple windows overlaid and easily accesible simply by clicking any visible part of the required window seems to have been lost. They seem to have a habit of disappearing onto the task bar at the slightest provocation!!

Maybe it is just me, but I found the whole experience most disappointing - maybe a more user friendly newcomers guide might have helped. As it is I've removed "X" from my laptop and have found a chip that does what I want AND is supported by 8.92. This IDE has seen me through multiple projects using PIC16, PIC18 and PIC24 chips. Maybe later I will try again, but for the moment - no thanks!!
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Re: Frustrated with MPLAB X!!

Postby ric » Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:42 pm

I feel your pain.
I've certainly got MPLABX working to the point where I can build a project in it, but I use 8.92 for my daily work.
Latest test project, an LED matrix display made from one reel of addressable LEDs. here
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Re: Frustrated with MPLAB X!!

Postby vloki » Mon Feb 08, 2016 8:53 am

peterg1000 wrote:For example, even a simple task such as changing the font size on the "Output" window on "X" I found impossible to accomplish (the default happens to be so small as to be almost impossible to read!!).
Just press the [ctrl] key and scroll with your mouse wheel?

peterg1000 wrote:Similarly the ability to have multiple windows overlaid and easily accesible simply by clicking any visible part of the required window seems to have been lost. They seem to have a habit of disappearing onto the task bar at the slightest provocation!!
Even with the old MPLAB I did prefer the "Tabbed" view over this multiple floating windows mess.

peterg1000 wrote:Maybe it is just me, but I found the whole experience most disappointing - maybe a more user friendly newcomers guide might have helped.
I started to use X many years ago when it was in the early beta stage. I still love it ;-)
Are you aware of the wiki? -> http://microchip.wikidot.com/mplabx:start

We use MPLAB-X with students and I must say they have much less problems than with the old MPLAB.
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Re: Frustrated with MPLAB X!!

Postby peterg1000 » Mon Feb 08, 2016 10:04 am

Young quick brains I guess - mine remembers the outbreak of WW2!!

Thanks for those tips - particularly the "wiki". I might be tempted to have another try now, when I'm not distracted by a task in hand.

I can usually manage find my way through new software without too much difficulty and the use of a good help utility aimed at the right level (i.e. "MPLAB X for Dummies" or one of David Karp's "Annoyances" series!!).

I appreciate your guidance.
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Re: Frustrated with MPLAB X!!

Postby Roche » Mon Feb 08, 2016 10:50 am

I still use 8.92 - X was just a nightmare. Even if similar features to 8.92 are available in X the hassle in finding them is just too great. Maybe students, because they haven't experienced the earlier system, don't experience the same levels of angst. Having to invest days and weeks of time in trying to do things in X that you have done easily in 8.92 is very expensive. Cost with no benefit.
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Re: Frustrated with MPLAB X!!

Postby peterg1000 » Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:29 pm

Not to be outdone, I decided to reinstall "X" this afternoon and try again and did a lot better this time, and actually started a new project, collected all the files I needed for assembly, built the project and actually ran it under simulation.

I also managed to get the SFR and file displays on the screen together with the .asm file - progress indeed!! I really liked the pop-ups when mousing over the SFR's too - saved having the data sheet .pdf open to remind me what the bits do.

If things progress as well when running real hardware through my PicKit3 I might well be a convert - for the moment I'm impressed but not totally decided.

vloki wrote:Just press the [ctrl] key and scroll with your mouse wheel?
That helped a lot - freed my mind of a particular frustration!!
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Re: Frustrated with MPLAB X!!

Postby peterg1000 » Mon Feb 04, 2019 6:40 pm

See it's 3 years since my first battle with "X" - and since then I've studiously avoided it and used "IDE". However the growing list of new processors supported only in "X" has forced me to tackle the monster again. This time I think I have conquered the beast and actually completed a project on "X" (Rev 5.1) and actually found it better than "IDE" in many ways.

One of the problems that bugged (sorry for the pun) me was the apparent inability to have separate floating windows for FSR's and RAM, but since learning accidentally that this was possible I haven't had any real problems with the actual debug process. What I do find irritating is the difficulty of navigating through the myriad of menus to find the required action.

A particular problem that took hours to locate was to apply power to a target board via Pickit3. Its "nicely" hidden in "Project Properties" and once set for a project cannot be easily switched or changed because "Project Properties" is greyed out as soon as debug mode is entered. I seriously wonder if whoever designed the menu hierarchy ever actually used it in anger on a real project!!

Not to appear too negative, I do actually prefer the operation of "X" for assembler debug in spite on the clumsy menu structure.
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Re: Frustrated with MPLAB X!!

Postby vloki » Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:56 am

peterg1000 wrote:A particular problem that took hours to locate was to apply power to a target board via Pickit3. Its "nicely" hidden in "Project Properties" and once set for a project cannot be easily switched or changed because "Project Properties" is greyed out as soon as debug mode is entered.

There should be a "Unlock" button in the dialog. It terminates the debug session as well, but it is not necessary to leaf the properties, terminate debug manually and enter the properties again...
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Re: Frustrated with MPLAB X!!

Postby peterg1000 » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:56 am

Hi vloki,

Thanks for that tip - I explore that route next time I have debug operating again.

Pity there isn't a "Wiki" for "X" where these annoyances can be aired.

Peter.
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Re: Frustrated with MPLAB X!!

Postby vloki » Wed Feb 06, 2019 4:54 pm

http://microchipdeveloper.com/search:si ... &mini=true

The "Unlock" button is the one that usually is greyed out.
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