Lots of great comments on the last post here and on our mailing lists. Let me elaborate on the subject:
To address why working on the IDE at all when a simple one suffices: it is definitely the case that ImageCraft will continue to place the most emphasis on compilers. The thing to keep in mind is that the resources that can work on compiler backends are usually not the same as the ones that can work on GUI and IDE. Hence working on the next-gen IDE will not take away resources from the compiler development. (I will write another blog entry on our compiler development later.)
From a business perspective, there is no doubt that prettiness sells, and every week, we have customers or potential customers asking: why don’t you add this [xyz features] to the editor? So, the demand is there. While a good number of developers use their own editors instead of our IDEs, a good number also request code folding, code browsing etc. One even said that he will not buy or recommend ImageCraft if we do not move to Eclipse-verse pronto. While we cannot keep all customers or satisfy all requests, I know in certain markets (do remember that we are supporting a variety of micros), the prettiness of the IDE does come into play in being competitive. A next-gen IDE will also allow us to integrate a debugger, which is another oft-requested feature.
Having decided a next-gen IDE is necessary, it is easy to decide against writing our own: it will just waste too much resources. Something like notepad++ would be ideal as a starting point – it has almost all the editing features one would want, and adding project management, application builder etc. would be fairly light weight. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, we cannot afford to use GPL code. GPL is another sinkhole I don’t want to get into right now.
A small number of people commented that Eclipse is not too bloated for the current and future generations of PCs. I do not make the statement arbitrarily; for a good number of our users and potential users, there is evidence that Eclipse is a bit bloated. Besides, we do already have an Eclipse plug in for the AVR compiler, so people are welcome to try that out now.
As for Visual Studio, while working with Microsoft always carries a risk (I have personal experience with working for 2 rather large companies that had partnership agreements with Microsoft), in the end, it seems to be the right decision. I have gotten clarification from Microsoft that we will in effect be able to ship a copy of the Visual Studio 2008 IDE (sans the Microsoft compiler) as part of our compiler package free of charge to us and to the customers. People that use their own IDEs (including Eclipse and command line users) will not be affected, and we will get a world class IDE with a lot less work and support cost than if we write our own.