New Tools Simplify Programming of Embedded Systems

April 3, 2001

3 Min Read
New Tools Simplify Programming of Embedded Systems

Originally Published in MPMN April 2001


New Tools Simplify Programming of Embedded Systems

A kit supplied by Amulet Technologies reduces graphical user interface development time and simplifies testing.

Everyone's yearning for a simple kind of life, and embedded systems programmers are no exception. Two recently introduced tools promise to make programming work less labor-intensive and to accelerate graphical user interface (GUI) development times. An upcoming conference and exhibition highlight other achievements in this rapidly evolving field.Amulet Technologies LLC (Santa Clara, CA) claims that its Easy GUI Starter Kit's rapid turnaround and instant execution of user interfaces will dramatically reduce GUI development time. Feature-rich graphics can be developed right out of the box in three easy steps, according to marketing director Jerry Shapiro. The user interface is designed in HTML and then compiled using the company's proprietary µHTML tool. This is then programmed via the onboard flash memory. The kit comes bundled with the company's µHTML compiler, sample HTML and image files, a backlit display panel, touch panel, controller board, serial cable, and external power source. The onboard flash memory is factory programmed with Amulet's µHTML pages.Because devices such as vital-signs monitors typically use 8- or 16-bit microcontroller units to control their operations, processing-power and memory capacity is limited. Amulet addresses this issue by means of a GUI browser that uses hypertext links to access stored µHTML pages and user-interface objects, as well as data from the embedded product's main processor. Unlike large software-based Web browsers, this small ASIC won't tax the resources of 8-bit processors, yet the unit's 64-Kbyte onboard flash memory can store hundreds of µHTML pages. The partitioned design of the GUI processor, adds Shapiro, contributes to a reduction in development time by enabling parallel development, rapid design modifications, and simplified testing procedures.Altia Inc. (Colorado Springs, CO) has released a tool designed to free programmers from the tedium of writing graphics code by hand. DeepScreen 1.0 generates a complete code that includes the embedded system's framework and its drawing and rendering commands.The product generates straight C code that can be used in a variety of target real-time operating systems, and which can be easily modified for integration into so-called home-grown systems. To further speed development time, DeepScreen comes with specific code generators that require no modifications for use with popular processors.The system is designed to complement the graphics design program Altia Design 4.5. Once the interface components and screen graphics have been created in Alta Design, they can be run through DeepScreen, which will automatically generate complete code for the target system.If you're interested in learning more about embedded systems and the technological advances just around the corner, you should plan to attend the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in San Francisco this month. At the Moscone Center from April 9 to 13, ESC features more than 150 sessions along with the world's largest exhibition of products and services for embedded systems. For more information or to register to attend, go to Sparrow

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