Why JumpStart C/C++ for Cortex

New: JumpStart API for the STM32L0xx added on April 19, 2019.

With this single package, you can get productive with programming Cortex-M MCUs in a matter of hours, instead of days or weeks. JumpStart C/C++ for Cortex includes an integrated visual debugger and the JumpStart API, a middleware API that has better capabilities than generic mbed functions or vendors' HAL, which are often too low-level. For ST users, JumpStart can directly import ST CubeMX's generated projects. Priced at just $50 for hobbyists and $249 for commercial use, you need not waste time with unintuitive, bloated, and slow "free" IDEs and can get your work done now.

With the GCC compiler, ImageCraft’s new release (“V9”) of the JumpStart compilers are compatible with most third party and open source stacks, as well as program examples both from silicon vendors and those found on the web. GCC is now the standard third party compiler supported by most (if not all) Cortex-M silicon vendors in their example and library releases. GCC is "free software", and there are "free" IDE/editors. However, JumpStart C/C++ for Cortex is much more than just a simple IDE wrapped on top of GCC.

See also Why JumpStart Tools.


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ImageCraft’s core competencies

  1. Laser focus on embedded Cortex development: Common free IDEs (e.g.: Eclipse) combined with GCC can be used to develop programs for platforms from Linux-base supercomputers to small microcontrollers. However, to accomodate all these differing needs, these tools can be bloated (trying to support “everything under the sun”) and come with a confusing set of configurable options, many of which are not applicable to embedded development. Not JumpStart C++ for Cortex. We use it ourselves to develop Cortex-M firmware; we are very familiar with what features make embedded development easier, and what features to omit. ImageCraft understands the importance of products that work “out of the box”. 

  2. Support: ImageCraft has been in business supporting embedded development since 1994. Our customer base ranges from consulting engineers, to Fortune 500 companies, and to professors teaching classes at institutes of higher education. When customers have an issue or questions, timely support is of utmost importance and we have years of experience providing excellent support.

  3. Professional features: the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) has all the features you would expect: a code-aware editor, code browsing, workspace and project management with multiple-target support, plus compiler and debugging integration.

    In addition, unlike IDEs written in Java or other slower languages, CodeBlocks is quick to start, as it is written natively in GCC itself.

  4. Ease of use: we have fine-tuned and continue to enhance the CodeBlocks IDE to offer user-friendly features, such as generating the compiler/linker commands automatically by allowing a user to select the target device by name.

    In addition, ImageCraft’s JumpStart API (JSAPI) makes it easy to program the MCU’s peripherals at a functional level, rather than the tedium of manipulating the MCU’s I/O register level. It takes less time to get a working program running, than even for the time for ST CubeMX to just get started up!

  5. World-class debugging: integrated with the IDE, our from-the-ground-up visual debugger JDB works with industry standard backends and debug pods. Features such as I/O register view, instruction trace, etc. are highly valuable in difficult debugging situations.

  6. Sensible licensing policy and pricing: commercial embedded tools tend to be expensive. Indeed, ImageCraft pioneered the concept of “low cost professional embedded tools” back in 1994, with a professional high-quality $100 HC11 compiler. Unlike companies which still charge $7000+ for the initial license and $1000+ for annual support maintenance, our prices have remained significantly less than that.

  7. NO Single-Vendor Lock-in: it is common for a silicon vendor provide their own IDE or GUI tools, targeting (of course) only their own MCU offerings. Nowadays it is also common for a silicon vendor to buy a third party compiler vendor company, and then release the vendor’s previous commercial IDE tool “for free”, again, for the vendor’s own products.

    This may initially sound appealing to end users, except that any support which that compiler originally provided for other silicon vendors’ products would most likely disappear in future releases.

Major Features of JumpStart C/C++ Tools

  • Write in C or C++.
  • Professional IDE with workspace/project management, syntax aware features, code browsing etc. CodeBlocks IDE is much faster and more intuitive than Eclipse.
  • Import ST CubeMX projects.
  • We make complicated things simple: there is no need to write linker command files. Select the target device by name, and our tools do the rest. Select various floating point options easily, etc.
  • Full set of GCC compiler tools including C/C++ compiler, assembler, linker and library file manager. Industry compatibility and industry leading performance.
  • Native visual debugger, integrated with the IDE.
  • Seamless integration with Segger JLINK, ST-LINK/V2, Black Magic Probe (BMP), and WBMP debug pods.
  • Support Cortex-M0, Cortex-M3, M4, and M7 series from all major vendors.
  • Easy to use JumpStart API. Get started in Cortex-M programming in minutes, not days or months.
  • Built-in flash downloader.
  • Optional REXIS RTOS.

Third Party Libraries

And now, with adopting GCC, we are adding one more major feature: the ability to use all the open source libraries and the third party stacks provided by the silicon vendors. We will implement simple-to-use-and-install schemes for downloading and building popular third party stacks, so that the users do not have to collect bits and pieces from all over the place. In addition, JumpStart C++ can import projects created by ST’s graphical CubeMX tools. We expect to support other vendors’ GUI tools in a similar fashion.

C Support Is Still Here

Of course, moving to C++ is a major step. Fortunately, GCC supports pure C, including the ISO C99 Standard and the 0x Standard, and since JumpStart C for Cortex-M (“V8”) uses our Standard C90/C99 compiler, your source code can be recompiled with minimal effort. We even include a V8 project importer command in the V9 IDE, so that you can convert your existing projects effortlessly. You can continue to write entirely in C if you wish.

Optionally, you can start with the simplest but most useful C++ enhancements such as objects for encapsulation, variable length array, literal structures, etc. that are helpful for simplifying your C code, without using the more complex aspects of C++. 

JumpStart C/C++ for Cortex Come in Two Different Editions

  • STD (Standard) - for basic commercial development. 
  • NC (Non-Commercial) - for students and hobbyists. Non-commercial use only.

A comment from customer Patrick Cowan:

“Your business model is awesome, and I think it has huge potential to sell your software by making it very easy to use and basically idiot-proof. I don't know much about software, but I was able to learn how to use an Arduino fairly easily. The idea of your software being that same level of simple/easy, but working on other processors, is very appealing. In fact, we found your company existed because I told [my partner] that someone HAD TO be making software like this. After doing some google searching we found you guys!”

CodeBlocks IDE

ImageCraft enhanced the Open Source CodeBlocks IDE to add user-friendly features such as selecting target devices via point-and-click, instead of writing complicated linker files. We integrated it with our own JumpStart Debugger, including the ability to see the MCUs IO register content. More information and screenshots here.

JumpStart Debugger

The integrated debugger is described here. It requires a separate license purchase to enable all of its features.

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