GCB Roadmap

joe rocci
  • joe rocci

    joe rocci - 2011-09-24

    I've been following and working with GCB for a few years now, and I've successfully used it for several projects. I've also used Swordfish, Proton, PicBasic Pro, Arduino ("C") and PIC assembler. Of all the "free" compilers, I think GCB offers the most bang and ease-of-use for the buck. Considering that it can compile for AVR as well as PIC chips, I'm surprised that it hasn't caught on as a cross-platform compiler for Arduino-alternative  hardware platforms that use PIC. (Yes Arduino/AVR fans, there ARE very good reasons why a PIC is the best processor for some applications.)

    I'd like to know if there's a roadmap for GCB that might get us to Arduino-like recognition. For my own purposes, I'm looking for LONG variables and USB support ASAP, but the availability and ability to draw from a library of special-function "Includes" would also be great.

    Can the developers give us any idea where GCB is headed?


  • BoomStick

    BoomStick - 2011-10-14

    Really the same question here too. GCB esp the Graphical version is a stunningly good way to get into PIC's.

    It would be a total shame for a project like this to die….

  • Hugh Considine

    Hugh Considine - 2011-10-14

    There isn't any roadmap for GCBASIC, what gets added depends mainly on what I or other people need or would like to add. Fixing bugs is also something that gets pretty high priority!

    I've been pretty snowed under this second half of the year, I have taken on some teaching (practical supervision) at university for the first time and am finding it very time consuming. But given the amount of work that has gone into GCBASIC, there is no way that it is getting abandoned any time soon!

    I did start working on long (32 bit unsigned) variable support and a few other small bits and pieces a while back, but haven't had time to get it all to a point where it is working properly. Another thing that really needs work is the code generated for AVR - it makes very heavy use of the SRAM, and not enough use of the registers. This makes some programs much bigger and slower. Hopefully I will be able to continue this in a month or two once the semester ends!

    As for Arduino, it doesn't surprise me that there aren't a lot of people using GCBASIC with it. I think a big part of the appeal of Arduino is the enormous amount of sample code and libraries available for it. It would take an awful lot of GCBASIC coding to get to that point. However, there are hopefully a few people using GCBASIC with the Arduino, and hopefully the number will increase! It is a combination I have played with myself and it generally works nicely.

    Libraries are also something that need to be added to. The current Contributors forum is good, but maybe there is a better way to share code?

    On a (slightly) related topic, does anyone know personally of any good (ie, high quality, low price) robots or development boards that work with GCBASIC? PIC or AVR is fine. It would be nice to have something to steer beginners towards if they aren't confident with breadboard and want to get something working quickly. At the moment there are only a couple of libraries for robots included in GCBASIC, it would be nice to expand that collection a bit!

  • joe rocci

    joe rocci - 2011-10-14


    Thanks for the detailed reply!

    I'm in the process of putting together a site for Hams/Experimenters who
    might like to find an easy-to-learn, yet powerful route into microcontroller
    development. My site will educate, demonstrate, and offer example projects
    using PIC's and AVR's on readily available, cheap hardware as well as
    user-built circuits (a-la ham radio).

    I've played around with just about every PIC Basic compiler known, and I
    keep coming back to GCB as the best bang for the buck (infinite, actually!).
    I like the diversity and pricing of Arduino hardware, but I really don't
    like the C-based environment and I find that some of their libraries have
    stuff that gets in my way or limits what I can do (interrupt processing and
    timer handling for example). On the other hand GCB, though somewhat
    minimalist by comparison, generates efficient & fast code (for PIC anyway)
    and seems to me like driving a sports car instead of a luxury sedan. Also,
    the ability to go back and forth from PIC to AVR is very compelling to me.

    My site will stress the benefits I've described above and will show readers
    how to set up a universal PIC/AVR development environment using GCB,
    Prithvi, and a few other open-source components. I have the whole
    environment  working now and it's a joy to use. Some time in the next few
    weeks, I'll go live with the site and hopefully that will drive some
    activity toward GCB.


  • joe rocci

    joe rocci - 2011-10-14

    I forgot to answer your question. The Arduino Uno with an ATMega328p and USB-to-serial interface is available on EBay for about $20 including shipping. Does that meet your price target? I've compiled for this board using Prithvi/GCB as the IDE, and loaded in into the board with a free loader application called "XLoader". I had to download an  AVR assembler (I used "Gerd's AVR Assembler") and point Prithvi to it.. Works very smoothly. One click build and another click to load. It could all be one click if I can figure out Prithvi's configuration string to start the loader automatically.

  • Santiago

    Santiago - 2011-10-19

    Also using GCB with Arduino & Arduino-like boards.

    In Linux its easy integrate Piklab+GCB+Avrdude.

    Recently purchased an AVR board kit with firmware USB bootloader (no ftdi needed) for about 6.5$+shipping (no avr chip included), called "Metaboard". Its open-source hardware and software, All info available on the web.

    I like Arduino hardware, but the problem is the higly bloated code for some Arduino-specific funstions, this mean around 1400 bytes of flash for a simple blinky led, dont remember exactly, but around 130 bytes for GCB.


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