As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the Arduino IDE drives me batty. So tonight I decided to do something about it. I considered makefiles, but every time I thought I was onto something, it just didn’t look it was going to be a good investment in times. Especially since I really dislike working with makefiles.

Then I decided to see what’s out there for IDEs. Some stuff, but not much. Fortunately, one of the things out there was something that had promise. Visual Micro.

But not yet. I had been using Visual Studio Express 2010 C# for a long time now and never had the need to upgrade. The Express versions of Visual Studio don’t allow plugins and this is a plugin. So I decided to move from 2010 to Visual Studio Community 2013. Visual Micro said it doesn’t work with 2015 yet, otherwise I would have gone with that.

I had to add a directory to my Tools>Options>Environment>Security Add-Ins as described in the FAQ and figure out where to aim the directory for the IDE. C:\Program Files (x86)\Arduino\ as I recall. Or something like that. Then, once I told it which board I’m using, Intellisense went through and indexed all the symbols.

Sooooo much nicer than the Arduino IDE. Once again, I failed to upload to my UNO R3 the first time and discovered it was I didn’t tell Visual Micro to use COM3. There was a blank dropdown box that had the com port. Apparently, it doesn’t default to the only available port when there is only one. But that was easy enough to solve.

Debugging will be a little bit more difficult that a target over which you have total control. And I think there is a Pro version of Visual Micro that is reasonably priced and has stronger debugging capability.

But, I’m happy with Visual Micro. A free plugin on top of a great free IDE…can’t beat that. I highly recommend anyone to quickly ditch the Arduino IDE and install this.

Since I’m getting close to having my flash programmer ready to go, I’ll be needing to make sure the Arduino outputs the right signals before I connect it the flash programmer CPLD. So I got this installed just in time.