While the progress on Wascana has been slower than I may have liked, it is progressing. And I’ve been very pleased with the positive feedback I’ve received on it. Almost everyone I’ve heard from says it’s the right solution at the right time. A complete CDT IDE is hard for people to set up themselves, especially for noobs, and that is Wascana’s primary mission in life, to make this easier.

But there is another reason for Wascana, and one I use to justify spending some of my work time on it. I’ve often seen marketing staff from various vendors promote their Eclipse-based tools as, well, Eclipse-based tools. Now in the Java space, that definitely means something. But in the embedded world, it doesn’t have the same punch. It’s almost like customers are saying “yeah, so?”.

This has been the main driver behind my work on improving the CDT for the “grassroots” segment of our industry. These are the guys just getting into programming, or are doing it as a hobby, or people working in a start-up. People who don’t have a lot of money to spend on expensive tooling but who would benefit from a good free IDE. And while there are good IDEs out there for free, there is so much more upside to Eclipse.

But I had reached a road block in my pursuit of supporting the grassroots. We had reached the point that their biggest hurdle was setting up the CDT with a good compiler and debugger and set of run-time libraries. This is the stuff that Microsoft’s Visual C++ has always been good at. And if you look around, thanks mainly to the growth of Linux, there is getting to be a pretty good set of open source tools and libraries.

And I guess that’s why the time is right for Wascana. I think we can build a pretty good free open source IDE from all this, and the feedback I’ve received is that it will be very popular. And if that becomes true, then commercial products based on Eclipse will benefit from the extra visibility and the investment will have be worth it. So while I’ve had to pursue Wascana out on SourceForge due to licensing and IP requirements on Eclipse projects, I consider Wascana to be an important part of the CDT, both for the desktop developers who want a good open source IDE based on it, and for commercial vendors who want their CDT-based IDEs to be successful.