MPLAB Xpress Examples Are More Helpful When I Actually Click On Link To Explanation.

PIC processors have been a popular tool for decades, catering to a wide range of usage scenarios. If you add up all the possible features and all the possible variants, it totally overwhelms the beginner trying to find a place to start. That was my problem last time: I didn’t know which chip I should start with, what tools to learn, and I didn’t even know how to navigate the documentation to inform these decisions.

But now that I have an evaluation board, I can focus on starting off with the chip on it (PIC16F18345) and use the tool (MPLAB Xpress web IDE) it is designed to work with. Microchip provides examples to help get people up to speed. This code repository is also open for people to upload and share. As of this writing, the examples total about 200, far short of something like Github. But it’s a start.

They even have a few examples for the specific board I have. Not just the chip, the full evaluation board. This spares me the headache of trying to translate code meant for a different device. I saw the big red “IDE” on the right hand side and clicked it.

Examples 345
Big red “IDE” on right are links. Big red titles on left are also links.

As expected, the project opened up in the development environment and…

Um…

Now what?

A lot of the code in the project appear to be auto-generated boilerplate. Most of the comments are legal disclaimers and the rest are gibberish to a beginner. The main() function has a while(1) infinite loop and no code inside that loop. What’s actually doing anything here? I wandered aimlessly looking for something to grab onto as my Rosetta Stone to get started.

Jumping straight into the code was not as  helpful as I had hoped.

After a while, I had to take a break and take care of other things. When I returned, my session had timed out and I had to restart. I retraced my steps and was just about to click on the big red “IDE” when I noticed… hey. The title on the left is also big and red. Could it be a link?

Not only was it a link, it was in fact a link to an explanation of the project and steps walking through how to re-create the example from scratch. I just got distracted by the big red “IDE” taking me on the wrong path.

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