August 18, 2005

Why Hardware Companies Should Not Make Software

Posted in General at 9:40 am by Ian

At work, I’ve been learning VHDL, a hardware description language, for a new project I’m working on and have been using Xilinx tools to build. In just a few days, I’ve been amazed at the heights of inoperability that they’ve managed to pack into a single suite of software. A few examples:

  • The default font for editing files was really small. When I increased it, I no longer had a cursor. When I set an external editor as the default, it gives an error message and doesn’t open.
  • The error boxes are quite limited in the space they have, since the path to files in cvs is pretty long, the actual error message is completely cropped off. I get a little error message that says


    . With buttons labeled “Yes” and “No.” Uhmm. Yes?



  1. Evan said,

    Dude. RSS Feed. Would you please change feed settings so the whole post ‘ll come through? Makes reading much more funnerest. And easier. thanks!

  2. Ian said,


    Not being an RSS user, I had no idea this was even an issue.

  3. Philip said,

    Back at Mudd, I used multiple different versions of Xilinx tools. My memory was that some were quite usable and others were nightmarish. I think part of the weeding out process for uP’s was that E85 used the awful version to turn people off.

    Other than the pain in the butt software, I hope you can enjoy your time in VHDL. I enjoyed using Verilog (the other major hardware description language) when I’ve had the chance to code in it. It’s such a different design mentality than software coding languages.

  4. Evan said,

    you’re a peach.

  5. Ian said,

    Aww, shucks.

  6. Victor said,

    Do you know if the ECF comes with a good version of Xilinx that I should know about?

  7. Chris said,

    Perhaps you would like a descriptive error message, such as this:

  8. Victor said,

    Don’t forget everyone’s favorite error message:


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