Found a good base for an XSVF player

Found a good base for an XSVF player

Small world. Ben over at the Papilio Forums had almost the same needs as mine: wants to program an XC9572XL, prefers not to buy overpriced, single-purpose cables. So he adapted the XAPP058 reference code to a Papilio, cleverly using the desktop machine as a conduit between the potentially large xsvf file and the firmware.

I didn’t try to get Ben’s code running on the Papilio, because I have a different strategy in mind. I have ported the device portion to the Arduino, and I’m going to rewrite the tiny C-based desktop client in Python. It would be odd for someone to have a CPLD but _not_ have an Arduino within arm’s reach, and while every hobbyist _should_ have a Papilio (hi Jack!), it’s less common. As for the command-line tool, it’s straightforward I/O, which means Python’s the perfect choice to get Mac/Windows/Linux/wristwatch support for free. Last night I got the Arduino communicating with the C client just enough for the Arduino to start sending debug messages telling me it was very confused about its purpose in life. Tonight I hope to get it able to program something on the ‘9572, and then I’ll have a known-good toolchain against which to develop the Python client.

Just a bit of pontificating about using the right tool for the job. It makes me sad when projects with a cross-platform audience use .BAT files, and it makes me sad any time I see C/C++ where cycle-for-cycle performance isn’t an issue. For shell scripts, use Bash. Install Cygwin if your favorite OS is one of the… one that doesn’t know Bash. And for pretty much every other desktop tool you can think of, consider Python rather than C. People reflexively think of C as the go-to language for portability, but at the tool level where you care more about how to open a nonblocking serial port rather than the endianness of an int, Python remains portable where C starts spewing out #ifdefs.

Anyway, back to the topic. When this project is done, any maker will be able to program a Xilinx CPLD with the hardware and OS he or she already has. No more ridiculous $50 cables.