Embedded programming usually solo?

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I have a question as an experienced software developer considering
shifting my emphasis to embedded systems programming.  (I have OS
development background that seems like a good fit.)

Please comment on the claim I heard about embedded development: that
there's often (usually?) only one *software* guy on an embedded
project.  If he wanted to, could an embedded programmer get
assignments where he is the only software guy?

-- Mark Abbott

Re: Embedded programming usually solo?
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Any number between 1 and 200 on a project. Similar number for HW people.
some embedded engineers can do both HW and SW so some projects are only
1 person.

Many projects are for 1 SW person. However these tend to be the 8 bit
systems where there is usually no OS.

You will also need to learn some new tools and test/debug techniques.
depending on the target, an ICE, a JTAG debugger, simulators and
possibly a logic analyser (this is usually the first tool a HW person
goes for).



/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
\/\/\/\/\ Chris Hills  Staffs  England    /\/\/\/\/\
/\/\/ snipped-for-privacy@phaedsys.org       www.phaedsys.org \/\/
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Re: Embedded programming usually solo?
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Oscilloscope first.

Mike Harding

Re: Embedded programming usually solo?
           mike snipped-for-privacy@nixspamhotmail.com "Mike Harding" writes:

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I can usually work with as little as a multi-meter, Forth and a simple
logic probe. The scope is only required when things get a little more
complicated. Usually by the time others have phoned the instrument hire
company for the rental quote on a logic analyser (too expensive to own
one to just sit on the shelf gathering dust) I have resolved the
problem.

--
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Re: Embedded programming usually solo?

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So his meter didn't have an "AC/DC" switch on it?

Scopes are great.  I love using them.  I don't always have that luxury and
must sometimes get by with lesser tools.

Kelly



Re: Embedded programming usually solo?

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Errr... the AC voltage ranges on multi-meters will only
read up to a few hundred hertz.

Mike Harding


Re: Embedded programming usually solo?


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Seconded in spades.

Ian


Re: Embedded programming usually solo?
in comp.arch.embedded:

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Once upon a time, when I was young (was I ever young?), almost all
embedded projects used 8 bit microcontrollers (and before there were
microcontrollers, 8 bit microprocessors) with a few K bytes of ROM or
EPROM for code storage and a few dozen or few hundred bytes of RAM.

In those days it was very common for the embedded program to be
written (most likely entirely in assembly language) by a single
person, as often as not the EE who designed the board, drew the
schematics, and laid out the artwork.

Nowadays embedded projects range from those like the above to those
using 32 and 64 bit processors (and DSPs) with megabytes of memory
space and processor speeds up to the GHz range.  There are embedded
operating systems for these beasts that themselves occupy a megabyte
or more of memory.

Projects like the latter type often have quite a few programmers
working on them.

There is no such thing as a "typical" embedded project any more, and
the range is far, far wider than desk top applications.

--
Jack Klein
Home: http://JK-Technology.Com
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Re: Embedded programming usually solo?

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In my experience, about half of the embedded projects I've seen have been
solo s/w projects.  The rest involved 2-5 people.

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Sure.  But if you've never done embedded SW before, you don't want to try to
solo right off the bat -- unless you alredy know how to use an oscilloscope,
logic analyzer, and know how to debug hardware.  Could you tell when two
address lines are shorted together (either by looking at a memory dump or an
oscilloscope trace)?  If not, you'll need to work with somebody who does.
One of tasks of an embedded SW engineer is to troubleshoot prototype circuit
borads.

--
Grant Edwards                   grante             Yow!  Intra-mural sports
                                  at               results are filtering
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Re: Embedded programming usually solo?

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Quite possible.  I have been involved in a number of successful projects
where there was just one person responsible for creating the software.  I
chose those words carefully because in all these cases there has been
someone else responsible for creating the electronics design anopther
responsible for creating the mechanical design.  The important thing is
that the *whole team* is responsible for the correct function and
performance of the product.   In other words, no one man projects.

Ian


Re: Embedded programming usually solo?
Hi Mark,

On small embedded devices (ie: 8 bitters with 4 KB of assembly code),
it's often a one-guy's project.

But embedded design are usually more and more complex, with 32 bits
MCU, realtime OS, network connectivity, GUI coded with C++, ...
In my humble experience, it's often a job for a small team (2-6) in
this case.

Note: It seems to be difficult to create a real developpment team
with people who are used to work on solo project :
- bad communication ("I used to do it that way, everyone should know it !")
- bad documentation ("I AM the documentation")
- bad programming (bad prototyping and globals everywhere).

IMHO, Team-works is the way to go if you really want to learn
a lot of things talking with other SW and/or HW guys.

Regards
Emmanuel.

Mark Abbott wrote:
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Re: Embedded programming usually solo?

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Tech-Tools makes a good setup.  The way to learn is to have an
assembler/programmer with source-level tracing.  Write some code, then
step thru it to see what it is doing.

I learned several micro's this way, and, long ago, C programming using
the Borland integrated environment.

--
Luhan Monat, "LuhanKnows" At 'Yahoo' dot 'Com'
http://members.cox.net/berniekm
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Re: Embedded programming usually solo?
snipped-for-privacy@amleth.demon.co.uk ("Paul E. Bennett") writes:

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True.


The problem is that not all good technical people are good
human people... The problem exists even though its only reason
is over-valuation of own work.

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Don't get mwe wrong. I am not saying that a solo project could not
be a successful project. I have seen very high-quality solo work,
and I have seen very low-quality team work. But the main point is
that being a good solo programmer requires way more than being a
good programmer in a team.

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Right. What is the percentage of small projects which have a
proper documentation -- with the thought process documented, as
well -- of all projects. Very small.

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This contact list idea is very good, but depends very much on
the environment. And it is not so easy to create the network if
you are a beginner.

So, I am not saying that team work would be better per se. It
may be worse and is usally less efficient. But for a beginner,
being a member of a team (even a loosely connected one) might
help a lot.

- Ville

--
Ville Voipio, Dr.Tech., M.Sc. (EE)

Re: Embedded programming usually solo?
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I don't think so. I think the effort required to participate
productively in a team is in fact more difficult, because it uses
skills - communication, negotiation, other interpersonal skills - that
the solo programmer may rarely need to use, and almost never as
deeply.

I've been very lucky throughout my working life, because I've either
been solo, or a team lead, or I've been working with people so highly
skilled and/or with whom I have such a good relationship that
arguments never become acrimonious.

If I had to pick the one thing I like most about being in a team, it
is the psychological safety net that tells me if I make some egregious
mistake, it will be picked up by someone else before it escapes into
the real world. The contrast to this is what makes solo work fun; it's
the feeling of being an intrepid explorer, and I think very closely
related to the impulse that makes small boys so greatly enjoy crawling
through a dense forest :)

Re: Embedded programming usually solo?

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Interesting comment. However surely a solo programmer needs these same
skills when dealing with whoever is paying him to do the work.  IMHO *all*
engineers need to posses good communication, negaotiation and interpersonal
skills.

Ian


Re: Embedded programming usually solo?
On Tue, 06 Jan 2004 21:04:21 +0000, Ian Bell

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Emmm... yes... maybe... :) Engineers are not noted for their
communications and people skills.

Joke:
How can you you tell when you're talking to a extrovert engineer?

When he replies he looks at your shoes rather than his own.

Mike Harding


Re: Embedded programming usually solo?

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Whilst it is certainly true that *some* engineers are not noted for the
comms/people skills, it is by no means universal.  I worked for twenty
years in large technology consultancies and there it was a definite
prerequisite that engineers as a minimum showed the ability to acquire
these skills.  They received as much training in this area and other non
technical skills like project mamagement as they did in technical topics.

My personal view is this made them better engineers because they were able
to:

a).  Persuade non technical people (clients and possibly management) to
their viewpoint

b).  Present their ideas in a clear manner

c) Understand the point of view of others and take it into account.

I am sure they enjoyed their work more as a result.

Ian

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Re: Embedded programming usually solo?
snipped-for-privacy@larwe.com (Lewin A.R.W. Edwards) writes:

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A solo programmer needs good written communication skills. Without
them there will be no decent documentation. So, working solo does
not give an exempt from communicating with other people.

Also, a good team leader can replace some of the personal deficiencies
of group members, makes the quiet talk and the talkative shut up. (And
a bad team leader can make the life feel like something written by Dante.)

- Ville

--
Ville Voipio, Dr.Tech., M.Sc. (EE)

Re: Embedded programming usually solo?
snipped-for-privacy@larwe.com (Lewin A.R.W. Edwards) writes:

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You are right, bad habits have the habit of concentrating into
one place. Sometimes it is difficult to tell which problem is the
root cause.

- Ville

--
Ville Voipio, Dr.Tech., M.Sc. (EE)

Re: Embedded programming usually solo?
           snipped-for-privacy@kosh.hut.fi "Ville Voipio" writes:

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I agree with you on that point to a certain extent. However, when the
issue of getting paid to produce something is brought into the argument
it should be clear that you need to learn to encourage the other guy to
build a case for his viewpoint as you build a case for yours. After
presenting yoursupporting cases in turn it should become clear which
way to go (even if it was a third way suggested out of answering the
identified problems. If there really is totally opposing views you
may need an arbirtrator.
 
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Yes, probably an order of magnitude more self discipline.
 
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In the whole universe of programming perhaps. In high integrity systems
development, probably a significant roportion because it is demanded.
 
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True. However, netorking is a skill that needs to be developed and
I cannot imagine that college or university environments would not
present plenty of opportunities for it. Some of my networking
contacts go back over twenty years ago and I am still in touch
with them.
 
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Agreed.

--
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