Edit: Wow, wouldn’t you know I begin understanding this after I gave in and wrote a post asking for help. See my reply(or replies) for what I’ve found out on my own. I decided rather than removing my questions I will keep them for posterity.
Hello everyone. I feel some context is valuable here so I’ll share some of that before I get into my questions.
I am a test architect born out of a software engineer in my day job. I’ve always enjoyed building DIY electronics kits, so I figured it was high time I check out the microcontroller and embedded device scene. Somewhat unusually, I have no interest in using this to learn programming as seems to be the primary use-case for it. Instead, I have been trying to find the best way to do serious microcontroller development work - just to quench my own curiosity - which is how I found PlatformIO.
IMO, the Arduino IDE isn’t suited for serious development work for many reasons, but my primary gripes are lack of test tooling and poor intellisense/multi-file editing. Upon digging deeper, I found Atmel Studio 7. I decided against using it because it’s Windows only and seems to be an offender of platform lock-in behavior. PlatformIO seems to be a nice project that mixes the two well. It has good Unit Test support, ability to run in a CICD pipeline, and is of course open source and trying to break free from platform lock-in.
If some of the things I ask for don’t exist or haven’t been considered I certainly don’t mind contributing to the PlatformIO project, but I get the feeling my questions come from me not understanding the domain well enough yet. I will admit that C/C++ is not my area of expertise and when I’ve looked into testing capabilities in the past I have always seemed to find they aren’t great so maybe some of my issues are related to that cultural difference (Python is my preferred language actually, but I also do lots of Node and Java).
Note that all of my questions are intentionally worded generically. If you must know, I’m currently on a Windows PC using an ATTiny85 & Tiny AVR programmer. I also have an Arduino Uno & Arduino Mega 2560. I also have Linux and Mac dev environments.
- Do you think PlatformIO is what I’m looking for? Perhaps it’s really not meant for “serious” work as I described it?
- Is there a guide/docs of any kind that may be helpful to get one started using TDD (Test Driven Development) on microcontrollers/does the TDD concept even exist in the microcontroller space yet?
- Is there a way to Unit Test locally without the need of a microcontroller programmer being plugged in? Ideally what I’m hoping for is to use mocking/stubbing and running locally as x86/64 (then having the ability to also run them on the real hardware ideally).
- If that’s not possible, perhaps I could use a simulator of some kind? (I’ve found the docs on simavr and an even more obscure WizIO but couldn’t work out how to use it without still involving a physical microcontroller)
- If running tests requires uploading to a microcontroller, how does the CICD pipeline integration work? Are Unit Tests ran as part of the pipeline?
- Are Unit Tests included directly within the binary sent to the device or are they built locally then ran over a debugging protocol on the device?
- If Unit Tests are included directly within the binary, it seems like this could have not inconsequential impacts to processing speed and available memory, invalidating test results? Is there a way to build the project without tests/run the tests externally?