CodeWarrior for Red Hat Linux, GNU Edition, Version 4

 in
Metrowerks is releasing two versions of CodeWarrior for Red Hat Linux (with SuSE releases to follow): the GNU Edition and the Professional Edition. The GNU Edition is the subject for today.
  • Manufacturer: Metrowerks

  • E-mail: sales@metrowerks.com

  • URL: http://metrowerks.com/

  • Price: $99 US

  • Reviewer: Jason Kroll

CodeWarrior is an integrated development environment (IDE) which has existed on several platforms for a number of years and has just recently been made available for Linux. Metrowerks is releasing two versions of CodeWarrior for Red Hat Linux (with SuSE releases to follow): the GNU Edition and the Professional Edition. The GNU Edition is the subject for today.

The IDE

An integrated development environment, as in the case of CodeWarrior, is a graphical environment incorporating the main elements of software development. This includes managing the project, dependencies, libraries, editing code, compiling, debugging, linking and all of the usual coding tasks. It does not include paint programs or other multimedia tools that could be used in software development. Essentially, the idea of the IDE (not to be confused with Integrated Drive Electronics) is to combine all these things under one interface for easy project management. This is a different approach from using Emacs in one virtual console while running gcc in another and editing the Makefile in a third. An IDE will presumably take care of the entire project, and one can easily call up whichever parts of the program need editing and have the computer keep track of changes to the Makefile (or what would be the Makefile). This approach has its advantages and disadvantages.

The Advantage

The principal advantage of the IDE is that it is easy; the program takes care of everything and lets you concentrate exclusively on your code. On machines without the make command, this can be completely wonderful, and even on Linux, many users have wished that someone would port CodeWarrior. Now it is available, and the development environment is basically the same as on other platforms, so migrating from other operating systems (or between, if you must) is even easier.

Because development is such a large part of the Linux movement, people are very sensitive to all sorts of programming issues, including devout preferences for certain keystrokes over others and one editor over another. CodeWarrior is flexible in these areas, allowing (or requiring) third-party products such as editors and debuggers. However, some shortcomings are applicable to the open-source, multi-platform world of GNU/Linux.

Development Issues

One advantage of the CodeWarrior IDE is that it eliminates the complications involved in writing and maintaining a Makefile. Probably the main disadvantage is that it eliminates the advanced functionality and power that go along with the Makefile. This means that on one level, anything you write with CodeWarrior cannot be compiled on non-CodeWarrior systems unless you write your own Makefile to correspond with the CodeWarrior .mpc file (not a difficult task). The other side of this problem is that if you want to use CodeWarrior to hack some typical open-source software, you have to convert the Makefile first. Frankly, this is often quite difficult, and it defeats a large part of the purpose of an IDE—you might do just as well or better with Emacs/vi/joe/pico in one window and a terminal running make in another.

One possible solution would be for Metrowerks to add a Makefile importer and exporter. (Macintosh and Windows versions are said to have a Makefile importer, though I have not had a chance to use it.) If there were an open-source version of this converter for Linux, developers who use CodeWarrior could easily cooperate with those who use other IDEs or the usual combination of Emacs (or vi) and make. A two-way converter may be a mildly difficult undertaking, considering the flexibility of make (with configure) compared to .mpc which is quite specialized. Still, it would be nice. So, although CodeWarrior may make cross-platform development much easier, it may slightly complicate cross-UNIX development. KDE developers in particular may be annoyed that it is difficult to use extended C++ class libraries like Qt. (I had trouble getting KDE programs to compile.)

Serious programmers may find other limitations. For example, third-party products (such as the debugger) are not integrated into the IDE, they are just loaded for you. Also, CodeWarrior does not support the Gnome/KDE drag-and-drop standards (who expects this?), and there seems to be no support for languages outside of C/C++ except as provided by egcs (for example, you can write in assembler). Also, if you would like to use KAI's C++ or any compiler other than gcc/egcs, the GNU Edition of CodeWarrior does not support it—this edition is based exclusively on free development tools. Now that we know what CodeWarrior is not, we can take a look at what CodeWarrior does have to offer.

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