Arduino for Atmel Studio

Atmel Stu­dio now has an exten­sion designed as a sim­ple alter­na­tive to the Arduino IDE.

The Arduino IDE is rel­a­tive­ly sim­ple. It is great to get start­ed with AVR pro­gram­ming, and has some use­ful exam­ples to get you start­ed, but lacks many of the fea­tures that expe­ri­enced pro­gram­mers call for like detailed com­pil­er warn­ings, debug­ging capa­bil­i­ties, auto-com­ple­tion and unit test­ing.

Arduino IDE
Arduino IDE

Pro­gram­ming for AVR at a low­er lev­el in Atmel Stu­dio can also have per­for­mance improve­ments. Shift­ing bits rather than using Arduino IDE’s ‘dig­i­tal­write’ can have a 10x speed improve­ment for exam­ple.

Atmel Stu­dio sup­ports a wider range of AVR microchips. This can be use­ful if you aim to pro­gram one of Atmel’s huge range of microchips. I have a ATtiny13A, which uses con­sid­er­ably less pow­er than the ATMega328 in my Arduino board (190 µA in active mode, and 24 µA vs. 0.2 mA in active mode, 0.1 µA in pow­er-down mode, and 0.75 µA in pow­er-save mode).

Atmel Studio

So if you feel you are out­grow­ing the Arduino IDE, give Atmel Stu­dio a try. You may find this tuto­r­i­al use­ful: Using Atmel Stu­dio 6 with Arduino projects, or How to Set­up Atmel Stu­dio for Arduino Devel­op­ment.

Sim­plic­i­ty can be more impor­tant though, and the Arduino IDE may be more suit­able for your appli­ca­tion. After all, projects are gen­er­al­ly rel­a­tive­ly sim­ple when you have less than 16 KB of mem­o­ry to play with. I expect I will con­tin­ue using the Arduino IDE pri­mar­i­ly, and Atmel Stu­dio for any par­tic­u­lar­ly chal­leng­ing projects.

Simple explanation for non-techies

Arduino refers to a few types of tiny elec­tron­ic board with a repro­gram­ma­ble microchip. Pro­grams can be sent from a com­put­er to this microchip to per­form what­ev­er task is required.

A fun exam­ple is Leah Buech­ley’s Turn Sig­nal Bik­ing Jack­et project, shown in the video below: