I've been programming for a while now, and I've covered a lot of languages. And this trend that I noticed is that all HDL languages have so painful IDEs!

In general, any development environment having some Hardware related development has very crappy UI.

I'm talking about uVision, ModelSim, VHDL Simili, Xilinx etc, compared with Netbeans, Eclipse, Visual Studio etc.

Why do hardware-guys hate their developers?

NOTE: There are exceptions (LABView is awsome!). Can you think of any more?

  • I don't think ModelSim is THAT bad Oct 8, 2010 at 18:32

3 Answers 3


It's not that hardware guys hate their developers. It's that they're hardware guys, so they're not really very good at designing or writing software. Most of them simply don't think enough like "normal" people to produce software that most people will find attractive or easy to use.

The other part of it is that most of these tools assume that anybody using them uses them constantly; the emphasis is primarily on making them easy for an expert to use, as opposed to easy for a beginner to learn. Of course, it's possible to combine the two, but it takes even more of the UI design skills that (as I just pointed out above) they mostly lack. Worse, along with lacking the skills, many think in terms like: "only a [insert perjorative term here] would care about changing colors."

  • 2
    After spending a fair bit of time in Xilinx I would agree. Oct 8, 2010 at 14:57

You are right that the GUIs of Hardware tools today are really bad compared to software tools. Why? Two reasons: first there are a lot more software engineers than hardware design engineers (say a hundred to one). If you are going to build a development tool and make money from it, your better guess is to aim for software tools. Second, if software people don't like the software they use, they just build new software to build better software. (are you still with me?) They have the means, motive and opportunity to build better software tools, and so they do.

Now for a solution: having lived between the software and the hardware world, I have noticed the same thing you have. I founded a company, Sigasi, and usability is key to us. Established companies may or may not shift their attention to user-centric software, but some of the younger companies are.

Philippe Faes www.sigasi.com


Because they don't sell products. Features in the chips and features in the software sell chips. Ease of use is better in Altera than Xilinx, however. And ModelSim sells for its good simulator, not for the GUI.

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