Main Embedded Software Development Frameworks and Tools



Embedded systems surround us in all spheres of our life. They encompass almost every household appliance and are an essential part of any industry.

Embedded systems make a combination of hardware and software that provides particular control functions within a larger system.

Embedded software development differs from traditional one as embedded systems face some particular challenges during their performance.

They should be stable, consistent, and ready to provide real-time responses to changes in the operating environment.

Fortunately, there are many frameworks and tools that simplify the work of developers and make embedded software more productive and responsive. This article outlines the best embedded software development IDEs, frameworks and tools.

What is Embedded Software?

An embedded system is an element integrated into hardware to control some of its functions. Also, it is an integral part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Embedded systems are applied in such industries as telecommunications, electronics, automotive, medicine and others.

Embedded system software is a specific type of programming for non-computer devices. It can be of a different complexity, which depends on the embedded system’s purpose and sophistication.

Embedded software is always developed for a particular device that it will work on and has a fixed choice of operating features.

IDEs for Embedded Software Development

Integrated Development Environment makes embedded software development time-saving and cost-cutting since all the necessary development tools are collected into one place.

Here is a list of the most popular IDEs for embedded development:

  • Visual Studio. This is a popular integrated environment introduced by Microsoft. Visual Studio uses Visual C++ for creating, editing, and debugging embedded software.
  • Eclipse. Although Eclipse IDE’s main programming language is Java, it can also work through plug-ins with C, C++, Python, etc. Eclipse IDE offers developers cutting-edge solutions for quick and efficient embedded development.
  • NetBeans. Though NetBeans is an open-source IDE for Java developers, it provides some tools for PHP and C/C++. Programmers opt for NetBeans as it offers easy solutions for code editing, debugging, and support of various programming languages.
  • PyCharm. Though this IDE has been created for Python, it supports cross-platform development. PyCharm provides developers with easy project management, enhanced testing, error highlighting, and other attractive solutions.
  • Frameworks and Tools For Embedded Development

    There are many frameworks and tools available for embedded development, some of the most popular ones include:

  • Arduino: Arduino is an open-source hardware and software platform that is easy to use and widely popular among hobbyists, educators, and professionals. It provides a simple, user-friendly interface for programming microcontrollers, and has a large community that contributes to its development and support.
  • Raspberry Pi: Raspberry Pi is a series of small, affordable single-board computers that can be used for a wide range of applications, from home automation to robotics. It runs a variety of operating systems, including Linux, and has a large community of developers who create software and hardware projects using it.
  • STM32: STM32 is a series of microcontrollers produced by STMicroelectronics, a leading manufacturer of embedded systems. The STM32 family is highly flexible and supports a range of peripherals and communication protocols, making it a popular choice for a wide range of applications.
  • ARM mbed: ARM mbed is a free, open-source platform that provides a comprehensive set of tools and resources for developing embedded systems using ARM microcontrollers. It includes an online compiler, development boards, and libraries for common peripherals and communication protocols.
  • FreeRTOS: FreeRTOS is a real-time operating system kernel that is designed for embedded systems. It provides a scalable, low-overhead platform for managing tasks and scheduling resources, and has a large community of developers who contribute to its development and support.
  • JTAG: JTAG (Joint Test Action Group) is a standard for debugging and programming embedded systems. It provides a common interface for accessing and controlling the hardware components of a system, and is widely used in the industry.
  • Keil MDK: Keil MDK is a comprehensive software development environment for ARM-based microcontrollers. It includes an integrated development environment (IDE), a debugger, and a range of software libraries and examples.
  • MPLAB X: MPLAB X is a free, open-source development environment for microcontrollers produced by Microchip Technology. It supports a range of programming languages, including C and assembly, and includes a debugger and simulator.
  • Qt Framework

    Qt is a cross-platform framework that uses C++ for web, mobile, desktop, and embedded development. It is one of the most popular frameworks applicable to embedded apps with UI or without it. Qt is ahead in UX/UI for applications, offering easier ways to develop intuitive and user-centered interfaces.

    Qt provides developers with a big choice of tools, such as rich libraries, intuitive APIs, and extensive support. In addition, Qt has its own IDE called Qt Creator, which runs on Android, Linux, Windows, OS X, and some other systems.

    Qt’s embedded development platform, called Qt for Embedded Linux, is specifically designed for use in embedded systems. It includes a range of tools and libraries for building applications that run on a variety of embedded devices, including single-board computers, microcontrollers, and other specialized hardware.

    Qt features:

  • Separation of functions. Qt uses two different programming languages: C++ for back-end development and Qt Meta Language (QML) for the front-end side.
  • Qt Design Studio. This Qt development tool allows developers to use their preferred design software as these files can be imported into Design Studio using QML. In general, it helps to significantly accelerate the development process.
  • C++. This language gives developers access to a wide variety of libraries, helping to reduce development time and boost embedded applications’ efficiency.
  • On-device debugging. Qt makes it possible to connect the device to a computer to run it or debug it.
  • Qt provides a powerful and flexible platform for developing embedded systems, particularly those that require sophisticated user interfaces and multimedia capabilities. Its wide range of features and support for multiple hardware platforms make it a popular choice for developers working on a range of embedded projects, from home automation to industrial automation to automotive applications.

    Android Studio

    Android Studio is the official integrated development environment (IDE). It  provides developers with a vast assortment of advantages, such as transparent on-target deployment, on-target debugging, strong statistics analysis, and others.

    Android Studio provides a range of features that can be useful in embedded development, such as:

  • Support for multiple programming languages, including Java, Kotlin, and C++.
  • A powerful visual layout editor for designing user interfaces.
  • Integration with the Android SDK, which provides a range of libraries and tools for developing Android applications.
  • Debugging tools, including a debugger and a profiler.
  • Support for version control systems, such as Git.
  • Compatibility with a range of hardware devices, including emulators and physical devices.
  • Integration with the Google Play Store, which allows developers to distribute and monetize their applications.
  • While Android Studio is primarily designed for mobile development, it can be used for developing applications that run on a range of embedded devices that use the Android operating system, such as smart TVs, set-top boxes, and other IoT devices. However, developers may need to modify their applications to work on these devices, taking into account differences in hardware capabilities and user interfaces.


    Embedded systems are an integral part of today’s life. They allow us to benefit from technological innovations not only in some specialized industries but in everyday routine.

    However, embedded systems are much more difficult to work with. As a result, it is crucial to find the best frameworks and tools to make the process of embedded software development faster and easier.

    To choose one that will best fit your project’s needs, it is necessary to focus on the type of device that this software is going to run on and the features that should be present on it.

    With these factors in mind, selecting appropriate frameworks and tools will become more manageable, resulting in successful embedded software development.


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