ARM's Free Tools for Android
ARM's Free Tools for Android
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Tuesday, 29 November 2011

ARM has released a Community Edition of its Development Studio 5 comprising a debugger and profiler which is free for small businesses and individuals.

Many Android developers know that their target platform is very likely run on an ARM processor but not many think of ARM as a source of software tools to help them create apps. Development Studio 5 is the latest in a long line of ARM development tools and includes an IDE, C/C++ compiler, debugger and so on.

Now ARM has released DS5 Community Edition free for individuals and small businesses (ten or fewer employees) and it has a number of advantages over the equivalent Google-provided tools. It consists of a sub-set of tools from the full DS5 application. For example you don't get the full IDE, only a plugin for Eclipse.



DS5 CE integrates with the Android NDK and the SDK and works with Eclipse under Windows as well as LInux. Currently the Google debugger only works under Windows in an experimental mode. You have to have the Android SDK. NDK and Eclipse installed before you setup DS5. Notice that DS5 doesn't replace the NDK compiler, it simply adds a debugger and performance analyzer that ARM claim will help you produce faster and more efficient code.

The debugger replaces the built-in NDK gdbserve. It will show you the state of the ARM processor that other debuggers tend to hide or make difficult to find. For example, it will show you the state of the NEON registers to help you optimize your multimedia apps. The debuggers doesn't run on all devices, but it does work with the emulator.

The performance analyser, Streamline, is a customized version of the one in the full DS5 package and it doesn't work with all Android devices as it needs support for an open source driver. This is supported on a range of development devices but not end user devices. If you want to use a standard phone you will have to essentially root the device and install the kernel module yourself - not fun. If you do get it all to work then the profiling data and presentation is worth the effort.


Obviously the intention is to get you hooked so that you buy the full version which not only includes the ability to create native apps and libraries fro Linux and Android but also a full IDE and many more options within Streamline including multicore drill down, stack usage etc. I can see that the full Streamline might be worth the effort to get working on an end user device, but I'm less sure of the CE version.

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