MPLAB is a free Windows-based IDE for the Microchip PIC microcontroller families. It allows you to write, debug, and optimize PICmicro applications and includes a text editor, simulator, and project manager. MPLAB supports Microchip emulators (if you can afford them) and programmers; it also plays nice with third party compilers and system tools.

Aside: A great tool moves your personal boundaries. Before, I could assemble, compile and link source code, but debugging was hit or miss, with insertion of serial output or LED-winking code when things got hairy. That's no way to live. Now I can debug by watching program flow with the simulator--step by step or with break/trace points. Not only can I view ALL variables in watch windows; I can see exact timing measurements without kludging in some debug code, which is key.

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