University of Detroit Mercy
Dr. Mark J. Paulik
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Detroit Mercy (Detroit, Michigan)
I began using your SwiftX package this year in my 400-level embedded systems class. The class explores the Motorola MC9S12DP256 processor (a variant of the 68HC12) in some detail, and is accompanied by a laboratory where the students program and build embedded systems. They begin with assembly language and then graduate to Forth. In the past we had been using the version of Forth provided with the text “Design of Embedded Systems Using 68HC12/11 Microcontrollers,” by Richard Haskell. We found this system worked well, but became somewhat limiting when we began trying to work with larger multitasked applications (robotic vehicles).
[SwiftX] was a great addition to our program…. we found the system stable and easy to use. Students liked the user interface and the comprehensive manuals… The robot systems they built and programmed worked well, and we had no problems with your software over the course of the semester.
I consequently shifted to using the SwiftX system because of its maturity, full feature set, ease of use, and support. I still introduce the writing of subroutine-threaded Forth systems using Haskell’s code and text, but later lab work and robot projects are implemented with the SwiftX system: we started with three licenses, and have upgraded to eight for next year in order to make more machines available to the students.
Your software was a great addition to our program. After porting the kernel to the Tech Arts DP256 board, we found the system stable and easy to use. Students liked the user interface and the comprehensive manuals a great deal. The robot systems they built and programmed worked well, and we had no problems with your software over the course of the semester.
Next year, a more-advanced new class using both Forth and C will be offered to give the students a full range of experience, and to make them more knowledgeable about the different language and development environment strengths and weaknesses.
I am clearly not going with the status quo in terms of college-level embedded systems courses, but I have worked with both C and Forth in embedded development over the years, and there are numerous advantages to the Forth approach… especially for smaller systems. Also, there seems to be a community of Forth programmers out there in southeastern Michigan (probably due in part to Dr. Haskell teaching Forth at Oakland University over the years), and my students have
been well served by the exposure.
Thank you for producing and supporting an excellent product!