Professional tools from manufacturers adress professional engineers designing powerfull solutions like high frequency trading, video compression, or signal processing for massive radar arrays or particle detectors.
Therefore the tools to program FPGAs are sophisticated, powerfull, but also complex. This complexity stands in the way when beginners and tinkerers want to learn playfull the principles of FPGA programming.
As our tool targets small FPGAs and are open source, the tools can be much simpler and much easier to understand.
We consider Verilog as an intermediate language like PostScript. Postscript is a powerfull language, but most Postscript files are written by other softwarepackages interfacing to humans with a higher level of abstraction.
We expect that in the future new tools will enable users to define systems solving their own problems like the first spreadsheet software on an Apple II empowered non-programmers to do complex calculations.
Our icoBoard makes it easy for tinkereres to choose Interfaces from a large list of PMODs to quickly put together a hardware meeting their requirements and start coding without the need for much soldering.
Until Altera or Xilinx get as wise as Microchip, we depend on Lattice Chips.
“Microchip admits they have a problem, and they’d like to find a solution. Microchip knows they need to have open software to be the de facto choice of the hobbyists and students who go on to become engineers.” Link