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Tuesday 18 April 2017

Improved Arduino Development Environments for ESP8266

I was going to call this 'alternative' Arduino IDEs but as the Arduino IDE works so well but just lacks a couple of features, I didn't want to rule out an improved Arduino IDE from my list.

Having tried out the Eclipse for Arduino IDE and been hampered by some limitations and known issues, I've decided to quickly try out a few others.

There is no point if the IDE's take too long to install or slow me down in any way.

I'm only after one main extra feature. Call-tips or Intellisense, so I don't have to have the library documentation open in another window, all the time I am coding. Something that displays the available methods and their parameters, as I type, is all I need.

Once you get the call-tips, other features like auto-complete and variable definition checking as I type, so I don't spell variable names incorrectly, usually come along with it.

I like open source, so I'm going to start with free products but I won't rule out low cost paid for ones. I've found a small fee is often worth paying to get a more reliable, less hassle, solution.

I will also rule out products that are not up to date enough to allow new boards to be added easily. It does not matter if the code is a few years old, as long as it was complete and had a feature to easily add boards and libraries.

There are several other sites with lists of things for me to try:

In all the examples I have read so far, the IDE relies on the Arduino IDE and any add on libraries being installed on the same machine. This would apply to other language libraries, so is not unexpected.

I will add to this list as I try them.
My testing will be very brief. If it takes time too long to get going it fails the test of saving me time.
My other criterion is that it must work with ESP8266 boards.


In no particular order:

Eclipse for Arduino (Sloeber)
Date installed: 17 April 2017
See my more detailed page on this.


  • Fully featured IDE
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Call-tips
  • ESP8266 boards included (with v4)


  • Projects are not portable (my biggest issue.)
  • Pain to install
  • Does not cope with spaces in path names
  • Does not fully support Windows redirected folders (mainly a nuisance for me.)

The projects not being portable make it difficult to backup work and in my case, difficult to work from different computers.


Date installed: 17 April 2017

  • Syntax highlighting
  • No call-tips that I could find!
  • Failed to compile my example.
I don't think UECIDE deals with nested duplicated #include statements. It probably could be fixed with #include guard statements but that means it is not fully compatible with readily available code examples!


Visual Studio Code with Arduino Extension
Date installed: 19 April 2017
See my more detailed page on this.
There are several Arduino extensions available from different authors. So far I have only tried the one from Microsoft.


  • Intellisence for call tips and more works very well.
  • Syntax highlighting.
  • ESP8266 included in the board list.
  • Simple, clean interface, fairly easy to use.


  • Manual change to a config file to get the ESP8266 libraries working properly.
  • Some of the Arduino specific functions are on a list of add on commands rather than a button.

I will stop here with my installs for now as Visual Studio Code appears to work well and has the features I was looking for.


Things I would have tried next...
Visual Studio Community edition with the Visual Micro add-on.


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