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A SpecManiac's Take on Vera

User Environment Woes

A common issue encountered in verification teams is a unix environment that is less than optimally configured.  People often underestimate the productivity benefits that come from having a properly configured UNIX or Linux environment.  I'm a big fan of IDEs like SlickEdit and InnerLoop (SlickEdit modified to support the EDA tools and languages).  If you ever have the chance, watch a software guy who uses MS Visual Studio or Eclipse.  If you're anything like me you'll have to ask why this type of tool isn't more widely used in hardware verification.  Even without the fancy stuff, it is possible to improve productivity dramatically through the proper use of vim or emacs.  I'm a vim guy -- as such I always make sure I have plugins such as taglist.vim and minibufexpl.vim handy.  Vim also does interesting things when a tag file generated by Exuberant CTags is present.  CTags can handle many languages including Verilog making it ideal for browsing and editing testbench source files. 

One other tool I like to keep handy is Doxygen. Doxygen allows you to generate documentation for C and C++ (and some other languages as well).  You can also use it to browse through a clickable version of the source code that has links back to the documentation.  It provides a good mechanism to remind yourself that you need to thoroughly document classes, class members, and functions as you code.  You can also insert links to pictures, notes, and "to do" items directly into the source.  I've used it in the past to write testbench documentation that could be read in both HTML and PDF format.  Doxygen doesn't work with e or Verilog, but it does a great job if the majority of your test environment is written in C++. 

Engineering managers don't always understand the importance of productivity tools.  The general feeling can be that the tools are just fluff and don't improve the capabilities of the engineers on their team.  Perhaps the managers are right... How about this... I'll give up my tools if the managers will give up their Blackberry's and cell phones before going on a business trip... any takers?

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