Embedded Systems Development: The Same, Only Different

Wednesday 6th December 2017, 6:30 pm.

Speaker: Mike Ritchie

Venue: Room 4.31, University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB.

This event is free of charge and open to all.

Refreshments and networking from 6:00 pm.


Although embedded devices are near-ubiquitous in developed economies, it’s a type of software development that sometimes seems shrouded in mystery to developers working with other technologies.

Embedded systems developers work in languages that might seem arcane to modern eyes, and we use specialised hardware and software tools that aren’t well understood outside our own field. Many of the things developers take for granted on other platforms are often absent by default - networking, a GUI, a working command line - even the presence of an operating system can’t be assumed.

But most software development use cases have parallels with other technical domains, and agile engineering approaches are helping closing the gap, too. Test-driven development and continuous integration builds are making inroads into the embedded world. Teams are adopting pairing and mob programming, and interest is growing in agile methodologies. We have commonly recurring patterns of implementation too, and although we’re working with different constraints, at least some of these patterns will be recognisable to other developers.

In this talk, I’ll take you through some of the quirks of developing for these small devices, but also the parallels that exist with other technical platforms. I’ll demonstrate on a realistic hardware design how modern engineering approaches like TDD and continuous integration can be made to work for us. Blinking LEDs 100% guaranteed.

About the speaker


Mike is an independent C++ developer and occasional trainer and technical coach. He’s done engineering management roles too, building and coaching teams. He’s been working in software development for over 30 years, watching the same wheel being reinvented with amused detachment, and is the proud dad of the “Washing Machine Kata” - a physical code kata for embedded systems developers, based on an open-source hardware design.

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