Absoft Tools Fortran
Integrated Development Environment
Although the roots of the Fortran language go back to the days of punch cards, it is still very much in use today and Integrated Development Environments are becoming increasingly popular with Fortran developers. An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is a software tool that is used during all phases of program development. By combining the separate tasks of source code editing, compiling, linking, and debugging in a single unified interface, an IDE minimizes the amount of time spent learning separate tools. This article is an introduction to Absoft's AbsoftTools Integrated Development Environment for Fortran and C/C++ programming. It provides an overview of the key features and presents an example of using the IDE to build an open source Fortran subroutine library.
Why Another Development Environment?
Absoft's Fortran 95 compilers ship on all three of the major operating systems (Linux, Mac OS, and Microsoft Windows) widely used for scientific and engineering programming. There are numerous development environments available for these popular platforms and each of them has strengths and weaknesses. Some of these environments provide support for Fortran development, but the support is added as a layer on top of the environment's primary target language. Other environments support Fortran as a primary, but their installation and configuration procedures are complex or they are simply not available on all three platforms. AbsoftTools addresses these issues by providing a Fortran development environment that is consistent across all three platforms. By integrating each platform's native C/C++ compiler into the AbsoftTools build system, support is also provided for mixed Fortran and C/C++ development.
Many development environments present a steep learning curve before a user can become productive. Absoft's experience in the Fortran market has shown that there are many Fortran users who are not professional programmers. They are professionals from other fields who are using Fortran to take advantage of already written software and the platforms they use are likely to vary from project to project. A development environment that provides a consistent user interface across the multiple platforms decreases the amount of time learning how to use the development tools, allowing these users to focus on their primary tasks.
AbsoftTools is an easy to install, easy to configure, and easy to use cross-platform solution for Fortran developers. The environment is installed as part of the Absoft Fortran compiler on the target platform. After installation, AbsoftTools is ready to use for the majority of Fortran projects without further configuration. AbsoftTools is written using Trolltech's popular Qt cross-platform application framework, which provides consistent operation across multiple platforms while retaining each platform's native look and feel. AbsoftTools consists of a build system, an editor, and a source level debugger. Each of these pieces include features specific to Fortran development. The IDE also supports popular add-ons to the Absoft Fortran 95 compiler, such as native C/C++ compilers, Fortran pre-processors, and commercial and open source libraries.