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Al Williams

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Embedded App Stores

January 08, 2011

I'm amused by the latest craze: app stores. In case you are living under a rock, everything from the Apple iPhone to the Chrome browser now has some sort of "store" where your can browse and download or buy software for various purposes. Even Ubuntu now has "Software Center."

Of course, this isn't really much of a new idea. Linux package management in general is pretty much the same thing unless you want to charge for your software. There have been various efforts to build catalogs of everything from ActiveX controls to FPGA IP (and, in fact, there are many IP marketplaces -- like Xilinx's IP Center -- that predate the App Store craze by quite some time).

But its only a matter of time, I suppose, before we see the embedded systems version of an app store either from a vendor or a third party. Of course, I doubt you will buy apps as much as libraries, but I have little doubt its coming (or maybe its here and its escaped my notice).

Of course, assembly code winds up being fairly specific to a particular processor. Maybe a vendor-sponsored "store" would be a good place for those. Things like C code or some kinds of FPGA IP can be fairly generic. Some, of course, still get tied pretty tightly to a particular platform. So maybe we will see vendors try out a store concept more easily than a third party "end all" solution.

But store is the buzz word of the day (along with favorites like cloud and virtual). I don't know how much difference it will really make. After all, there are plenty of places to "shop" for embedded code and IP. But I can feel it coming anyway.

Where do you "shop" for code? Google searches? Sourceforge? OpenCores? Your vendor? Drop a comment and share your shopping habits.

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