No, I don't think I'd use this board to teach beginners either! And after reading your comment, I won't be trying the Atollic tool!!! Thanks for narrowing down my choice to Keil & IAR (& GCC too I guess).
I do find the power & bang:buck ratio of this thing irresistable though :-) Now, to find some time to play with it...
The Atollic tools worked just fine and I like them. The company's information could use a bit of work because I recall the examples show Windows XP menus and not those for Win 7. That's OK, just a bit of a pothole on the road for newcomers. The problems I had stemmed from the ST examples and documentation.
Many demo boards seem to show off the programmers' talents for writing complicated and cryptic code, and their lack of attention to helpful comments. I bet 99% of all demo programs lack a flow chart that helps a user determine what goes on. I recently saw a demo program that would work with almost any of the manufacturer's MCUs. Of course the program came cluttered with many, many compiler directives that linked the libraries for a given MCU, depending on the board in use. That sort of thing occurred in some of the libraries, too. Very confusing for neophytes and even seasoned programmers.
Mike, the interesting thing? Almost anyone can create an MCU demo or eval board. Few can write good code that helps people get started. Even fewer can write good educational tutorials that provide information that really helps engineers and programmers get off to a quick start and do useful things.
Most of my experience has been with Microchip PIC processors. I'm building some ARM experience, but it's been a bit of a challenge, largely due to the difference in tool sets. Boards at this price point, however, have allowed me to experiment with a number of different variants which has helped a lot. It wasn't that long ago when a typical development board would have an extra zero or two on the price.
These things are an amazing value, but the irony is that an $11.00 price puts it in the price range of students and other folks who are more likely to be needing a "toy" or educational product, which exacerbates any challenges that stem from complexity.
On the other hand, at $11.00, if you buy and aren't happy or can't get it to work, it's not like you're losing much of an investment. I suspect that I'll be compelled to buy one and try it out myself.
As we unveil EE Times’ 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists Dan Armbrust (investment firm Silicon Catalyst), Andrew Kau (venture capital firm Walden International), and Stan Boland (successful serial entrepreneur, former CEO of Neul, Icera) join in the live debate.