Vivado UX Wishlist
I think vivado is pretty great. Honestly, I’m not sure I’d be doing FPGA dev without it. However, there are some very minor UX issues that, while they won’t stop me from using Vivado, do contribute to a general fatigue during long coding sessions. Some of the suggestions may come off as a bit “SOFTWARE GUY SAYS MAKE IT LIKE VISUAL STUDIO”, but I legit think these would be productivity boosters.
I don’t consider anything in this list to be major issues that must get fixed. I’ve tried not to list bugs and crashes, of which there are many. Entries in the list are all just quality of life improvements, and should be considered way lower priority than quality and speed of synthesis and implementation, fixing bugs, and adding missing SystemVerilog features like let which somehow is still not supported in simulation despite it being 2021.
And before you say it, headless not an option for me. Ignoring my legendary hate of anything command line, the purpose of this list is to improve the GUI, so telling me to just not use the GUI is a bit out of scope.
Finally, I admit that maybe I am just using Vivado wrong, and there are good workarounds for the issues below that I am just not aware of.
TL;DR if the Vivado team is small and only has the capacity to fix a small number of things, please ignore everything in this list and focus on more important things like performance, bugs and crashes, and synthesis/implementation.
Layout Resets When Resimulating
If I change the objects window pane size during simulation, and then resimulate, it always reverts back to the original layout. This might not seem so terrible since I can always just re-resize the panes, but if I do this 50 times a day, it really starts to get annoying
Waveform Radix Changes Don’t Save
Not sure if this is an intentional decision, but if I change the view radix for a signal in a waveform, and then save the waveform, the radix change is lost the next time I simulate
Sigasi Checking Makes Vivado Unusably Slow
I am not sure anything can be done about this, but Vivado randomly hangs for 10 to 30 seconds at a time with sigasi checking enabled. I understand the work sigasi has to do, but surely there is some way to keep Vivado from becoming completely unresponsive for long periods of time
Currently, you can only set breakpoints while the simulation is paused. This is a bit annoying because pausing simulation will open a random file and jump to a random line, forcing me to re-find the file and line I wanted to set the breakpoint on. It would be pretty cool if breakpoints could be set while simulation is running without having to pause.
The other breakpoint request has to do with happens when simulation is run for the first time. When clicking on Run Simulation, instead of starting paused, it runs for some number of nanoseconds and then pauses. Because you can’t set breakpoints unless you’ve clicked on Run Simulation, this means it’s often too late. This is a small annoyance and not a huge problem, since you can easily set the breakpoint and restart the simulation, but it does really make me wish 0) that breakpoints could be set anytime without having to Run Simulation first, and that there was a specific breakpoint window where breakpoints can be managed.
Stretch goal: conditional breakpoints. Even really simple ones would be a huge help. If I have 16 rasterizers, maybe I want a breakpoint to only break when RAST_NUM == 7. The obvious workaround is to put the breakpoint on a line of code inside an if statement, but that involves modifying code, meaning I have to click Run Simulation again, which can take a Very Long Time. Not great.
Redo Is Usually Greyed Out
Maybe this is more of a bug, but there are times when I really want to redo after undoing too much, but it seems to always be greyed out and unusable
Jump To Definition
Jump to definition sometimes works for logic, but never for typedefs, structs, enum members. Please please please make this work in SystemVerilog
HW Debug and Waveforms
This one is a bit annoying. If I add signals to a waveform to be used in simulation, and that waveform gets loaded for hardware debug, then all signals that were optimised out by implementation passes are removed from the wfcg. That makes sense. But those signals don’t come back when I go back to running in simulation, meaning I have to readd all of them (only to lose them again). The crap fix is to add the wcfg file to HG, so that I can revert whenever Vivado removes things, but that’s annoying and not without its own issues. Maybe the simplest fix is for non-existent signals to be greyed out and disabled rather than removed? Although that might annoy people who want signals automatically removed when they refactor their RTL.
Copying Values in Simulation Objects Window
why can I not copy *values* from the simulation objects window? Often, I will want to copy the value of something to the clipboard, and paste it to some other program to verify it looks valid. Right now, I have to memorize the value and manually type it out into some other program, which is not really viable with 256 bit logic. There apparently is some hidden functionality where pressing crtl-c will copy the name of a signal, but not its value. Also having it in the right click menu would be wonderfully useful.
Please fix autocomplete. Right now, it only autocompletes language keywords, and not things from my own code, which is not very useful at all. See this hilarious example. It knows about modport and module, but not anything about the RTL
This one is very low priority. In the start menu, Vivado doesn’t show recently opened projects the way that VS does. This means my only options for opening a project is to just start Vivado and then load the project which takes a bit of time, or to browse in explorer to the project file, and click on it. Sure, not the end of the world, but it would be minor timesaver if Vivado listed recently opened projects in the start menu.
Y U No Dark Theme
Seriously. If you are going to ship Vivado with the theme customization so broken, please provide a default dark theme. That light one is painful. Almost as painful as trying to get someone else’s created theme to load and work in Vivado. But come on, its 2021. Built-in dark theme, please.
Out of all the requests, this is the most infuriating to me. Some simulation errors show up in the messages window, but others only show up in something called TCL window. This drives me absolutely mad. The messages window shows a nice clean view of the error, and even lets you click on a link to jump to it in the code. TCL is the opposite of nice. Its a dense cluttered text hellscape that makes error messages hard to find, and doesn’t provide any link to jump to the error in code. I have to go to the sources view, search for the file, open it, and scroll down to the error line. Really terrible UX. This is what an error looks like in messages:
And this is another error that truly believed it was too good for the messages window
I’m sure there is some logic deciding which errors can be shown in messages, but in the end I don’t care. Please send all errors to the messages window.
This is another timesaver. Because Vivado seems to randomly decide to reset radixes in the objects window, I often can’t tell the value of something. For example, is tile address below 1201 in decimal? Is it 4609 in hex? If the number only had ones and zeroes, I might even think it was binary. Sure I can right click on it and reset the radix, but it’s annoying to do that for hundreds of signals. It would be super cool if the values displayed a prefix (or postfix) to let you know what the radix is without having to manually reset all the things.
Single File Replace
Vivado helpfully includes that little hourglass icon to allow you to search only the current file. Very useful. However there is no convenient way to search and replace in the current file. The hack workaround is to go to the edit menu and click Replace In Files. Then manually one by one replace things only in the file you care about, but that seems like a good deal more work than just including an additional replace textbox below the search textbox.
This is how VS does it. It gives you a search textbox, and below it a textbox for replace. It even lets you replace all in a file, or replace one by one
Not sure why you can’t right click on a file in source view, and get an option to rename it. Right now renaming a file is a right proper pain in Vivado, and while I don’t rename files often, this would be a great addition to have
Open In Explorer
Same as above, there should be an option in the right click menu to open a file in explorer.
User Settings File
A user settings file would be cool, so vivado can remember things like what files I had open last time I quit and window pane sizes, and restore them when I load a project. And just because I feel like it has to be said, PLEASE DO NOT PUT USER SETTINGS/PREFERENCES IN THE MAIN PROJECT FILE. It’s annoying and a source control nightmare.
Mouseover Expands Structs
When in simulation, I wish you could mouseover a struct and get a dropdown view that shows you members. Yeah, I can get the same info in the objects view, but showing it inline is way more convenient. Without this, I must go to objects view, expand the pane so I can actually see things, search for the signal I care about, and manually expand it. This is an even bigger timesaver when I want to look at multiple different signals in the code. Here is how Visual Studio does it
And this is what it looks like in Vivado. It shows it as one long string of numbers with no real indicator of what numbers are what, and no way to expand the view to see struct members
Parser Continues Past First Error Found
Final request, and it’s not an easy one. Please find a way to have your parser continue past the first error it finds. Right now my workflow is
- get one error
- fix error
- get another error
- goto 3
I have no words to express what a huge waste of time this is. I know that the languages and tools are very different to those in the software world, but it would be amazing if you could find a way to not stop at the first error encountered, so I could fix them all before trying to run simulation again
Some Errors Never Disappear From Messages
Am I crazy, or do some errors never disappear from messages view? There is a trash icon which *seems* like it should delete things, but it turns out to only delete user messages. Any chance we can clear errors that have already been fixed, or at least have the trash button delete all messages?
Stretch Goal: Native Windows 10 Build (Not Java)
yeah, I know, not happening.