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I am looking for a board, and think that I need someone to say that they have used it, rather than googling for it, and can confirm that it does what I want.

I would like to program in Ada, so the STM32 looks ideal (I am also aware that the BBC micro:bit has good Ada support, but ...) I would like a board with a display, and, importantly, I want to use the the PlatformIO IDE's debugger, to enable me to set breakpoints, examine variables, view the stack, etc, rather than just print to the serial monitor.

So I need a board that supports the Platform Unified Debugger.

Is such a question on topic here? I am aware of our hardware recommendations, site, but doubt that I would get much of an answer there.

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I think it really depends how you ask it. If the question comes off as "I'm thinking of doing [xyz]; what do you think?", the risk is that it will turn out being quite opinion based. On the other hand, it could also turn out being too broad if your question were just to be something along the lines of "I want to program in Ada; what board should I use?", even if there was a sideline remark that this is for use with IoT.

The reason that a lot of coding and/or hardware recommendation questions get closed as off-topic is frequently just that; the use of the product for IoT is superfluous to the nature of the question; if you replaced the word IoT with web serving, data management or some other technical field, the question would have the same value to future users. Such questions should probably rather be asked on Super User or hardware recommendations. It should be clear from any question how the issue / question / need / whatever arises from the project being IoT. In other words, IoT can't be something that you tack on the end of an off-topic general computer or networking question in an effort to make the question "ok."

For myself, if the purpose for the board being for IoT is of a great enough significance that it is important for answerers to know in order to answer the question well, then it's almost definitely on topic. Just make sure you include sufficient detail for answers to be concretely right or wrong, and clarify specific requirements that you're looking for in your hardware. Ensure that your question demonstrates clearly how it relates to IoT, and make certain that it does not solicit discussion, but seeks for a concrete answer.

To be honest, I feel like I'm kind of preaching to the choir, since you being an experienced user, I feel certain that at least 90% of this was already running through your head... 😃 But honestly, those are basically the things that I would recommend keeping in mind.

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  • Lolx! Thanks for that. It has helped me to formulate a question, so let's see how it is received ... and please feel free to edit he question – Mawg says reinstate Monica Aug 13 '19 at 9:09
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You can ask 'does PIO support all Cortex-M, or only specific devices'. That wouldn't be an IoT question, and I'm not sure who would answer, other than the developer. This answer does seem to be 'yes' though.

Overall, I think these sorts of selection questions are best asked by identifying the selection criteria which would rule them out. This would probably come down to a minimum flash/ram requirement for Cortex-M, and maybe some RTOS support features (i.e. not M0).

I think the dev board selection is a difficult problem to generalise. There are so many different factors which make for a specific selection. Maybe the board which looks good is being replaced by something newer/cheaper. Maybe an over-spec and more expensive board is OK, or maybe you're putting 20 in different places around the house. Actually keeping up with the variety of different dev boards and IoT eval kits seems like a full time job, so you're always going to be out of date.

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    I wish there a comparisson site, maybe with a selection wizard – Mawg says reinstate Monica Sep 18 '19 at 16:12
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    Too many commercial interests, and too many dev boards are not designed as end products, so it tends to be the maker suppliers who carry a good selection (and they have their own preferences to keep a narrow range of stock). – Sean Houlihane Sep 19 '19 at 7:15

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