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Open Watcom in the Classroom

I’ve been using Open Watcom in the Williston section of Computer Organization this semester. Although the interface to the compiler is relatively old fashion I think it makes a good choice for a course like Computer Organization. There is value in having students prepare their programs using a simple text editor, type compilation commands manually into a console, and even run the compiler and linker separately. This gives students a better idea of what is really happening behind the scenes of a modern IDE. It should be something they all do at least once.

So far the group I have this semester hasn’t complained (much) about working at the command line, at least not that I have heard. Some miss the power of Eclipse that they are used to from earlier Java courses. Yet they will see Eclipse again in the future, for C programming as well, or perhaps some other IDE such as Visual Studio. When they do they will hopefully understand a little better how those tools work and what they are doing for them.

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