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Supporting Microchip Technology Products Through Device Family Packs (DFPs)

Read this blog post to learn more about Device Family Packs (DFPs) and how they can be used to support our devices.

Enhancing Embedded Device Development with MPLAB X IDE and Device Family Packs

If you’ve used MPLAB® X Integrated Development Environment (IDE) before to develop applications and witnessed how it allows you to develop code for embedded devices, you are likely familiar with many of the features that it gives users. One of these support features, which has been available for several releases now, is Device Family Packs (DFPs). DFPs contain support files for our microcontrollers (MCUs) as well as other devices, including microprocessors (MPUs). DFPs are structured directories of files that provide information related to each device family.

DFPs were developed to separate new device releases from MPLAB X IDE and compiler releases. In the past, you would have to wait for the next MPLAB X IDE release for a fix or to get device support. Now, DFPs allow us to package and distribute updates and fixes independently from an MPLAB X IDE release, so all you need to do is download a new DFP for your selected device family.

What Are DPFs?

DFPs contain information on each supported device group by similar devices, including data on device power requirements, programming and more. Some files are compiler-related, device-specific header files; other files can be related to device information displayed by MPLAB X IDE, as well as algorithms that MPLAB X IDE uses to program and debug the device. DFPs can also include configuration bit data, library files and device specifications.

These files are organized in each pack so that the tools know where to find the information they need. Like our compilers and the IDE, DFPs have a version number so that they can be identified easily.

What Are Some Benefits of DPFs?

MPLAB X IDE will let you see new DFPs and download them. These DFPs will allow you to correct known issues. Also, when you create a new project in MPLAB X IDE, a DFP will be automatically selected.

You can also go to the Packs menu in the IDE to see which new and updated DFPs are available, which devices they support and what changes they implement. DFPs are installed in two locations on your computer, which you can see in the Pack Manager window.

Other Important Information About DFPs

MPLAB compilers are distributed with the content from the latest DFPs. This allows you to use newly released DFPs when you build a project without the need for extra downloading or installing them. You can choose to either upgrade to a new version or stay with a specific DFP version, depending on your requirements. For example, you can lock the h-files to a specific version of a DFP if needed.

DFPs are installed into the program files folder, which requires administrative rights in Windows®. If you update any DFPs, they are installed in your user folder, which does not require administrative rights. DFP files are published with the “.atpack” extension. You can easily view the contents of the DFP by replacing the “.atpack” extension with “.zip” and opening the archive on your computer.

DFPs can be downloaded free of charge and are updated regularly to support new devices and features. Read our Introduction to Device Family Packs” article on our Developer Help website to learn more about DFPs.

Yara Matar, Jan 18, 2024

Tags/Keywords: Development Tools

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