I have been programming AVRs for a little over a year, now. I use them in various projects and for funzies. Our household is all Mac all the time, so Arduino is a fantastic way to program an AVR from a Mac.
I started out coding in AVR assembly. That was tedious and dumb and fun at the same time.
Then I installed AVR Studio from Atmel into a VMware Windows machine on my MacBook Pro. That was pretty cool, but still not friendly enough AND I don't like Windows.
In my quest to go all Mac for my AVR development, I turned to CrossPack AVR for Mac and avrdude. They work great and if you use a nice syntax highlighted editor like Textmate or Smultron, it's a pretty good combo. BUT, it is still regular AVR C and it isn't nearly as friendly as the Arduino flavor of AVR C/C++.
Then I discovered the Arduino IDE and the fact that it generated the .hex files I needed for my chips. I was able to write in Arduino syntax, compile the sketch, find the .hex file in a temp directory, and run avrdude from the command line to upload the .hex file without the need for the Arduino bootloader. ALMOST there.
Short story: I modified the Java code for the IDE so that when I verify a sketch or make the IDE compile, it puts the build directory directly under the directory of the sketch to which it belongs. This makes it super simple to find the .hex file and "hand upload" the firmware using avrdude through my AVRISP Mk II. I had been using the Dragon, but it magically went PUFF. Puff the Magic AVR Dragon, as I like to call it now.
I'm working on adding the ability to quickly upload just .hex files through avrdude for other chips, like the ATtiny13, which is another one of my fave AVRs. Love the IDE, love the syntax and all the libraries, would love even more to be able to bypass using the bootloader on homemade/custom-made/DIY AVR circuits. This is the drive to modify for me.
Anyhoo... I don't know if others have posted about doing this or not. I thought I'd throw my fairly n00by two cents in here to see if anyone finds that feature useful. I would be more than happy to send the modified code to someone if they think it might be useful for them.
Happy Arduining! (That's a word, right?)