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hello,my advice is that for design entry active hdl can be used beccause its relatively simple to use compared to modelsim..and for synthesis either leonardo spectrum or synplify pro can be used....regarding books..the books which are good for beginners are the ones by douglas perry and also the book by j.bhasker...hope ur problem is solved...
if u r getting into fpga design, FPGA advantage suite is really usefull. It helps u in understanding the design better as it includes even graphical view. It has templetes for ease in riting hdl code for the first time. it has simulator which is having very good debugging features. It has leonardo spectrum/precision as synthesis tool. These tools have the capability to get integrated to place and route tool also.
regarding chip, xilinx is better during the intial phase
hope this helps
This is a nice solution, though Leon@rdo spectrum gives generally better synthesis results.. Beside it let you select different kinds of optimisation on different modules (read optimise for space or optimise for speed)..