You've probably already seen the rumors that the Ver 7 release of Eagle will have hierarchical sheets? No personal knowledge, just something from one of the Eagle Usenet groups.
OTOH, Kicad's current snapshot lets one design and use a custom page layout (frame and title block) in place of its old default. This is not in the current "stable" release (that's still the July 2013) but using
it's very easy to build an executable from the source tree. There's a page layout editor on the main project manager toolbar.
I think you're going to have to call and find out.. I got a client to purchase a few seats, some schematic and some full package, and then another seat a year or two later and the second round was about half price.
Make sure you ask about a "perpetual license" rather than some subscription deal... unless you can live with a subscription.
I get the feeling their pricing is a bit.. situational.. so you may be able to work a good deal.
This is an offer to us "Design Partners" from a couple years ago (Unfortunately not when I needed to make a purchase).
"Microchip is apparently switching all of their electronic CAD software over to Altium. As part of that deal, they have extended an offer to all Design Partners to purchase the Altium software for the price of $2500 USD per seat. This is a price reduction of about $4500 (List price US $6995).
The first year's software maintenance cost of $1500 per seat is included in that cost. However, the on-going cost is that yearly cost of $1500 per seat."
It's pretty decent software, all the EDA packages have their quirks.
Best regards, Spehro Pefhany
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I use Altium though my client paid for it so I don't know the exact number. It was in the range that others have suggested.
I also use Kicad, and to be honest I prefer a lot of things about Kicad. The first thing was all of the licence server shit that I had to go through just to use Altium, then it would nag me literally about every
20 seconds before locking me out if my internet connection went down whilst I was working with it. If you do buy an Altium licence, I would point out that you would have an easier installation experience if you run one of the widely available pirated DVD images even though you have a licence to run the official version. Why they expect paying customers to be happy with an product so much harder to install than the pirated version, is beyond me. Punishing paying users with onerous licencing procedures is not going to make the pirated DVDs go away, in fact I predict quite the opposite.
For anything where a client doesn't demand altium, I suggest considering Kicad, at least for moderate complexity designs. It is great for collaborating and others reviewing your work, as you can let people install as many copies as you want. Certainly Altium has some advanced features that Kicad doesn't, but sometimes that isn't an advantage, like when I inherit a file with some weird setting turned on, and can't understand why it is behaving weirdly. The configurable settings in Altium seem about as complicated as the Windows Registry of a malware infested PC, i.e. pretty darn confusing.
A nice get-out with Kicad is that the PCB files are basically text files, so in desperation you can always just go in there and edit features if you can't see how to do it from the GUI, though I haven't had much need to.
Are you sure? I suggested this many times and gave up. The Cadsoft guys sometimes said "Yeah, great idea, we'll put it on the to-do list" and then dropped it anyhow. Which group carried that announcement?
It is my firm belief that the lack of a hierarchy is what has cost Cadsoft a gazillion in lost revenue. Even among the existing client base. For example, I haven't upgraded since 4.16 because I simply found it ain't worth upgrading. If they really bring out a hierarchy and keep the prices reasonable I'll write a check.
The other thing they should make sure is that V7 users can store in formats 2-3 releases back. It's a major problem with CAD. Everyone should learn from how it's done in word processing where to this day I store in MS-Word 97 compatible and then there never is a readability problem.
They need to put that in a stable release. Otherwise Kicad can't really be used professionally.
I think they have an arrangement where you can try it for 30 days or somesuch without permanent financial commitment. We did that. It would have been a natural for us (you would think) since we currently use an antiquated Protel package (Altium was once Protel). But getting the licensing mechanism to work was problematic, backward compatibility wasn't smooth, the program is very complex, and the whole guaranteed permanent licensing servitude makes me very nervous.
But if you need to do complex boards maybe you should evaluate it for yourself. Just be sure you have significant time in the next X days because it will take serious time to get far enough along the learning curve to know if it will work for you or not.
Personally I don't trust this kind of complicated stuff. I've had cases where clients wanted me to (legally) use one of their licenses and it didn't work across an ocean or whatever. Then the support staff came in, lots of time was wasted and they could not fix it. No thanks.
I like the Cadsoft concept where they ... simply trust their customers. Once in a while there will be a bad apple and they have to block that license as rogue but that only affects work created with pirated software.
Altium has a couple of different models. The floating license is the one where you need the net connection. Floating is nice if you can over subscribe your folks usage. The other nice thing is I dont have to setup a license server of any kind. I can work anywhere as long as I have a net connection.
If I had 10+ people using Altium day in and day out I would just bite the bullet, and get full license and setup a license server.
It's very difficult to get a straight answer out of Altium.
Stick with Eagle. We are transitioning from KiCad to Eagle. KiCad is okay but there are some PCB things that are difficult or impossible to do with KiCad that are easy to do with Eagle. Try doing a PCB inductor with a spiral coil on KiCad!
I think the $5K price is about right IIRC from the last time I talked to a salesperson.
The nice thing about Altium is that (nearly) all the semiconductor companies have up-to-date parts libraries for Altium. Not so much the case for Eagle, KiCad, or OrCad.