I'm a long time Eagle fan but I just looked at the prices for the latest version and they're just outrageous! The standard version now costs $820 for a single-user licesne and a size limitation of 160 x
Kicad is free, open-source, and runs on multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac and Linux. It has no limitations of any kind and it's continuously being updated. It's also relatively easy to use, although not as easy as Eagle.
But since Kicad has a long term future I see it overtaking Eagle within a couple of years.
Of course, *you* have to decide what's expensive/outrageous for *you*. How many hours are you likely to spend learning/troubleshooting/and supporting ? What is your time worth?
Schematic and PCB tools are notoriously expensive. That's a consequence of the market. Users who have bean counters to put dollar figures on their time can more easily rationalize an expense than "hobbyists". small-shops, etc.
What do you plan on doing when you stumble across a bug? Post a message on a forum and *hope* that someone with the skills to fix it considers it important enough to address *now*? (How long can you hold up releasing artwork while you wait for a fix? How sure will you be that it is tested thoroughly?)
[Of course the same is true of COTS software -- but, there, you have the leverage of having put your money on the table and suggesting that you might, later, take it *off* the table!]
How are you planning to support the Kicad effort? $500 cash donation (if $820 is too much for Eagle, maybe $500 is more appropriate)? Will you be submitting *patches* to the code base? Or, just expecting a free ride?? :-/
How do you come to the conclusion that "Kicad has a long term future"? Have you never encountered ABANDONED open source projects? (I have a few TB of these archived, here :> ) Have you never encountered FOSS projects that had different priorities than yours?
For example, I'm currently looking to interest the PostgreSQL (FOSS RDBMS) folks in supporting databases on read-only media. Of course,
*they* think that's "silly" -- since they think in terms of corporate servers, disk drives, full-time DBA's, etc. Yet, I'm sure most of them have telephone books at home. And routinely rely on Google (which is read-only -- from *your* perspective!). Of course, they also don't consider the consequences of deploying a DBMS on a handheld device ("Ooops! Just dropped my WhatzIt2000! There goes the disk drive... :< ")
*My* solution is to fork the -CURRENT branch, fund the development of that set of features and "take ownership" of the resulting code base (i.e., mine to support until others decide R/O databases are a cool idea!)
Caveat Emptor. Often you truly *do* "get what you pay for"! :<
$820 isn't pocket change I agree but have you ever used some standard software like PADS where the company has you by the balls for support costing thousands of dollars just to ask a question with no nice big free users' group forum, (like there is for Eagle), to bounce questions off of and talk directly with the company that supports it ? One of the first things I look for when buying new software, whether CAD or compiler is "Is there a good user base with online forum" ?? I sometimes have questions at night or on a weekend when the company may not be able to give me a trouble ticket number and call me back until the next week.
BTW, eagle also works with Windoze, Linux and OSX, all for the price of one license.
Having said this, Kicad may have enough power for a lot of users and work well enough for that price. I certainly hope it eventually turns into something as good or better than the pro software out there that costs a bunch. Competition can be very good.
Yup. FOSS groups aren't without "personalities" :>
Correct. In my case, I am waiting until -CURRENT has as many features (and stability) as I can get. Then, deal with the fork. If I'm lucky, others may have requested similar features and
-CURRENT may have some groundwork in place. If not, then I've a big hill to climb!
But, once implemented, others may find similar use for that set of features and pressure the changes to be formally maintained/merged. If not, I still end up with "what I want" (though no forward going support)
Yup. I left the MS world for exactly that reason:
"Yes, that code sample clearly illustrates a bug. A particularly
*nasty* bug, too! Unfortunately, we are no longer supporting version X of that product. *But*, we can give you a free upgrade to version Y's set of bugs -- which appear not to include the bug you've noticed in version X..."
OTOH, if they (MS, Farnell, etc.) lose customers because of policy decisions like this, then The Market will, eventually, "fix" the problem (as it seems to have done with so many other EDA vendors! :> )
I'm actually surprised that while there have been some attempts at operating forums for PADS users, they never seem to attract much traffic.
The price of a software product seems to have little to do with how well it's supported, though -- I've had several "critical" bugs (meaning that they crash the product when hit, and are pretty easy to come upon) listed with Ansys (HFSS, Designer, etc.) for months now and they haven't bothered to fix them.
My own theory is that many of these big "enterprise" level software packages that have been around for so long now and have so much crap code upon crap code that they've become largely impossible to maintain
-- fixing one thing breaks something else. If you combine that with management that doesn't have a technical background, the software package is pretty much screwed. Yet, the companies survive because they live off of maintenance contracts, since their customers have many man-years invested in libraries, and of course very few of these packages let you easily export the libraries into any sort of "open" format.
That one would be easy to fix. I got used to it pretty quickly, within less than an hour. The library editor was a whole 'nother story though.
My feel is that something way down in the software architecture is not allowing a hierarchy. They threw it out the window for two major releases now and they cannot be blind to the fact that this costs them serious business. Some engineers like myself won't pay for upgrades unless it happens, but most of all lots of companies wave off when they see that deficiency. Tons of money was left on the table over the years.
It's sad, this software is next to perfect except for that (huge) deficiency of a missing hierarchy.
If there is such a need, one would think this sort of thing would spontaneously appear and be an instant hit -- whether USENET alt. hierarchy, yahoo/google group or a private site...
I'll agree that the correlation isn't very strong. I've had excellent support on some ~$1000 compilers (meaning overnight patches!) as well as many bits of freeware and FOSS (though being an active participant in some of those domains might have skewed my results).
When I purchased my first "3D modeling" add-on to AutoCAD (decades ago -- to the tune of $3K) it took me only a few days to stumble on a critical flaw in the math library (I was perforating a model of piece of sheet metal with finely spaced "vent holes" -- which quickly turned into a Dali-esque shape bearing no relation to the step-and-repeat tools I used to create the "array"). They provided a patch within days (back then, that meant fedex'ing a stack of floppies).
[Of course, I suspect it would only have been a matter of a few
*more* days for other customers to stumble upon similar limitations in the product. "How many t's in 'testing'??"]
I think that is especially true in the EDA market. A gets bought out by B... who mangles A's product "enough" to make it (sortof) work with B's other products... then B gets bought out by C (who similarly mangles the A product as well as the B products)... etc.
Add to that normal personnel changes and general bit rot...
I doubt that an open symbol/footprint/attribute format will ever work -- with multiple uncooperating vendors. There's too much variability in how people build symbols/footprints, name attributes, etc. Signal spacing/grouping on schematics varies, different grid pitches, etc.
What is needed is a way to *import* libraries and an entirely separate mechanism mechanism for creating them. Get the vendors out of the symbol/footprint business entirely. (No more "symbol editors", "footprint editors", etc.)
"We've got *our* library organized to *our* corporate standards. All we need to do is squirt it *into* your tool kit. And, if we get tired/disappointed with your toolkit, we won't have to 'extract' it -- we'll just squirt it into whatever *other* toolkit we end up buying!"
E.g., build parts as SGML documents and let a parser reify them in the tool.
Interesting that CadSoft has sort of gone in this direction with the 6.xx version of Eagle. Most if not everything is now an XML document file, including library parts. Just recently found this very useful, some cut & paste editing of an XML doc and presto, I have a new part defined. Somehow I could not convince the library editor to connect up the symbol & footprint for me...maybe someday I will learn how. But having the data "accessible" in XML was a saving factor for now.
Exactly. Once the structure of the document is made clear to you (hopefully *formally*), you are free to mangle it with whatever tools fit your skills/goals. And, the DTD should catch any obvious screwups you make in violating the document's structure.
Years ago, I used Ventura Publisher for my DTP needs. At the time (DOS/GEM), they used a pseudo-proprietary (ASCII-based) markup language to encode the document's content.
Often, they wouldn't have a tool that would let me do something that I needed to do -- like replace all instances of a particular sequence of tags with some *other* tag (e.g., with ). But, because the files were in an accessible format, I could modify them with other tools to cause the changes that I wanted (especially if the alternative was to manually search through the document for all tags and *manually* see if they were followed by a tag, etc.).
Corel bought the product line and promptly adopted a more condensed encoding -- making the use of any other tools impractical.
Hi Don, Something you might find intriguing: " Fritzing - from prototype to product "
This seems to be another attempt at creating a truly open pcb cad system, also using XML for the nitty-gritty details of description. It looks to be in it's infancy just now, but it has some good things about it. Uses Qt for the UI, good because it's a known, stable animal already. Uses XML for parts and layout, can generate SVG & Gerber output. I played with it a tiny bit & it was "easy" to get used to, compared to any other cad I have seen...not that I'm an expert, just the opposite.