multiplatform EDA tools (was Re: New old products :)

Jim Brain brain at jbrain.com
Tue Apr 13 12:26:33 CDT 2010


They need a "status" or emoticon for "biting my virtual tongue" or 
similar.  I was trying to stay out of this topic, but I failed.

Truthfully, I think it's no longer possible to compare all of these 
tools in the same way.  I've tried gEDA (gSchem + PCB), KiCAD, and 
EAGLE, and they do seem to fit different segments:

gEDA seems to offer lots of automation options.  Scripting it seems 
easiest of any of the options.  The GUI is OK, but nothing special.
KiCAD is more integrated, and truly open source
EAGLE is more integrated yet, and not open source.
I'll try DIPTrace as soon as possible.

I don't think you can fault the EDA tool for library issues:

    * EAGLE has far more libraries than the other options, so it stands
      to reason more of it's parts will have issues, even though the
      ratio of bad footprints is the same as other options
    * In all of the options, there are warnings that the libraries are
      as-is.

I agree EAGLE should have a RRC (Routing RC) button to check for 
unrouted airwires.  But, turning off all layers except for airwires is 
an easy way to see them in the layout for now.

The ubiquity and plethora of libraries for EAGLE is it's strongest 
benefit, whatever the issues with the tool.  I searched in vain for some 
scripts that could minimize the gap by allowing me to import my EAGLE 
libraries and designs into KiCAD or gEDA, but could not find anything of 
use (I found one script for PCB, as I recall, but it bombed).

Taking a page from the OO.org playbook, I think import functions would 
go a long way towards pushing some of us into the KiCAD/DIPTrace/gEDA 
arena.  I also wish there was more pragmatism.  I understand Open Source 
is a philosophy, but I wish people wouldn't try to indoctrinate me using 
that as the sole feature.  Having people tell me I should use KiCAD or 
gEDA because they are open source is a non-starter for me.  I use OOo 
because it is a good product, less bloated than Office, and I do agree 
with the philosophy, but I wouldn't use it just because it is OSS.

I'll don the flame-retardant garments now, but understand I release all 
of my designs under GPL, because I believe OSS prevents vintage machine 
designs from being unusable when the manufacturer quits offering the 
solution.

Jim




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