The EAGLE has landed: at Autodesk!

The selloffs continue at Farnell! We’d previously reported that the UK distributor of electronics parts was being sold to a Swiss distributor of electronics parts. Now it looks like they’re getting rid of some of their non-core businesses, and in this case that means CadSoft EAGLE, a popular free-for-limited-use PCB layout suite.

But that’s not the interesting part: they sold EAGLE to Autodesk!

Autodesk had a great portfolio of professional 3D-modeling tools, and has free versions of a good number of their products. (Free as in beer. You don’t get to see the code or change it.) By all accounts, the professional versions of their tools are very professional if you can afford them, and the trial versions are still useful. This makes EAGLE slot very nicely into their business model, filling a hole (PCB design) in their toolchain.

What does this mean for those of you out there still using EAGLE instead of open-source alternatives? (We haven’t used EAGLE since KiCAD got good a couple years back.) Beats us! Care to speculate wildly? That’s why we have a comments section. Go! In the mean time we hope to have more info for you directly from Autodesk soon so stay tuned to the front page.

77 thoughts on “The EAGLE has landed: at Autodesk!

  1. I love EAGLE and I love Autodesk! I REALLY hope Autodesk makes EAGLE’s UI a bit better… At least gimme some keyboard shortcuts for crying out loud!

    Autodesks products have the best UI IMO, so im excited to see where this goes

    1. I feel the same. Eagle sucks on so many levels but still I feels better to work with than all the other open source programs. Hard to explain. I hope they make make eagle a modern CAD tool with a actual usable UI.

      1. I’ve never understood the EAGLE hate. I have used it on many boards and have been very happy. The only other thing I have ever tried to use is Cadence, and that is a godawful mishmash of disparate programs, so maybe I just don’t know what I’m missing in EAGLE.

        1. I second that emotion. I’ve used the outrageously expensive Altium, and don’t understand why it has so many devotees. I’ve tried some of the free stuff, and none of them so far have met my needs. I’m still using my lite version of Eagle.

          1. Yeah Altium can be a crazy world when you start…
            Especially since the parts-library is a joke. Mainly because their target-group are companies that have their own library-maintainance teams. Some GUI-paradigms are just funky – but that’s a general problem in the world of CAD…
            But let’s be honest: Once you know how to use it, it beats the crap out of eagle any day!

        2. I’m a happy Eagle user, I have a full commercial version – I have at least one design where it gets too slow …. 8 layers, way too many nets, a ripup takes 15 minutes – probably because I’m stuck with a 32-bit binary, can’t use all the memory on my laptop.

          I also want ARM binaries so I’m not stuck with Intel laptops

    2. Same. I tried to get into AutoDesks PCB-Layout Tool, but it was very clear that it will never be sufficient for even a hobbyists use, and that they will look for alternatives. THIS is the best thing that could have happened. <3

    3. You can asdign many commands to keyboard shortcuts. I’m used to Lightwave 3D so I setup the same shortcuts and works quite well, speeds up the process and you avoid hunting for the correct button in the toolbar.

      I hope they’ll improve library search, I never seem to find anything. Evetytime when I think something isn’t possible, I google for it and it turns out it is possible.

      Will we finally get integrated 3D board view? Hopefully exportable to obj/lightwave.

      1. They’ll probably give us 3DSMax or Maya integration.

        I would like 3DSMax integration.
        Coupled with vray, it’ll make some nice renders for Kicstarter and indiegogo…… /s

    4. You can set your own shortcuts under Options > Assign. Select the key combo you like, then add the command (just type the thing you’d normally type into the console, or what you see when you’re hovering over the icon of a tool).

      For instance, I have:
      Ctrl-R to route in the PCB editor ( route )
      Ctrl-Shift-R to rip up traces ( ripup )
      Ctrl-G to place ground via’s ( via ‘gnd’ )
      Alt-R for ratsnest ( ratsnest )

      Ctrl-W to place wires in the Schematic editor ( wire )
      Ctrl-Q to place junctions ( junction )

      And a lot more…speeds up creating schematics and routing PCBs *a lot* ;)

    5. I love Eagle, and I hope Autodesk keeps the board and schematic files in an open XML based file format. I usually opn a schematic with notepad for quick renaming or adding values, or opening a board in Excel to create an accurate geometric design.

      1. +1 The open XML file format makes it easy for version control tools like git to track changes. If it was a closed/binary file format, nobody would use eagle for their github projects, which is a pretty big userbase

  2. I’m a bad example, because I’ve only ever used KiCad. But… yeah, KiCad (especially v4) is pretty dang good. I suppose it doesn’t do all the fancy stuff some folks are used to, but it’s great for the simple circuits I use it for. To answer the most common complaint–yeah, I just make all of my own footprints. Not a huge deal.

    1. I also make all of my own footprints. This is one of the things that I found quite different when moving from Eagle to KiCAD and there are things I like and don’t. Eagle associates footprint with schematic symbol while KiCAD keeps them separate. I like that. But Eagle tends to have more available footprints for download — which can be bad if you don’t meticulously check those footprints. So for me, I think it’s better to make all my own footprints, if anything goes wrong I’m the only one to blame.

      1. (Familiar as electronic hardware designer with, Pads, altium, Eagle)
        Regarding KiCad.. How on earth is designing a complex design doable when after you completed the design have to decide for all the hundreds of component foot prints? I was utterly shocked for the 5 minutes I tried it.. The schematic design does not hold information of shapes.. You basically cannot design a schematic and have someone else (partially) do the layout for you.

        This goes completely pear shaped especially anything that has to do with high power / mains circuits or components that are critical to safety.

        Maybe someone can explain how this is ought to be good?

        1. I am probably wrong, since I’ve not verified it…but, I think the schematic symbols “can” include pointers to the pcb footprint. Then the symbol-to-footprint can be automatic.
          I’m sure someone with more symbol/footprint knowledge in KiCAD than I have can correct me. :)

        2. Last time I used KiCad, the outlines were assigned to parts in schematic editor. If you insist, you can still use separate program for the assignment, like it used to be a long time ago, but it’s not necessary. Also, since “forever” it was possible to import outline assignments back into the schematic and keep all the information together.

        3. You can edit “Footprint filter” and assign “Footprint” field for schematic symbol in Library Editor, although it not always convenient, as many symbols can have different footprints like DIP/SOIC/SSOP for ICs, or TO220/TO252/SOT23 for transistors.

        4. The thing is, which footprint of the particular component do you want to use? Is that transistor SOT-23, TO-92, DO-220 or TO-3, for instance. Or is that resistor 0603, 0805, 1206, 2512, or through-hole? The symbols can’t specify, you’ve got to do that.

          Once you’ve designed the schematic, you can associate each part with a footprint, and that information is stored in the schematic. You can edit the footprints individually (either via edit (E), or edit footprint (F)), or all at once (via the Tools menu or button in the top toolbar).

        5. what are to you talking about is called cvpcb it is a tool that helps assigns footprints, it lists all components and you associate each one with a footprint.
          you can also associate footprints directly from a default field in each element, each method is effective depending on the phase of design you are in.

        6. Like every other ECAD package on earth, KiCad is shipped with a godawful hodgepodge of libraries. You, me and every other professional layout engineer create our own parts according to company standards. IPC in my case. KiCad parts can be tied to a specific footprint if you want to. The short answer that you already know is that there is absolutely nothing good about designing with generic symbols.

          1. Maybe i’m too deep into professional electronics design, but I really can’t see any scenario where the schematic symbol in your schematic should not include all the information, including footprint-references too. The only exception i could see, is (as an Altium user) if you work with a database library where the complete component only has references to a schematic symbol and the footprint, and upon placing the component out of the database,it gets populated with the linked symbol and footprint.
            At least in my world, every component has a specific manufacturer and distributor part number (on top of our companys internal part number) associated to it, so every component in the library has to have a matching footprints. It gets a bit more complicated when you have several footprint options for one component (wave and reflow footprints, or you work with different component densities, but Altium can handle that quite well to have a selection of footprints for one component predefined and available to choose from.
            If you don’t even have a footprint assigned to a resistor, how can you ever make shure that you will choose a package with enough power dissipation for the application? Or how do you know your capacitors voltage rating is high enough, if you don’t even know what package your cap will be? For me, having only fully defined components in a schematic is the only way to make shure the design actually works as intended in the real world once assembled.

          2. @Magpie: And just to be clear, KiCAD does associate schematic symbols with footprints:

            The only way KiCAD libraries differ is that you have to explicitly assign a footprint after placing a symbol, there’s no default assignment. Most library parts have a footprint filter, making the choice pretty easy:

            So yeah, the UI is a little clunky and unintuitive, but then again every CAD program has its quirks.

  3. I have been using Autodesks Pro and Free products for years. With the release of Fusion 360 (free for home use if you make less that $100K with it) they have a good product for the hobbiest for desktop CNC, and 3D printing. I have not used Eagle Cad in years but if Autodesk keeps up it’s freeish software model it’s a good thing. They (audoesk) does have a common UI in it’s products so I’m going to guess that Eagle will be getting a face lift at some point. But this is so much better an option then other possibilities .

  4. I’ve been using Eagle since back when the free product license key came on a 3-1/2″ floppy drive! I still use Eagle under Ubuntu Linux. I’ve never used KiCAD just because I hate to have to learn new things. I guess I had better not let Eagle “update” or “upgrade”, huh?

  5. It is a easy chain of thought for all CAM developers: Only if students -and in some minor share hobbyists- in schools and universities learn and use your software, you have a strong user base and finally the industry will adapt (slowly) or new companies will use it.

    Further Autodesk made the smart move to develop their software also for mac and, hence got a share of designers in their user base. Now they increased the portfolio in a clever way, especially because they had already some way of interconnected mechanical and electrical design (never tried that myself in Inventor). Next step would be to buy in ANSYS or something like that…

    Gets interesting what other companies (Dassault, Siemens, PTC…) will do.

    1. Now if only Autodesk would support linux…

      They dont even have to support it really, just release a linux version and let the community handle the “support” side of things

      1. Perhaps the new flatpack / snappy packages will refute the long standing argument that: “You would have to develop for all linux distros…”.

        But Yes, that would be great! As far as I know there is only Siemens NX available for openSUSE in the reign of professional CAD.

      2. I know this isn’t a solution, but… I got Fusion360 running on a VM inside linux.

        I *hate* having to use it, it keeps my designs on their cloud computer and the reg keeps nagging me about goods and services I don’t want. I also had to get a copy of Windows 10 to run it on, which has essentially military-grade spyware that can’t be turned off.

        So if you need it to run, install Oracle VMWare, then Windows 10, then run it from there while inside linux.

        1. Ive just been dual booting to Win10 whenever I need to use Fusion360. And that really blows, because Fusion360 is literally the only reason I even have a windows partition.

          F*ck winblows

      3. As a software developer, I assume the biggest issue is probably poor code separation. They’ve been developing for Windows only for so long, I would Imagine it would be a huge project just to refactor the code enough to make cross platform builds realistic. Plus then all the development time to rewrite the entire user interface, either as separate code, or through a cross platform library.

        Any way you slice it, it’s a huge development cost for a likely limited gain in users.

        1. Um, the post you’re replying to was a reply to a post which says they support Mac. So I would imagine that most of that work is already there. Probably even more so as Mac and Linux are quite similar in some respects.

      1. I would as well (pro license). I resigned myself to giving up Eagle at version 7 when they tried just cloud licensing. I’m sure that idea will resurface with AutoDesk. As long as they allow me to use it on my office machine, home machine, and laptop, I’m golden. F360 integration would be really nice. But I hope they stay true to what has made the tool so popular to date.

    1. Will they please stop it with ‘the cloud’ junk!

      So many people trust this junk and will be very disappointed when something doesn’t work.

      Cloud-based security? No thanks.
      Cloud-based backup? Nonono I’ll just buy 2 hard drives.

      Cloud-based video-games and software that doesn’t work when the WIFI, ethernet, or some main server malfunctions? NOPE!

      1. When you get it for free, for your hobby (lets be honest), it works 99.99% of the time, and is massively more capable than Eagle or KiCAD…

        …cloud based please.

    1. Not so fast. One of the barriers to Eagle has been license cost for unrestricted functionality. If AutoDesk offers a monthly subscription model like their other products, it might open the door to more users. There is a reason I pay CadSoft a lot of money when there are free alternatives… (and it’s not because I’m unenlightened on the awesomeness of KiCAD).

  6. Current EAGLE maintenance staff certainly behaves like a bunch of honey badgers, even with all the constructive customer feedback everywhere. Were the sources open I think the community would make it the best option for amateur/semi-pro PCB design.

    Love:
    Schematic-PCB real time integration. Dual monitors is my de-facto way to go. Swapping gates on the schematic while watching the ratsnest change, having the connections highlight during routing etc – I cannot get used to KiCad lacking this feature entirely. Reasonable ideology of part-symbol-footprint association. Scriptability opens a window of opportunity to fix some gaping omissions.

    Do not love:
    Performance wise Eagle is horrible, no multi-core support, no GPU acceleration provided. Starting it up takes 20+ seconds, and zooming in/out results in stuttering on larger boards – all that on an i7 SSD machine. No 3D rendering. The routing is pure medieval – no push and shove, no parallel alignment, no multi select. No way of displaying net names on the traces. Lamenting over the UI is like beating a dead horse. I would kill (a fly) for arrow keys one-grid-step movement.
    Simply put, any improvement would be a huge bonus. Our time would be better spent on other things than painstakingly moving the multi track bus segment by segment, a job that often could be replaced by a hundred lines of code. So my hopes are high!

    1. > like a bunch of honey badgers

      Err… I don’t get this joke, is that supposed to be good or bad?

      > Starting it up takes 20+ seconds

      What? That’s just bullshit, I can run EAGLE with no lag on a Atom. I would suggest simply removing all default EAGLE libraries. I think that’s the chunk that takes the most time to load, especially since now they are XML instead of proprietary binary, the speed it takes to parse has slowed down several fold.

      > no multi select

      There is, use polygon select, you should be able to move entire busses with ease

      1. > I don’t get this joke
        There was a fad about honey badger being an animal who doesn’t give a f. cause he thinks he is too badass. The joke is apparently horrible ;)

        > I would suggest simply removing all default EAGLE libraries.
        Thanks a million, that was it, period. Indeed I just use maybe 10 library files!

        > use polygon select
        Whenever I can, I do use it. I would appreciate Ctrl + click-more-than-one though. Busses are easy until they surround a section I don’t want to touch. That (or wishiung to put another trace in between) makes the situation a bit worse.

        I really appreciate the help. Salutes.

    2. Regarding routing on Eagle: agreed, it’s very limited. What’s better? I can’t afford Altium or anything “real”. Does kicad do any better? Having to rip up big sections of board and redo them one trace at a time just to shift something over a few mm is a waste of time.

  7. I don’t know what to think, honestly. I have used Autodesk products for many many years now, and used Eagle since version 5. I really like Autodesk’s software, but this year they have changed their business model from selling software to renting it. If I “buy” the current version, I only get to use it for a year, then I have to “buy” it again. In the past, if we had a tough year and money was tight and couldn’t afford the newest version, we just keep using the old. Or if need be an older version could be run on an older computer (such as a laptop). Now if we have a bad year we can’t do that and either have to come up with the money (no raises, or putting off much needed maintenance for longer or other cuts) or stop using it altogether.

    Pretty sure bet they will do the same with Eagle.

    Now the plus side is (for the time being) the idea of a better and more consistent UI and being able to create and import 3D models as part of a larger project is a great idea. Were it not for the change in the licensing, I would be happy.

  8. Ah, this explains why I’ve received so many exhortations to purchase an EAGLE license–they were trying to up the value of the product before the sale to Autodesk. Glad I resisted.

    1. Kicad is even worse than the abomination that is Eagle. (Seriously, have the developers ever used a computer?)

      Try Designspark PCB. It’s free (very minor ads on splash screen). No limitations. It still has some stupid UI quirks like mouse warping on zoom, but it is waaay more useable than either Kicad or Eagle.

      1. There’s nothing wrong with Kicad, and it just keeps getting better.

        There is *no* EDA software that doesn’t have a bunch of weird UI gotchas, because EDA is a hard, complex task and you can’t make a simple UI that still lets you do everything you need to. Saying “Y is so much more usable than X,Y,Z” usually shows that you’ve just done a lot of work in Y and have taken it’s design choices as gospel, when they are simply choices.

        1. The first phrase of your post disqualifies all the rest…
          There is no thing that has no problems in the world. Even Altium Designer has its quirks.
          I use Kicad a lot and hate it. Eagle is a less worse program. Not better, but less problematic.

  9. Eagle – one of the better “non-free but affordable” E-Cad packages, but crippled by a horrible library system – got bought by Autodesk? I’d be happy to buy a copy of “Autodesk Eagle” for ~US$100 if Autodesk can fix Eagle by:
    1. Revamping the UI to where it is usable (keyboard shortcuts, logically laid out menus, etc)
    2. Improving the Linux support (how many mainstream distros doesn’t it support?)
    3. Fixing the library system so it actually works (How many copies of the SOT-23 footprint do you need in a parts library?)
    4. Adding Fusion 360/AutoCad import and export functionality.
    5. including a 4 layer autorouter that can do 180mm x 180mm in the $100 license

    1. Autodesk’s business model doesn’t involve making good software. Its purely about making money by any means necessary. They find quality software assets for various industries, buy them out, and declare an industry standard via brand name brute force.

      Expect a new version of every product each year with one or two ‘new’ (read bloated) features and no bug fixes or useful revamping of old features. The software isn’t the product, it’s just a subscription or leased platform for third party devs to sell their applications so autodesk’s doesn’t have to risk any time doing real product design or development.

      They won’t support you because you don’t make them any money. They will re-tool eagle to work for large scale ddesign, production and manufacturing.

  10. I’ve been doing board layout’s since the 1980’s. We didn’t have no computers then and the process was completely manual (at least until getting the art work developed). Since then, I’ve gone through most of the available EDA packages at some time in my life. I first tried EAGLE and KiCAD simultaneously in 2009 when I was getting started on Open Hardware. Couldn’t last EAGLE for more than a day or two. It just seemed like a very difficult beast to wrangle. KiCAD, OTOH, seemed easy to use (and it was a very basic software back then). Now, with CERN adding new features like Push-n-Shove, Differential Pair routing etc and the easy integration with MCAD, I’m glad I went with KiCAD when I did.

  11. Now lets see if they do the old 3DSMax trick of a yearly update cycle with no backwards compatibility on the file formats to force an industry wide yearly update….

    Gotta drive those profits…

  12. After being forced to learn a cluttered, non-intuitive PROFESSIONAL layout tool….

    I shutter to think of going back to using hobbyist tools like EAGLE or KiCAD.

    OCEAN of difference.

  13. Interested to see the direction they take the tool. I think UI changes will be met with resistance since EAGLE has it’s own unique flavor that people seem to get into. However standardizing some of the useful ULPs could be a good step forward.

    Changing EDA tools is akin to changing religion in my mind. Most people will not do it without a significant life event. I think people expecting a mass migration to or from the tool will be disappointed (as with any EDA tool).

    1. I agree with you 100%. I learned on Eagle and its been hard the few times I tired to switch, always go back to Eagle. I do hope AutoDesk can make a few changes in the right direction but hopefully no major overhauls. Maybe some changes to the pricing structure for hobbyist who want to start selling in small quantities but more than 2 layers. ;)

    2. It’s hard to forget your first…. even if she’s a basic, useless bitch.

      I have a theory:
      Anyone participating in an “Apples are better than oranges” argument has never had either an Apple or an Orange.

      At the end of the day, once you’ve tried several different flavors, you’ll agree they all suck in their own special way.

      It’s always worth the effort to fully immerse yourself in several different ones…. just not at the same time.

      What are we talking about?

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