The Future Of Eagle CAD

Last week, Autodesk announced their purchase of CadSoft Eagle, one of the most popular software packages for electronic design automation and PCB layout.

Eagle has been around for nearly thirty years, and has evolved to become the standard PCB design package for electronic hobbyists, students, and engineering firms lead by someone who learned PCB design with Eagle. The reason for this is simple: it’s good enough for most simple designs, and there is a free version of Eagle. The only comparable Open Source alternative is KiCad, which doesn’t have nearly as many dedicated followers as Eagle.  Eagle, for better or worse, is a standard, and Open Source companies from  Sparkfun to Adafruit use it religiously and have created high-quality libraries of parts and multiple tutorials

I had the chance to talk with [Matt Berggren], former Hackaday overlord who is currently serving as the Director of Autodesk Circuits. He is the person ultimately responsible for all of Autodesk’s electronic design products, from Tinkercad, 123D, Ecad.io, and project Wire, the engine behind Voxel8, Autodesk’s 3D printer that also prints electronics. [Matt] is now the master of Eagle, and ultimately will decide what will change, what stays the same, and the development path for Eagle.

Eagle Licenses

Eagle is famous for the free version of its software. 20 years ago, in the days of Protel and other expensive EDA and electronic design packages, Eagle always had a limited freeware version. Arguably, this is the reason for Eagle’s popularity; a free educational version means schools can use it, and those students will enter the workforce with a desire to use what they already know. A freeware version of Eagle means electronics hobbyists can design their own PCBs at home, using the same tools used by professionals. The freeware version is not going away.

Aside from a freeware version, buying the correct license for Eagle was not easy. Last week, Eagle had five versions available, with different combinations of add ons like the Schematic, Layout, and Autorouter. Each version had limitations on the number of schematic sheets, signal layers, and routing area. For a single user license, there were almost fifty different options, all with different prices.

Now there are only six Eagle products. The commercial licenses range from one schematic sheet, two signal layers, and a 100x80mm routing area to the Ultimate license with 16 signals and a four meter square routing area. For non-commercial licenses, the free educational edition features 99 schematic sheets, six signal layers, and a 160x100mm routing area. This is Eagle getting with the times; a freshly minted engineer must know how to lay antennas on the board, impedance controlled feed lines, DDR routing, how to break out huge BGAs, and everything else a multi-layer board enables.

The big question when it comes to Autodesk licenses is an auspicious cloud looming on the horizon. The Internet is a thing, and now software phones home. Altium’s Circuit Maker is inexorably tied to this cloud, and locks your designs up in an online vault. Will the same be true of Autodesk’s Eagle?

Eagle will, of course, be integrated with other Autodesk products – the entire point of Autodesk buying Eagle is for full-stack hardware development, from mechanical design to electronic. Whether this means Eagle will become a subscription-only model is still up in the air, but from the casual observer’s position it’s doubtful; there are still perpetual licenses of Eagle out there, and right now that’s what Autodesk is selling.

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The most common (and dreaded) error in EAGLE

New Features

Despite being a near-standard when it comes to PCB design, there are a ton of features Eagle doesn’t have. To do a design or electrical rule check on a project, you have to press a button – it doesn’t happen automatically. There’s going to be a long, hard look at live DRC and ERC. Autodesk is also “Definitely going to take a close look at routing.” Whether this means push and shove routing, dragging traces around, or anything else the newest version of KiCad does exceptionally well is up in the air, but it must be noted Eagle is now Autodesk’s premier EDA suite.

What does [Matt] have planned that he can say to the press? Eagle’s core, mostly – hierarchy, modularity, mechanical integration (in keeping with integration with other Autodesk products), and revision management. Whether this means the dreaded F/B Annotation has been severed! notification will finally disappear is still up in the air, but one can only hope.

With a new direction comes possible changes to the UI. A decade and a half ago, installing Autocad on a machine would quickly wear off the lettering on your escape key. More modern CAD packages, such as Autodesk Fusion and Inventor are much simpler. Interfaces, even for the most complex pieces of software, have gotten simpler, and there’s no reason Eagle’s baroque UI couldn’t use a few updates.

That said, there is a lot of history in the Eagle UI. It has been around since before Windows 3.1. Some people love it, and any changes to the UI of a beloved program will be met with bricks through windows. A few slight tweaks wouldn’t hurt, though, and keyboard shortcuts are an obvious addition.

Autodesk’s Play For The Future Of Design

Autodesk’s acquisition of Eagle didn’t happen in a vacuum. In 2014, Autodesk bought Circuits.io, an electronic design software that, like Fritzing, is based around the solderless breadboard paradigm. Despite being easily compared to Fritzing, Circuits.io has some fairly advanced capabilities including simulation of breadboarded circuits. It’s not a SPICE simulation, but you can’t look at something like this and not see the future of electronic design.

Circuits.io, Tinkercad, and Autodesk’s series of 123D apps are their play at the Maker market. Yes, you can design a simple circuit and have it do real work, but you’re not going to implement an FPGA or anything designed for EMC compliance with these tools.

When it comes to Serious Business™, Autodesk’s portfolio of electronic design software has been severely lacking. There’s a reason for this: Altium has been working on the problem for several decades, it’s still not perfect. KiCad is old enough to vote, and there are still problems. Eagle, too, is almost thirty years old. Building EDA suites and PCB design software is hard, and possibly the hardest single domain of software development. Autodesk simply can’t spin their own electronic design software and expect it to be good. Eagle was already there, Premier Farnell was selling stuff off, and Autodesk’s purchase of Eagle should come as no surprise.

What this purchase does mean is integration into the rest of Autodesk’s offerings. Already, you can use Autodesk products to build a six-speed transmission, a house, and a spaceship. The addition of Eagle means you can also build a credit card sized ARM dev board. The path forward is to integrate all these capabilities under one roof; you’ll be able to design the electronics for a portable video game console, and take that board file and build an enclosure around it.

On a personal note

I’ve been using Eagle for years now. I’ve known it was a fairly limited tool, and I’ve known about KiCad. I know I need a better electronic design tool. The question I ask myself is, “do I want to spend the time and effort to learn KiCad, when all I really need to do right now is design a simple board that would take an hour in Eagle?”

This is the reason people don’t use better software packages: I know Eagle, and in the time it would take to learn KiCad, I could finish the project I’m working on, make a sandwich, take a nap, and get my boards in the mail. Yes, it’s lazy, but Eagle is good enough.

With the new direction for Eagle, I believe I will never have to learn KiCad. Eagle is about to get good – really good – and I can’t wait to see the first Eagle release under the Autodesk banner.

102 thoughts on “The Future Of Eagle CAD

    1. I find I can do design work in far less time using Atlium, also making component libraries is so easy I just make everything myself, takes less time than googling premade libraries.

      1. I’m inclined to agree. After learning the tools basics (Altium), I found the workflow in altium designer much more conducive to medium to large designs. I was a religious Eagle user for about 4 years, and I can still use it for little one off designs, but the ease of use for clearly defining your board and visualizing in altium makes it a clear winner in my book, its just much more productive. I am still waiting for an excuse to use KiCad in earnest, since it has many of the same features and a similar workflow, but at this point altium is too damn nice!

        1. Almost the same here, however Windows 10 was the reason I installed Debian on my main computer. Just got tired of fighting those auto upgrade thingies. So I finally made the switch to KiCad and after about 5 designs, I got used to it. It’s actually a very fluent transition from Altium to KiCad.

          The only program I haven’t found a good replacement for is Inventor. Damn Autodesk and their free software for students, they really do their best to get you hooked. From a marketing perspective that’s really impressive.

          1. +1 If autodesk would support Linux, I would finally be able to kiss Windows goodby. I would DEFINITELY be buying professional licenses for several autodesk products if this was the case….

            Come on linux support!

          2. @bryan Since you have the ear of the Autodesk team, were you able to ask them about Linux support? I don’t see any mention of it in your article

          3. I find that FreeCAD is a good alternative to Inventor. It suffers even more from the “disconnected programs being crammed together” problem that KiCAD slightly suffers from, but once you get used to it, you can’t beat the EULA. You get to keep all the rights to all of your work. How can you choose anything else?

          4. I stick with Win 7 as long as possible. And I still have a (rarely used) Win XP Laptop. :-) I used a Linux machine for several years, but I want use state-of-the-Art Electronic Design programs and not something lesser, just because it’s open source or available for Linux.

          5. @Martin: KiCad is definitely not something lesser. You just have to get used to the workflow. Since I had previous experience with Altium, the learning curve was definitely not as steep as the one from Eagle to Altium. To me, Altium and KiCad feel very similar in a lot of ways.

            @John: Thanks for your comment. I took another look at FreeCad and found out that I’d just have to install the plugin assembly2 to get the functionality I was missing the last time I looked at it. So it seems that once I get used to the workflow, it might actually be the solution to my problem.

    2. For about a year or so, I used both. I used Eagle while learning Altium. Eagle already had extensive libraries available. Altium had the vault, but it didn’t always have what I needed. Eventually, I learned how to do things faster and more efficiently in Altium and I’ve never turned back. Altium is an amazing tool, but it will take time to learn. Once you get good at making components and libraries, things will go very quickly.

  1. One bit of integration that would be very useful would be to allow using AutoCAD to draw pad shapes and packages. I’ve found EAGLE sometimes has a hard time handling irregular pad shapes, and being able to import a DWG file would really help there.

    1. Definitely a good suggestion. The interface between Autocad and Fusion and Inventor will only get better over time. And some of the drawing capabilities in those programs will definitely ‘inform’ how we do things in EAGLE.

  2. I’ve turned to KiCad a year and half or so ago, when I had to make a commercial product and didn’t want to pay a commercial license. I’m liking it a lot, but I still have a copy of Eagle installed.

    The best part of Eagle is the same I can say about Arduino. If you need something, there’s probably a library for it. I can simply search the part and get a library of the component just waiting to be used.

    Talking about libraries, I still have to get used with KiCad libraries management. I still find it tiring to use and make custom libraries.

        1. Thank you! We’re an early startup (just about to finish raising our seed round). We love getting feedback, so definitely feel free to reach out. If we don’t have a part on the site, we will also make it for you to IPC standards (if you’re a Premium user, you get it under 24 hours!).

          1. Hi John, Actually SnapEDA’s free tier is very powerful so you probably wouldn’t need Premium as a student. I’m a former EE and my goal in creating this was to make it as free as possible to support the design community. As a student, 95%+ of the value of the site will be in the Free tier. That being said, I am definitely open to providing student discounts. Just email me and let me know what Premium feature you need the most and we can work out a Student tier together.

          2. @Natasha(SnapEDA) says: “I’m a former EE and…”

            Dear Natasha, if you are a real EE with a degree that took many years to earn from a real University – you are ALWAYS an EE…

            It doesn’t matter what you do for a living now (or ever). What matters is how the process of becoming an EE changed the way your brain works! As a real EE, you are infected (for good or bad; you decide). But do note – the condition can not be reversed.

      1. Hmm…checked it out. Searching and sorting seemed limited. For instance, I could not sort on the part numbers returned by a search for a part type. Also, I selected a barrel connector to see what the symbol and footprint might be (and if it was available for KiCAD) and it didn’t have one yet. It recommended a SMT transformer as a similar symbol.
        Maybe I’m using it wrong?

        1. Thanks! Parametric search is on the roadmap. We’re working on improving the linking algorithm when we don’t have the right part (sometimes it can show the wrong one). Yes — all parts export to KiCad. Please email us directly or post on our forum if you have more questions (don’t want to take over this thread too much) :-) Here’s an example part so you get an idea: https://www.snapeda.com/parts/MCP2200T-I/SO/Microchip/view-part/

      2. Another website that wants a registration to download free content, and that I’ll be using maybe once a year, and then won’t remember the password. Where’s the logic in that?

        Should I decide to register (which I most likely won’t, because I’m sick of it), I’ll be giving you a throwaway email address anyway, so why do you want it at all?

      3. I tried SnapEDA when I wanted to export the Octopart CPL – sadly, all I ever get when I ask to “export all” is a single part in a zip file – the LM358DR.

        Additionally, you should take a hard look at performance, there seem to be some scaling issues with the site in general. Today response times seem to be in the 750ms range, yesterday pages were taking several seconds to load.

  3. That’s quite impressive what the Kicad’s interactive autorouter can do. I have always considered both Kicad and Eagle as equivalents in terms of resources as well as in learning curves but now it seem Kicad has taken the lead.

    1. After using few public libraries for Eagle from Element14, we found several package errors that will render the wrong PCB.

      KiCAD seems to have people that are more careful about the accuracy of the libraries.

      AutoCAD is a lame company, and like CorelDraw will hang on to their old business model till the very end.
      I doubt they will be able to fix the $280 to $1800 jump in licence fees Cadsoft made.

      1. If you’re doing anything nontrivial, and you expect to have good manufacturability once you’ve made your boards, then the footprints you’re using need to be carefully checked and drawn against the components that you’re using.

        This really tells us nothing relevant about any relative merits of KiCAD or Eagle. With the possible exception of the very ubiquitous, standardized EIA/JEDEC packages, like IC packages or 0603 passives or whatever, you can’t just assume that you’re going to be able to find somebody else’s library online that has an accurate footprint.

        Taking 5 minutes to carefully check is much cheaper and faster than re-iterating your board fab. This is especially true for things like connectors where there are no clear, strict industry-wide standards in many cases, and different manufacturers may manufacture connectors with a slightly different footprint even if they are “the same kind” of connector, like a barrel jack for example.

        This is really a part of the design/engineering/DFM/BOM process, and it is (like most things) completely independent of particular choices of layout software.

        1. It was a suggestion for novices to be really careful around EagleCAD lbr files, as the public or script-ported sources are not the same as paid OEM files from NI/Altium etc.

          We have not upgraded from 6.x, and have no plans to do so any-time soon.

        2. If one is more likely to have acurate layouts than the other then how is it not a relevant differenct in merit? Even if you do still have to check it in the end. Isn’t it better to check it and find fewer things you need to fix than to find more things to be fixed?

          1. We will make a pass thru all of the EAGLE libs and get them up to par going forward. It’d also be great if new users could just plug in parametric info into a calculator a’la PCB Libraries and generate IPC compliant footprints. This feels to me like a very straight-forward way to help people new to electronics build new parts that are guaranteed solderable. Otherwise there’s just too much left to chance. So expect some big changes there in the coming months in EAGLE. We want this to be as straight forward as possible.

            With regard to the Element 14 libraries, I agree, they need checking. I wouldn’t normally bank on 3rd party libraries anyway without at least checking them, but this is our first exposure to the work done by Element14 (at Autodesk). So we’ll probably continue to share them but also try and make a pass thru them to confirm they’re decent. If not, I’m sure we can do better.

        3. I fully agree one the importance of having footprints in a format that’s easy to review. Alas, most systems lack even the most basic automated measurements.

          That’s why I wrote fped, for use with KiCad:
          http://projects.qi-hardware.com/index.php/p/fped/source/tree/master/
          Here are some examples of what it can do:
          http://downloads.qi-hardware.com/people/werner/tmp/kicad-libs-modules.pdf

          fped is fully parametrized. The typical workflow is to first jot down all the dimensions you find in the data sheet, then try to understand how the geometry is actually structured. Then you draw the sub-parts (e.g., outline, pads, markers), and put them together. Here is a short intro for the main concepts:
          http://downloads.qi-hardware.com/people/werner/fped/gui.html

          Development of fped is mainly driven by my own needs (I originally made it in the context of the gta02-core project), so some things are less polished than others. But it has served me well so far :)

          It won’t automagically generate footprints matching IPC standards. So you have to do a bit of legwork for that.

        4. Yes, and I have already seen some friends looking for a symbol or footprint “for hours” and then, when he asked me to check his layout i could just wonder about some parts. – “I found it in a library at xxx”. And it was sometimes quite difficult to explain, that he would better had used his (or our) time to draw a correct footprint from scratch.
          And I see this as an Eagle user disease :-) Of course not so much Eagles fault as the typical user’s.

    1. Just acknowledging the fact that enclosures are a thing would be an improvement to most of the stuff being produced for the ‘maker’ market today. How about a nag screen.. are you sure you want to save this board design with no mounting holes?

  4. Keyboard shortcuts are already there. Some better defaults wound be nice, but the options for customization are great.
    What I really want is the ability to mirror the board view!

    1. On the list. We will be looking long and hard at routing. Sequencing-wise, to do routing, you have to first do real-time DRC right. Then routing comes next. So we have a bit of work in front of us, but it’ll happen. And it wont be years to do.

  5. I started electronics engineering with Multisim and Ultiboard version 6. Fairly straight forward programs. This combined with etching your own boards. Later I did some work in Eagle but mostly avoided the PCB designing. Mostly because Eagle is hard and it takes a while to get used to it. I left it to my fellow student who had cracked the pro version of Eagle and was great at it.

    Recently I started a engineering job. They use Altium. It also takes a while to get used to. But now I can design circuits in a few days. Only for the bugs and crashes it would be a mutch better piece of software. Then it works its great, when it doesn’t jou need to find a work around.

    I have yet to try KiCAD and PCBmodE.

  6. What I find interesting is that CadSoft, IIRC, had something like 3 engineers working on EAGLE when it was acquired. It’ll be interesting to see what Autodesk is able to do with more resources. Having worked in R&D for EDA tools, and now doing a startup in EDA, this statement really nails it: “Altium has been working on the problem for several decades, it’s still not perfect. KiCad is old enough to vote, and there are still problems. Eagle, too, is almost thirty years old. Building EDA suites and PCB design software is hard, and possibly the hardest single domain of software development.”

    1. Excellent post Natasha…

      What’s missing is something like SnapEDA that aggregates SPICE models (and other simulation application mods/libs), not only PCB footprints. I’m quite surprised the likes of Octopart etc. haven’t done this yet; lest the component distributors like Mouser, DigiKey, etc. too.

      1. I agree. We actually started out doing SPICE models (I have spent a lot of time in my career writing/testing them) but it was quite challenging to get a critical mass of models. We plan to start pulling in more types of design content soon, but interoperable symbols/footprints is what we’re tackling as a first step. As we keep growing our team, our goal is to expand our “footprint” (pun intended) in terms of the design content we provide, with the same focus on interoperability.

      1. What he says.. most who use it regularly have their local hand made part libraries (symbols + footprints) that are linked and don’t touch the footprint assignment process.

  7. I remember matt teaching an eagle class with demos of altium and other tools and honestly I could not be happier about this. The points he made about everyone’s love-hate relationship with eagle were well expressed by a very obvious experience set spanning hundreds of hours. With him in charge I know I’ll have my perfect pcb design software and I Raleigh l eagerly the rebirth of eagle. .. does that make it a phoenix?

    ~Metal

  8. The only thing I got out of this is a someone to blame for Autodesk’s continued lack of support for Linux.

    “I had the chance to talk with [Matt Berggren], former Hackaday overlord who is currently serving as the Director of Autodesk Circuits. He is the person ultimately responsible for all of Autodesk’s electronic design products, from Tinkercad, 123D, Ecad.io, and project Wire, the engine behind Voxel8, Autodesk’s 3D printer that also prints electronics. [Matt] is now the master of Eagle, and ultimately will decide what will change, what stays the same, and the development path for Eagle.”

    I blame YOU Matt Berggren~

    1. Yes, my takeaway was that there would be no support as they integrate into other Autodesk products. They just don’t support Linux.

      Eagle has landed in a Windows-only land so KiCAD it is.

      1. EAGLE is written on Linux with Mac and Windows support handled natively. We go native. No emulation with wine or the like. I’m not giving anything away here but I run SUSE and Ubuntu for development and testing. VI & Emacs for editors. This is how it’s been…This is how it will be. Make files are your friend.

    2. What…This doesnt make sense. EAGLE is developed on Linux and runs under Linux already. In fact, I just compiled a build on linux and wrote this reply waiting for it. And I say this as ‘Matt Berggren, the guy you’re blaming for something it already does’. :) Can I add this to the product roadmap and then be credited with having completed it? I’m pretty sure it would be the easiest thing I did all week.

  9. AutoTRAX from kov.com is also worth giving a try. It has no limits of Eagle and has some great features like dividing components into subcomponents, creating multilevel design from reusable designs/modules (“design once – use many times” – like libraries in programming) by connecting them. It is like object programming in electronics.

  10. Unfortunately Autodesk has a well deserved reputation of screwing over their international customers with ridiculously high prices. Not sure it’s still the case, but I remember 3ds max costing like twice as much in Europe as it cost in the US. For a $20 product, this may not be such a big deal, but it cost 3500$.. and in euro’s it was > 5000(!) And this is at a time when the EUR was about 1.4$. It’s completely idiotic, and so to me it’s a real shame that Autodesk bought Eagle. If anything, it would push me even more in the direction of KiKad or other alternatives.

    Here’s someone else discussing this issue: http://gamedesignreviews.com/scrapbook/autodesk-sucks/

    1. We’ve based the EAGLE pricing on an average price of the Euro over the last 12 months (goes live tomorrow -ish…same pricing in general but with much fewer of these crazy license configurations / SKUs than what they had in the past. Candidly, most just didnt sell any seats so we got rid of the dozens of variations). We did this because the Brexit makes everything suck in the EU right now, when you try to buy versus the USD. So rather than penalize the Europeans for a big drop in the value of their currency in recent days / weeks / months, we instead decided to average it over a period and base the euro pricing on that multiple rather than the crazy situation the eu and uk are in right now.

      So to answer this comment directly, I think we’ve been pretty fair with EAGLE pricing going forward. Look for a blog post on the upcoming Cadsoft site this weekend which gives much more detail. Let me know if you think this -isnt- fair and we can discuss.

      1. My vision of a fair price is a $50 license that allows double face boards with no size limits.

        The freeware size limit is what makes hobbyists and small entrepreneurs either go illegal or switch to another tool. Both cases are a lost sale anyway. A fair price would change this game.

        When Element 14 assumed Cadsoft I was expecting them to understand that, but they failed miserably. (They also failed by not generating a .lbr for the components of each purchase but this is another tale)

      1. I’ve been using it for about 7 years now. It doesn’t crash. It doesn’t glitch. I haven’t lost a single minute of routing. It behaves, and it behaves consistently.

  11. For me it’s always been simple. Develop in Eagle and your design can never be sold. Simple as that. Its amazing the number of people who are blindly using it…

    Spend the effort to learn KiCad and as long as you dont make motherboards for a living you’re fine.

          1. But why pay 60 Euros for something when an equivalent product lets you do the same for free? I’ll pay a fair price for pancakes but not when the restaurant next door is giving away perfectly good omlets!

            Eagle vs KiCad comments seem to be really heating up lately. I’ve been following them because I am trying to decide which to invest my time in learning. So far it sounds like the Eagle camp just prefer Eagle because it was good before KiCad was and they don’t want to go through the breaking in period with something that works differently. I get it, change is work. I also kind of resent that thought process because I think that it’s the same reason that Windows is still so popular even though between Windows, Linux and even Mac OS Windows is probably the worst choice in pretty much every possible way.

          2. Wasn’t intended to start a eagle vs kicad war. Just wanted to point out there is a cheap alternative for hobbiest to start a small commercial run. 60 EUR isn’t that much of a cost when going commercial.

            Yes I prefer Eagle over Kicad as I want a finished product instead of a opensource program which has some quirks and bugs. I don’t want to rely on a community to fix something at an unknown time. With a commercial product I just have more confidence in getting . I understand people like a certain product like Kicad, but it didn’t work for me back then and don’t have the time nor money to learn a new product. After all it is the endresult that counts and not how that result is made.. Lets get back to designing boards!

    1. You can pretty much bet the farm that they’re going to attach a subscription service ASAP. It will probably also auto-publish all of your designs on some type of aggregating website. I’m willing to bet they’re going to hype it up by mentioning IoT in some way, as well. These corporate types are all the same.

      1. Nope. a) Not attaching subscription at this time. Can’t say never of course, but it’s not the priority. We’ll start by building value and then visit the licensing model later, when the time is right. b) The core of EAGLE is the priority for now. c) We’re not forcing your content to some master website. You keep it. It’s your content. Let the other guy try and coax you into their ecosystem. We’ll keep the file format open so you never have to question whether you have the source data or not. d) If by IoT we mean connectivity, then yes, building tools to make building wireless designs easier would be nice. But that’s all down to routing and DRC and layer stack management, etc. It’ll come. Give it time. e) We are not all the same. I live in *this* world. My hackaday.io page is @technolomaniac. Have a peek. And yes, I share my designs, content, time, energy, etc to open hardware.

        Just s suggestion, have a read about Carl Bass some time. See his TED talks, conferences, contributions to startups, schools, etc. Read about his views on SW licensing for students and startups making less than $100K / year. Checkout Pier 9 from Autodesk (where I work). Happy to chat after you’ve homeworked things a bit.

  12. As an amateur hobbyist, the first board I laid out was in Pad2Pad. Because this was board manufacturer lock-in, my second board was in KiCAD. Why anyone would use proprietary software that restricts their rights to their own work is beyond me. The embrace of Eagle by companies that cater to hobbyists and that are completely dependent on the open hardware and software community is also entirely beyond me, since Eagle is often the one tool that sticks out like a sore thumb, and demands the use of Windows despite its ever-shrinking presence or necessity. I’m very glad KiCAD is doing well and continues to not only hold its own, but outshine in many places as well. No hopes and prayers of continued corporate benevolence are necessary!

    1. Actually Eagle runs perfectly, and is easy to install with no fuss, across Linux, and Mac OSX, and Windows. This is something of a unique advantage across EDA CAD/CAM suites.

      1. Thanks for the correction. While this has apparently been true for some time, it was not the case back then. In any case, it would not have affected my decision to use KiCAD, which also runs on Windows, Linux and OSX.

    2. I agree with you here. I avoid things like 123D because of their insane licensing and cloud service BS. I can’t believe people will basically sign their livelyhoods away in order to use some software. KiCAD works well, is fairly simple yet robust, and makes no claims to rights on your work. I will pass up superior software with inferior EULAs every time. The tool is only as good as the person who wields it. OSS/H for life.

  13. Just want to point you guys to another open source PCB schematic entry and layout tool:

    http://www.pcbelegance.org/

    It used to be commercial, but now has gone towards the OSS tour. Too bad the distribution is only sourcecode zip files and it is windows only. I checked it out how easy it would be to port it to linux but the drawing engine is mostly windows GDI calls and everything is in pure C. Not that the last thing is a problem but for many it could be.

  14. Contrary to popular opinion, Fritzing is not based on solderless breadboard design. It’s a complete suite, you just have to click beyond the first tab that opens at startup.

  15. Will be interesting to see where Autodesk is going with this. If they actually invest some effort into improving the tool, it could very well solidify Eagles position in the low end CAE domain. However, they could just as well blast Eagle in the other direction if they start to change something the community does not stand behind. I could see them trying to push Eagle into the cloud like Altium does with CircuitMaker, and people abandoning the tool because of it.
    Luckily there are quite a lot of other free tools around, and if they “kill” Eagle, i’m shure someone else will pick up the users.
    Personally i’m locked into Altium and usually happy with i. Have been with them since Protel 98, and for now, i’ve only ever considered stepping up to Mentor (for high-speed, high complexity designs) and not stepping down to the bottom feeders for the simple designs.

  16. I am surprised that DIPTrace has not been mentioned when you talk about high quality PCB and Schematic software that has free and low cost options. I have been using DipTrace for many years and find it a great tool.

  17. I wish they would raise the 160×100 limit on board size. A lot of things, especially edge connectors on older computers, are bigger than that. Guess I’ll have to learn KiKad.

    1. I agree, I’m happy to see there’s now a “maker pro” license that lets you design something and use it commercially but $299 is too much for a 160x100mm limit. Even the $575 business edition (schematic+pcb) license has a 160x100mm limit. What?

      I think Eagle overlooks the important hobbyist market, maybe they think we just pirate the program anyway, regardless of what it costs. Reality is that if I could have bought an Eagle license that would let me design (say) a 250x250mm board or 100 square inches with any length/width, for $300 or even $400, and then sell my design as a kit, I can easily recoup the price of that license when I sell my product to (say) 40 people, so I’d be happy to pay that much. But the way it stands, a license would cost me $1145 so… sorry no sale. The time it took me to learn KiCad and convert my design when it got too big to fit in Eagle was a lot cheaper than that.

      1. Duly noted. :) We’ve got a few things to clean up there. We’ve already gone 6 layers with the EDU license and dropped the cost of that to zero to bring it in line with all Autodesk products (6 layers means you have planes to peg impedance controlled routes against and both microstrip and stripline configurations to work with…something we should be teaching students about!). Board size limitations are probably also something to look at.

  18. I use KiCAD and it was the first and only PCB design suite I have learned. I learned to use it in about an hour, but of course didn’t understand how a few things work until I tinkered around for another 3-4 hours. If you’re worried about wasting time learning it, just follow the tutorials and play around with it. It is quite simple. The only thing I don’t really like about it is how modular the interface is. Clearly there are a lot of unconnected projects getting thrown together here. Having to change toolbars to do closely related tasks on the same component seems clunky and antiquated to me. I wish it were a little more intelligent and seamless. At any rate, I was able to design, print, and etch my first PCB in less than 6 hours. That’s a pretty small learning curve.

  19. Please ask them about native ARM versions of Eagle for Linux – can’t be too hard to compile things up with a different GCC … I want to be able to work on my cheap low power laptop while travelling

  20. The only reason I use Eagle is the large parts library available for the casual hobbyist. Why doesn’t a standards committee come up with a standard parts library format that will allow parts manufacturers to release footprints for ALL of their parts which can then be converted via a freeware converter to any particular PCB CAD program’s format?

    1. Hi Winston, This is exactly what we’re working on at SnapEDA. Our goal is to build one canonical library. The library is free and supports EAGLE, Altium, KiCad, Cadence OrCAD/Allegro (Beta), and Mentor PADS (Beta). We’re also working with component manufacturers to make their data accessible easily through our platform. Here is an example part page so you can take a look: https://www.snapeda.com/parts/ATXMEGA256D3-AU/Atmel/view-part/. We are a small startup, and have been in Beta as we build the product, so would love your feedback if you try it.

      Although we don’t have a freeware converter, you can upload parts (free) and translate them to other formats but currently only support a limited number of upload formats.

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