Get Started with the Best Electronic Circuit Design Software

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: November 9, 2020
Get Started with the Best Electronic Circuit Design Software

Today, there are many electronic circuit design software options available. Determining the best electronic circuit design software for you, your team, and your organization can seem like a daunting task. The answer is to find unified electronic circuit design software that can meet all of your needs.

Only Altium Designer integrates all the critical tools you need for design, simulation, manufacturing, and much more into a single platform.


The most powerful, modern, and easy-to-use PCB design application with a complete set of design features.

With so many different PCB design packages on the market, consider this before jumping for the lowest price software. Most design software doesn’t include all the features you need for schematic creation, simulation, and capture in a single platform.

You need all the tools the industry demands in one place; there’s no reason you should have to switch between programs just to complete standard design tasks. With Altium Designer, you have access to all the industry-standard tools you need in electronic circuit design software. You’ll be able to manage all your schematics and printed circuit design files in a unified design environment.

Unified Electronic Circuit Design Software

What is unified circuit board design software? Simply put, it gives you everything you need for electronic circuit design, simulation, and schematic capture in a single program. Your circuit board design software should contain basic CAD tools for circuit design, a schematic capture utility, and a simulation engine. Library management tools in your electronic circuit design software also help you keep track of component data and sourcing information.

The underlying design engine in your PCB design software makes all the difference when navigating multiple design features. Your software should include standard design rules for any circuit or printed circuit by allowing you to customize new design rules for your particular application. A powerful design engine that links your tools together into a unified design platform is key to increasing your design productivity.

Altium Designer session with circuit board schematic, printed circuit layout, and BOM

The unified design environment in Altium Designer.

Everything You Need for Electronic Circuit Design

A unified design environment provides everything you need in a single piece of electronics circuit design software. Other PCB design software online, including online PCB design software, can’t offer the level of integration you need to take schematics through to manufacturing. If you have the right design tools, you can create and simulate all aspects of your circuits and move to the next design phase.

Screenshot of hierarchical schematic design in Altium Designer

Multiple schematic view and design in Altium Designer

Start Your Printed Circuit Layout with Integrated Schematic Capture

Designing ultra-modern electronics requires PCB design software with the most advanced tools, component organization, and features. Once you’ve finished designing your circuits and simulating their behavior, you need to use a schematic capture tool to transfer your circuit designs to an initial layout. When you work in Altium Designer’s unified circuit board design environment, you’ll have access to a schematic capture tool that instantly takes your circuit designs and arranges components into a simple layout. You won’t have to use a separate program, everything you would expect to find in other board layout software is in a single program.

Altium Designer Integrates the Advanced Design Tools You Need

From interactive routing tools, to signal analysis and MCAD tools, Altium Designer includes all the features you need to design the highest quality printed circuit boards. The unified engine integrates design rule checking with all these advanced features. You can define customized design rules for your specific application and ensure your PCB will comply with industry standards.

Once you finish routing, you need to check your circuit board layout against your design rules. This is where an integrated circuit board design platform really shines, and Altium is leading the way in building a fully unified design environment. As you create your layout, the printed circuit routing tools in Altium Designer will automatically check your layout against your design rules. You can quickly identify any design errors and correct them before you prepare for manufacturing.

Interactive printed circuit routing

Auto-interactive routing is easy in Altium Designer.

Component Management in Electronic Circuit Design Software

One of the major shortcomings of PCB design software packages is the lack of attention placed on component management in the design process. This issue can manifest as a limited component library, which means substantial time must be invested in searching for libraries or creating them. The developers at Altium know how important component resources are and can give you access to component libraries directly from manufacturers.

The product development cycle includes the circuit design, layout, manufacturing, and testing of your circuit board. Although manufacturing is normally outsourced, your electronic circuit design software has a major effect on the fabrication and assembly processes. The best way to optimize this stage of development is to enforce DFM techniques during design. Once you produce deliverables for your manufacturer, you can rest assured your board will be fully manufacturable.

The Unified Environment in Altium Designer

Once you’re ready to start planning for manufacturing, you’ll need to use your design data to generate specific deliverables for your manufacturer. The best PCB design software places these features in a single interface. Online PCB design tools for bills of materials, Gerber files, and other deliverables require exporting and importing your design between programs. This hampers your workflow and creates the potential for errors, and your tools may not even be able to share data.

Only Altium Designer beautifully weaves all these critical printed circuit designs and deliverable generation tools together into a single, intuitive software platform. Other tools force you to move between separate design tools, despite claims of unification. Instead of cobbling together multiple programs that claim to offer a consistent workflow, try working with the only software that gives you access to all the printed circuit design tools you need in a single design platform.

Whether you’re an industry veteran from a large company or you run a new startup, Altium will be there to guide you along the journey to PCB design success. Altium Designer’s intuitive interface makes it easy for beginners to get started on any printed circuit they want to make. If you’re an experienced designer, the interface will be familiar enough that you can dive right into your first design. No other ECAD software vendor is this invested in your success.

It’s time to invest in the best PCB design software: try Altium Designer. Altium Designer on Altium 365 delivers an unprecedented amount of integration to the electronics industry until now relegated to the world of software development, allowing designers to work from home and reach unprecedented levels of efficiency.

We have only scratched the surface of what is possible to do with Altium Designer on Altium 365. You can check the product page for a more in-depth feature description or one of the On-Demand Webinars.

About Author

About Author

Zachariah Peterson has an extensive technical background in academia and industry. He currently provides research, design, and marketing services to companies in the electronics industry. Prior to working in the PCB industry, he taught at Portland State University and conducted research on random laser theory, materials, and stability. His background in scientific research spans topics in nanoparticle lasers, electronic and optoelectronic semiconductor devices, environmental sensors, and stochastics. His work has been published in over a dozen peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he has written 1000+ technical blogs on PCB design for a number of companies. He is a member of IEEE Photonics Society, IEEE Electronics Packaging Society, American Physical Society, and the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (PCEA), and he previously served on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee.

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