Making the Switch from Proteus to Altium Designer for PCB Design

Zachariah Peterson
|  Created: November 10, 2020

With so many PCB design software packages on the market, you need design software that is adaptable to any design requirements. Features like interactive routing, layer stack and copper pour management, and defining design rules can make or break your next design. The best design software makes using these tools easy and gives you the power to customize them to meet your design requirements. With Altium Designer, you can rest assured that your designs will meet important design rules and function as intended.

ALTIUM DESIGNER

A fully unified PCB design platform that places all your PCB design tools in a single program.

If you do a search for PCB design software, you’ll find dozens of options to choose from. These programs range from individual schematic design and layout tools, to freeware, complex simulation programs, and fully integrated design packages. With all the choices available to choose from, how do you decide which package is right for your needs without trying them all?

Most design packages are not customizable, intuitive, or expandable. You’ll be left to access different features in separate interfaces, you’ll be left to scour online forums for support, and you’ll be stuck manually verifying your design against standard rules and constraints. If you don’t choose wisely, you’ll end up buying a substandard package that forces you to pay extra for critical design features.

Instead of getting stuck behind PCB software that lacks advanced simulation features, design rules and constraints editing, and even simple features that prevent you from exporting in your preferred unit system, you need PCB design software that can adapt to your design requirements. Only Altium Designer gives you full customizability in a consistent interface alongside advanced design, simulation, management, and documentation features.

The Essential PCB Design Tools and More

Every PCB design application needs to have some standard features, including schematic design, CAD layout tools, and extensive component libraries. This is where most PCB design programs diverge and true differences start to emerge. Not all PCB design software offers advanced design features like layer stack management, differential pair routing, via design, and simulation tools.

Most PCB design platforms force you to devise a complex workaround using external programs or implement a convoluted workflow involving your basic design tools. As modern Printed Circuit Boards become more and more complex, these formerly advanced design features have become the industry standard. Budget PCB design software can’t keep up with trends in the industry and can’t provide the design features demanded by experts.

Advanced PCB Design Tools Should Be Standard Features

Building your Circuit Boards starts with creating a clear and detailed schematic design and capturing it as an initial layout. Once you start building up your board and routing connections between components, you’ll need tools to customize your layer stack and interactively route connections, including differential pair routing. Simulation and verification features are essential for modern PCB design and should be included with your design software. These features are so critical for modern PCBs that few design packages offer all of these tools and more as built-in features.

The best way to offer all of these tools to designers while enforcing a consistent workflow and preventing data errors is to integrate them into a single design environment. Other so-called integrated design platforms still separate tools into different design modules with different engines that govern each tool.

When your PCB design software uses a single rules-driven design engine for all your design features, your important design tools communicate using a single data format and are accessible within a single interface. A rules-based system that allows you to define custom design rules and constraints for your application gives you have unparalleled flexibility to customize your design experience. Only Altium Designer offers this level of flexibility and includes all the advanced PCB design features you need in a single program.

Screenshot of Altium Designer’s interactive routing tool in action

Interactive routing in Altium Designer’s unified environment

What Rules-Driven Design Means for Your PCBs

Instead of working with free software that siloes design features, or with design features that aren’t adaptable to your design needs, you need design software with a fully adaptable interface and design tools. The best way to integrate multiple features into a single program is build all features on top of a single design engine. Only Altium Designer unifies your PCB design tools in a single environment on top of a heavily rules-driven design engine.

What does rules-driven design really mean for your design process? It means that your design rules govern how your tools function. You can design with confidence knowing that your schematic and layout will meet basic and advanced design standards, and your device will function as you intended. You won’t have to manually check your design choices against standards as you build your device. Instead, rules are checked as you layout your device.

Going Beyond Schematics and Layouts

Tools that are built on a single, unified design engine communicate using a consistent data format. This means that simulation, verification, manufacturer deliverable, and supply chain visibility tools read directly from your design data within a single program. You won’t have to use external programs or third party services to perform these critical tasks.

An excellent design suite doesn’t limit you to building circuit diagrams and layouts. Integrated design software should take you from concept all the way through manufacturing. This requires integrated design, simulation, verification, supply chain management, and bills of materials tools into a single design platform. Only Altium Designer offers all of these tools as standard features in a single program.

Screenshot of the PCB design tools in Altium Designer

Altium Designer’s unified environment

Adaptability, Verification, and Advanced Simulation in a Single Program

When you work with a fully integrated design package that is built on top of single, unified design engine, you can remain confident that your design choices meet basic design standards and your next device will have the functionality you need. Fully adaptable design rules allow you customize your design standards to your specific application.

Only Altium Designer places all your PCB design tools in a single interface with consistent workflow. These tools are built to work together using a rules-driven design engine that ensures your design features can communicate without errors. Other design programs with rule-checking capabilities still build tools on separate engines and don’t offer the compatibility or adaptability you need to design with confidence.

Altium Designer: The Best Unified Design Environment

The customizable nature of the design features in Altium Designer allow you to adapt your tools to your specific design application. Automate and interactive tools check your design choices against your design rules as you work, allowing you to quickly identify violations or conflicts, and ensuring that your design will work as intended. Best of all, new features and extensions are built on top of the core rules-driven design engine and can be added directly into the platform.

The interactive layout and routing tools in Altium Designer are easy to access, customize, and integrate into your workflow. The rules-driven engine allows you to define custom design rules and constraints, and the comprehensive data management tools facilitate collaboration across design teams. This streamlines your design process and ensures consistent collaboration among team members.

Switching between multiple programs just to get your designs up and running takes time and creates the potential for major errors. Other so-called integrated design platforms are not really integrated and can’t offer the adaptability you need to build devices that meet every design requirement. Whether you are looking for advanced routing, management, or production tools, Altium Designer takes all these features and unifies them into a single software platform with a consistent design engine.

Some professional-grade design platforms lack the resources and support you need to get started working with their software and start designing successfully. Altium has dedicated support teams and plenty of resources to help you get started. You can access a long list of resources, including the AltiumLive forum ALTIUM DESIGNER

A fully unified PCB design platform that places all your design tools in a single program.

If you do a search for PCB design software, you’ll find dozens of options to choose from. These programs range from individual schematic and layout tools, to freeware, complex simulation programs, and fully integrated design packages. With all the choices available to choose from, how do you decide which package is right for your needs without trying them all?

Most design packages are not customizable, intuitive, or expandable. You’ll be left to access different features in separate interfaces, you’ll be left to scour online forums for support, and you’ll be stuck manually verifying your design against standard rules and constraints. If you don’t choose wisely, you’ll end up buying a substandard package that forces you to pay extra for critical design features.

Instead of getting stuck behind PCB software that lacks advanced simulation features, design rules and constraints editing, and even simple features that prevent you from exporting in your preferred unit system, you need PCB design software that can adapt to your design requirements. Only Altium Designer gives you full customizability in a consistent interface alongside advanced design, simulation, management, and documentation features.

The Essential PCB Design Tools and More

Every PCB design application needs to have some standard features, including schematic design, CAD layout tools, and extensive component libraries. This is where most PCB design programs diverge and true differences start to emerge. Not all PCB design software offers advanced design features like layer stack management, differential pair routing, via design, and simulation tools.

Most PCB design platforms force you to devise a complex workaround using external programs or implement a convoluted workflow involving your basic design tools. As modern PCBs become more and more complex, these formerly advanced design features have become the industry standard. Budget PCB design software can’t keep up with trends in the industry and can’t provide the design features demanded by experts.

Advanced Design Tools Should Be Standard Features

Building your PCB starts with creating a clear and detailed schematic and capturing it as an initial layout. Once you start building up your board and routing connections between components, you’ll need tools to customize your layer stack and interactively route connections, including differential pair routing. Simulation and verification features are essential for modern PCB design and should be included with your design software. These features are so critical for modern Printed Circuit Boards that few design packages offer all of these tools and more as built-in features.

The best way to offer all of these tools to designers while enforcing a consistent workflow and preventing data errors is to integrate them into a single design environment. Other so-called integrated design platforms still separate tools into different design modules with different engines that govern each tool.

When your PCB design software uses a single rules-driven design engine for all your design features, your important design tools communicate using a single data format and are accessible within a single interface. A rules-based system that allows you to define custom design rules and constraints for your application gives you have unparalleled flexibility to customize your design experience. Only Altium Designer offers this level of flexibility and includes all the advanced design features you need in a single program.

Screenshot of Altium Designer’s interactive routing tool in action

Interactive routing in Altium Designer’s unified environment

What Rules-Driven Design Means for Your PCBs

Instead of working with free software that siloes design features, or with design features that aren’t adaptable to your design needs, you need design software with a fully adaptable interface and design tools. The best way to integrate multiple features into a single program is build all features on top of a single design engine. Only Altium Designer unifies your PCB design tools in a single environment on top of a heavily rules-driven design engine.

What does rules-driven design really mean for your design process? It means that your design rules govern how your tools function. You can design with confidence knowing that your schematic and layout will meet basic and advanced design standards, and your device will function as you intended. You won’t have to manually check your design choices against standards as you build your device. Instead, rules are checked as you layout your device.

Going Beyond Schematics and Layouts

Tools that are built on a single, unified design engine communicate using a consistent data format. This means that simulation, verification, manufacturer deliverable, and supply chain visibility tools read directly from your design data within a single program. You won’t have to use external programs or third party services to perform these critical tasks.

An excellent design suite doesn’t limit you to building circuit diagrams and layouts. Integrated design software should take you from concept all the way through manufacturing. This requires integrated design, simulation, verification, supply chain management, and bills of materials tools into a single design platform. Only Altium Designer offers all of these tools as standard features in a single program.

Screenshot of the design tools in Altium Designer

Altium Designer’s unified environment

Adaptability, Verification, and Advanced Simulation in a Single Program

When you work with a fully integrated design package that is built on top of single, unified design engine, you can remain confident that your design choices meet basic design standards and your next device will have the functionality you need. Fully adaptable design rules allow you customize your design standards to your specific application.

Only Altium Designer places all your PCB design tools in a single interface with consistent workflow. These tools are built to work together using a rules-driven design engine that ensures your design features can communicate without errors. Other design programs with rule-checking capabilities still build tools on separate engines and don’t offer the compatibility or adaptability you need to design with confidence.

Altium Designer: The Best Unified Design Environment

The customizable nature of the design features in Altium Designer allow you to adapt your tools to your specific design application. Automate and interactive tools check your design choices against your design rules as you work, allowing you to quickly identify violations or conflicts, and ensuring that your design will work as intended. Best of all, new features and extensions are built on top of the core rules-driven design engine and can be added directly into the platform.

The interactive layout and routing tools in Altium Designer are easy to access, customize, and integrate into your workflow. The rules-driven engine allows you to define custom design rules and constraints, and the comprehensive data management tools facilitate collaboration across design teams. This streamlines your design process and ensures consistent collaboration among team members.

Switching between multiple programs just to get your designs up and running takes time and creates the potential for major errors. Other so-called integrated design platforms are not really integrated and can’t offer the adaptability you need to build devices that meet every design requirement. Whether you are looking for advanced PCB routing, management, new component placements, or production tools, Altium Designer takes all these features and unifies them into a single software platform with a consistent design engine.

Some professional-grade design platforms lack the resources and support you need to get started working with their software and start designing successfully. Altium has dedicated support teams and plenty of resources to help you get started. You can access a long list of resources, including the AltiumLive forum, webinars and podcasts from PCB design experts, and a thorough knowledge base with plenty of tutorials and useful design tips.

Don’t take the easy way out and use budget software that can’t offer the adaptability and consistency you need to design the best electronic devices. Altium Designer is the most adaptable PCB software platform and places all your tools in a single design platform. All the tools in Altium Designer are built to ensure your next Circuit Board will meet or exceed critical industry standards. It’s time to make the switch and invest in your success: it’s time to try Altium Designer.

m, webinars and podcasts from PCB design experts, and a thorough knowledge base with plenty of tutorials and useful design tips.

Don’t take the easy way out and use budget software that can’t offer the adaptability and consistency you need to design the best electronic devices. Altium Designer is the most adaptable PCB software platform and places all your tools in a single design platform. All the tools in Altium Designer are built to ensure your next Printed Circuit Board will meet or exceed critical industry standards. It’s time to make the switch and invest in your success: it’s time to try Altium Designer.

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, and the American Physical Society, and he currently serves on the INCITS Quantum Computing Technical Advisory Committee.

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