There is pain and pleasure when anticipating new technology. All of us have been through steep learning curves that wear down the elation to use technology that’ll do something cool. Soon we abandon newly-adopted technology given its lack of delivery on the promise. There are some gadgets, however, that not only perform but are easy to use. Ease of use with powerful features is a pleasure. When powerful features evolve we’ve got a home run!
Each feature in PCB layout tools has taken its own development road. When tools are powerful, processes to develop them can seem long, given intricate details to sort out. Most of the tools have developed in separate environments, with the integrating tools an afterthought. As time marches on, users and the developers who study them, have realized that a piecemeal approach to integrating the tools has only added inefficiencies.
That’s why I get excited when I hear my software vendor is releasing new features that will help integrate powerful tools, like a newly designed graphical user interface (GUI).
Releases Show Lack of Progression in Design Features
The new release came with a newly designed graphical user interface (GUI). A new GUI meant more time away from core work to learn about the GUI. It would have been preferable to build on the old user-interface to avoid a steep learning curve. But the new GUI was touted as the platform for building needed features into the tool.
Imagine my disappointment when I found out that the only update to this expensive version was the new GUI. Once I’d learned the new tool, I anticipated moving onto new features we’d been waiting for inclusion in the toolset. The PCB software vendor had been promising progressive development to meet user feedback in the chat rooms. The release is showing little progress.
Other than the new user interface, the version has been broken into three instantiations: a standard, a plus, and a professional version.
New versions of the tool remain primitive
Each instantiation costs more than the next. Advanced features are more expensive. As we’d been waiting for the advanced features, our management decided to purchase the professional version for us. However, after familiarizing ourselves with the new GUI, we found that there was very little change to the features we already had.
Steep Learning Curve With No Return on Investment
When the new version of the layout tool became available, I went to work learning the new commands. As I began seeking newly anticipated commands, I found very little in terms of performance. Most of the change was housekeeping through the organization of a new GUI. Imagine my disappointment, after sinking loads of time into learning a new graphical user-interface, in finding that there has been no discernable progression in features.
I suspect the vendor is needing the release to support future development. In meantime, my corporation is investing in tools that are not keeping up with industry. The insult continues when finding out that to get any significant features, more money will be needed to purchase upgraded versions and the features are still lacking in performance. Although there are three possible versions, most of the new, progressive features come in the most expensive version.
Logical Command Organization Progresses Performance
It would be so much better to have feature improvement built onto existing programs. By building on existing programs, I don’t have to learn new tools. Instead, I can use familiar tools to access progressive features. Using progressive features grows the company’s ability to design innovative technology. Innovative technology keeps designers, departments, and clients happy.
Innovative technology with powerful tool updates also keeps workflow efficient. Efficient workflow keeps my confidence in the company’s long-term investment. Confidence in the long-term means I’ll be recommending my company’s products with more vigor. Confidence also builds my feeling that the software vendor we’ve chosen will continue to provide solid future improvements.
Unified performance uses hierarchy progressively
Having access to powerful PCB development tools enables elegant processes to innovate layout. With development tools progressing in the same environment, new features are adopted quickly. Quick adoption saves time and the process is not only sophisticated but efficient. Future improvements are not a problem with Altium Designer 18’s refined hierarchical command structure.
Using this new command structure enhances the user’s experience given its efficient arrangement of command menus and tools. There is a new interactive properties panel and output environment. Interactive properties help transition supply chain information to the procurement team. Improvements to Draftsman facilitates the creation of fabrication and assembly drawings for board design production.
About the Author
PCB Design Tools for Electronics Design and DFM. Information for EDA Leaders.More Content by Altium Designer