Do you feel like your schematic and pcb tools are from different planets? Are you still using a schematic tool and a pcb tool that were written by different development teams at different companies, acquired through different acquisitions? Not only do these tools look and feel totally different from each other, they don't interface well together. Adapting to the learning curve of several different softwares to complete a single project not only interrupts the engineering workflow, but takes significant amounts of time away from the actual design. The electrical engineer works more and more throughout all phases of the system design process. Quite often the placement and sometimes even the routing of the board is now being performed by non-PCB design specialists.
With today’s ever growing market expectations, strict project deadlines, and increasingly complex designs, what solutions exist to minimize the time spent switching between your design tools to complete projects? How can you streamline the entire design process so that your design tools work for you and not against you?
Experience a Completely Unified Design Environment
It is a huge time saver to have all of the menus, commands, and function keys virtually identical in both the schematic and PCB tools. If you do board designs all day long, you might be able to use a tool that feels like it was written in a different language. But if you're one of the tens of thousands of Electrical Engineers that is doing more and more PCB Design work than ever before, you don't have time to learn outdated and convoluted tools every few months when you're under the gun to get the best board design possible out the door on time.
It seems to be a perplexing mess passing netlist files, was/is lists through a cryptic back annotation process and creating all of the necessary outputs to get a board design finished and out the door. Then there's the question of which schematic tool to even use in your design flow. If the largest EDA software companies out there can't decide which schematic tool to provide to their customers, how are you to decide which is better? There must be a reason why one is lacking features and the other is too hard to use.
Combine Needed Features with Ease-of-Use
Wouldn't it be nice to find a schematic tool that bridges the gap between necessary features and ease of use? It shouldn't be mutually exclusive. There are still many that use a schematic tool from one company and a pcb tool from another for that very reason. This screams that the other vendor’s tools completely miss the mark as to what customers actually want in these tools. Customers aren't choosing to go with a hybrid tool flow from various companies out of convenience or to streamline their process. They are doing this because they feel these tools are lacking.
One of the main reasons why Altium is the fastest growing — by far — EDA company is because customers are looking for integrated cohesive tools that look, feel, and behave the same. In a perfect world, everyone would have perfect EDA tools that do everything perfectly. We'd all have photographic memories that could easily remember every menu pick and every feature within our tools to get the board out accurately and on time. But we all know that's not a reality any longer, if it ever was the case.
Electrical engineers are doing more board designs than ever before and are under tremendous pressure to produce more quality products in less time and with fewer resources. Remember, EDA software is a tool to support in achieving our goals, and should never be a roadblock to meet our objectives.
An All-In-One, Unified Design Solution
Altium Designer offers an all-in-one, unified design solution from schematic to PCB layout to design documentation. By placing all your design tools in one place, engineers can complete their entire design process within the same intuitive environment to deliver products on time and within budget.
Interested in learning more about the unified design environment in Altium Designer? Visit the Altium Designer product page on our website for more information.
About the Author
Mike has been an Applications Engineer/Account Manager/Field Applications Engineer for 20 years in the EDA industry. He started in 1996 at OrCAD in Technical Support. He stayed on as they were acquired by Cadence. He also went on to work for EMA Design Automation (Cadence VAR). He became proficient at OrCAD and Cadence Allegro, plus a variety of additional industry tools. He then transitioned to an Account Manager role at EMA and subsequently worked for Oasis Sales (Mentor Reseller). Mike joined Altium as an FAE in the Summer of 2015 and is based at his home office in Texas.More Content by Mike Moore