At 09:49 AM 11/3/01 +0100, Georg Beckmann wrote:

>Altium now sells protel and  p-cad. What might be the sense of
>having two systems for the same purpose for sale ?
>What is Altium standing for ?
>For protel or p-cad. ?
>Is the next upgrade a pro-cad or p-tel, or will one line
>be killed. ?

Officially, Altium reps have stated that all lines will continue. It's not 
just Protel and PCAD but also CAMtastic, the Traxmaker suite, Tasking, and 
I don't know what else.

So there are *three* schematic/printed circuit lines. They serve three 
slightly different markets.

Traxmaker etc. is schematic, simulation, pc design for the student/hobbyist 
market. Low priced, even free for some modest version.

Protel is a professional-level tool for engineers; watch for increasing 
emphasis on simulation and the like.

PCAD is for printed-circuit design specialists, the kind that usually work 
captive for large companies. It has sophisticated tools such as footprints 
that alter according to such things as wave direction.

Protel's competitors predicted disaster from the acquisition of Accel and 
attempted to scare PCAD users into thinking that they would be abandoned. 
Instead, Protel brought the full-suite PCAD price down, getting rid of the 
nickle-and-dime-you-to-death pricing structure that also afflicts PADS 
users, and they dumped the dongle. Did you hear the cheering?

In fact, PCAD is now priced at only 25% more than Protel. But that does not 
include simulation and some of the other Protel niceties.

What I expect are tools that can be shared by all the programs. PCAD may be 
brought into the Client-Server architecture, and an autorouter, for 
example, might serve both programs. Obviously, it is more difficult to 
write such an autorouter, but as the programs converge in certain ways, 
especially with regard to internal database structure, that difficulty will 

One possibility is that, in the end, there will be a single program with 
different user interfaces. Cross-grade will be easy, i.e., cheap (the more 
expensive suite would obviously involve an upgrade price, and perhaps an 
even higher upgrade price if one wants to keep the original license, but 
not punitively high), and file translation will be straightforward.

We don't want to lose our familiar Protel interface, and the PCAD people 
don't want to lose the value of their own intellectual inventory, but we 
certainly don't need different display engines except as we now have 
display options, i.e., a single engine that might work in some different 
ways. We don't need multiple autorouters, even though there might be a 
one-button version and a highly steerable version. Etc., etc.

If Altium truly maintains the product lines as thoroughly distinct, not 
sharing code, I would join the competitors in predicting disaster. But I 
don't think that is going to happen.

Abdulrahman Lomax
Easthampton, Massachusetts USA

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