The differences between vias and free pads are artificial.

Vias in Protel 99SE are essentially free pads with the following limitations:

(1) Vias cannot have names
(2) Vias cannot be any shape except circular.
(3) Vias cannot exist on a single layer only. (I'm not sure about this, it 
is conceivable that one could configure a buried/blind via with one layer 
only. But my expectation would be that it would not work, or if it "works" 
it would set up many bugs, being thoroughly unconsidered and untested, I 
would think.

Pads can do all of the above.

on the other side, free pads are vias with the following limitations:
(1) Free pads cannot be blind or buried, i.e., if they have a hole, it goes 
all the way through the board.
(2) If they are in a footprint (i.e., not free) their net assignments are 
affected by netlist load.

Give us blind/buried layer attributes for pads and free pads will do 
everything that vias will do, plus they can be named, which means that it 
is easy to assign special rules to them.

Vias, however, should be maintained for backward compatibility and the 
occasional via that one wants to be part of a footprint -- and/or a way 
should be introduced to cause a pad to behave under netlist load and DRC 
like a via. Perhaps a via checkbox.
[EMAIL PROTECTED]
Abdulrahman Lomax
Easthampton, Massachusetts USA

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