> Actually I agree with much of what you are saying - Protel, for an
> increasingly upmarket product, still suffers from some basic software bugs
> that we have a right to be fixed, for free.  Some of these have been
> documented for years.

I'll second that!  I am probably one of the few people on this list who
*don't* make a living with Protel specifically - it just helps me do my
job.  I'm a freelance/contract Engineering Tech who purchased Protel99SE
out-of-pocket simply because it was the only product that even seemed to
even work and didn't make me wanna pull my hair out (thank you Eagle). 
Sticking to textbook bean-counting like "Protel will pay for itself in N
amount of time," would have put Protel out of my league.  Part of the
reason I finally bought it was because they released something on the
order of 2 service packs during the time of my evaluation.  I thought,
"Yeah, it's a lot to spend just for prototypes and test boards, but it
works, it'll keep me working, it keeps improving, and I'll never have to
tell a client, 'I can't do that with my software'. After spending this
$5000, I'll never have to spend another dime on SCH & PCB layout for a
long time."

That's what I thought a year or two ago.  Now I'm concerned about my
investment.  At this point, I can live with never seeing a service pack
7 - I hope.  But, could I have lived at service pack 2 forever???  If I
was crazy enough to "upgrade" to Phoenix, that might just happen
(apparently) - unless of course I wanted to spend the ATS $2K EVERY YEAR
to keep getting service packs.

I definately love Protel and it's the only PCB/SCH system I've ever been
able to enjoy using.  But I'm beginning to fear we're getting the
"Microsoft" treatment: "Yes, just keep paying and upgrading, and
*someday* the product will work as advertised... no really, the next
relase is the winner."

Protel, if you're listening: If you *did* release a service pack 7 (or
show similar support), the cofidence gained by users, and subsequent
upgrades to Phoenix, might make it worthwhile for everyone - Protel bean
counters included.  Also, if you promised that Phoenix upgrades included
"basic operational improvements" for life (like service packs that fix
bugs), you might get users like me to upgrade.  I'd bet many people
don't care if they ever see a new autorouter or 3D viewer, but would
love the security of knowing that Bug X will be fixed someday - and NOT
cost $2K.

But as it stands, I don't feel like I have any choice but to hold tight
to P99SE SP6 and hope I can continue to make it productive.  Luckly, I
don't see a problem with that and I'll still recommend Protel to
clients/engineers and techs alike (although, now at $8K + 2K per year to
use it {effectively}, I'm guessing Protel is largly gone from the
out-of-pocket market).

Ok, sorry for being melodramatic, rant mode off.  I realize I'm probably
just being idealistic.  Lob a brick in my dirction at your choosing but
please throw only soft vegetables at the band.  ;-)


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