Originally posted on the [PrU] yahoo group, copied to PEDA as there may be 
some comments here as well...

On 05:49 PM 4/02/2002 +0000, mwerle said:
>--- In [EMAIL PROTECTED], Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> > At 04:27 PM 2/4/2002 +0000, mwerle wrote:
> > >Hi everyone,
> > >
> > >I'm trying to find a definition of the PCB file format used by new
> > >versions of Protel.  I've downloaded the SDK and no help there.
> >
> > The ASCII file format is self-documenting. Take a look at it.
> >
>It doesn't specify any constraints (eg, what the maximum length of a
>pattern name can be), nor what, if any, optional records are allowed,
>etc.  I can make sense out of a lot of what's going on in there, but
>not being a user of the software myself (I'm writing these utilities
>for someone else) a lot is unclear as well.
>For the older file-formats I had proper file-definition documentation,
>and I'm hoping to track some down for the new formats so that I have a
>definitive reference.  That way I can pick out what's important for my
>utilities, and what I can safely ignore, and if I need to make changes
>to files, what the valid parameters are which I can work with.
>Thanks again,

I have never seen any documentation for P99 or P99SE binary files.  The 
ASCII file format is about as good as you will get.  That and the SDK and 
some careful experimentation.  A problem when you don't own the software 
but you could either get the user you are developing for to give you 
various files or download the trial and do your own experimentation.

The SDK will be of some use as you can map values seen in the ASCII file to 
ranges for the various types (whose values are not given in the SDK 
documentation but can be found either by browsing the SDK files or by a 
process of experimentation.

Rant on
Note that the SDK is covered by an NDA that prevents public 
discussion.  The NDA has a one year limit.  Those that have downloaded the 
SDK more than a year ago are free to discuss it (as I see things 
anyway).  Those who have downloaded it more recently are restricted in what 
the can legally say.  Since you are not a user you may not care but people 
who use Protel for their bread and butter are likely to be more wary.  The 
situation is complicated a little by the fact that as well as the original 
SDK files there was an update (two actually) and these are presumably 
covered by the same NDA - so the one year time out may be reset to the 
latest of the dates one downloaded an update or maybe just the changes in 
the run-time update are restricted for the longer period.  Also, I have 
asked, on a number of occasions, that Protel release the users from the NDA 
to allow user-based help (as Protel Support do not officially support the 
SDK), but was recently informed this would not happen.  Protel closed the 
moderated pre-release discussion forum which closed the only option we 
(legally) have for discussing the SDK, though on two occasions I have been 
referred (by Protel) to the PDEV mailing list and told I can discuss issue 
on the SDK there - in contravention of the SDK, unless the 1 year limit has 
elapsed and was not reset by the download of the SP6 run time 
update.  Confused?  I am?  I have lots to discuss on the SDK but nowhere to 
do it?  This is one major aspect of Protel that I am really p***ed off about.

Rant off,
Ian Wilson

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