At 01:54 PM 2/8/2002 -0500, Watnoski, Michael wrote:
>Hi All,
>         I will admit that I have had more experience with PCAD than Protel.
>I have used PCAD for about 3 years and Protel for only abut six months now.

First of all, it should be noted that PCAD is, as Altium has represented 
it, a program designed for what used to be called "drafters." These people 
typically would need to be able to draw schematics and design printed 
circuit boards. Typically they are not engineers. Typically they are 
working for a larger company (except for service bureaus and the like, 
where the company is standing in for another company's CAD department, 
either completely or for overflow capacity.)

99SE includes a lot of functionality that is irrelevant to the typical CAD 

Until Protel bought Accel, a full PCAD suite was selling for about $20,000. 
This did include a bit more than Schematic and PCB design, but those two 
programs alone, in their full implementations, were way over $10,000 as I 
recall, at a time when Protel was selling for $6,000.

So it would be *expected* that PCAD would be better in certain ways.

>         It is the common things that Protel fails in that drive me crazy.
>Things like having to readjust the wire after moving a component.  Protel
>will keep the wires connected unless this option is turned off.

Protel Schematic has been neglected for some time, I'd say; there have been 
few major changes beyond the important one of the Synchronizer, which is 
really not a schematic functionality change but an automation of the 
interface between Schematic and PCB.

The behavior can be predicted, if you are familiar with it. Familiarity is 
an important word here. I do not understand Mr. Watnoski' comment here, 
however. If a behavior is optional, and you don't like it, surely it would 
be reasonable to turn it off!

In this case there is only one option of which I know: Drag Orthagonal. If 
Drag Orthagonal is on, Protel will keep wires at right angles when dragging 
a part; if it is turned off, parts will drag wires at any angle. Neither 
mode is fully satisfactory, but it is easy enough to delete wires. The 
problem is that when a wire is deleted, the *entire* wire is deleted, and 
Protel considers a collection of wire segments to be a single wire, thus by 
deleting a wire segment, we may be deleting wire that is off-screen, which 
is not desirable. It is usually not what we want. So, instead, to delete a 
wire segment, one can first give the wire the focus if it does not already 
have it. (When a wire has the focus, there will be handles at each vertex). 
Then a vertex can be picked up with a single click. Note that the click 
must be released; when it is, the vertex will be floating on the cursor. 
That vertex can then be moved back to the next vertex, thus deleting the 
segment. Yes, a zero-length segment disappears, but I think it is really 
gone, not merely invisible as in PCB.

Definitely, Protel's wiring behavior could be improved, but I would not 
expect this, even if it were perfect, to make the huge increase in 
productivity that Mr. Watnoski mentioned.

I'd also like to hear from other experienced Protel users as to how to 
rewire quickly.

In the long run, an operating mode "maintain connectivity," when turned on, 
could essentially autoroute wires when a part was moved. Properly done, 
this could be quite a timesaver. Not simple to do, though. Protel Schematic 
is not presently net-aware, one of its shortcomings. Tango Schematic, for 
example, would highlight all wires and net labels belonging to a net, once 
the schematic had been analyzed. Protel never brings that information in; 
but it would be even better if net analysis information could be maintained 
in real time. (And I have not mentioned the reasons for this.)

>   PCAD allow
>a component to be dropped on a wire and it will split the wire and connect
>each end to the pins.  Protel will short the component, so the wire must be
>deleted first and two new wires drawn.

Or the wire can be picked up and moved from one end, which might be faster. 
Yes, if you are grunting every time you want to insert a resistor into a 
wire, the grunting will severely slow you down!

PCAD's reported behavior here is better, no question. Not $2000 better, but 

>   I also don't like that Protel will
>delete all wires drawn in the same operation rather than just the selected
>wire.  This list can continue on but I suspect part of this is my preference
>due to having learned PCAD first.  YMMV

Tango Schematic had a Cleanup command that analyzed all wires and 
eliminated redundancies. What I'd like to see in Protel is that all wires 
would not only be cleaned up (Protel does not even have a command for this, 
and it can cause problems), but wire segments could be deleted 
individually. Right now, if I want to delete a segment, I can't even tell 
from the display if that is an isolated segment or is part of a longer wire.

I'd expect that fixing these behaviors in Protel would add perhaps 5% to 
Schematic productivity. That would definitely make it worth doing.

Abdulrahman Lomax
Easthampton, Massachusetts USA

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