At 12:32 AM 2/13/2002 +0000, Terry Harris wrote:
> >It will be interesting to see the demo
>Well I doubt it will be bad, I hope it will be good - the more competition
>the better as far as I am concerned.

First of all, it should be mentioned that for a person familiar with one 
CAD system to test a demo of another system, unless they have similar user 
interfaces, is likely to be rather unfair to the new system.

That said, I did spend an hour with the Pulsonix demo. I found one "issue," 
as Protel would call it, immediately. In the PCB editor, the Z key zooms in 
on current cursor. Well enough, how do I zoom out? The View Menu indicates 
that O would be the hotkey. But O pops up an Option menu. With some 
experimentation, I found it was the U key. Small thing, but it shows that 
this is pretty raw software.

Routing some track, ratsnest line did not disappear when route was completed.

While it appears that Pulsonix has a few features that we might like to see 
in Protel, and it might be useful to examine some of them, it also appears 
that we would be missing a great deal. Supposedly, Pulsonix has loop 
removal. I had loop removal turned on and created a loop, it was not 
removed. I thought perhaps that it was required that the ends of the track 
creating the loop be precisely on the other track or ends, so I looked for 
some kind of electrical snap option. I could find none.

 From other experimentation, loops were removed if made during the same 
track edit session, but not if track was added later. This kills the use of 
loop removal as a fast track edit tool.

It appears that "paths" are stored, i.e., track segments combined in the 
way in which they were entered, presumably in a single session. This is 
kind of like the Protel schematic wires, and would be frustrating for the 
same reason. The sequence and history of track or wire segments is 
irrelevant; the result of storing path as history and not as true, complete 
path is that the path deletion command only removes what has been stored as 
path, i.e., the product of a single session of track placement. If a track 
has been built from multiple sessions, path removal only removes back to 
the end of the current "path".

That there is a path removal tool available immediately on rt.-click is 
good. But Protel, while it does not have such a tool on the default menus, 
does have the power to remove complete routes in two fast steps that could 
be made into a button if one wanted (by selecting connected copper and 
clearing it).

There appears to be no spreadsheet access to the PCB database.

One thing that any Protel user would miss very quickly if forced use 
Pulsonix is quick global edit. I could find no global edit command at all, 
much less one so easy to use as Protel's.

The interface attempts to be Windows standard, i.e., not designed for PCB 
design productivity. This is the kind of thing that can impress someone 
with no experience with CAD, because it will be familiar, but an expert 
user will be frustrated if there is no way to speed things up.

You know those Windows tabs that change order when you select one of them? 
It has always seemed to me that the algorithm is: (1) examine existing 
order, (2) determine MCO (order which will most confuse the user who is 
trying to look through the tabs), (3) resort tabs to MCO. If you like those 
movable tabs, you will love the Pulsonix option menus.

I  haven't looked around lately at other systems. If I wanted something 
cheaper than Protel I might look at Tsien Boardmaker. It's been around for 
a while and Tsien appears to be very responsible to the users. And it is a 
*lot* cheaper, basically it is a maintenance-only pricing model.

Pulsonix appears to me to be overpriced, based on spending an hour with it.

What did I see that I would like in Protel?

Fractional grids (for example, 25/3 mils, which is not the same as 8.333 
mils, the difference being 4 mils across the 100 inch workspace). Tango had 
an "8.3" grid, and Tango had a 1-mil database, "8.3" was really 25/3 rounded.

Filled polygons in footprints.

Autoswap to reduce routing length (I didn't test it.)

Abdulrahman Lomax
Easthampton, Massachusetts USA

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