At 04:23 PM 8/30/2002 -0400, Michael Reagan (EDSI) wrote:
>I probably would pay for SP7  with as long as they met the long list of our
>requirements also.

I too have been put off by the complexities introduced with DXP. If it had 
been, say, a bug fix for 99SE, at a corresponding price, there is no doubt 
that I'd be using it. If the additional features had come without greatly 
confusing the user interface (for one used to 99SE), I'd be wanting them 
too. We were long awaiting an improved autorouter, and I had heard rumors 
about how good it was going to be, rivalling Specctra, etc.

I haven't seen any comments on the DXP list on Situs except for some 
information about the design rules it follows, which have not been much 
improved, i.e., there are apparently still plenty of rules which are ignored.

Something is wrong.

The unfortunate thing about the DXP release is that the work was invested, 
it would seem, in advance of a true marketing study, at least of one 
involving a sufficient number of existing users. Programming for a service 
pack is one thing, programming for feature improvements may be something 
else. It is difficult, I'd think, to go back, but it might not be impossible.

The theory behind the Client/Server architecture was that the individual 
modules were separately maintainable. How much the Advanced PCB server was 
modified to make it into the DXP PCB server, I don't know.

I would think that solid software management for a product like Protel 
would involve continuously fixing bugs, as soon as possible, releasing 
service packs regularly, and sometimes including feature improvements -- 
gradually -- as part of the process. A maintenance model allows this, which 
is probably one reason why Altium has gone that way. The transition, 
however, has not been handled well. There should never have been such a 
dead time with no service pack. SP7 should have been released long ago.

I can understand the argument that was probably put forth: since we are 
going to make all these major changes, we need to put all our effort into 
them instead of fooling around with code that is going to become obsolete 
anyway. Yet this argument is one that keeps software buggy on into 
eternity. There is a reason why organisms only change a little DNA at a 
time! Make too many changes at once, nothing works well any more.

So then you have to do all kinds of new software testing, etc., to try to 
find the bugs that have been introduced with the changes. Plus, a crucial 
part of the "organism" is the user. Confuse the user, and the best software 
becomes next to useless.

But it might not be impossible to put together an SP7, perhaps much of the 
coding has already been done and even tested to some degree. I'd suggest a 
price of, say, $1K for it, fully appliable to DXP (or, perhaps, to ATS) 
when the user decides to go that way. Enough 99SE users might pay for an 
SP7 to make it worthwhile; it would generate good will among the users -- 
except for those who insist that anything short of feature improvement 
should be free, period.

As far as $2000 for the DXP upgrade, the fact is that a truly improved 
autorouter would be worth $2K just by itself. Problem is, in order to get 
it -- assuming that Situs is actually greatly improved now or in the near 
future -- we have to move into a user interface that is sufficiently 
different to put many of us off. Unless Altium does something about this. 
Remember, the whole point of Client/Server was to modularize the programs 
while permitting interaction.

(While I was a Beta tester for DXP, events in my own life prevented me, and 
thus far have continued to prevent me, from investing much time in DXP 
either during Beta or subsequently. Perhaps the autorouter is truly magic, 
and it has simply escaped comment on the DXP list; in that event, I presume 
that someone who knows better will enlighten us.)



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