Well, this is a bit long - skip to the bottom if you are busy......

I've been evaluating DXP a little more and I keep finding myself asking why
the hell did they do that? 

I like the PCB printer in 99SE, so I decide to find out what DXP has got
instead. 

I load up a demo PCB and find "Fabrication Outputs" and "Assembly Outputs"
under the file menu. 

Under "Fabrication Outputs" there is "Final". Not very obvious what "Final"
is (especially is there is no "Draft" option) but I click it and get a
fancy kind of print preview window. 

The preview window shows 16 pages. It doesn't tell you what those 16 pages
are or what they are called unless you can zoom into the previews and
deduce what they are from what will be printed. 

I think what the hell told DXP to generate these 16 pages and what are they
and where are they configured? 

This print preview window has 3 buttons to control zoom, and even an edit
box where I can type in a zoom % (although typing something different into
it has no effect on anything). 

Eventually I discover the only way to do anything but zoom and print in
this preview window is from a right click context menu. The menu has a
"Configuration" item, configure what? who knows till you try it. 

I try it and get this really crap dialog which is the equivalent of the
99SE PCB Printer tree view. It isn't a conventional tree and by default is
displayed fully expanded meaning I have a lot of scrolling to do (at least
the scroll bar is grey not the pale blue used randomly elsewhere in DXP). 

Sheesh this is dragging on but there is just so much wrong to describe....

The tree branches are the printed pages like "TopLayer" etc and these
branches contain the PCB layers to be printed. 

If I left click on a PCB layer it gets highlighted - cool but the highlight
doesn't do anything for you, no Del to delete, no Alt Enter for properties,
All you can do is  move the highlight up and down with cursor keys. 

If I click on a Page name I am suddenly editing the name. If I double click
on a page name I am suddenly editing the name. If I click on the icon next
to the page name nothing seems to happen but actually that name got
highlighted without showing anything - maybe because page names are
displayed with a different background colour. 

I know it is highlighted because cursoring up and down takes an extra step
for the highlight to pass through the page name. I also know because when
(and only when)  these page names are invisibly highlighted I can hit + or
- to expand or colapse their branch. 

I can also doubleclick on the icon next to the page name to expand or
collapse the branch, however, that also brings up a properties dialog for
the page. The properties dialog is pretty similar to the 99SE PCB printer. 

So I delete some of these pages, which is only possible from their context
menu and click OK and click close on the preview and close the project. 

I open the project, open the PCB, select "Final" and the same 16 pages are
back just like it was. 

I find this a bit incredible, compared to 99SE configuring and previewing
prints is bloody awful and DXP doesn't even save one configuration in the
project never mind multiple configurations in PCB printer documents. 

I believe CAM output is the same. 

Another gripe is these generated files don't appear in the project pane.
Generate drill files and you have to leave DXP and find the report file in
Windows. Sometimes the project pane does show "Generated text files" for
some generated files but they simply dissapear the next time you open that
project. 


I am coming to the conclusion that the D in DXP stands for disaster. 

I am annoyed at the lost of the design database and explorer, a great idea
with a bad implimentation. It should have been improved not scrapped. None
of my existing designs will convert to DXP without pain, especially for the
embedded non-protel documents. 

I don't think problems like the above where something which worked well in
99SE being crippled by design are going to be fixed in a couple of service
packs. 

I don't think DXP will reach the non-buggyness level of 99SE in a year. 

The new router seems unimpressive.

I would have a lot of re-learning to do. 

I have to pay for it and pay for ongoing support. 

I've been using Protel since it was called Tango for DOS. The release of
DXP and realiastaion that 99SE is now an unsupported dead end means I have
never had more insentive to switch to a different vendor. 

As the title said Cruch time - do I spend any more time looking at the DXP
demo and upcoming SP1 re-learning how to use it or do I spend my time
looking at other packages? 

What do you guys think? 


Cheers, Terry.

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