On 10:58 AM 1/12/2002 -0500, Mike Reagan said:
Hello All,

Several months ago, We have all took our shots at blasting Altium for DXP .
I would like to hear some positive feedback on the progress on DXP
 I am not sure how good the schematic tools are,  or if there was a big
improvement from 99SE to DXP.     I would like to hear from some of the
experienced designers out there about any  real advantages to switching to
DXP for schematic.  I work with a few engineers that are eager to upgrade if
the tools  have an advantage.    Any inputs?  (positive only)
Here is my summary, very incomplete, very personal and in no particular order:

1) Bi-Di blowing and sucking from P99SE seems OK (with some provisos on the use of names for parameters etc, and some new rules can't convert of course)

2) Speed on my old PIII-450 256MB is marginally acceptable (I did not really expect this). There is a significant speed hit compared to P99SE, though.

(Note: It only currently works under Win2k and XP, not NT or 9x.)

3) Integrated libraries offer a better level of control in some circumstances - library contains sch symbols, footprints, sim models etc.

4) Stability generally seems good to me. I have had a number of AV's but only once lost any data, and that was doing a non-core operation (copying and pasting from a sim chart into a word processor - I am not sure what others would say about stability but I do not see a lot of complaints on the DXP forum.

Sch and Sim:
1) The new query engine is great. It is more complex and possibly does help if you have some experience with software development and booleans. It is much more powerful than the old global operations stuff. The applies to Sch and PCB.

2) The ability to use version control properly is a big plus.

3) Right-click and drag panning in Sch.

4) Freely addable parameters at both the library and Sch level. (Pins and projects can also have parameters.)

5) Better control of footprint source.

6) *Much* better ERC - including the important ability to check for unplaced parts of a component (power supply sections, preventing floating inputs...)

7) The initial problems with the loss of selected vs focussed are now watered down by provision of a number of tricks, and the provision of a selection memory, such that this is no longer an issue for me - this was one of my *major* reasons that I could not go with DXP seriously. I am not sure the new system is as good as the old, but it is certainly no longer a critical issue at all, for me at least.

8) Database linking is much improved I believe (including to Access and SQL-based including MySQL etc).

9) <comment on feature removed due to current SP2 Beta>(I forgot the feature I wrote about here originally was affected by the latest SP Beta. Take it as read that this is a very nice and powerful feature that extends greatly P99SE abilities. Couldn't be bothered re-ordering all the list numbers.)

10) Sch Part field can be locked to reduce the chance of accidental changes - useful for those that work with a "one-symbol per company part number" - a 4k7 resistor will not have its value entered instead of replacing the part from the library.

11) Filtering and masking features - stuff can be masked off (greyed out) and then not subject to edits. You would have to see it to understand it. Linked to the query system.

12) Dropping a two pin component onto a wire will (optionally) break the wire.

13) Co-linear wire segments are (optionally) joined - so removing stray autojunction hotspots.

14) Much better dual monitor support.

15) Support for multi-channel designs, including some user suggested options for naming components in the channels.

16) Better support for build variants - though I have not tested this in an serious fashion. Design variants is something we do heaps of.

17) *Much* better simulation viewing.

18) Easier mechanism to integrate sim (and other) models into a component. Though there are still some quirks here, nothing like as convoluted as P99SE though.

19) Having our user suggestions (if presented well with a clear justification) implemented a few weeks later - get involved and your worthy ideas get implemented. It is great to see in a program that many will not easily be able to change from - the pain level in changing a CAE pkg is high. I take the view that it is much cheaper for me to get involved and see my ideas appear than it is to move CAE vendors - at least up to some bug/misfeature level anyway.

20) Control over hidden pin connectivity on a per pin basis.

1) Much more powerful rule system.

2) Board shape stuff is OK. If it helps split plane checking, then I can live with it. It may even prove to be a winner. It certainly means that you can have mechanical details and sheet templates etc and still get reasonable reports from board info.

3) Auto-pan issues fixed - hopefully forever but I certainly can't tell for sure on my old clunker.

4) Intelligent (?) dimensions that can stay associated (and rescale) with entities.

5) A much wider array of dimensioning tools (radius, angle, baseline etc).

6) Net ties - should be able to do away with most of those kludges like wiring on unused layers and the "Lomax Vitual Short"

7) Flipping selections works correctly - no need for multiple pass operations as required under P99SE.

8) Much better rules for checking component (and object in general) locations (InRegionAbsolute, InRegionRelative, TouchesRoom, WithinRoom queries).

9) Polygon rooms.

10) Ability to copy room formats (multi-channel design)

1) The autorouter still needs more work, it is not yet the breakthrough many had hoped. There is lots of work going on on this at the moment I gather. This would be my biggest disappointment.

2) The UI is different and a number of the dialogs are harder to read than previously. They may be useful for new users but one rapidly looses this benefit as you become familiar. This would not be a go/no-go factor in a buy decision but it is an issue that is coming up in discussions at times.

3) As mentioned the loss of selected vs focussed was originally a *major* factor. Huge leaps and bounds have been made to overcome the loss of functionality. This would only be a minor issue for me now as I can certainly work effectively with the updated editing mechanisms and tools.

4) Forced upgrade to Win2k/WinXP. I was already using Win2k so it is not a big issue for me, but I hate to see programs encouraging users to pay MS more money.

5) Slower than P99SE - but what is surprising about this. My main beef here would be that some (much?) of the speed loss is possibly due to eye candy rather than features. Still, as has been discussed before, for most engineers a 1 to 3 year lifetime for a computer system is not atypical. I just hate it when caught by the out-of-sync upgrade cycles (like I am now).

6) There are still bugs, of course. There are also some improvements that users are wishing that have not (yet?) been implemented. But I, and others, are very impressed with the speed of progress and as I said it is great to be able to influence the product. Those that are not involved will have to stay with P99SE, move to something else, or "suffer" what about a dozen other users convince Altium is worthwhile.

Question: Would I use DXP for real work? Yes, I would.

Gotta do some real work now,
Ian Wilson

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