On 09:43 AM 19/09/2003, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax said:

I presume you have someone paying for your "seat time", i.e. you have
an employer that's issuing a paycheck whether your jobs are completed
or not and also continues to pay you while you are "going up the
learning curve" with new software.

That's an assumption that I don't think is true for Mr. Wilson.

You're right.

 I'm an independent contractor and I
don't get paid unless the job gets done, so any time I spend learning
new software and struggling with a learning curve are "on my dime".
This is a significant cost to me -- a week of "learning time" costs me
~$3000 in billable work. There has to be an awful lot of productivity
increase in DXP vs. 99SE to make it a paying proposition for me.

The math seems good but is probably misleading. If you are working full-time, day-in and day-out, you are either (1) seriously overworked and should probably be thinking about finding someone to do your Protel design for you, it can be done and done well by an expert engineer for less than your hour rate -- or (2) you don't really work full-time on design, it just seems that way.

One thing that is quite true which is brought out by this post: training time is usually a more serious cost than the actual cost of the software. However, Protel 99SE is ultimately a dead end. It's a very useful tool that has not reached the end of its life, but DXP will be the future of the tool, or whatever replaces DXP.

Bottom line, if you are going to stay in this business, you are going to need to adjust to newer tools anyway. So your cost-benefit analysis was not complete. The real question is whether you retrain now or later.

It is a separate question when you choose to upgrade. The smart time to upgrade with Protel is when the price of the upgrade seems like it will be the lowest. Usually this is early in the product cycle. Rarely Protel has held an upgrade special, for example the P98 upgrade to P99 was $1000 at the beginning, but was sold for $700 on special for a short time. However, Protel never held an upgrade special for P99SE to DXP and the price has now gone up to $2495. Let me guess it is not going to go down.

Of course, it may not be DXP that you change to - but I guess the change from P99SE to DXP would be generally easier than from P99SE to another brand. There are still people doing production work with very old CAD packages - it is possible, it just becomes more difficult. So if you assume that the bulk of us have between 15 to 35 years left in the business, how many changes in CAD package do you think you, or your underlings, will need? I am interested. Take into account your guesses at what sort of technologies you will be using.

I would love to get together, face to face, computer to computer with a very experienced OrCad, and PADs user, both of whom are non-religious in their approach to computer software, and go through a detailed end-to-end design flow. Then we would all write it up as an article. The warts of each would be listed and the good points of each. Doubt it will ever happen, unless some magazine commissioned it. I gotta earn some money sometime.


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