also long reply - generally in agreement with John.

On 12:21 AM 11/03/2004, John A. Ross [Design] said:

If I try to be objective I still have issues with DXP, and not just
because I was in transition to DXP from 99SE, but also the changes
required in work practices. But I keep trying anyway.

I still have issues with DXP. I sometimes wonder why I now prefer it to P99SE? There must be enough to work for me.

In a single user or workstation environment where the whole design is
driven/managed by one person, it is workable and very flexible, an
improvement, but start expanding it to other users, then the project
system without CVS is 'over flexible' and in some cases to risky.

When the DDB came out is was almost universally denigrated. Then lots of people went quiet about it and now we have admissions that people liked it. (I am not saying you were one of the people that changed view over time; I was though).

DXP, and P2004, uses normal disk files rather than the DDB. The project file is a simple series of links to files along with configuration info - all very much like a software development environment as you say.

So what in DXP/P2004 makes it *worse* than traditional (disk file-based) systems for configuration control?

I find that, with DXP/P2004, I am more likely to muck up a project when using the Save-As command as it causes the project link to change - which is often *not* what I want. I know tend to use the Save Copy As command and manually deal with the project updates. This is irritating and a possible source of problems.

It is possible to include one Sch file in multiple projects. I am doing that on a design right now. One Sch sheet exists in three PCB projects. This does take some management and care, but does have advantages. It is possible to design an aspect into the sheet that is inconsistent with one of the other projects. But design re-use always has this issue. All these projects reside in the same folder but I am considering splitting it into separate folders.

Would you prefer to see me forced to copy that Sch sheet three times and so now risk a design branch or would your rigid folder/project relationship have some means of dealing with this? I can see advantages both ways.

I have a project library that is building as I design the three related systems. This SchLib is part of each of the three PCB projects (project library, not just a PCBLib installed in the Libraries panel). What do you see as the config control risks here? If different users are each dealing with a separate one of the related PCB projects there could easily be ugly contention. Does DXP/P2004 do anything that makes it worse than traditional systems or is it just worse than a DDB with user permissions? Of course user permissions can be set up at the OS/file level - does this require a different and possibly more difficult management layer than the DDB solution? Does it not work as well as the DDB solution? As you have pointed out the situation is different for a single user environment.

There were *lots* of complaints and some reports of data corruption when using P99SE in multi-user environments. I can't recall too many good comments for P99SE as a multi-user system - where there any? I think this has been suggested as a weakness in all the Protel series. Still we should encourage things to be done to get it betterer (how is my grammar Abd ulRahman?)

>From a GUI view I found the excessive use of panels in DXP for the same
or similar tasks a risk, some things could be done & not applied, some
could be undone. The panel organisation was not always logical causing
additional (unnecessary work & thought) I think some issues were logged
for this and it also appears on the DXP/99SE comparison list on your
home page.

Dual monitors, more common these days fortunately, is a real help with the panel based system. I like having as much screen space for work as possible. Being able to have the panels on the right screen works OK for me, but it certainly does take some getting used to remembering which panel is used for what.

This is a very common fault in most software as these feature types &
GUI are usually decided by Developers, rather than users, developers are
normally too close to realise they are over-engineering or
misinterpreted the users suggestions (Cannot see the wood for the

Hence DXP has the feel of a software IDE, rather than a SCH=>PCB
which will not sit well with anyone not used to software IDE's
or trying it for the first time,

I agree that it does look like a software IDE (why the developers used the word "compile" for processing the Sch project I don't know, not a good choice IMO). For those of us used to it that is fine. Without being unsympathetic to those that happen not to have the same background, I am not able to comment on whether it is difficult to learn but it is certainly different from previous Protel versions. I will have to watch some other people who are not big software IDE users and see how they cope.

Yes first impressions are very important. My first impression of DXP was "lots of eye candy", and I am not a big eye candy type of person. The eye candy has some subtle implications, the main ones being more mouse travel to get things done (at least until us users started making suggestions for improved dialog control tab ordering), and it being harder (than P99SE) to find editable things in many dialogs - this last one still irritates me.

I do use multiple tools, my tool of choice for design entry is Protel, I
measure their respective worth\benefits to me in a few ways, some of
which may only be a benefit to me, as they are keyed to the way I work,
how many clicks to get everyday tasks done, process time to avoid error
for common tasks, how much time I need to spend learning new tricks to
get it to work, investment in retraining vs. frequency of use of new
features and so on.

So why Protel for design entry and do you prefer DXP over P99SE? Do you prefer P2004 over P99SE?

I gave up with the router in 98/99/DXP almost from the start and decided
to waste no more time on it, I use another layout/router package for
boards that need it.

I have not re-tested my standard router test PCB. I am beginning to think that the board is not a good auto-router candidate as I am not seeing the great strides forward in my testing. I will have to re-run the test. I have never had any great success with the Protel routers. The German spectra-clone looks very interesting but my trial ran out while I was on holidays (silly me for installing it before going away!). Maybe I will send my standard test board out to a few people and we can compare the results from P2004, Blaze, Spectra and the clone. Maybe we should, as a group, put real designs through this sort of test and post the results for all to see - I am happy to donate web space.

The above is just some thoughts of mine, Ill skip the temptation to rant
about the query system, as my issues with this system is mostly due to
my own failings in understanding\attaining the disciplines needed to
drive the beast efficiently.

As users, should we have to change the way we work? Whose "fault" is it when users have trouble with technology? Is it reasonable to ask users to learn a new skill? What are the paybacks for the user in learning the new skill? These are difficult issues that HCI and human factors/ergonomist practitioners continue to struggle with daily.

Is driving a car more complex and difficult (higher processing load) than riding a horse? Why do most of us not use horses to get about? Why did we (the community collectively) decide to skill-up and learn to drive a car? So we can get places faster, basically. (Come on Ivan I am sure you can come up with a better analogy to shoot me down.) I am quite interested in this sort of thing and I think it bears not an insignificant weight in the success and failure of us technologist's products.

Anyone still here?

Bye for now,

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