I made the mistake that you are considering before. The group I was with in
Temecula bought Pads on my misguided recommendation... I was taken in by the
demo. The guys made it look so easy, then when I got the software and
realized they sold me a package that was stripped down compared to the one
they demonstrated... I saw red.  If I wanted the package that did all the
fancy stuff like interactive routing and push and shove placement.... etc, I
would have to pay thousands more for the 'add-ons'. The total would come to
about 22K... we chose not to by more stuff, but to try to get along with
what we bought. I cussed aloud many times when trying to learn to use the
software on my own. I took a 1 day compressed class and that didn't help
much either... 

Pads is functional, if not confusing... and if you don't know any tool it
can be fine, you just need to allow yourself 6 months to a year to get it to
be really useful. Learning all the 'work arounds' can be a full time job,
and very frustrating when you have a job to get done. I spent a lot of time
on the phone with the tech support guy in Los Angeles, He speaks with a
Russian accent to boot. That was not fun when he was out on sales calls... 

The thing I am trying to say is, Protel was what we purchased after fighting
with the PADS program for a month and a half. PADS would not take back their
software, so we had to eat the 12 grand we invested in that software. Later
I took a class at Palomar College that was using PADS and walked through a
full semester of training with the package and still I don't like it, but I
was able to use it. It's a frustrating package for a guy like me who expects
to find the print command under the word, print. There's was buried in some
dialog box that had no reference to printing at all. 

Protel has been a better software package than the PADS program was for me,
mostly because Protel was more intuitive to use, I spent less time looking
for a command or feature than I did with PADS and it was easier to use and
it let me undo mistakes which PADS was notorious for NOT letting me do.

The new 2004 product remains to be seen... I would be patient and don't get
too discouraged with all the talk you hear on this forum... some of us are
real idealists... I think I'm included in that group. 

As soon as I can get the time to spend on kicking the tires on the new
software I will let you know what I think of where we are with Protel. 
In the mean time you can ask specific questions about the functionality on
this forum and you might consider get the training class that Matthew
Berggren does on Protel if you can. It was helpful in getting a better sense
of what the software can do and where you can go with it. Although I found
when I was learning Protel that a local designer who had been using it since
version 2.0 was more savvy and had better 'tricks' for being productive with
it than I got anywhere else. 

I have been using Protel since version 98 and that was in 1998. It's not a
bad package. There are just some features I wish it had that are less than
perfect, but hopefully they will iron those out in the future. 

Feel free to give me a call if you need help. Or just publish your questions
here and you have a lot of years of PROTEL experience here at your
fingertips with all these great guys and gals listening in. They will be
glad to help and discuss your issues I'm sure and even some of them are
programmers who will write user commands that you can use to get better
productivity out of the software. 

(Okay, so now I am an apologist for the Altium company... so shoot me...)

Actually, the best combo I have used so far in this price range is the Orcad
schematic package with the Protel PCB editor and the Specctra Autorouter and
AutoCad for the drafting of mechanical things like board outlines,
dimensions, etc... 

We use the schematic package here that comes with Protel and we get by with
it. Have for the last 3 years.

Bill Brooks 
PCB Design Engineer , C.I.D., C.I.I.
3030 Enterprise Court, Vista, CA 92083 
Website: http://www.titan.com/business_units/index.html?organization_id=81
Tel: (760)597-1500 Ext 3772 Fax: (760)597-1510 
Member of the San Diego Chapter of the IPC Designers Council
Communications Officer, Web Manager

-----Original Message-----
From: Ray Mitchell [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] 
Sent: Friday, April 09, 2004 7:42 AM
Subject: [PEDA] Good schematic/PCB development suite recommendation?

Our group has used Protel for years.  I've tried to get everyone to change 
to something else for most of that time but the resistance has been fairly 
great.  It seems that the the philosophy has been that pain you know is 
preferable to the pain you don't know.  However, with the introduction of 
DXP/2004 everyone is starting to realize that a good tool is needed.  Is 
there something that is generally considered to be the best?  I realize 
that some of the tools cost significantly more but when the frustration, 
poor results, and wasted time are considered, it may not actually be that 
expensive.  One of the guys here uses PADS and really likes it.  If we make 
a change we don't want to make the same mistake we made with Protel again.

Ray Mitchell
Engineer, Code 2732
SPAWAR Systems Center
San Diego, CA. 92152

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