Bill, I think your opinion about Mentor is spot on.   

Sorry long rant ahead....

A few years back, I took a job managing the layout department (among
other things) for a company that had been using PADs for several years.
One of my jobs was to pick new CAD software because they were very tired
of PADs.  The one that really got me was when I asked PADs about cutting
and pasting.  I had an op amp circuit that was similar to one that we
had done on another board.  I wanted to copy it to the new design.  It
would only copy the components.  All of the traces would be removed.
They came back with "you need our design re-use package".  $4k +
Maintenance to cut and paste! Unreal! 

We had also been bitten several times by software bugs (DRC and Gerber
generation) that caused very expensive and time critical boards to be
scrapped.  I was personally using Protel at the time, but it was not
even considered because they wanted a "high end" tool.  

We were using Cadence for IC development (well into six figures for
those tools!) and I was under some pressure to pick the Cadence PCB
tools. All of the engineers (about 20) were using OrCAD (which had just
been bought by Cadence) and we didn't want all of the engineers to have
to learn a new schematic capture program, so we also needed to be able
to use OrCAD as a front end for a while at least.   

The tools from Cadence and Mentor were not well integrated at all at
that time.  They had both been gobbling up smaller companies and adding
bits and pieces to their software into their existing products.  Many
different and non-intuitive ways to do the same thing. 

I did my research and it was very much like dealing with used car
salesmen. A very unpleasant experience.  At the time, Mentor had just
picked up Veribest and their interactive manual routing was very
impressive.  We had to maintain all of our old PADs designs and both
salesmen (Cadence and Mentor) assured me, in writing, that they had a
working PADs translator and it would not be an issue.    

I made the decision to go with Mentor. The cost was about $80k for two
seats.  We immediately had problems.  The PADs \translator was non
functional for quite some time and we had a bunch of problems trying to
use Orcad Netlists.  You had to have an error free netlist loaded to
even place a part on a new board!  

Once we placed the P.O., we needed support to get through these issues.
Tech support and the leghumping salesman, who had been calling me
several times a day prior to getting the P.O. signed, were now taking
days to return my calls.  At one point, I feared that I might loose my
job over the decision.  After about a year (no exaggeration) the layout
people were finally getting up to speed with the tools and fairly happy
with them.  These were very sharp people and excellent designers too. 

I have since moved on and am now back with a small product development
company.  I was again faced with the problem of choosing a CAD system.
We do not have the deep pockets to afford the "high end" tools.  After
my experience with Mentor, I am not sure I would have considered it even
if we could afford it.  

I went back to Protel and made the transition from 99SE to DXP. I don't
know why they didn't just fix 99SE instead of basically starting over.
Trying to use DXP at first made me feel like a complete idiot, it is a
resource hog (my 1GHZ computer is too slow?) and the software still
isn't quite finished (I am still waiting for 2004, hopefully it is
better).  This has been very painful, but at least it wasn't $40k a

I hope Protel is not bailing out of the "shrink wrapped" CAD market.
There isn't much else out there for us who can't afford (or don't need)
the high dollar tools.  If they are putting all their eggs in the
embedded system business I can't see them surviving too much longer.
Then I guess I'll be back to that familiar place of having to pick a new
CAD system.  

Cliff Gerhard, P.E.
E-M Designs, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: Brooks,Bill [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] 
Sent: Friday, April 09, 2004 12:48 PM
To: 'Protel EDA Forum'
Subject: Re: [PEDA] Good schematic/PCB development suite recommendation?

I'm sure they were former auto salesmen ... 'oh, you want brakes with
it... well that's the diamond option, and a steering wheel? Well you
need the platinum option...' etc... etc.. 

Bill Brooks 
PCB Design Engineer , C.I.D., C.I.I.
Tel: (760)597-1500 Ext 3772 Fax: (760)597-1510

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