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Q&A

Why are some PCB design software programs considered to be 'hobbyist' programs?

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Recently I have heard this opinion from experienced engineers when discussing PCB design software. The common opinion was that Allegro and Altium are supposedly professional programs whereas Eagle and KiCad were frowned upon. From researching online it seems that they are all capable software packages and the 'professional' ones contain very domain specific features.

Is this just an elitist gatekeeping, or is there truth to what they say? Is there a good reason to avoid 'hobbyist' software when designing PCBs?

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Why are some PCB design software programs considered to be 'hobbyist' programs?

Elitism and, folk with money to burn.

I've used Altium, PADs, OrCad, Eagle and my current personal favourite is KiCAD. Yeah it's a bit messy on libraries but it's a small price to pay.

I pretty much like Eagle (still got it on my laptop).

My choice at the time when using PADs was definitely OrCAD. PADs was OK but it had a big-bro type feel and you couldn't do what you wanted as flexibly as OrCAD. Not a big fan of mentorgraphics (PADs) when they brought out a "PoS" called DxD. You can take a guess what "PoS" stands for if you want.

I've actually got a version of Altium on my PC (because I was doing some work with Altium and got a free license) but I loath it. It's too complex and messy and unintuitive.

I'm not a hobbyist BTW.

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I will try to cover additional aspects.

Not eager on making changes - Big organizations are usually non very prone on changing their horse for the battle - sticking to their EDA choice from 20+ years ago. Doesn’t mean they would repeat it today.

Pricing - I am yet to find the company which paid the full amount for EDA tool - the bigger you are, the easier your negotiations would be. We halved the Altium price without putting too much effort in it. Other well known alternatives have been priced much much higher(x3 and x4). The “benefits” they are bringing are not beneficial to most designs I have seen.

PLM/ERP - One other aspect is integrability with the rest of the organization. Product Lifecyle Management, ERP integration etc. is something that you pay in addition bur are needed if you are big player.

If you are sole designer or small organization, go with whatever pleases you or you have money to pay for.

I know, knee-jerk reactions are omnipresent. Ignore the noise and focus on what really matters.

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