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Re: [Help-gnucap] Which Schematic Program

From: Dan McMahill forwarded by
Subject: Re: [Help-gnucap] Which Schematic Program
Date: Thu, 4 May 2006 00:20:35 -0400
User-agent: KMail/1.9.1

This was sent from a non-member address,
but is on-topic so I am forwarding it.

From: Dan McMahill <address@hidden>
To: address@hidden

al davis wrote:
> On Wednesday 03 May 2006 15:30, Evgeni Dobrev wrote:
>>even though the interface of gschem does seem a bit arcane,
>>it is ok for some even no so simple projecs.  It is actually
>>quite flexible and capable once you pass the initial learning
>>curve.  You should read the tutorial that is comming with
>>If you are running the i386 port of Debian and gschem (and
>>the whole geda suite) really is not what you are looking for,
>>you could try the freeware version of Eagle from CadSoft
>>which is quite popular.
> I just did.  My impression is that it is MUCH harder to use than 
> gschem.  I think even that is being kind.  It is more than a 
> bit "arcane".  Then when you "export" to a "netlist", it isn't 
> any familiar format.  Maybe I am missing something.
> I think the "arcane-ness" of gschem is all small stuff.  Maybe 
> that is what is so frustrating to some people.  It is so close, 
> yet has these little details that turn off newcomers.
> My real objection to Eagle is that it is not free (libre, etc.) 
> (Stallman definition)  The so-called "freeware" version is 
> actually a "cover crop".

granted I'm a bit biased (I contribute to geda), but I have to agree 
with Al on this.  I've played around with eagle a bit mostly to expose 
myself to other ways of doing things.  My initial impression is that the 
documentation stinks.  I've used gschem as the schematic frontend for 
board design and found it to not be any worse than any other tool I've 
used (I've used about 7 commercial tools for this) and in fact I've 
found it better than some.  I think for new users the problem is that 
with lots of flexibility comes confusion.  I have some ideas on how to 
make gEDA work with gnucap and spice a bit more seamlessly and in fact 
I'm hoping some of the work I'm doing right now to help make gEDA and 
PCB work more closely with each other will at least partially pave the 
way for this.  My general impression is that the users who have the most 
trouble are the ones who are new to CAD and I'll readily admit that 
there is a lot to bite off.  Users who are familiar with gnucap and 
spice already I think have a pretty big step up.  Personally I think 
everyone needs to spend some time entering their designs as hand typed 
netlists to better understand what the simulator wants to see.  Plus you 
will never escape needing to look at netlists.  Really.

And on the free vs non-free side I have a hard time wanting to use an 
intentionally crippled tool and investing my time into it when I know 
I'll hit some limits or eventually run into unacceptable costs when it's 
for hobby use.  That's why I quit using matlab.  When I was in school I 
spent quite a bit of time developing many matlab routines which formed a 
pretty useful (to me at least) toolbox.  One day I thought "why am I 
spending so much of my time developing some pretty useful toolboxes for 
myself when I'm going to lose access to this tool upon graduation.  Many 
commercial CAD programs have time limited licenses so its not like you 
can just cough up $3k for matlab and have it forever (albeit stuck at 
that version), you get to keep paying every year.

Now for commercial work, I don't mind so much having to buy software 
although I still use free tools when it makes sense.  In this case it is 
easier to compare costs of software to costs of time (and the 
calculation is not how much I get paid, the calculation is how much I 
get paid to mess with tools combined with how much revenue is missed 
from projects taking longer and it is this second term which is the 
dominant one).

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