It’s new and shiny, but…
After taking a look at the new feature-set for Eagle V6 I got quite excited, but then it hit me… Will they ever make this version available with a lite license? And which features will be cut out?
I’m not a fan of XML but it’s certainly a step into the right direction. The more you open your formats the wider the acceptance of your package will be, generally speaking.
About the new features
Being able to have assisted design tools for differential pairs also sounds good (and I’ve struggled with their trace length script in the past, let’s just say there is no assistance whatsoever for complex designs currently). But what about guard rings and other important design aspects?
One thing I’d like to see is being able to have a “script scheduler” where you can queue scripts and schedule them to a certain refresh interval, then you’d have a window where the output of the scripts will be featured. This would make extending the application a lot simpler and flexible, but perhaps their scripting engine would need to be optimized beforehand.
“Design Reuse” is also another much-needed feature, the consistency part is key here, you don’t want new part numbers if you want to keep your documentation concise and accurate. Kudos for that!
The necessary rant
What really bothers me about Eagle is the back-annotation system and how it’s nearly impossible to solve most issues related to it. I’ve heard about people having to nearly redesign entire sections of their project because of this. It really isn’t very flexible at all.
There’s also no functionality to quickly package and backup projects. I’d like to see a lite versioning system; a meaningful one that is. As for packaging, ideally you’d rather click a button to have the entire project and all of it’s dependencies packaged so you can email it to someone, instead of having to do it by hand. This type of functionality isn’t hard to implement at all, so I question why it isn’t there ( or I haven’t found it yet? – I’ve been using my own scripts )
Another feature I wish to see would be a background image option on the library / symbol designer. The idea being you could draw on top of the image and then the only required adjustment would be the scale ratio for the entire part, which you can easily adjust by taking one measurement on the real part using a caliper, for example.
Recently I needed this feature for an LCD footprint I was working on, it had several mounting holes and a specific header; It would’ve been much simpler if I could just load an image of it and draw on top… Oh well.
Hopefully the new features will be made available to the lite users as well. – Sadly there doesn’t seem to be a release date at this point in time.
Eagle still lacks several key points to become usable for most complex designs, but overall it’s a step in the right direction and I’m glad for Eagle! — Now let’s drop those license fees a notch and we’ll all be happy!