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View Full Version : Which is better for a beginner...Eagle or DipTrace?



Jim Fouch
12-16-2010, 07:04 PM
I recently acquired an LPKF PCB milling machine and have been playing some with the shareware version of Eagle CAD. Before I buy it, I'm wondering if I would be better off with DipTrace.

With Eagle I need to invest about $1,500 to get beyond the 4"x3" board limitation, where DipTrace I can do any size board and they limit based on PINS. I can get 1000 pins for ~$350 or unlimited for ~$700.

Eagle has been around for a long time and seems to be the standard in the hobby market, but DipTrace seems to have a better and more modern interface.

Just wondering what others that maybe have used both think?

schill
12-16-2010, 07:42 PM
My impression has been that hobbyists have been moving away from Eagle toward Diptrace. I've always kind of floundered about in Eagle so I've switched to trying Diptrace now. Things so seem to be a bit clearer to me in Diptrace. This opinion is based on pretty minimal testing, however.

Rick_H
12-16-2010, 08:14 PM
Designspark PCB is another choice, the mouse zoom is a pain but it works well and you can import eagle files. The library is much easier to build and their is no size or layer limitations for free. That alone makes its clunky zoom/pan tolerable. I actually use eagle still but I'm migrating to Designspark at the moment.

W9GFO
12-16-2010, 08:25 PM
I dabbled in Eagle for a short time before finding DipTrace. I found DipTrace much easier to use. DipTrace has worked well for me.

Rich H

Leon
12-16-2010, 08:30 PM
Design Spark is actually Number One Systems' Easy-PC, with a lot of the features removed. The latter is more suitable for complex designs.

Erik Friesen
12-16-2010, 08:37 PM
I have a 1200 pin design using diptrace, and I am a little tired of some issues with it. The PCB design and Schematic is ok, but coordination between the four editor programs (pcb, schematic, component, design) is lacking in some regards. Handling a large bom is a bit of trouble. They also have a few issues with the way they handle their library folders.

Its just one of those things. For smaller pcb's they are fine. I have been tempting myself with trying Pulsonix or easy pc.

Leon
12-16-2010, 08:59 PM
Pulsonix and Easy-PC (and Design Spark) are produced by the same company. Pulsonix is a full-blown professional package.

wjsteele
12-17-2010, 03:11 PM
Eagle developers need to move into the 21 Century... scratch that... 20th Century. Their software is the most unfriendly piece of crap I have ever used. Simple tasks like copy and paste, which Windows does for you for free, are the most tedious tasks imaginable.

For a beginner, I'd recommend something much more simple, like ExpressPCBs free software or the DesignSpark software. With something like Eagle, you would rack your brains just trying to figure out the interface on top of learning about nets, layers and routing... it's just too hard. Once they use one of the other tools, they can get the basic understanding of those basic concepts, then they can move to something more powerful like Eagle.

I've honestly never used DipTrace, so I can't comment on it... but from what I understand, it's pretty good. I like EaglePCB personally, but I use Eagle when the routing needs to be complex.

Bill

novarm
12-17-2010, 03:42 PM
The PCB design and Schematic is ok, but coordination between the four editor programs (pcb, schematic, component, design) is lacking in some regards. Handling a large bom is a bit of trouble. They also have a few issues with the way they handle their library folders.
We plan to redesign library/file connection/search system in version 2.3 (maybe will also add project file which unites all data and updates automatically). Currently each program has independent data, i.e. when you change footpring in some library - it will not be automatically changed in schematic/pcb files where you placed it (you can update it manually though). Also all libraries/designs are separate files (you operates with them like with all other windows files). In the next release (2.2) we add net classes with multiple rules set, strict via styles to easily handle blind/buried vias, 3D preview and significantly improve manual routing + many minor improvements. Also this version will have new pattern libraries (+ all patterns have standartized names, which are similar to patterns inside component libraries).

Regards,
Stanislav Ruev
DipTrace Senior Developer

p.s. to moderator: Captha doesn't work on password reminder (always says it is incorrect), so I have registered new account.

WBA Consulting
12-17-2010, 04:33 PM
I use DipTrace, but also use Eagle to review designs for customers that use Eagle. I would definitely say that DipTrace is the better of the two. I still struggle with certain things in Eagle, but DipTrace was easy to use from the get-go. I am still learning all of the tricks, but throwing together a basic PCB in DipTrace is super easy and requires very few IQ points.

@novarm: the upgrades proposed sound excellent. Hitting the few negatives I have on DipTrace right on the head!

Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)
12-17-2010, 05:32 PM
Eagle developers need to move into the 21 Century... scratch that... 20th Century. Their software is the most unfriendly piece of crap I have ever used.
I'd have to second that. I evaluated Eagle awhile back when I was shopping for new PCB CAD software. How anyone could be productive with Eagle is beyond me.* Sometimes "free" can be really expensive!

-Phil

*Surprisingly, I found some of the high-end software (e.g. OrCAD, PADS, etc.) almost equally awkward to use. I eventually bought CADINT (www.cadint.com).

Martin Hodge
12-17-2010, 07:01 PM
I use Eagle for hours a day. I would describe Eagle as; piles and piles of useful features heaped on top of a byzantine, pre-windows, 1980's GUI. Once you un-learn your Windows/Mac habits you can get a lot done.

WBA Consulting
12-17-2010, 07:54 PM
Martin: Perfectly described! Eagle is pretty powerful but it's really the GUI that makes me hate it.

Bobb Fwed
12-17-2010, 09:09 PM
My vote is for DipTrace as well. I dabbled in Eagle for a little bit, but I learned DipTrace much faster. The support it quite nice, the developer is quite active on their forums.

Adam Wiesler
12-17-2010, 09:15 PM
I have been using Design Spark also, and i think it is decent, i like it a lot more than Eagle, but i haven't used diptrace a lot.

Just my $0.02

Lord Steve
12-17-2010, 11:37 PM
I also give a nod to DipTrace. I started out my PCB-making career with Eagle. I tried DipTrace just to see what another program was like and never looked back at Eagle. I purchased the Lite version (or Starter, can't remember now) and have upgraded to the 4-layer version. I <3 it.

bradharper
12-18-2010, 12:10 AM
+1 for DipTrace. I just worked my way through my first three designs and the software is pretty good. I have a good bit of experience using various 3D/CAD packages and the DipTrace interface was intuitive and familiar. I agree with the mention above that the integration between PCB/Component/Pattern could be a bit more automated, but it wasn't unmanageable for my ~250 pin (3sq.in) design. I think you'll be happy with DipTrace.

william chan
12-19-2010, 10:26 AM
I find that Eagle has more parts libraries.
This is very important for productivity. You can't be "designing a custom part" for each component you want to add to your circuit.

Roadster
12-19-2010, 12:13 PM
You can import Eagle libraries and pcb's with diptrace with the scripts from the program files\diptrace\utils folder, I have done both and it seems to work without errors.

Leon
12-19-2010, 01:44 PM
It's a good idea to check any parts you use from the Eagle libraries, several of them have errors.

Lord Steve
12-19-2010, 10:03 PM
Willy Chan said:

I find that Eagle has more parts libraries.
This is very important for productivity. You can't be "designing a custom part" for each component you want to add to your circuit.

Sure you can't be doing that, if you're making parts in Eagle. Making component drawings in DipTrace is at least one order of magnitude easier than in Eagle.

$WMc%
12-19-2010, 11:23 PM
I'm just getting started with Diptrace-FREE
'
I have found this software to be the best PCB layout software ever. Way better than Eagle software
'
Best of all the price is right for testing, FREE
'
I have made some boards with Diptrace software. Best looking boards I have ever made.

Jim Fouch
12-20-2010, 05:26 PM
Thanks everyone for their input. I think I will go with DipTrace. I have the 30 day trial now and will upgrade to the 1000 pin version if I like it after the 30 day trial.

I still have to make sure the output files will work well with the milling machine. I don't see any issues so far.

max72
12-20-2010, 08:21 PM
Thanks everyone for their input. I think I will go with DipTrace. I have the 30 day trial now and will upgrade to the 1000 pin version if I like it after the 30 day trial.

I still have to make sure the output files will work well with the milling machine. I don't see any issues so far.

consider (as far as I know) when you panelize pin count is the single board one (even for different designs)... maybe you can start with a cheaper license...
Massimo

Nick McClick
12-21-2010, 03:20 AM
Jim, if it's helpful, I did a 4-part video tutorial on diptrace here (http://www.gadgetgangster.com/news/45-designer-news/285-layout-tips-a-tricks.html).

Invent-O-Doc
12-21-2010, 09:36 AM
Gadget Ganster's video tutorials are great. My main beef with Diptrace is the library system, which is awkward and arranged by manufacturer. I did see a message on this thread from the diptrace folks that they are fixing that, though. Good news.

lynchaj
12-21-2010, 11:23 AM
Hi! IMO, neither Eagle nor DipTrace are appropriate software for hobbyist EDA. Both are commercial programs and are severely limited. It will not take much of a project to exceed the limitations of either programs beginner editions and by then it will be too late. Commercial EDA software uses proprietary and *non-portable* formats so once you start you are stuck with them forever unless you are willing to recreate your designs in another EDA tool. I have several Euroboard (160x100 mm) designs that exceed 1000 holes. Those designs are not possible with the entry editions of either Eagle or DipTrace.

The solution is to use either gEDA or KiCAD which are both Free/Open Source software. Both are excellent packages and you can use them unlimited to create whatever hobbyist project you want. Also since they are free/open source you can publish the schematics and PCB layout without fear of them being lost because of some unsupportable commercial format when the company disappears. There have been *many* commercial EDA tools which have disappeared over the years leaving hordes of stranded orphans with no support at all. Much hobbyist project effort has been lost due to using commercial tools!

The learning curve on gEDA can be steep but you can start using KiCAD with small projects relatively easily. There are tutorials available and it works well. You certainly cannot beat the price (free) and it is very capable. The UI has improved dramatically over the last couple of years and KiCAD rivals its commercial peers in usability and quality. Seriously, from a strategic view point using F/OSS EDA tools makes a lot of sense. There is a very real risk of getting stranded or orphaned with either Eagle or DipTrace. Yes, they look good now but either or both could disappear in an instant.

Good luck with your project! Thanks and have a nice day!

Andrew Lynch

novarm
12-21-2010, 04:53 PM
Hi Andrew,

There are both pluses and minuses on free open-source software. The pluses is it is free, open source and cross-platform, minuses - usually it has more bugs, is less capable and no support if compare to the software which is made and supported by full-time employees who earn money from their work. There are very capable open-source programs though (Linux, Firefox, Open Office), but usually they also earn money, but from other sources.

Regarding disappearing:
Both DipTrace and Eagle have export capabilities for other EDA formats. Many programs can import Eagle files and P-CAD ASCII which can be exported from DipTrace. Commercial project may "disappear/stop development/change policy" only if it becomes unprofitable, open-source EDA - when majority of enthusiasts who make it lose interest to work for free or their hobby was changed (there are many such examples). Major factor here is popularity, not if it is commercial or open-source.

Regards,
Stanislav Ruev
DipTrace Team

lynchaj
12-22-2010, 11:37 AM
Hi Andrew,

There are both pluses and minuses on free open-source software. The pluses is it is free, open source and cross-platform, minuses - usually it has more bugs, is less capable and no support if compare to the software which is made and supported by full-time employees who earn money from their work. There are very capable open-source programs though (Linux, Firefox, Open Office), but usually they also earn money, but from other sources.



Hi Stanislav! Thanks!

Yes, true Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) EDA tools generally are not the same as their commercial counterparts. My experience with KiCAD has been very positive and it is comparable to some commercial products. It is probably not as good as DipTrace but KiCAD has an enormous advantage in that all its source code is published and free for use. Literally anyone can pull down the source code and build their own EDA tool set from scratch. That is a *permanent* advantage which outweighs any inconvenient buginess. Bugs tend to be temporary in nature and generally go away if they are annoying enough. At least in KiCAD the developers been doing an excellent job in cleaning up the bugs and improving usability.

As much as I like the KiCAD developers efforts, were they all to disappear for some reason (heaven forbid!) the KiCAD source tree would still remain published (it is GPL and mirrored) and the project could be restarted with a new group of developers. This exact scenario has played out on numerous other FOSS projects. Were DipTrace to go away, it would most likely take its source tree with it and be gone forever. That is an enormous risk that hobbyist developers are taking by using commercial EDA tools.




Regarding disappearing:
Both DipTrace and Eagle have export capabilities for other EDA formats. Many programs can import Eagle files and P-CAD ASCII which can be exported from DipTrace. Commercial project may "disappear/stop development/change policy" only if it becomes unprofitable, open-source EDA - when majority of enthusiasts who make it lose interest to work for free or their hobby was changed (there are many such examples). Major factor here is popularity, not if it is commercial or open-source.



DipTrace is a fine program and I do not doubt that at all. I have a good friend and fellow hobbyist who thinks DipTrace is the best thing since sliced bread! He likes it so much he offered to buy me the commercial version to switch the N8VEM homebrew computing project over to DipTrace. Yes, it is an excellent product and does a great job but the fear of being stranded with an unsupported and *unsupportable* EDA tool makes the compromise of the FOSS tools more appealing. Also the FOSS EDA tools are unlimited. You can literally build PCBs with *thousands* of through holes and huge PCBs. We routinely make 50+ square inch PCBs (S-100 boards) and as big as 60 square inches. There are no artificial limits to using KiCAD or gEDA which is very appealing.





Regards,
Stanislav Ruev
DipTrace Team

I think there is room for compromise between FOSS and commercial EDA tools like DipTrace. I would feel much more comfortable using DipTrace if it supported import/export to/from KiCAD for DipTrace schematics and PCB layouts. IMO, that would be reasonable since DipTrace commercial clients are not going to wholesale convert to KiCAD once they are comfortable using DipTrace EDA. It also allows the "emergency escape" in case things go wrong for DipTrace. Actually it would be beneficial to DipTrace customers since they would have insurance in case DipTrace were to disappear unexpectedly. Profit oriented commercial clients which I suspect is the bulk of your customers are not going to bother with FOSS EDA tools since speed of PCB development is top priority.

Alternatively, publish an EDA schematic and PCB layout exchange format so a converter tool could be written by FOSS EDA developers. FOSS EDA tools are not a realistic threat to commercial products like DipTrace or Eagle but could be made into a strategic advantage (no need for source escrows, etc). Commercial application suites like MS Office, etc have supported portable document import/export for years and are *stronger* for it not weaker. Please consider a bridge to KiCAD or gEDA using a portable exchange format or FOSS converter program. I think it would improve your product and make it a lot more appealing to use.

Thanks and have a nice day!

Andrew Lynch

Erik Friesen
12-22-2010, 11:49 AM
Uh, open source is good, but it has its limitations. I tried every free open source drawing program I could find, but none could reliably import/export corel/adobe formats, which the industry relies on so heavily. Besides, you can't get ahead without taking risks. :-)

I don't consider the risks enormous, because diptrace imports/exports gerbers, and other high end cad software can build a schematic from gerbers.

The other thing is that if your time is money, open source isn't really free. If you have the experience and tools to modify Kicad, good, but most people looking for a cad package do not have what it takes to be modifying source code. Plus, the people that have the experience, or are developers, do not have the mindset or push ($) to build a gui to please the end user.

Dr_Acula
12-22-2010, 12:33 PM
I got hooked on Eagle several years ago. Very steep learning curve, so I wrote up how to do a few things on Instructables and I refer to these quite regularly.

Just last week I designed two new library parts that did not exist - a DC socket with round holes instead of rectangular (my PCB fab house always seem to forget the rectangular holes unless I tell them each time), and a VGA D15 socket with solder holes for more secure mounting.

An Instructable helped me through that process too.

I paid Eagle $125 and bought the student version. Boards 160x100 which is a Eurocard size and for that I seem to be able to do all that I need to do. (The free version is is half the size and severely limiting).

Re Kicad vs Eagle, Andrew Lynch often spends a week in the optimiser running Kicad, and with Eagle I do the same board in about 10 minutes. That means I can rip it up and rebuild it many times in an evening. I always use the autorouter as I find it is more productive to do multiple ripups/reroutes than to build the perfect board manually only to find I want to swap two chips around.

I'm a hobbyist, but if I can start early in the evening when I get home I can draw a schematic, do a board layout and create the gerbers and have it emailed to the PCB house by midnight.

But at the end of the day, I'm probably not qualified to comment on Eagle vs Diptrace vs Kicad, because I have only ever used one of those. I guess one really needs a comment from someone who is proficient in a number of packages.

lynchaj
12-22-2010, 01:38 PM
[snip]

I paid Eagle $125 and bought the student version. Boards 160x100 which is a Eurocard size and for that I seem to be able to do all that I need to do. (The free version is is half the size and severely limiting).



Hi James! Thanks! The free version of Eagle has the 4"x3" restriction which renders it almost useless except for trivially small toy boards. At a minimum, I need the Eurocard size for the N8VEM ECB boards but even those are crowded for some designs. However, about half of the N8VEM board are S-100 10"x5.3" ~50 square inch PCBs which even the student edition of Eagle does not support. In other words, to get even minimum functionality out of Eagle EDA, I'd have to upgrade to the full commercial edition and *still* have the risk of getting stranded. I think with active competitors like DipTrace coming along the likelihood of Eagle going under has increased significantly.





Re Kicad vs Eagle, Andrew Lynch often spends a week in the optimiser running Kicad, and with Eagle I do the same board in about 10 minutes. That means I can rip it up and rebuild it many times in an evening. I always use the autorouter as I find it is more productive to do multiple ripups/reroutes than to build the perfect board manually only to find I want to swap two chips around.



Yes, I can get quick PCB autoroutes in a few minutes also with KiCAD and FreeRouting.net for evaluation or even a prototype PCB. What takes days or weeks to finish is a good quality optimized autorouting of the PCB. The autorouter in Eagle is well known to make poor quality routing and many of the hobbyists who use Eagle export their designs to FreeRouting.net to get the good quality. Those take time in either manual routing or long optimization times. The 10 minute Eagle autoroute board is not comparable to a fully optimized FreeRouting.net board or one that has been manually routed. There is a big difference especially with densely packed boards.





I'm a hobbyist, but if I can start early in the evening when I get home I can draw a schematic, do a board layout and create the gerbers and have it emailed to the PCB house by midnight.

But at the end of the day, I'm probably not qualified to comment on Eagle vs Diptrace vs Kicad, because I have only ever used one of those. I guess one really needs a comment from someone who is proficient in a number of packages.

We all have preferences and that is OK to disagree. It is probably pointless to argue "which is better" since it is highly subjective. However, I think hobbyists need to be aware of the long sad history of people using commercial EDA tools that have ended up stranded with orphan software. This is a common problem in industry and I've seen it happen repeatedly over the years. You can partially mitigate the risk by entering escrow agreements with the EDA developers but that costs *huge* amounts and generally out of reach for hobbyists.

Thanks and have a nice day!

Andrew Lynch

Leon
12-22-2010, 02:51 PM
Eagle is now owned by Farnell, it isn't likely to "go under" any time soon!

Martin Hodge
12-22-2010, 03:30 PM
Two words; CentOS debacle (http://www.formortals.com/centos-debacle-perfectly-illustrates-my-open-source-fears/)...

lynchaj
12-22-2010, 05:03 PM
Eagle is now owned by Farnell, it isn't likely to "go under" any time soon!

Hi! As Stanislav pointed out though, commercial companies make products to make profit. If Farnell finds Eagle is no longer profitable in light of new competitors such as DipTrace they could easily drop it. Whether Farnell goes out of business or not is irrelevant because it is their support of Eagle that matters. If they decide to not support Eagle its users are just as stranded.

A few years ago Yahoo! was an unstoppable juggernaut. Now they are teetering on extinction. These things happen.

Thanks and have a nice day!

Andrew Lynch

novarm
12-22-2010, 06:47 PM
Andrew,

DipTrace has P-CAD ASCII export capability and this format is widely used with the documentation available. So if KiCAD developers will add import capability for it, they will automatically able to export designs from DipTrace (+ P-CAD, Protel, Altium, etc. etc.). Such feature can be made by professional full-time programmer in approx 2 months (including testing). The problem is that such work is not very interesting for volunteer (big amount of coding/testing and no really cool things).

We plan to redesign our own ASCII format a bit in the future and make documentation for it.

Regards,
Stanislav Ruev
DipTrace Team

lynchaj
12-23-2010, 01:42 AM
Andrew,

DipTrace has P-CAD ASCII export capability and this format is widely used with the documentation available. So if KiCAD developers will add import capability for it, they will automatically able to export designs from DipTrace (+ P-CAD, Protel, Altium, etc. etc.). Such feature can be made by professional full-time programmer in approx 2 months (including testing). The problem is that such work is not very interesting for volunteer (big amount of coding/testing and no really cool things).

We plan to redesign our own ASCII format a bit in the future and make documentation for it.

Regards,
Stanislav Ruev
DipTrace Team

Thanks Stanislav,
I will look into the P-CAD import/export for KiCAD and see what turns up. Good luck with your DipTrace ASCII export format. I think that would be great!

Thanks and have a nice day!

Andrew Lynch

aftab_s81
11-16-2012, 09:55 AM
My two cents about this topic:

Eagle vs Diptrace (Click to see) (http://electrodesigns.net/blog/eagle-vs-diptrace/)