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March 2014 • The PCB Design Magazine 19 Are they creating documentation to augment their process that is currently not part of your standard documentation set? Over the course of the CAD tool evolution, the suite of tools required for PCB design has somewhat stabilized. Schematic capture tools are used for drawing schematics, simulation tools for analog and digital simulation, PCB de- sign tools for circuit design, and so on. All are automated tools designed and maximized for a specific part of the electronic product design process. Automated PCB documentation tools are not new, but their use is not widespread. Many are still reliant on the outdated method of creating PCB documentation within the PCB CAD tool to meet their requirements. You can't design a PCB with a schematic capture tool, so why are so many designers us- ing a PCB CAD tool to create documentation? This is akin to manually routing each trace of a 16-layer 8,000 net PCB design rather than using automated routing. The results will be similar, but the effort far greater. The old adage "Use the right tool for the job" rings true for PCB design and documentation. If you are creating PCB documentation today, you should consider dedicated PCB documen- tation tools, such as Mentor Graphics' Fablink or DownStream Technologies' BluePrint-PCB. The benefits of using a dedicated, automat- ed tool specifically designed for PCB documen- tation are many. As automation has reduced the tedious task of routing traces individually, so too have documentation tools reduced the tedium of creating and maintaining PCB docu- mentation. An automated documentation tool can reduce documentation tasks, reduce errors, and offer greater efficiency. PCBDESIGN MITIGATING THE HIGH COST OF PCB DOCuMENTATION continues feature Mark Gallant is senior product marketing manager at Down- stream Technologies. CliCk To View Video Interview What exactly is getting in the way of our signals, and what can we do about it? lee ritchey and Guest editor Glenn oliver explore the technological road- blocks that are blocking our signals. What's Stopping the Signals? by Real Time with... PCBDesign007

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