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PCBD-Nov2014

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November 2014 • The PCB Design Magazine 9 lunches ensue. Some designers say the execs make the final decision, and the designers are the last ones to know about the new tool. One designer said his company made a tool purchase solely because his managers were good friends with an AE at a differ- ent EDA company. It's good to know the right people, and you should have a close rela- tionship with your PCB de- sign tool company. None of which would matter if the designers still wound up getting the right tools for their particular proj- ects. But too often, to hear designers tell it, their manag- ers are swayed more by the EDA companies' marketing schemes than by the tools' ac- tual functionality. Managers fall for buzzwords and hyper- bole, designers tell me. Yes, I know that's hard to believe. The result? Designers end up with a tool that's more dif- ficult to use than their old tool, or just clunky and not right for their designs, and they wonder what the hell happened. A veteran designer summed it up for me during the Designers Forum at IPC APEX EXPO 2014. An EDA company rep was listing all of the new features of the latest rev of their layout software, and with every bullet point, the de- signer would whisper, "Who would ever need that? Or that? Who thought of this crap? That's useless! So is that! These features were added just to help sell the tool!" Other designers wish they could just keep using their old version of the tool and not update. They've spent years using it, become amazingly productive with it, and their compa- ny updates to something they consider worse. One constant refrain I've heard, from users of every major layout tool, is, "Why do they keep changing the tool? It was fine the way it was… now there are more steps and it's less intuitive, and it's going to take a while to get really pro- ductive." Which gets back to my original point: Who is your EDA tool company's customer: you or your executive management team? This is nothing against the EDA tool com- panies, of course. Without them, you'd still be using Bishop Graphics tape and My- lar—well, some of you would probably like that. I have a lot of friends who work at EDA companies, and I wouldn't wish their workload on any- one. These companies are high-stress, highly com- petitive places to work. The public companies also have investors and Wall Street to contend with, and the Street has yet to show that it under- stands EDA tools. Their salespeople are con- stantly on the move, with many of their sales coming by way of converting their rivals' customers. It's a zero- sum game, for the most part; there haven't been a lot of new electronics OEMs coming online lately. And then the EDA companies have to deal with designers like you, who hold their feet to the fire, which you should. How would you like to be the support person you talk to when your layout tool quits working, which always seems to be on the drop-dead deadline? I enjoy hearing all of your comments and complaints, whatever the topic. And maybe what I'm hearing are just anomalies, in the long run. Outliers. What say you? Do you have any say in the layout tools you use? Let me know. Talk to you next month! PCBDESIGN andy shaughnessy is manag- ing editor of The PCB Design Magazine. he has been cover- ing PCB design for 15 years. he can be reached by clicking here. the shaughnessy report WhO IS YOuR EDA COMPANY'S CuSTOMER? continues An EDA company rep was listing all of the new features of the latest rev of their layout software, and with every bullet point, the designer would whisper, "Who would ever need that? Or that? Who thought of this crap? That's useless! So is that! These features were added just to help sell the tool!" " "

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