I am a machine engineer and very used to work with CAD software. The abbreviation CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. I personally think, Autodesk Eagle fails with the ‘A’, because often it does not give you any aid. On the contrary it often puts a spoke in the wheel and makes your life horrible.
Please do not get me wrong, there are many aspects I like and the alternatives I know have other issues. I would really like to work with Altium Designer, but a license is way to expensive for me as hobbyist. There is also KiCAD, a very promising program. I will try to do a whole project design in this software soon, to see where the strengths and weaknesses are.
I hope the Eagle developers will be able to add the described features to the software. They develop Eagle using C++ and the Qt framework – I personally really like this language and framework combination and use it for most of my own software.
1. Inadequate Layer Handling
Even if you only work with a two layer board, the board display quickly gets crowded and it is very hard to see all details.
It is not only the visual representation, as soon objects are close, selecting a specific one gets really hard. In some locations, you always have to cycle through many objects, until you find the right one. This is slowing down your work and is really annoying.
Hide some of the layers is the solution for this, but you have to do this either via text commands, or create many own keyboard shortcuts to work efficient. Just for the simple action to only show the top layer, you have to enter
display none top and shortly after this
display last to restore the previous view. There is a panel, where you can do this actions graphically, but this is a modal dialog and blocks further user input – it is useless for efficient work.
For a software, where layers play an such important role, the layer handling is inadequate. Every modern vector drawing program already demonstrates, how an efficient layer handling can be implemented.
There should be a permanent visible panel, docked in the window, where the list of all layers is visible:
- It should be possible so view only a single layer and restore the previous view easily.
- A special combination of layers should be save- and loadable.
- Layer presets should be accessible via keyboard shortcut.
- All layer should be made visible with one click.
- There should be a default view to restore at any time.
- The panel should be easily hidden and shown with a keyboard shortcut.
Another important missing feature is locking. Each layer should be lockable, so no objects on this layer can be selected or modified.
- Each layer should be lockable.
- All layers except one, should be easily lockable and the previous state restored easily.
- There should be an option to allow modification of attached objects, even if the layer of these is locked.
It could look like this in Eagle:
Ideally a little bit more sophisticated and smaller. Continue Reading