[Discuss] Open Hardware defintion and eagle files

Mike Dupont jamesmikedupont at googlemail.com
Fri Sep 14 06:49:55 UTC 2012

On Fri, Sep 14, 2012 at 8:18 AM, Nathan Seidle <nathan at sparkfun.com> wrote:
> I'm glad you're getting the file format you need. Let the list know if
> you continue to run into problems.

Thanks for your reply Nathan, I see your pragmatic approach and how
the situation is better than before.

> "How can a system claim to be open source hardware if the schematics
> are distributed in an undocumented binary format?"

> I assume by 'system' you mean Arduino?
Yes, I am working on the Arduino Nano V3.

> As a person who deeply believes in OSHW, I realize there will be people who
> submit ideas and designs using different tools (Eagle and Altium being
> a few, Pro-Engineer and Solidworks being a few others) - that's ok!
> These tools may use proprietary formats, and that's not ideal, but
> it's better than the gerber file format which are truly binary and
> even more difficult to modify.

the specs in a proprietary format are basically non readable without
the proprietary software and impose more restrictions on the user, it
might even be illegal to read them without buying a license and
illegal to reverse engineer the format.
I understand that from a pragmatic view this is acceptable, but from
the view of a free software supporter it is not. It would be better to
clearly mark the hardware as being OSHW-PROPDOC or something that
clearly marks the specs as not being in an open format.

> "I dont see that a limited function "freeware" eagle software can
> qualify as being freely usable for editing..."
> I see your point but there is a line we have to draw.

> Not everyone uses a computer that uses an 'open core' processor (we can debate open
> source down many rabbit trails). In the spirit of open hardware, the folks at Gravitech really do want people to learn from their design and modify/improve/use it. The fact that they released it in a fairly
> proprietary format (but arguably widely used at the time) is hopefully eclipsed by their intentions to share.

Yes, and many wikipedia or osm editors use windows. Of course, the
situation is better with them sharing.
So my suggestion is again, clearly label and distinguish the hardware
based on the openness of the documentation. lets look to creative
commons for help here. It could be like :

First the OSHW
then the file format : proprietary, open
then the doc license : open access,cc-by-sa, cc-by-nc etc
so basically you have a triplet for the license. this is just a suggestion.

> "well the modification of eagle files is limited. I cannot add more
> than x layers, or make a design that is bigger than Y."
> Yes you can if you pay real dollars. The difference is that you are
> not required to pay money to the person who designed the widget -
> instead to the tool maker (Eagle CAD). Again, in the spirit of the
> rule I think this is painful but ok. We should not criticize folks
> that release their editable files/design in a file format that is
> proprietary. They are releasing source and that's what matters to me.
> Some day (today with Eagle 6 and XML) I hope they will release their
> designs in a more friendly and open format.

Ok fine as you said, we need to be pragmatic about this, but we should
also work on declaring what the terms are so people dont have bad

We had a presentation on OSHW at the sfk12 this year
(flossk.org/sfk12) there they said that the docs needed to be open and
readable, at least that is what I understood. Then I purchased the kit
and found that it was not open to my understanding. This
disappointment can be avoided with clearer wording and clearer

I am willing to help with this process if there is interest , maybe
for the next version of the license.

> "the arduino files are in a binary format, that is pretty obfuscated no?"
i am talking about the arduino nano v3 binary files that i encounterd.

> Are you talking hardware or software? It can get confusing with
> Arduino. The latest Arduino Uno hardware files are Eagle 6.0 and are
> XML: http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardUno

Oh interesting, thanks.

thanks again for your great initative, and thank for taking the time
to address my concerns.

James Michael DuPont
Member of Free Libre Open Source Software Kosova http://flossk.org
Saving wikipedia(tm) articles from deletion http://SpeedyDeletion.wikia.com
Contributor FOSM, the CC-BY-SA map of the world http://fosm.org
Mozilla Rep https://reps.mozilla.org/u/h4ck3rm1k3

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