[Discuss] CAD software: where does OSHWA stand?

phillip torrone pt at adafruit.com
Sun Mar 19 13:35:37 UTC 2017

ideally oshwa(?) could work up an ideal list of things CAD makers could do to support open-source hardware makers, this way we'd collectively have a voice when asked "what can EAGLE/AUTODESK/ALTIUM, etc" do to support oshw makers.

either way, send anything my way, i'll ask on tuesday to altium.


right now the most prolific makers in oshw generally seem to use:
	online tools?

the biggest that we seem to hear is forced cloud storage and "software as a service" is not desirable.


> On Mar 19, 2017, at 8:43 AM, Javier Serrano <Javier.Serrano at cern.ch> wrote:
> Thanks Alicia!
> On 03/18/2017 09:54 PM, alicia wrote:
>> Yes, OSHWA stands by this clause.
>> "Ideally, your open-source hardware project would be designed using a
>> free and open-source software application, to maximize the ability of
>> others to view and edit it. For better or worse however, hardware design
>> files are often created in proprietary programs and stored in
>> proprietary formats."
> Yes, of course, I read this in the OSHWA website and I even quoted it in
> my original message. The question I was asking is rather:
> On 03/17/2017 10:52 AM, Javier Serrano wrote:
>> Happily for software developers, those days are
>> long gone. Is such a state of affairs acknowledged as desirable by
>> OSHWA, and is OSHWA willing to be more than a spectator in this regard?
> I take it the answer is that OSHWA currently has no plans to take an
> active role in the promotion/endorsement/support of FOSS tools for OSHW
> development. Is this correct? If it is, I'd like to advocate for a
> change in that regard, but before I do so I would need to know what
> exactly is the current position of OSHWA management on this. The
> paragraph you quote seems a bit vague to me. Also, is this list the
> appropriate place for such advocacy? If there is a better channel I will
> be happy to use it.
> On 03/19/2017 02:58 AM, Rick Altherr wrote:
>> I know my employer pays huge licensing fees for CAD software. There is
>> certainly an economic incentive to using FOSS. I'm working with others
>> in the cloud/server industry to move toward using FOSS tools for open
>> hardware designs. With my employer's CAD team, I'm hearing mostly
>> resistance to change, concern the tools can't actually complete the
>> design and that is an unacceptable risk.  I'm eager to work with anyone
>> who has interest or ideas on how to convince big companies FOSS is a
>> viable alternative.
> Thanks Rick. From the sounds of it, you deal with quite complex designs.
> To be fully clear, when I talked about big OSHW companies I was thinking
> about Sparkfun, Adafruit, Arduino... Current FOSS tools can easily cope
> with the complexity of their designs. The understandable inertia of
> designers to keep using the same tools would be a more plausible
> explanation, I think, in their case. Plus the investment in know-how and
> libraries, which is far from negligible. I may be completely wrong
> though. I'd be very interested in reading their take on this. As I see
> it today, these companies have little incentive to migrate because,
> among other things, "For better or worse however, hardware design files
> are often created in proprietary programs and stored in proprietary
> formats." But it would be great for FOSS projects if they did migrate,
> because FOSS tools will become much better if more people use them and
> provide feedback and other types of support.
> Regarding your particular case, I have always thought that licensing
> costs are not a very strong argument, especially for complex products
> like yours. Even if high, they typically get dwarfed by engineering
> costs, and good tools more than pay for themselves in time savings of
> designers. Besides, that might reinforce the misled belief that FOSS
> developers should not be paid for their work. As we have seen in the
> software world, a sustainable ecosystem is most often fuelled by paid
> developers. For both complex and simple designs, I think the stronger
> reason to use FOSS tools is that they allow sharing and collaborating
> without any artificial and unnecessary hurdles, which is one of the
> tenets of OSHW. So the big decision should be whether to do OSHW or not,
> and once one has decided to do OSHW, I think the goal of doing it with
> FOSS tools, or at the very least with file formats which are openly and
> completely documented, should be a natural one.
> Cheers,
> Javier
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