[Discuss] CAD software: where does OSHWA stand?

Chris Church thisdroneeatspeople at gmail.com
Sun Mar 19 17:43:13 UTC 2017

It's important not to conflate design with factual aspects on circuit
boards. IPC 2581 provides all of the factual data, including everything
needed to recreate a functional schematic, layout, and, in fact, a fully
working device in ways the EDA tools do not often do themselves. (I'm
thinking eagle, diptrace, and kicad here, more professional tools like
altium do support much more of the post-design workflow, which is also why
adoption of 2581 is higher in professional tools, in addition to my final
paragraph in this email.)

About 50% of what we think of as a schematic when we see one is artwork and
aesthetic decision making. The libraries/schematics are a combination of
facts (pins,meaning, values, allowable connections, physical location of
pads, physical package of part) and aesthetic design decisions. The IPC
standard format only concerns its self with the facts, since, for many
reasons, each EDA package takes its own path to creating, designing, and
representing the aesthetics.

Can IPC 2581 be extended to include the aesthetic information? Perhaps,
although I'm sure that they (institute for printed circuits) would argue
that is outside of the scope of their mission, since their mission is to
create a transport format that anyone can read to recreate and verify a
device, not necessarily to modify that device.

It is incredibly easy to represent the aesthetic information in a portable
way, it is simply onerous to convince all tool authors to write a
conversion or import function from that format to their internal tools.
IPC found success because all parties involved found specific value out of
sharing the factual data in this way: the design engineer, the purchasing
manager, the tool author, and the manufacturing engineer. Thus, there was a
clear benefit to adoption by everyone who needed to adopt it. Creating the
same for the aesthetics of the design would require the same level of value
add to all parties involved.


On Mar 19, 2017 12:22 PM, "Javier Serrano" <Javier.Serrano at cern.ch> wrote:

On 03/19/2017 04:19 PM, Chris Church wrote:
> Altium can export to a fully documented, open, and standardized format:
> IPC 2581. I'm not sure it can import from it, and smaller tools like
> Eagle do not yet support it.
> See: http://techdocs.altium.com/display/ADOH/IPC-2581+Support
> IPC 2581 was created specifically to provide an unencumbered, open, and
> standardized format to replace the closed ODB++ format commonly used in
> manufacturing. It captures everything needed for a circuit board, from
> pcb lay out, to assembly, netlist, and bill of materials.  When it comes
> to the printed circuits side, IPC is an org who is fighting hard for
> interoperability and open standards.

Thanks Chris. I had heard of IPC 2581, but somehow thought is was
limited to manufacturing files. Does IPC 2581 also cover schematics and
layout? I.e. could I conceivably export a complete Altium project to IPC
2581 and then import into another tool to edit schematics and layout?
Same thing for Altium libraries of symbols and footprints?


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