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 Post subject: Library Component Creation
PostPosted: 05 Aug 2015, 09:20 
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Joined: 04 Aug 2015, 09:43
Posts: 5
I've been looking at alternatives to our venerable PCAD 2002 system which has served us well but is no longer supported. I looked at many packages, including the immensely popular Eagle, which I find to be very convoluted in almost every respect. I stumbled on DipTrace which seems to be very intuitive and much like PCAD, except for library component creation. I've been struggling with this for days and still find the process to be very non-intuitive and elusive. It seems like this section of the software was created by a completely different programming team who never used a good PCB CAD system before. I really can't understand why it's so obtuse. A component consists of a schematic symbol and a PCB pattern. There should be separate editors for each. The process of combining a symbol and a pattern into a component is done with another program which assigns symbol pins to component pads. Why is this so difficult in DipTrace? Am I the only one who feels this way or are there others who just suck it in and keep quiet?

Joe


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 Post subject: Re: Library Component Creation
PostPosted: 08 Aug 2015, 03:24 
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Joined: 26 Mar 2015, 15:27
Posts: 87
I'm not really sure what part of the process is giving you trouble. Component and pattern creation in DipTrace is possibly the easiest I've seen. It's to the point that I use exactly zero included components and simple make my own libraries.

The thing that sucks is the actual library management and structure. You end up with a lot of completely unnecessary duplication, and propagating changes is very manual and very error prone. If they put a fraction of the effort into fixing this as they did into differential pairs, it would be a tremendous improvement. If THIS is your gripe, then you're not alone. For what it does and the price, Diptrace is pretty darn good, even with all the little things that we'd all like to see fixed. This particular area, though, is really not thought through well at all and I wish they'd take it more seriously. It's especially annoying because when you change to a different part with a different footprint, the schematic rewires itself based on the footprint. It's crazy. They really need to look at how Altium handles this. That's an upgrade I would happily pay for.


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 Post subject: Re: Library Component Creation
PostPosted: 10 Aug 2015, 15:12 
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Joined: 01 Oct 2014, 03:25
Posts: 7
John its not so much the Component and Pattern creation its understand the directory structure and how those files are associated with one another.

There isn't anything in the way of Video Tutorials that conveys a sufficient overview of the Software. Without that basic understanding the User is left to stumble through an ad-hoc learning process. Yes there is a paper Manual and Tutorial Guide but both are large and they address in a sequential format. What results is information on a particular subject being broken up and sprinkled through out the book. This matter is not as simple as some would have us believe. Dave Jones of eevblog fame did a first impressions video of Dip Trace and got tangled up in the Part Library issue. Dave is an ex Altium Design Engineer so if he could not figure it out off the bat you know that a first time newbee will have to wrestle with the software for a while before he masters it. This must create no end of work for Dip Trace in the form telephone support, emails and Messageboard Inquiries. To their credit Dip Trace does have a cadre of dedicated support people that prowl message boards looking to put out fires. DerekG who can be found on the eevblog Forums is very knowledgeable and most helpful

For Joe here is a few bits of information I have picked up on the eevblog forum. You probably know some of this but I will repeat it all for everyone's benefit.

You can NOT create a new Component or Pattern File in the Default DIP Trace Libraries. You must create your own library and add them there. Those Libraries sit separate from the default libraries. In order to see those files you have to activate and attach them to the program every time you start-up DIP Trace. I'm not exactly sure when a Pattern File is attached to a Component File. I see some Components display when searching for them in the component libraries while it seems that Pattern Files can be attached to Components when building a Schematic.

There is also a Pin Manager that creates a file that determines how the Pins of a Pattern File are associated with those on a Component File. I'm still not sure where they exist and if they need to be managed like the Component and Pattern Libraries.

FWIW


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 Post subject: Re: Library Component Creation
PostPosted: 10 Aug 2015, 16:14 
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Joined: 26 Mar 2015, 15:27
Posts: 87
You can go into Library Setup and generally attach the library so it's always there, or I think you can even attach it as a "project" file. I haven't done that yet, though I have to explore it now that I have multiple library versions kicking around.

I thought it was pretty intuitive, and I also think there are some good videos out there....I think, anyway. If not, maybe I'll toss together a video tutorial how to do it. How *I* do it, anyway, which is probably just my own way, but it seems to work very well for me.

My only real gripe is that the pattern seems to live with the component once you link them. They are generally linked together in the component editor. The two problems I run into consistently are:

1) since the pattern basically lives with the component, the pattern "library" is really nothing more than a fancy template. Linking the component to the pattern is a "dumb" link. When you change the pattern, you also have to relink the component...and then you also have to update every schematic....and then update every PCB. It's a bit of a painful process when you're tweaking a lot of components and patterns at the same time.

2) the schematic seems to "remember" the component pin numbers wires were attached to, but those pin numbers change to match the PATTERN'S pad numbers when you link the component to the pattern. Soooo, if you have a transistor, for example, and you change to a different transistor with a different pin ordering (let's say Gate and Drain are swapped on the footprint, for example), the schematic reconnects the wires to the same component pins as before. In other words, the schematic will now be rewired so that it's Gate and Drain are swapped too! Yikes.

This part could really use some improvement. I really hope they have a look at this and ask for some input from us so they can understand how we use the software and the kind of interaction that makes out lives easier. The rest is not bad. Let me know if you can't find some good video tutorials. If I have some free time and it's necessary, I might be able to help out.


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 Post subject: Re: Library Component Creation
PostPosted: 15 Sep 2015, 04:39 
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Joined: 01 Oct 2012, 16:35
Posts: 18
Quote:
1) ... painful process when you're tweaking a lot of components and patterns at the same time.

E.g. changing the pad ring dimension (wich is may be more a property of the pcb fabrication standard than a prop. of a pad.
If your are lucky you can change the ring/pad size in pad template.
Detail in PCB: Change values in pad template of a standard library then you get an error message (bad) but the change is done (good).


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 Post subject: Re: Library Component Creation
PostPosted: 14 Nov 2015, 23:12 
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Joined: 15 Oct 2015, 20:00
Posts: 5
I quite agree joedarock, in common with many packages the library structure is dreadful, just random. A bit like Facebook, never could figure that out. But it doesn’t have to be like that, KISD. Improbable though it sounds, software creators do not think logically or recursively, possibly because of a surfeit of intelligence. Engineers work in lean sequential precision, not starburst of threads. And if software requires tutorials then it’s unnecessarily recondite. We know what it’s supposed to do, we don’t need tutorials to tell us. What we don’t always know are the terms specific to the package or discipline. For this there must be comprehensive terms description, this is sorely lacking.
Hubris aside, the solution is easy, run the software past a bunch of tyros rather than in-house users, irrationality would be readily addressed.


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 Post subject: Re: Library Component Creation
PostPosted: 12 May 2016, 14:25 
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Joined: 04 Aug 2015, 09:43
Posts: 5
I'm revisiting this topic after about a year away from it. Although I figured it out once and successfully made some components, I've now completely forgotten how the process works and once again am baffled trying to create a new component. If a piece of software requires continuous use or re-reading the instructions to figure out how to do what you want to do every time you use it, then that's a good indicator of un-intuitive software.

There's nothing I can find in the present library management system that shows, in one concise view, a library, it's components, each component's constituent elements, and the relationship between all of them. Here's how I think a component library should be presented:

The libraries structure should be a hierarchical tree of file folders, Everything you need should be selectable & view-able from the tree, which is essentially the 'visual database' for the library system as well as a view of which elements make up a component. At a higher level, the tree might also contain project files so that it's the central repository for the whole application. It's always available in a sidebar of the application, no matter which sub-system you'working in. Each branch of the tree can be un-folded to reveal the elements pertinent to that branch in a parent-child relationship. Major branches would include:

1) Libraries: A collection of components with mouseover thumbnail preview. Each library should have branches that show the components it contains; Right-clicking on a component should give options to edit it, or any one of its elements.
2) Component patterns with mouseover thumbnail preview that can be used or adapted to make components by dragging into a component folder. Double-clicking a pattern should open it in the pattern editor.
3) Component symbols with mouseover thumbnail preview that can be used or adapted to make components by dragging into a component folder. Double-Clicking a symbol should open it in the symbol editor.
4) Components (patterns/symbols with associated pin/pad mapping) with mouseover thumbnail preview. There should be branches under each component with its pattern, symbol and pin/pad mapping. Double-clicking on any file in any of these folders should open it in the appropriate editor.

-There should be an editor for editing/creating patterns as well as one for editing/creating symbols.
-There should be a utility that allows pad mapping between symbol pins and pattern pads - aka the "Component editor". Pin/pad mapping should be via a graphical drag/drop paradigm.
-Any component should be easily editable to create a new component from it.
-Selection of patterns/symbols for a component should be via drag/drop from the tree with a thumbnail preview of the pattern/symbol selected.
-All elements in the tree should have right-click properties & methods. You should seldom have to go to the main menu.
-Library creation/editing should be via drag/drop of components into or out of a tree branch.
-ToolTips should be used liberally to give more information on any item the mouse passes over. You shouldn't have to read the manual to figure out the basic idea of what something does.
-If I'm working in Schematic or Layout and need a component, I should be able to just pull it from the tree after previewing it via mouseover and ToolTips.

There is obviously much, much more that has to be thought out and included, but I think the above concepts should illustrate the use paradigm.

From my evaluation of many PCB packages, library creation & maintenance is the most difficult part of the system to grasp, and each product does it a little differently with none being easy. DipTrace is almost completely intuitive in all other respects, leading me to wonder if the library system was done by a different group of programmers in a different location.

From all I've seen, DipTrace is the best low-cost PCB design package out there in all other respects. If you can fix the horrible library management system, you could easily supplant Eagle (which is horrible in EVERY respect) as the dominant low cost PCB package.

I'll continue to edit this posting as I think more about how the sub-system should work.

Joe


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