Peer-to-peer communities are a key enabler of modern PCB design, but aren’t being fully utilized, reveals CadSoft survey


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25th anniversary poll gives insight into the key focus areas for PCB design engineers in the global electronics industry

November 25, 2013 – Chicago – PCB design software vendor CadSoft Computer (part of Premier Farnell) today marks its 25th anniversary by revealing the findings of its global survey of PCB designers. Since the company’s formation in 1988 the electronics industry has evolved considerably, with two of the biggest trends of recent years being the rise of online peer-to-peer communities and social media. CadSoft’s survey found that 83% of respondents consider online peer-to-peer communities to be ‘vital’ or ‘important’ to their work, yet nearly half (41%) remain inactive on such sites.

Meanwhile 42% of respondents thought social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook influence their designs as a resource for gathering product news, design hints and ideas in much the same way as forums. Yet almost the same amount - 36% - think social media isn’t important at all because there is too much “noise.”

Commenting on these findings Thomas Liratsch, Managing Director at CadSoft Computer said: “25 years ago PCB designers didn’t have the luxury of online forums or social media. It’s clear that the vast majority see the benefits nowadays, but a surprising number simply aren’t engaging with these channels. As a result of this disconnect, online community sites such as element14 remain very much an untapped resource to a generation of PCB designers. CadSoft has from its early days been very interactive with EAGLE users through dedicated support forums. These have always been well received by our users, giving them the opportunity to get answers to their questions and to suggest improvements to the software.

“Some of the stigma attached to social media channels like Twitter perhaps stems from a lack of understanding and suggests people don't know how to filter out the irrelevant content and narrow the information streams to really focus on key influencers and like-minded peers. Twitter isn’t just for teenagers and pop culture.”

Other notable findings from the survey include:

  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) think development boards are reducing the need for custom PCB design
  • ¾ of respondents (74%) are targeting control system applications with their design and almost half (46%) are involved in Open Source Hardware
  • The majority of designers would put functionality before cost when buying design tools, with 60% of respondents rating functionality as an “extremely important” factor
  • element14 voted the most popular online forum for PCB designers
  • 87% cited improved library management, speedier part creation as desirable or extremely desirable features for future versions of CadSoft EAGLE
  • The majority surveyed (30%) work on 1-3 new designs or updates in a year, while 24% are working on 10+

Ed Robledo, General Manager of CadSoft USA added: “The huge explosion of development boards, which our survey suggests is reducing the need for custom PCB design, is actually proving to be a big opportunity for us, with CadSoft now used for more and more development board design. It goes to show that while the electronic design landscape continues to evolve, there are still core requirements such as usability which remain as important as ever. Historically, this has always been CadSoft’s strength - the ability to provide functional software which optimizes an engineer’s productivity.”

The survey, conducted in October 2013, included responses from professional engineers from 42 countries.

For 25 years CadSoft EAGLE has been satisfying design engineers around the world by offering the same core functionality as expensive commercial PCB design software at a fraction of the cost. EAGLE provides a user-friendly and powerful software environment for efficient PCB design, combining three modules (schematic editor, layout editor and autorouter) in a single user interface. It is fully supported on Windows, Linux and Mac platforms with files being completely interchangeable. With a flexible licensing model, EAGLE version 6 offers great value for all kinds of professional, educational and personal use, regardless of experience.

About CadSoft

CadSoft Computer GmbH and CadSoft Inc. are part of Premier Farnell plc., one of the world's leading distributors of electronic components, products and services. CadSoft specializes in the development of the popular CAD-Software EAGLE used by design engineers worldwide for over 20 years. EAGLE is a user-friendly, powerful and affordable software for efficient circuit board design (PCB design) and combines the modules schematic editor, layout editor and autorouter on one single interface. Shared Open Source User Language Programs (ULPs) guarantee maximum flexibility by enabling various features, such as simulation, realization of individual instruction sequences, data export and import.  DesignLink feature provides access to data and prices on over 4 million products from Newark, Farnell and element 14. EAGLE users benefit from free support through dedicated experts, active customer forums, the EAGLE community on element 14, webinars and training on demand. EAGLE is available for Linux®, Mac® and Windows®.

About Premier Farnell

Premier Farnell plc (LSE:pfl) is a global leader in high service distribution of technology products and solutions for electronic system design, maintenance and repair. Its differentiated proposition includes 29 local language transactional websites, and the critically important element14 Community for design engineers – an industry first ( www.element14.com). With sales last year of £952m the Group distributes its comprehensive portfolio of products and services throughout Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, supported by a global supply chain of over 3,500 suppliers and an inventory profile developed to anticipate and meet its customers’ needs.

While global in scope, Premier Farnell recognizes the individual needs of each market and has continued to internationalize its model accordingly. It trades locally as Farnell element14 in Europe, Newark element14 in North America and Mexico and Farnell Newark in Brazil. Across Asia Pacific the business trades as element14.



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