Technology
CadSoft EAGLE development team developing XML format for schematic, layout and parts libraries!

Pt 10435

There is a growing movement in the world of electronics called “Open-source hardware” – it has rapidly become very popular over the last 5 years or so, we’re very close to defining what it is and what we need going forward. It’s been a long road with hundreds of talented people working very hard releasing their projects and helping others. Today we just got some great news from the CadSoft EAGLE development team about the their long term commitment to text based file formats in the world of electronics development. With their permission I am posting this here. It’s extremely exciting for those of us who wanted an XML format for files and we’re thrilled CadSoft EAGLE has said they’re committed to it!

Here’s the overview of what we learned:

  • CadSoft EAGLE (our preferred schematic/layout software) has told us they are committed to a text based format in the long term.
  • The CadSoft EAGLE development team is developing a new format for schematic, layout and parts libraries that is XML, this means every object and line will be written out in text description.
  • You won’t have to worry about binary file corruption, you will be able to hand-edit or generate schematics and layouts and of course the magic of version-control (such as github) will be easier than ever with real text ‘diff’s!
  • This will be a fully documented format and also of course a converter for old CadSoft EAGLE binary-type formats.

This is a great direction and I encourage you to support EAGLE as you decide which tools to use now and in the future. But that’s not all, I’ve chatted with the element-14 folks and they’re all set up for your feedback, if they’re very interested in Maker voices their product development. So here’s your chance folks – please stop by the element-14.com site and community.

I’ll post up more as there are new developments. For the folks have asked for a “file format” anyone can read for schematics, layouts and parts libraries – we’re now one step closer with a commitment from one of the most popular tool makers. Special thanks to Windell (EMSL) and Ladyada (Adafruit) and Drew from element-14!

2 thoughts on “CadSoft EAGLE development team developing XML format for schematic, layout and parts libraries!

  1. I was prompted by a supper-time discussion at the OSHW to look into what Altium/Protel did, as I recalled that it too had an ASCII output. Here’s part of an email I recently wrote regarding Altium Summer ’09 EDA software. In short, having this in EDA software isn’t new, but as Eagle seems to be the dominant flavor of inexpensive PCB software, this is good news.

    We used Protel 2.8 for ages, then upgraded to Altium when they had an excellent sale last year ($1500 is much more affordable than the $6k they previously wanted). I’ve tried Eagle. Sorry, I’m sticking with Altium! Still, it’s good to know that we’ll be able to publish “human readable” interchange files along with the gerbers.
    ——————————-

    TL;DR summary:
    2 types of Ascii exports for Altium PCBs, 1 well annotated & documented
    1 type of Ascii export for Altium schematics, well annotated & might be documented

    Here’s the info regarding the ascii file format provided by Altium / Protel. From the digging I did, there’s a fair number of 3rd party products that read/write it, so it’s looking like a viable EDA version of CAD’s “DXF” format.

    There’s 2 main ascii formats, Protel v2.8, and Protel99SE ASCII (which the latest Altium exports). The latter is much more readable, with almost XML levels of detail (without real XML tag delimiters) embedded the file.

    The original Protel v2.8 format is much more reminiscent of AutoCAD’s DXF where it’s much more compact, but not nearly as readable.

    The schematic format seems similar to the Protel99SE type specification, also having substantial notation.

    Hrm. Altium’s wiki seems down at the moment. Fortunately, I found this link:

    Protel99SE Ascii format specification:
    http://www.eurointech.ru/products/Altium/Protel99SE_PCB_ASCII_File_Format.pdf

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