Design tools are critical in most embedded development. Whether it’s designing a PCB or simulating a design, people are starting to rely heavily on software. Two major software companies may bring together even more people under one roof. Electronic parts supplier Premier Farnell made headlines when it was revealed they agreed to sell the company for ₤615m to Dätwyler, a Swiss industrial components maker. But, this isn’t what caught people’s attention. This move means the company is getting rid of non-core businesses and that includes EAGLE, a popular free to use print circuit board (PCB) site. Who acquired the business? It was none other than the design-tool juggernaut, Autodesk.
Eagle has been a standard for PCB for over 30 years largely due to its free, but limited, license. This makes it easy for students and those interested to learn PCB design and implement custom circuits in their projects. The company also opened its arm to the open-source hardware community making a lasting impression with loyal users. So now that the company is officially a part of the giant software company that is Autodesk, what does this mean for Eagle users?
This acquisition is part of Autodesk’s plan to become your go to for CAD designers. Many users rely on CAD for both professional use and hobbyists and Autodesk wants to open themselves to the CAD community. They plan to bring their resources to EAGLE’s platform to improve on its core. Aside from this, they want to add some new features to EAGLE, notably some customers have been asking for. These include real time DRC, a tighter interface, library improvements, better content and resources, and improved interactive routing. It sounds good, but with this new merger brings concerns, the biggest being will there be a markup? According to Autodesk, the price won’t be changed, but there will be different licenses: layout + schematic and layout + schematic + autorouter. And yes, there will still be a free version.
It’s great to see Autodesk constantly evolving. Just a few years ago they teamed up with Circuits.io for the new electronics design tool 123D Circuits. “Circuits” can simulate Arduino boards, for example, and run written code. Designing virtually is now a free endeavor it seems. Could this new merger become part of the circuits.io effort? It’s possible since the website is about creating circuits in-browser and view the rendered PCB for free without your designs being locked. With Autodesk’s promise of EAGLE keeping its free, but limited license, adding it to the circuits.io network can make it more robust and appealing for those just starting out in CAD design. Since EAGLE is about building circuits and PCBs, it seems like it would fit in nicely with the circuits.io network. I’ve used both, and they become more important with my designs with each passing project.
Right now it looks like there won’t be a lot of change with this new merger. If anything it seems like the new deal will only make Autodesk bigger and better. At least that’s all we can tell for now. We won’t be able to really understand what changes the new deal will bring. We have to wait it out and see what happens. As long as there isn’t a huge price hike and the free license remains, most users will not see a difference. Read more about the merger after this link.