Finding the right PCB design software - By Andy Ball, Altium

Below is a handy process for finding the right PCB design tool: 1. Identify your own personal needs that you require from a design tool. 2. Find a few samples of tools that match your needs. 3. Analyze the tools you selected based on feature offerings to determine the best fit.

Starting with You
It's important to first define your own personal requirements for your tools so that you can better clarify what it is you are even looking for. Some things to think about initially include:

• Realities of the Job
• Time Investment
• Ease of Use
• Reliability and Support
• Initial Investment
• Flexibility
• Future Needs

Assessing Your Options
Before you go off on your search, it's important to understand three distinct software offerings that are provided these days for PCB design tools. All of these offerings will differ depending on the set of features they offer and what kind of environment they are suited for.

Enterprise software will offer all of the industry-standard features that professional designers need at a relatively high price point.
Open-source software is community driven and has the added benefit of being free.
SaaS is still an evolving market and lacks some of the basic functionalities of PCB design features.

Finding Your Match
It's time to get into the finer details. You've got your three choices, now you need to narrow it to one. By this point you've chosen your software based on what works for you. You've defined your needs for price, usability, support, etc. Now is the time to look at the features that each set of software provides to see if it matches your requirements. This part will differ depending on the kind of work you do on a daily basis.

Use this helpful three stage approach for finding your perfect PCB design tool. element14 and Altium have teamed up to bring you a professional grade design tool, without the usual complexities. Instead of compromising on design tools we invite you to have a firsthand look at CircuitStudio.