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Re: gEDA-user: ExpressPCB is evil.... was: Re: New user to PCB - what does this error mean?

Stuart Brorson wrote:
> Be very careful with the fab houses which offer you "free" design
> software -- there's usually a catch of some sort.


My very first board spin was through Express PCB, they made the process
pretty painless--- and I went their route for the first time because I
didn't want to understand very much of what I was doing.  I just wanted
to "close the loop" on turning a screen drawing into copper and
fiberglass and debits to my credit card.

Well, their tool was adequate for all of that.  :)

But I very quickly graduated to the point I needed to do my own
footprints, etc. and at some point--- I don't recall when--- I ran up
against something that their tool couldn't deal with.  Then I switched
to gEDA, and haven't looked back.

gEDA forces you to understand more of what you are doing, but in
exchange you get the ability to send the board to anywhere you like---
and to send it to somewhere different next time, without having to redo
the design in a new tool.  And if you don't think a footprint or
something else is exactly how you want it, you have the option of
opening up its data files in emacs.  In short, complete control over
every step of the design process.

I also like the ability to do my configuration management with git, and
the possibility to machine-edit designs with a shell script (haven't
done that, but might for version stamping).  And I haven't gotten the
time to make it work yet, but I think the SPICE capabilities might be
useful at some point for me, too.

A more subtle advantage might be that you can run the output drawings
through several different Gerber file viewers, and trust that if they
all agree about what the artwork looks like then the board house will
probably get what you want as well.

Call me a "control freak" if you like, but gEDA seems ok with that.  :)

(I use 4pcb.com for my boards, they've done a very good job so far. 
Highly recommended, in particular their automated quoting and design
rule checker).


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