I'd like to share some of things I noticed after a while spent with Designer Schematic.
1. Installation and activation
- Quite fast - on my (almost) ancient laptop it took about ten-fifteen seconds.
- No problems with online activation. Instant.
- Requested a reboot. It worked with no reboot, however. Nevertheless, it could have not requested to reboot the computer if possible.
- Installs to a default location. Almost like other Mentor products I met, but I'd like to have an opotion to choose the installation path.
- Interface familiar to people knowing other Mentor tools - based on DxDesigner. (Almost) the same, just less options.
- Windows can be moved anywhere - even out of the main application window.
- It's easy to start drawing.
- For people knowing older DxDesigners: one can draw a net from pin to a named net, not only from a named net to a pin.
- Add Array function makes placing connectors/multiple components easier.
- Defult window layout has a lot of windows opened. On a 1680x1050 monitor about 40% of horizontal and 30% of vertical space is used by helper windows. Two screen setup would be greatly advised - one screen for schematic, second for helper windows.
- There's no integrated Archiver function. As there is no Save option (Designer is an iCDB-based software, which means that the design is saved in a database) there is a need for an easy way to backup one's work on demand.
- Initial library of parts is small. However, PartQuest can mitigate this feeling.
- No way to search components by parameters.
- Vast library of parts available
- Easy to find components - same filters as in DigiKey online shop.
- Easy to add components to Designer's library.
- Only Dropbox available as a storage for created part files. (Suggestion: add other cloud storages - Google, Microsoft, OwnCloud...)
- No direct download available - have to use cloud storage as a temporary fileholder.
- Limited number of symbols - currently e.g. there's no symbol for an IC.
- Not descriptive part naming - downloaded files are named like "digikey-PARTNO.1", which make them appear as "digikey-PARTNO" in the Designer's library.
That's all I noticed during my short adventure with Designer Schematic. I'd like to add more, but as there's no layout function, it's of no use for me as a hobbyist (who'd like to have his layout done by himself...).
Thank you for taking the time to evaluate Designer Schematic and providing feedback!!
A couple of notes:
Designer Layout is coming. Our current focus is Designer Schematic (and the integration process with Digi-Key).
We will be adding other cloud storage solutions. Google and Microsoft are on the short list.
We have gone back and forth on the "Archive" function. On one hand it is easy enough to "zip" the project at the OS level and with some shell scripts it's quite easy to create a a variety of solutions. On the other hand our focus for Designer Schematic is "easy"... Honestly, the information we are missing is "desired use cases". Is "archive" really desired or is this a "Save As" need?
Install Reboot: Which version of Windows are your running? (I did not see a request to reboot on my Win-7 installation)
Multiple Windows: I wonder if we should set the default window behavior to "auto hide"? I find that using auto-hide maximizes screen real estate for my schematic and makes accessing the other windows easy... and then I disable auto-hide when I am interacting with specific windows frequently (like instantiating parts early in the design creation process)
I set the window behavior to auto-hide. Having that the default might be nice specially for those not familiar with the software. Another option if possible without a major rework would be to able to go full screen with the current schematic or layout page. Specially for those that might be working from a laptop or smaller screens. I'm currently using the beta on a large screen laptop because I move around a lot during the course of a day. Although it's usable that would be a welcomed feature. You can turn off the tool bars which helps but a full screen mode with floating toolbars would be ideal.
I think the thought process here was to show the user what was available so they could get a fast view of capabilities. Once the user was familiar they could then turn on the auto hide windows. We are working on videos that will show some of these quick functions. Unfortunatly some malware hit my laptop so the video has been slowed a bit.
I do like the full screen mode with the floating tool bars. Those of us that work on laptops are at a disadvantage for screen real estate.
You can get really close by turning on auto hide and undocking the tools. I know that every cm counts when you are working on a large circuit.
I just installed myself and can confirm that on Windows 7 Professional Version 6.1 Build 7601, it says that "a reboot may be required". As a result of being accustomed to installers that warn when an open program will result in a conflict during installation, I didn't bother closing the other programs I had open, so if the versions are the same, that might explain why I saw the message and you didn't.
Sorry for the late reply - I didn't have time for a second glance on the Designer...
- Reboot: Old WinXP SP3. I usually don't bother to close anything during install, just as _Derek does.
- Part search:
It's good to know that there's an option to search for elements, but I'd welcome an option to browse my library with an ability to sort by parameters (I sometimes try to chose a part that I already have in my library and that helps me a lot). I mean a similar behavior as in DxDataBook - parameters in columns, searchable and available to be sorted.
In iCDB flow (EE7.9.2) I use Archive to create backups of my design. Of course it can be automated via shell scrips, but it's a not so elegant workaround, and workarounds lower the "usability score" for the software. I prefer software with built-in archiving functionality. Unfortunately a database is not Version Control friendly, so I'd like to have a vendor provided (at least) "poor man's version control".
Maybe auto-hide is a good option. I can't judge, because I never worked with it anywhere (maybe except of Windows' taskbar).
Some time ago I met a great option in the Altium package - they had context menus bound to keyboard keys, so when you worked on a design, you pointed somewhere, pressed, for example, "z" and got a context menu with zoom options, and so on. Saved a lot of mouse movements, as the options in the menus could be selected also with keyboard.
Best regards and sorry again,