EAGLE has been making headlines these days after teaming up with Autodesk back in June 2016. And the question on everyone’s mind is the same - what is going to change?
This popular PCB design tool has been around for nearly 25 years, and has gained a huge following over time for two reasons - the free version of EAGLE can satisfy most basic electronic design needs, and it’s FREE. But with Autodesk at the helm now, things are definitely changing. For the good or the bad? Let’s find out.
Giving EAGLE the Love it Deserves
We recently got our hands on the latest build of EAGLE, now called Autodesk EAGLE. On our first crack it’s clear to see that things are certainly different, but not in a bad way. While Version 7.7 focused on adding some new Autodesk manufacturing features, this release digs deep into the EAGLE engine to improve schematic editing, PCB layout and design reuse with several new features.
A Brand New Routing Engine
The router in EAGLE finally feels a bit less manual, and we were treated to some fancy interactive routing tools that bring PCB layout up to speed with other offerings, including:
- Route glossing -
- Loop removal - Be gone, loops! The days of adjusting a net and creating a loop are over - EAGLE automatically removes them for you.
- Track undo - Any long-term EAGLE users know of the pains of adjusting tracks in progress. Now you can just press Backspace
New BGA Fanout
Yeah, routing a BGA is a huge pain, and usually takes hours, but Autodesk EAGLE wants to do away with this nonsense. The new BGA Fanout in this version allowed us to escape all of the nets on a high pin-count BGA in seconds. Needless to say, we love it.
New Circuitry Reuse
For those that find themselves wanting to reuse circuitry easily between multiple projects, now you can. The new design blocks in Autodesk EAGLE allow you to quickly copy and paste circuitry between multiple projects. And the best part? Any changes you make to said circuitry stays synchronized between schematic and PCB.
Our initial first impression with the new Autodesk EAGLE? Definitely a step in the right direction with some much needed improvements. We’d still love that 90s UI to get a new coat of paint, and maybe an easier way to get our designs into a mechanical tool. But for now, Autodesk seems to be heading in the right direction with EAGLE, and very quickly. Now how about that new pricing...
Out with the Old, In with the New
For nearly thirty years, EAGLE has had the same pay-once-for-everything pricing. Basic updates would roll in every 2-3 years, and things would just kind of coast until the next release. Not anymore. Starting with Autodesk EAGLE, the software is now being offered as a monthly or yearly subscription.
We were incredibly curious about this change, and also a tad skeptical. So we reached out to Matt Berggren, Director of Autodesk Circuits, to get to the bottom of this. Here’s what Matt had to say:
“It just made sense. We’ve always wanted PCB design software to be accessible to every engineer. Making this possible with your traditional pay-once-for-everything pricing just didn’t make sense for what we have planned in the future for EAGLE. I don’t think anyone can take offense at getting more updates, better support, and pricing that ends up being way more affordable.”
Big Plans, Big Promises
The Autodesk EAGLE team has been very transparent about what they have planned for the future of EAGLE, with plans to add:
- True mechanical integration with the ability to move designs from EAGLE to a mechanical tool at the click of a button. No extra STEPs required. (Pun Intended)
- A New UI and UX to make EAGLE easier on the eyes and the mind, hopefully without screwing up what already makes EAGLE great, it’s no-nonsense usability.
- 48-hour manufacturing which allows an engineer in EAGLE to ship their design off to a manufacturer and get a board back in 24 hours. We need to see this one to believe it.
About That Pricing…
Alright, time to talk numbers. Here’s how the new EAGLE Subscription breaks down, With the Standard Subscription at $15 per month, that’s $.50 cents per day. Not bad, but what about the Premium Subscription? About $2.17 per day. Your average cup of coffee in the good ol’ USA (without milk)? $2.70. That’s not bad at face value for a design tool that someone can make a living off of.
Our Take? Prove It
There’s no denying that this is a huge change for EAGLE. But we have to admit, it makes sense on paper, with most people making do on the $15/month plan. With EAGLE steadily making strikes to include more premium features, it’s now up to Autodesk to deliver big on their promises. Can they do it? We’ll be keeping a very close eye on EAGLE to find out.
For those already convinced, you can head on over to our Autodesk EAGLE homepage to purchase the new EAGLE Subscription. If you need some more time to decide, you can download Autodesk EAGLE now and give it a spin for free.