Author Topic: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions  (Read 59686 times)

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Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #100 on: June 18, 2015, 07:17:37 am »
Not sure why people have so much cloud phobia.

Do you think Amazon is suddenly going to loose all the movies they offer through amazon prime?

Why would they loose some measly CM project.

Storage and bandwidth are just going to get cheaper and cheaper, so yeah, cloud data can stay there for eternity.

In no particular order:

Terremark (Verizon), Amazon AWS, RackSpace, Microsoft Azure, Google compute, Sun (Oracle), HP, IBM & Dell all of them offer cloud services and they are all billion dollar companies.

Altium uses AWS for what I can tell, so their data is pretty safe, it's not like they are going to some provider that is 40 hops away from the backbone.
 

Offline BloodyCactus

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #101 on: June 18, 2015, 08:26:50 am »
it isnt altium loosing data, its altium doing what altium does, 180degree business directional changes. The product may be gone inside of two years, and sure they might let you get your data out, as altium designer format specific files, what good is that for a hobbyist?

I dont trust their motive and lack of long term commitment based on their history.
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Offline Kibi

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #102 on: June 18, 2015, 08:52:12 am »
Not sure why people have so much cloud phobia.

You answer your own question here:

and they are all billion dollar companies.

Altium uses AWS for what I can tell, so their data is pretty safe, it's not like they are going to some provider that is 40 hops away from the backbone.

They may well be very few hops from the backbone today (and hopefully tomorrow), but I am not always. I tend to move around. The more I perform this activity, the more varied the number of hops away from the backbone I am. Sometimes this number increases to infinity. So, no matter how robust or reputable the actual cloud may be, if I cannot contact it, it's useless to me.

 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #103 on: June 18, 2015, 10:13:08 am »
The star rating system which should presumably help to filter this also seems fairly useless at the moment - some apparently substantial projects have no stars, while others containing nothing but a few IC outlines have five.

Yep, they really need to figure this out.
Even if Altium go through them and pick out the good ones. Like a "Staff Pick" kinda thing and highlight those.
It's a really bad look for people who first try it.
 

Offline Tothwolf

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #104 on: June 18, 2015, 10:37:53 am »
Not sure why people have so much cloud phobia.

Do you think Amazon is suddenly going to loose all the movies they offer through amazon prime?

Why would they loose some measly CM project.

Altium uses AWS for what I can tell, so their data is pretty safe, it's not like they are going to some provider that is 40 hops away from the backbone.

"Code Spaces"

Murder in the Amazon cloud

AWS console breach leads to demise of service with “proven” backup plan
 

Offline John Coloccia

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #105 on: June 18, 2015, 11:22:57 am »
It's not "cloud phobia".  If the only place you store your data is on some cloud service, you need to have your head examined.  If the only place you store your data is on your primary work computer, again, you need to have your head examined.  These are single points of failure.  Altium can use whatever service it wants, and have as many backups it wants.  IT is the single point of failure, both for your data and for the use of the program itself.  That is absolutely, completely and utterly unacceptable for any project, even for "hobbyist" projects.  No one should subject themselves to that when there are other reasonable options available.

There are others ways to cripple the program that are a lot easier to live with.  This is going to be a non-starter for a great many people and projects.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2015, 11:34:00 am by John Coloccia »
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #106 on: June 18, 2015, 11:29:37 am »
I watched the video and would certainly say that as a free tool, quite remarkable. As I made the transition from hobbyist to making a living with electronic design and manufacturing, Altium Designer has been on my wish list. At first it seemed like a great way to learn it before I buy it. I can deal with most of the limitations with the exception of one - incompatible file format with 'real' Altium Designer.

Whatever I design in this free version will not be part of a usable library when I get the full version. I don't want to put in the needed effort to build a library and then have to start over again right after I write a check for $9k to get the full version. Today, I use Eagle and get PCB's done (eventually). Huge amounts of time have been dedicated to learning the tool and building a library, so I do not want to abandon that until I am very confident it is a long term solution.

"Push" and "shove" features look so awesome. The graphics seem so much easier to see multiple layers. 3D view! So many cool things, but I will not bother. Just saving my pennies for the move up. There is a long line of needs for test equipment that are ahead of Altium Designer since I can do layouts with Eagle at the moment.

It is a good step for Altium. The nature of this effort is that they can change course quickly to make it more appealing or could abandon it where users efforts would be thrown away. Hopefully they have made a real commitment to this.
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Offline LabSpokane

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #107 on: June 18, 2015, 12:27:55 pm »
(This is a screen shot from the CircuitMaker site as of seven minutes ago.)
Why cloud / tethered Altium software is going to be a freaking disaster, Exhibit A:
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #108 on: June 18, 2015, 12:42:28 pm »
That's a screenshot of creating an account from their webpage, I've been using CM non stop for two days in a row.
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #109 on: June 18, 2015, 12:51:48 pm »
If they can't keep a website with a few scripts alive that collects three database fields, how are they going to manage thousands of users simultaneously?  Once again, no money = no support. 
 

Offline Poe

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #110 on: June 18, 2015, 12:57:16 pm »
Because:

1) Requires Internet

2) Requires Internet

3) No local backup


The internet requirement, and the lack of locally backed up files are entirely different issues than forcing projects public. 

Yes.  For a very very small percentage of hobbyists who have to do all of the internet research somewhere other than where they do the off-line layout, ...or those with a spotty link... the internet connection would definitely be an issue.    But why not simply request that it has a longer time-out?  Say ten minutes? What is it now?  Photoshop only checks once a month!  This software could do the same by saving locally and updating your project the next time it's online.

I think they do allow locally stored backups already, right?  Can't you export/import?  Although if not, locally backed up files and an internet requirement are not mutually exclusive things... so feel free to specifically request that. 

I see a valid concern about the company going out of business, although isn't Photoshop in the same boat now and doing better than ever?

Since the "public-only-projects" thing effectively allows them to provide hobbyists, students and the OSHW community a powerful tool while requiring companies to pay-up....it appears to be a nice solution. 

I think the only real reason for most hate here, is that individuals wishing to sell a few projects on the weekend and 'start-up dreamers' have different needs than what AD or CM are setup to satisfy.  If CS gets some limitations and is sold at a reasonable price, I think that would satisfy 99% of people?

if they sold CS for 800$ people would throw money at them.
Of course they would.  CS is currently ADx ($5k package) with a slightly different interface, right?

Why cloud / tethered Altium software is going to be a freaking disaster, Exhibit A:

Dave's video drove too many people to download and sign up. :)
 

Offline John Coloccia

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #111 on: June 18, 2015, 01:07:17 pm »
Since you changed my quote, for the record I said

1) it's crazy to spend any time working on something when you know that if the network goes down for any reason, or heaven forbid you might even have to reboot your computer to get it working again, you will be unable to save your work and that gets lost.

2) if there's a network hiccup anywhere, you will not be able to work at all

3) if Altium decides to pull the plug, change their terms, or whatever, you loose everything permanently

I actually subscribe to Adobe's creative cloud.  I'm not worried about them going out of business.  I'm not particularly worried about Altium going out of business either.  But if Adobe DID go out of business, or change their terms to something I couldn't live with, I would simply take all of my image files, artwork and anything else, and switch to a different application.  What do you do when Altium decides it doesn't want to spend anymore money storing everyone's files and maintaining a free program?  It's a completely different situation.

Personally, I don't see the "being public" thing as any big deal.  If you need to keep your stuff private because you're a commercial user, there are ample free and inexpensive tools available for such a purpose.  The sticking point is putting the user in a situation where they can have the rug pulled out from under them.  That seems crazy.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2015, 01:10:11 pm by John Coloccia »
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #112 on: June 18, 2015, 01:40:56 pm »
If they can't keep a website with a few scripts alive that collects three database fields, how are they going to manage thousands of users simultaneously?  Once again, no money = no support.

Maybe is your email address or name because even if I have already an account I was able to resend it to my email address again.
 

Offline Poe

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #113 on: June 18, 2015, 02:15:47 pm »
Because:
1) Requires Internet
2) Requires Internet
3) No local backup

Isn't that a decent summation?

... But if Adobe DID go out of business, or change their terms to something I couldn't live with, I would simply take all of my image files, artwork and anything else, and switch to a different application.

Aren't the PSD/PSB file formats proprietary and patented just like the Altium files... well the Altium files are probably not a patented format.

The sticking point is putting the user in a situation where they can have the rug pulled out from under them.  That seems crazy.

I agree.  Although I think it's more likely the license system will get cracked and 'free CM server' will become a thing..... like nearly every client side online game.
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #114 on: June 18, 2015, 03:22:37 pm »
So it finally intstalled.

First impressions after 20 minutes, the good:

Clean interface
Painless installation except for associating library
Functionality is obvious
The library appears extensive.  No clue if the parts are accurate yet.

The not so good:
Can't see the manufacturers listed in the library view, only manuf part numbers
After I place a part *then* I get to view the manufacturer  :-//
Horizontal panning does not work with a trackpad
Have to login at least three times to get everything up. Logins are OK, once.
Zoom buttons are on a different toolbar tab than the rest. Give users a fly out for that.

That's all I had time for. But I will say that the UI appears to be excellent compared to others. I will try to do a small board for the sake of giving it a whirl.

 

Offline bitwelder

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #115 on: June 18, 2015, 03:29:45 pm »
I agree.  Although I think it's more likely the license system will get cracked and 'free CM server' will become a thing..... like nearly every client side online game.
I hope it will happen. It might be the only way to convince Altium to add a 'local save' feature at a more reasonable price than the CS suite.
 

Offline Corporate666

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #116 on: June 18, 2015, 04:25:47 pm »
This software seems fantastically poorly executed.

I'm a filthy capitalist and I have little sympathy for broke students or home-brew designers who are just playing around, but I bet the same goes for Altium.  But they don't seem to really have all this stuff figured out - so they've crippled all 3 of their offerings to the point that none of them are really very good.

The problem is that they don't have a reasonable hop-skip-jump in their product line.  I know a lot of people who do circuit design, and it is a small minority who can commit to a tool that will make ALL of their work public domain (yeah you get 2 non-shared ones, that's nothing).   The lack of offline working ability is just the final nail in the coffin.  And because they aren't making money from it, and it's not meant for "real" work, I have a feeling Altium will feel free to do whatever they want with the product at any time - so I wouldn't trust it.

If they were smart, they would let you pay a per-project fee, maybe $20, to make that project non-open-source and usable offline.  That brings in revenue for Altium, it caters to the needs of the starving hobbyist and student, and provides a reasonable ecosystem whereby one can reasonably move between Altium products if they so choose... i.e., if you are doing dozens of boards a year, it makes sense to buy the full product.  If you are doing 10 a year, you pay-as-you-go with Circuit Maker.

Right now the choices are to get porked for a huge amount of $$, or be relegated to (essentially) non-commercial status which will work for a tiny fraction of people who might otherwise use the tool.

It's like these guys spend time figuring out ways to shoot themselves in the foot. 

It's not always the most popular person who gets the job done.
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #117 on: June 18, 2015, 07:02:03 pm »
The problem is that they don't have a reasonable hop-skip-jump in their product line.  I know a lot of people who do circuit design, and it is a small minority who can commit to a tool that will make ALL of their work public domain
...and the ones who don't mind having their work public domain are usually the ones who don't have an always-on, high bandwidth internet connection. Double whammy.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #118 on: June 18, 2015, 08:11:09 pm »
If they were smart, they would let you pay a per-project fee, maybe $20, to make that project non-open-source and usable offline.  That brings in revenue for Altium, it caters to the needs of the starving hobbyist and student, and provides a reasonable ecosystem whereby one can reasonably move between Altium products if they so choose... i.e., if you are doing dozens of boards a year, it makes sense to buy the full product.  If you are doing 10 a year, you pay-as-you-go with Circuit Maker.

That's why I really liked their "feature app" model and pricing in the alpha software they showed me. Need 8 layers for a design?, no problem, that's $50 for 3 months or something.
Need private, that'll be $NN thanks, no problem.
They can still do this, it's all still in place in the software.

Quote
It's like these guys spend time figuring out ways to shoot themselves in the foot.

That's been an Altium specialty for the last 15 years!
Every Altium user I know (not to mention the employees) has permanent face-palm marks.
 

Offline DJohn

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #119 on: June 18, 2015, 08:59:34 pm »
I was reading this...

Quote
While Altium remains committed to listening to its users about improving products or services, you understand that any ideas, inventions or materials (collectively, “Materials”) that you submit to Altium using the Website shall become the exclusive property of Altium and by submitting the same you relinquish all rights in the Materials upon their submission and waive any right to hold Altium liable for its use of or failure to use such Materials in any way.

http://www.circuitmaker.com/terms-of-use.php

...and I realize now that was probably only for the website, not the circuit maker tool? Think I jumped the gun there, sorry about that.

I hadn't seen that one.  Quite alarming indeed.  I assume it's to protect them when they release new versions of their software, with features that look a bit like an idea someone posted on the forum five years ago (which the developers probably never even saw).
 

Offline madires

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #120 on: June 18, 2015, 11:19:56 pm »
Not sure why people have so much cloud phobia.

Do you think Amazon is suddenly going to loose all the movies they offer through amazon prime?

Altium uses AWS for what I can tell, so their data is pretty safe, it's not like they are going to some provider that is 40 hops away from the backbone.

Because a company can pull the plug on its cloud services any time. It happened several times already, even for paid software/services. A classic one is gaming. You pay US$ 50-80 for a nice online game. If the profit isn't as expected the company shut's down the servers and you can't even play offline. The company gave itself the permission to do so in the fine print. Any you can bet on the fine print of any free cloud service, that they reserve the right to shut down the service any time they want. Maybe with some time of notice.

BTW, AWS had outages too. Or take MS for example, they lost data of mobile phone services because of a broken highly redundant storage system.
 

Offline nixfu

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #121 on: June 19, 2015, 12:29:58 am »
I tested it and actually see LOTS of promise in the actual tool itself.

However I will NEVER USE it because:


This limitation makes every other tool better:
  • You can't work without an internet connection on your existing projects.  The files are sitting on my disk, just let me freaking open them without having to go to some stupid website first.

These limitations makes the version control system worthless, and more trouble than just setting up my own git repo:
  • I can't take advantage of the version control system WITHOUT having to make a project public
  • You can't work private, but maybe publish 'releases', while still being able to use the version control private.
  • HELL, why can't I just point the damn tool at a standard version control repo like git? 
  • Frankly, I don't trust Altium to make their own version control system that will not screw up, loose data, etc.. when there are some very smart teams of people that maintain and work very hard on git, subversion etc.. some piss ant hack of a version control system made by altium programmers as a side feature is not going to be trustworthy to keep me from losing data.  Who really thinks they can make a high-quality, safe version control system compared to others already existing?  Not me.
  • Make their site an option to publish releases to, but let me use my own if I want too. 
  • This short of shit is why commercial software sucks compared to open source.  Open source is made for the users and does things good for them.  Commercial software does things good for the company, and often screw the customer.

This limitation makes me thing they have other MOTIVES which are not in my best interest as a creator:
  • I can't keep ANYTHING I WANT private, not just two 'sandboxes'

This limitation makes me not trust them and like 4 makes me think they have other motives not in my interest:
  • Its proprietary.  Without full blown non-limited/non-crippled import/export to a well known, open file format like Eagle or something that I can use to keep a copy of my project forever and use in another tool, I will NEVER EVER EVER use this tool.  I am not going to take the chance of being locked-in.

These  limitations makes me also not want to put any time or effort into migrating or committing to the tool:
  • Altium's reputation for making random 180 direction changes that usually screw the customer
  • No shown commitment to keep us from being locked-in if they change directions (no export to eagle provided etc.
  • No promise that if they decide to kill the product that we are not screwed
  • Scary terms of use with no assurances of what they will REALLY do with our data



I can't believe that people inside Altium can't see these issues which are as plain as day and why this will NEVER take off until they are all addressed.  As a company with a poor customer reputation, and one who has ZERO track record in the open source / open hardware community they would be bending over 10000x more than anyone else to do everything they possibly could think of to earn some trust.    That trust is not going to come free.  Get over yourselves.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2015, 12:45:54 am by nixfu »
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #122 on: June 19, 2015, 12:40:11 am »
I tested it and actually see LOTS of promise.

Yup.  Just do the right thing, then charge me a reasonable price that will sustain the effort.
 

Offline Corporate666

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #123 on: June 19, 2015, 03:55:06 am »
That's why I really liked their "feature app" model and pricing in the alpha software they showed me. Need 8 layers for a design?, no problem, that's $50 for 3 months or something.
Need private, that'll be $NN thanks, no problem.
They can still do this, it's all still in place in the software.

It's rare that I get genuinely annoyed, especially at someone else who is screwing themselves - but in this case, Altium is being really annoying.  It seems incredibly obvious that they are missing a huge opportunity.  I can't tell if they are just inept, or (like I've seen in other places) management is so afraid of doing something new or losing something they already have that they actively end up screwing themselves over.

I interact with quite a lot of FAE's, small biz (electronics industry) owners, hobbyists and so on... and I would say the vast (VAST!) majority of them have a few things in common.  They almost all do small scale EE work either moonlighting and bringing their ideas to fruition, or just personal hobbies they might want to sell on Tindie or eBay or whatever.  And another thing they ALL have in common is that they would never realistically spend $3k to $8k on ANY piece of software.  Altium can think "well if you're really serious, then $3k isn't that much money" - but that's not the decision these people are making, between spending $3k or giving up on their projects.  The decision they are making is "Altium sure is nice, but is it $3k-8k nicer than KiCAD/Eagle/DipTrace/hacked Altium?".  And you have to be doing some pretty serious volume to spend $3-8k on one software tool. 

But I am pretty sure an equally vast majority of the people I know doing this work would LEAP at the chance to pay-as-they-go. 

Quote
That's been an Altium specialty for the last 15 years!
Every Altium user I know (not to mention the employees) has permanent face-palm marks.

LOL!

Altium really needs to think exactly *what* it is that they are selling.  It's not software, and it's not really a service either.  They are selling you the ability to develop a PCB.  So that's the basis they should charge on with Circuit Maker.  When creating a project, they should let you choose free/open-source, or maybe $20 for a 2-layer, $40 for a 4-layer, etc.  I bet there would be thousands of boards created weekly under such a system. 

The way it is now, I don't see why anyone who has the intention of any commercial design would even entertain using this software because why get into it if you know you can't use it... and it's not like it's worthwhile learning it to see if you want to jump into the Altium ecosystem because that comes with a $3k-8k price tag.

Mind boggling.
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Offline Edgarus

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #124 on: June 19, 2015, 04:37:21 am »
But, maybe Commit button is only for a "source control" saving?
I've tested circuitmaker, it is very similar to Altium Designer on which I was working a couple of years ago.

Of course, as every software, it has some disadvantages:
- sometimes it's very slow,
- lack of shortcut list, I've found some list, but most useful operations as add part/wire/etc are not listed,
- the idea of choosing a part is not good. I prefer a kicad approach, where you put parts on the sheet, and after exporting netlist, you assign footprints to each component,
- 3D files - .step, need a large software for viewing it, viewer changes colors of the layers.
- ribbon, but it can be minimized
But, if someone is familiar with Altium Designer, he/she would like this piece of software.

 


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