As a professional developer, you have a variety of options when there is a requirement for a PCB design tool. These options belong to different categories such as free and open-source, low-cost, and high-end tools.
Before you choose the tool, it is essential to select the right category. This selection takes place based on your requirements as well as budget. For those who are on a constricted budget, the free tools seem to be the most appealing ones.
However, this appeal is only from the point of view of price. What about the professional output that is always a priority for the professionals? Unfortunately, most developers fail to think from this point of view or simply overlook it for the sake of saving money.
Well, they need to realize that these tools, most of the times, forces them to invest more time and money later when they lack some useful features or begin to exhibit instability. Usually, most open-source tools are not as stable as the low-cost or branded ones. Most professionals are certainly not going to praise this aspect.
So, don’t you think that a little brainstorming is required to choose the right PCB tool? To help you out, here are the two actions you must take for choosing the right professional tool in the smartest way.
1. Think about the Requirements of the Tool Users
While selecting a circuit design tool, the first thing to consider is the users. You need to know which departments of the organization are going to use the tool and what will be their purpose of doing so. Each of them would have a specific and distinct goal to be achieved.
Pro Idea: Choose a tool that meets the goals of each of these departments. Well, this is a professional approach for smart selection. Nobody would prefer having multiple tools to cater to the varying needs of different departments. The probability of such having multiple tools is more with open-source or free tools.
2. Go for Low-cost Tools Offering Free Trial, If on Tight Budget
It is better to avoid succumbing to free/open-source tools. This is because they are genuinely not free, as they make you invest more time in developing the desired printed circuit boards.
You are surely going to take time in knowing what are the features, how the tool works, and how to design the footprints and components. Well, this is infeasible, as a professional’s time is not free.
Further, you spend more time in evaluating whether the tool meets all the requirements of all departments. If the result is negative, it is obvious to start the same process with another free or open-source tool.
In the case of low-cost tools, you do not spend much time in learning it. This is because these PCB software applications offer online tutorials, manuals, and help desks. Just as the high-end PCB tools, they come with the same basic functionality but without the bells and whistles. Further, the vendor takes the responsibility of training, features, and continuity.
Pro Idea: Choose a low-cost tool with a free trial so that you can decide to invest only after evaluation.