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posted by Fnord666 on Saturday January 21 2017, @11:52AM   Printer-friendly
from the slow-death-of-proprietary-software dept.

EAGLE, The Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor is an ECAD (electronic computer-aided design), proprietary software for creating printed circuit boards. Cadsoft, the company that created it, sold EAGLE to Autodesk in June.

Hackaday reports

Autodesk has announced that EAGLE is now only available for purchase as a subscription. [Previously], users purchased EAGLE once and [could use] the software indefinitely (often for years) before deciding to move to a new version with another one-time purchase. Now, they'll be paying Autodesk on a monthly or yearly basis.

Before Autodesk purchased EAGLE from Cadsoft, a Standard license would run you $69, paid once. [...] Standard will [now] cost $15/month or $100/year and gives similar functionality to the old Premium level, but with only 2 signal layers.

[...] The next level up was Premium, at $820, paid once. [...] If you [now] need more [than 2] layers or more than 160 [sq.cm] of board space, you'll need the new Premium level, at $65/month or $500/year.
New Subscription Pricing Table for Eagle

[...] The [freeware] version still exists, but, for anyone using Eagle for commercial purposes (from Tindie sellers to engineering firms), this is a big change. Even if you agree with the new pricing, a subscription model means you never actually own the software. This model will require licensing software that needs to phone home periodically and can be killed remotely. If you need to look back at a design a few years from now, you better hope that your subscription is valid, that Autodesk is still running the license server, and that you have an active internet connection.

The page has well over 100 comments, with many saying the equivalent of "Goodbye, EAGLE; Hello, KiCAD".
KiCAD is gratis and libre, cross-platform, has been adopted as a software development project by nerds at CERN, and has seen marked improvement in recent years.

Previous:
CERN is Getting Serious About Development of the KiCAD App for Designing Printed Circuits
Scripts Make the (Proprietary) Cadsoft EAGLE-to-(FOSS) KiCAD Transition Easier

Some time back, anubi and I conversed about how EAGLE has been DRM'd for quite a long while.


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  • (Score: 1) by tftp on Saturday January 21 2017, @11:51PM

    by tftp (806) on Saturday January 21 2017, @11:51PM (#457157) Homepage

    I started using Eagle professionally in about 1999 and bought a license for Linux. It worked fine for me at that time. But pretty soon - within a few years - I started hitting serious walls: can't do this, can't do that... and splurged on Mentor Graphics' PADS (DxDesigner + PADS {Layout,Router} + HyperLynx + IODesigner.) Day and night! Even though PADS is not the top notch package - it is somewhat middle class. I'm still using PADS, it is VX now, staying with 1.2 as of today, not upgrading yet because of the workflow. It does what I need - and there is something else that is very important: a bunch of contractors support PADS and can do decals, symbols, layout for us. Eagle? Not so much. Most never even heard about the thing, even though many know and have OrCAD/Allegro, Altium, Expedition...

    Eagle was weird. It had so many unusual UI elements that I had to learn how to use the GUI! That right-click was terrible! Eagle also had some defaults set to "do not work" out of the box; for example, it did not tent the vias. All in all, it was suitable for small, simple boards, but if you do anything more complex... may the gods of silicon heaven pity your soul.

    Recently one of our contractors brought to me a design done in Eagle (a modern one.) I had to look at it... what a mess! And the design had some serious layout issues that PADS would have detected. If we go to production with this design, the PCBs will be redone in PADS. And the schematic too. Modern DxD is so much better! Sure, it costs money; expect to pay from $5K to 9K for the package, depending on the options. But for a commercial entity this is just the cost of doing business. May be not so for a ham, a hacker or a non-profit - too bad. A lot of labor went into the creation and ongoing maintenance of this package. It certainly is worth the price.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22 2017, @12:07AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22 2017, @12:07AM (#457162)

    $5K to 9K for the package [...] this is just the cost of doing business

    ...until the proprietary software company decides that they aren't making enough money and jack up the prices|changes the license terms|yada,yada,yada.

    ...or they make a new "better" product that is incompatible with the old product then discontinue the old product.

    ...or another company buys up the company|product and discontinues it in favor of their own cash cow.

    Proprietary software sucks--and, like so many things in the post-Reagan era, it's getting WORSE.

    -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

    • (Score: 1) by tftp on Sunday January 22 2017, @12:26AM

      by tftp (806) on Sunday January 22 2017, @12:26AM (#457174) Homepage

      Proprietary software sucks--and, like so many things in the post-Reagan era, it's getting WORSE.

      You need to keep in mind that businesses are not trying for the best possible outcome. They need solution that works here and now. PADS does offer a subscription for updates, and we have them (we have several seats.) As new versions come out we migrate. This is not difficult -- can't say about any and all commercial products, but this one is pretty stable. The cost of subscription is part of our overhead expenses, just as the rent and the utilities. The only thing that matters for a business is the difference between profit and expenses!

      With regard to quality, most commercial products are far better than most free products. This is simply because commercial ISVs can hire the people to do the grunt work - something that F/OSS people cannot do, and very few volunteer to spend several years of their lives to develop a single-use algorithm for a very special industrial application. The case of Eagle is a good illustration here - Cadsoft kept the minimal version of the product free and charged some small money (under $100?) for a full build. This is not enough to hire enough programmers to do all that a modern PCB CAD package ought to do. This is not enough to get rid of the arcane GUI and rebuild it into something usable (see Altium - it's their specialty.) And here is the result - they are stuck with the old software and no money in the end. I'd rather take the expensive s/w that keeps developing and stays around as opposed to entry-level package that gets obsoleted and the company goes belly up, leaving me where? As they say, the devil that you know is always better - especially the devil that shares your own (business's) values and understands your needs.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22 2017, @02:58AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22 2017, @02:58AM (#457231)

        That assumes, once again, that

        1) the product isn't discontinued instead.
        2) what is offered is compatible with the old stuff.
        3) the "improved" stuff isn't an unusable steaming pile.

        ...and, with corporations putting time bombs in the software|requiring an internet connection|whatever, your option to use the old version of "your" proprietary software is disappearing.

        commercial ISVs can hire the people to do the grunt work

        A major aspect of FOSS development is a guy "scratching an itch".
        Once he's contented with his effort, he stops.
        (Ken Starks, who had his dodgy larynx removed, ran into this with a text-to-speech app.) [soylentnews.org]

        If there is no developer who thinks that -your- itch is worthy of being addressed, what you gonna do?

        It's clear to me that the bounty system on bugs|new features should be used much more.
        Is there a shortcoming in your FOSS software that really grinds your gears?
        I'll bet you're not the only one that it irritates.

        Every FOSS project should have a Bounty Page on the project's site.
        It should be dirt-simple to organize funding for a fix.
        Kickstarter has been a thing for quite a white now; the notion is widely known.

        ...and the whole Bounty paradigm should be played up more by FOSS advocates.
        Y'all feel free to use my Bounty Page notion in your advocacy.

        -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

        • (Score: 1) by tftp on Sunday January 22 2017, @05:35AM

          by tftp (806) on Sunday January 22 2017, @05:35AM (#457266) Homepage

          The "bounty" is a prototype of a full-blown commercial enterprise.

          The "bounty" approach also suffers from the tragedy of commons. If the product is going to be free, nobody wants to pay for its development. Everyone prefers to sit back and wait until someone else pays, or until the developers get around to fix the problem on their own accord. As an example, there is no direct, drop-in F/OSS replacement of Quicken/Quickbooks. The GUI is not hard... what is hard is to sign agreements with 100s of banks to use their online account access system. How easy, do you think, it is for a F/OSS developer to get a bank's API? What kind of demands would a bank place on the ISV's code that can reach into bank's databases and fetch/post transactions? Sometimes you just need to be a corporation to sign binding agreements - and then to live up to them. To produce tax reports for millions of people and then be responsible for their accuracy.

          There definitely are a few companies that hire workers to do F/OSS development. But there are too few of them, and their business model is based on services; the product is a loss leader, the enticement, the vehicle for a larger deal. But even then people often are displeased with the direction of the company... RH is kind of a thing in itself; Mozilla became a SJW nest and is going who knows where (I don't use their products anymore); Ubuntu produced Unity...

          Overall, I understand your main concern: if you don't have access to the code you cannot be sure that you can run the thing. And those concerns are not without merit - see Win8/Win10 for example, poor, unusable things. But that can be dealt with commercially, on the same basis that new Linux distributions (Mint) spring up when the parent codebase (Ubuntu) veers off. The only difference is money, and it is not a key factor for a business. Quality is, reliability, fitness for the duty. Not too many F/OSS projects qualify here. You can compare SublimeEdit and Atom, for example... the former is good to go; the latter doesn't even run anymore on one of my computers.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22 2017, @08:17AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22 2017, @08:17AM (#457284)

            You're showing your Reactionary streak.

            That phrase is an invention of The Bourgeoisie.
            For the hundreds of years when Feudalism was in decline and The Commons were actually common, that phrase didn't exist.
            It is Reactionary propaganda that arose after the Enclosure Acts, which privatized land ownership of that which had, up to that point, been freely accessible by all.

            I find it sad that every kid hasn't heard the story of Stone Soup. [wikipedia.org]
            Everyone contributes a small amount and everybody gets a nice meal.

            I have already mentioned Kickstarter, which has repeatedly demonstrated that the concept works.

            The "bounty" is a prototype of a full-blown commercial enterprise.

            As already stated, your Reactionary streak is showing.
            This is people collectively using what they have (small amounts of money) to achieve a common goal.
            It's "commercial" in the same way that a community chest is. /sarc

            Sometimes you just need to be a corporation

            That's just about enough of your Reactionary swill.

            money [...] is not a key factor for a business

            Now, you've doubled back and are arguing with your original point.
            That's comical.

            There are lots of folks here who do not share your worship of megacorporations.
            I'm one.

            -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

    • (Score: 1) by anubi on Sunday January 22 2017, @07:09AM

      by anubi (2828) on Sunday January 22 2017, @07:09AM (#457280) Journal

      My fear is running these kind of subscription programs under Windows 10. I already had the pleasure of fixing problems that FTDI caused me by the nuking of some of my stuff by using the Microsoft Update system. My response was to redesign the PCB's to use the Chinese CH340 chip in lieu of the FTDI chip. I was very concerned that FTDI had grown so concerned with DRM that my concerns like whether or not my customer's stuff worked was of no importance anymore, leaving me holding the bag full of disgruntled customers.

      I also disabled the Windows Update system in my WIN7 machines. Yes, I know maybe there is some viruses I am not protected against now, but I feel I am safe enough using these isolated machines to just do design work on, and they won't see the internet ( albeit they are networked to each other ). There is an air gap between that subnet and the internet. I use USB sticks/drives to transfer data files to/from internet - connected machines. Not completely secure, but I think I have a much less chance of coming in one day to discover none of my machines work because they got some surprise midnight upload from Microsoft.

      Also, each machine gets its own CloneZilla backup disk just in case. I simply no longer trust Microsoft, Apple, Google, or Linux. Mostly because the systems have grown so complex that I no longer understand what each file is for and how it works. You could do anything conceivable to my DOS systems, and as long as you did not destroy the hardware, I would bob right back up. I tried to hold on under WIN95, but these latest systems, I am completely lost in ignorance, with the fear that my ignorance of how my stuff works will be used against me. All this DRM crap coming in on top of additional system complexities has simply overwhelmed me. I live in fear, like when I am required to sign legal contracts I have not read.

      I feel that Windows 10, like Android, is mostly usable as an internet superhighway access device, much like I do not need to know how my car works to use the Interstate Highway system. I just bought some Android tablets that seem usable to me mostly as a device to find and buy stuff on the internet. I can't easily program the thing to do anything for me. That is what Arduinos are for.

      I fear the Microsoft Update System will be used to enforce updates, with the customer's access to his own files to be held hostage, kinda like a legal cryptolocker.

      Big corporations seem to have little problem with delivering problems, but when we little guys deliver stuff that does not work, we spend all of our time making good on our promises, and soon go out of business.

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]