Cadsoft Eagle review by a new user

Pete decided to try out Cadsoft Eagle and write about his experience. The first impression wasn’t the best.

I finally decided to download and learn to use the industry-standard PCB and schematic layout software: Eagle. I’ve tried a bunch of others, and quite frankly, got tired of always using “also ran” software. The majority of the info on the web is for Eagle. It certainly doesn’t have the best UI or the best workflow, but it has absolutely the most amount of information and the best support from PCB manufacturers. It’s the industry standard, and like most industry-leading technical software (ever use industry-leading 3d modeling software? Gak!), it has some crazy issues.

We’d suggest that Eagle is more a hobbyist and open hardware standard, with much more expensive software dominating most pro design shops. We stick with Eagle for exactly the same reasons though. Most people have it, and there’s a ton of documentation out there for it. We’d prefer an open program like KiCAD, but it’s not going to appeal to as many people.

Don’t let the file format dictate your choice though. Every PCB manufacturer worth using supports Gerbers, and every CAD program worth using should have a way to export them.

Join the Conversation


    1. That button does not delete a library. It simply removes it from the active search list. Some users where overwhelmed by the number of libraries or they simply like to just use certain libraries.

      That’s what the drop button is for.

      You can restore everything by typing Use * followed by enter in the command line. There are GUI mechanisms to do this, but it’s easier to explain the typed method.

      Jorge Garcia
      Cadsoft Support

      1. In English, the word “drop” would never be used in that way. “Hide” might be appropriate to the function you’ve described, but to the English-speaking user, “drop” would mean “drop the component on the schematic.” I might add that even “Hide” would not make much sense in that context since the immediate screen shows a single component rather than an entire library.

        This is only one instance of dozens where either bad translation or just plain poor word choice mars the functioning of your product. “RTFM” you say? It’s no better, and when nomenclature on the interface confuses rather than enlightens, the manual means nothing.

        CadSoft needs to stop the denial and face up to the fact it has a serious language problem. It doesn’t need useless admonitions to “read the F…… manual.” It’s no better than the interface.

      2. Hi Todd,

        The RTFM comment was not mine, that was another Jorge although I understand where the confusion stems from.

        The confusion with the Drop button has been recognized before, as well as the GUI complaints. These issues are being discussed, changes will be made. Keep in mind the enormity of the task, EAGLE’s development team is small, and a GUI overhaul(should they decide to do that) takes some time.

        Thank you for your suggestions and comments.

        Best Regards,
        Jorge Garcia
        Cadsoft Support

    1. No it is not a RTFM candidate. From a UI developer – and I mean no malice to the Cadsoft developers – Eagle’s GUI is really painfully bad.

      Resolutions to common problems encountered by average users in the UI are not easily overcome.

      Nobody with a desire to accomplish other things with their day wants a two hour research project to figure out why a connection isn’t being made to a component. Other simple software tasks are made complicated and then they don’t feel the need to explain to the user while he/she is using the interface.

      That this is one of the primary programs to do this function appears to be an academically interesting accident of history – I only find it amusing that they are charging $1,000 for an ironically named piece of software (E.A.G.L.E)…already looking for a replacement.

  1. Dear DP,

    I don’t agree with you on sticking to Eagle. It’s true that many hobbyists use it, but keep in mind that they use it because of a closed cycle: since open source shops use Eagle, many beginners think that it is the best choice and start to use. Since many hobbyists use Eagle, more and more OSHW companies use it and the cycle closes. While Eagle is an excellent CAD package for a commercial company, for a hobbyist it’s a trap. Limitations of the free version make the program suitable for work only on small projects. For someone who will never design anything bigger than an Arduino shield, the limitations are not a concern. However, those who will mature to design bigger and more complicated circuits will face the choice: either throw away their customs libraries and existing designs and find and learn another PCB package, or spend $$$ on the commercial version.
    Somebody has to break the cycle and show people that they do not have to use Eagle.

    j, former Eagle user.

    1. You forget the cost of learning a new program.

      I never ran into the limitations of the free version for hobby use. THe only ‘limitation’ is that the whole schematic needs to be on one page. but that page is unlimited in size so it is not a very big limitation.

  2. I’m with Pete. It’s good of CadSoft to offer a free limited version for hobbyists, but after a year of constant hassles, I’ve given up on it. At best I need to do a schematic/layout maybe six times a year, and without constant use and practice, Eagle is all-but useless to me. Here are my main reasons.

    1. Its functions, user interface, and terminology are among the most counter-intuitive of any software I’ve ever used over the past 30 years. I’m a strong believer in some degree of standardization that allows for the accumulation of “meta-knowledge”–knowledge that works across models, brands, and even languages. Example: the layout and operating interface of any automobile in the world. The order and function of the pedal, the sequence and pattern of shifters (H-pattern, etc), the general location of switches, etc. As a Linux user, I don’t like to admit it, but Windows or Mac GUIs work the same for all programs (and of course so do Linux GUIs). Microsoft likes to monkey with their interface for every 18-month Windows (XP, Vista, 8, etc) release in the interests of novelty, but some of us remember the old days when each application had its own hotkeys, menu items and structure, and the learning curve was steep for new programs or even versions. It’s a step in the wrong direction, then that the CadSoft Volk have designed an interface and methodology too unique and too particular. I hate it.

    2. A really big problem in at least the English version is that many of the translations for the function names or procedures are very poor, some are absolutely misleading in English. Frankly, I can’t imagine paying any money at all for software so poorly documented. Germans may know a lot more English than most English speakers know German, but they really need a native speaker of English–one British and one American–to make Eagle’s English interface something other than a maddening pain in the ass.

    3. Like a lot of software (and cameras and DVD players and you-name-it) that has too many obscure and rarely-used features, Eagle makes it hard to just do something simply and without hassle. Über example: Eagle forces the user to define component pin-outs and footprints before a symbol can be used in a schematic. Uh, I often don’t know precisely what package or footprint I’m going to use when I draw a schematic to develop a circuit at the breadboard stage. Because of the nature of what I do, I’m not even sure I’ll be using an SMD or through-pin version for something at that stage. You know what I’ve been doing to get around this with Eagle? I use a pencil and paper to draw out a working draft of the circuit. After I’m okay with the design, then I have to enter it into Eagle. It’s B.S.

    4. Because I’m a committed open-source kind of guy, I’m learning to use the gEDA suite. So far, so good. Since it’s goal anyway to weed out every bit of proprietary software I can, Eagle is now one for the compost pile, along with the horse and cow manure I get from local farmers (they’re open-source, too).


    1. I do exclusively my schematic/pcb design with eagle so I’m a bit colored in my opinion. I tried many (windows) alternatives, but eagle is my favorite.

      The user interface is a bit different then a regular windows program, but this is a common thing for socialistic software. An other (comparble) example is autocad. it can be operate purely with the mouse, but they have lots of keyboard shortcuts to make it easier. These program look a bit diffcult/counterintuitive at first but after working a bit longer you know why they chosen to do it different. And yes i’ve been around for quite some days and seen the early days of userinterfaces.

      If your library contains all the shapes of a particular chip then changing the package is a simple thing. It puts a constrain on adding parts, but most packages are already added and can be reused. You can use the command replace part and then choose a different package of the chip.

      BTW no flame intended.

  3. Even the commercial version of Eagle is relatively cheap (US$1640 for a single user with all features – cheaper for multi-user). Good CAD software is *expensive* – you can easily pay US$2500+ per seat. Unless you have a lot of money anyone not designing in a commercial environment is unfortunately stuck with stuff that is often less than brilliant.

    You can’t compare prices for this kind of software with things like Microsoft Windows or Office – they are only as cheap as they are because they sell in tens or hundreds of millon copies. Making quality software commercially is a time-consuming and therefore expensive business. Something that will sell only a few thousand copies will of necessity be expensive.

  4. Todd, I saw your point number 3:
    ..I often don’t know precisely what package or footprint I’m going to use when I draw a schematic to develop a circuit at the breadboard stage. Because of the nature of what I do, I’m not even sure I’ll be using an SMD or through-pin version for something at that stage…

    I was using Eagle 4.16 Professional for several commercial projects a few years ago and had a similar problem. For me it was clearance and creepage distances for MOSFET pins in a high voltage enivironment. My solution was to add more packages to the same component and then change them in the layout editor.
    Lets say I needed another shape of the Drain pin, my workflow was:
    1. Open up the library, footprint editor and the selected footprint.
    2. Display all layers, mark all the component as a group and copy
    3. Create a new footprint with a similar name, ie TO220_SpecialDrainPin
    4. Paste the original footprint and make the changes
    5. Now open the component that needs the new footprint
    6. Add the footprint and do all the connecting stuff. Not nice for 80 pins TQFPs…
    7. Save the library and go back to the layout editor
    8. From the library menu select Update and the library you just edited
    9. Usually some message box about possible board changes may appear, no problems
    10. Select Change package and the component you want to change.

    Perhaps not the most intuitive way to do it, but that was how I did it back then. I will try the newer versions of Eagle to see whats new since 4.16… I am lucky enough to have commercial licences at my work place for Altium Designer. It has a lot of nice and handy features but also a lot of flaws in both functionality and the user interface.

  5. I’m using DipTrace, free edition and it’s really very intuitive. I used eagle, but I never really liked it. Its developpers seems to still work on PC under GEM or Win 1.0. They never saw how a GUI should be these days. Everything is counter intuitive in Eagle, you need to spend more than 2 or 3 weeks working with it to learn to make simple circuits and do simple things like switching a component from one side to the other, or to split a schematics in multiple parts. Learning to Do all that (including creating your own parts) in diptrace or designspark takes less than 3 hours with the provided PDF tutorials in both softwares.
    I really cannot understand or defend a software under windows that does not handle Copy/Paste like 99.99999% of software in the world on ANY desktop manager.
    Eagle is the most used by hobbists because it was the first software (since MSDOS vers) provinding an autorouter that was providing a free version for hobbist. Things are changing these days, and I’m sure it will not keep ruling.
    As for hundreds of provided libs with eagle, I can only say onething: Check ANY part you are going to use especially for SMD ones, there are a lot of errors there!!!!
    With eagle you can do ANYTHING, I’m not saying it’s unable to let you make some kind if circuit, but this does not make eagle a “great” software. “great” software HELPs you, makes things more fun and give you the ability to do all you wants in an easier manner: eagle is just the contrary of all that.
    While I used personally a lot LaTex as a wordprocessor for making high quality scientific papers, I would never recommand it against Winword for 99% of users. Eagle is just as difficult to learn as LateX and it adds the fact that (contrarily to Latex) it’s completely illogic, completely trashy !!!!

  6. I have to politely disagree with DP’s comment about using KiCad. From my perspective, it is the industry and community makes any software an industry standard. Been there done that, I had been an Eagle user for pretty much my whole career and it took only a few days worth hard work and a little patience before I could use KiCad as comfortably as I did with Eagle. In my opinion, KiCad is way better than Eagle for the reasons like online DRC, text bases file formats, unlimited layers, unlimited board size etc… after all it is free and open. We have switched to KiCad completely and now porting every single design and hopefully, there is no going back. We have even posted some of the designs publicly for the community (Including Ian’s CPLD design). I’m pretty confident that KiCad will become hobbyist’s industry standard one day.

  7. I was the one with the RTFM comment. Page 111 Eagle Manual Version 5, 8 Edition:

    “If a certain library should not be listed in the ADD dialog anymore, select the
    library name in the tree and click the Drop button. Now it is not in use

    Another useful feature about taking particular libraries out of the list is that parts from those
    libraries don’t show up as results doing wildcard searches.

    And last but not least, while we accept and deal with English as sort of a universal
    language for technology, not all developments on technology happen in English speaking
    countries, and yes some documentation could be prone to have some confusing or
    misleading translation.

    If you don’t like the English version of the manual, just try the original in German, it is much
    better :-)

    In that case it would be LDVH

    (The other Jorge :-)

    1. :) even their manual is arrogant.
      Frankly, If I were a small company with a small staff, the first thing I would have my people do is change the GUI to fit the 100% standard GUI that is adopted and accepted all over the world. Frankly I would gladly not have any of the updates/upgrades made to eagle in the last few years, if in their place I had a GUI that is normal. I am talking about the Select, Move, Move group, cut, copy, paste…all of these need to be replaced with standard now used everywhere.

      Cadsoft this is a serious appeal. You need to realize that your GUI doesn’t work, and needs to be fixed. The function of a GUI is not only to allow you to do something, but to let you do that with ease.

  8. I last used Eagle in 2004. The user interface was awful then. Simple tasks like cut, copy and paste were extremely cumbersome. No easy panning; you have to stop what you are doing to use scroll bars. Group selection does not scroll the screen when hitting the edge.

    Fast forward to 2103 and version 6 – nearly a decade later. I was amazed to see the same crappy user interface! Even worse is the license I purchased no longer works.

    What a terrible experience.

      1. If they had improved the product substantially as Microsoft has I would pay for an upgrade. Alas it is the same junk, 10 years later.

        Compare that to – now they have a licensing model I support.

        Speaking of licenses, I did send an inquiry email to cadsoft about an upgrade price (they don’t even have it on their site) – I have yet to hear back from them.

      2. This reply is meant for John, but for some reason I can’t reply to him.

        Hi John,

        What constitutes substantial improvement is very subjective. It can very well be the case that many of the new features are of no use to you, that doesn’t mean the program hasn’t changed just that the changes don’t benefit your particular situation.

        The upgrade price can be obtained from our website by going -> Shop -> Upgrade EAGLE. Enter your license number and then follow through the prompts to arrive at an upgrade cost. If you don’t wish to do that you should have a response from sales before the end of the day, we’re having some e-mail issues over here.


        His license will still work under Windows 8, he just has to download the version his license is good for. I would be inclined to believe that he likely used V4.16 or one of the V4 releases which is the oldest version of EAGLE that will work in modern operating systems.

  9. Hi John,

    I hope you’re doing well. Panning in EAGLE is easily achieved by clicking the scroll wheel and holding it down. Rolling the scroll wheel forwards and backwards allows you to zoom in and out so there really isn’t much need to ever mess with the scroll bars.

    The license you have has likely not been upgraded since you last used it, therefore it won’t work with newer versions of EAGLE. It’s still and always will be valid for the version you purchased originally.

    When working with EAGLE the big thing to keep in mind is that you have to select what you want to do before you select what item to perform the action on. It’s true that this is different to the typical Windows noun-verb workflow, but for PCB design verb-noun is more efficient and that’s why it’s such an integral part of EAGLE.

    The efficiency claim stems from the fact that you often want to perform the same action on multiple components, so having the move command stay active saves you clicks and unnecessary motion. In V6 the cut, copy, and paste commands were reworked to be closer to what people expect of these functions.

    Jorge Garcia

    1. For what it’s worth, the user interface is the main reason I haven’t got into Eagle. I’m the type who likes to get on a program, use it a bit and figure it out as I go, then RTFM if I need to for more specific things. But I couldn’t figure Eagle and even went through various tutorials, but for me, it simply wasn’t intuitive – others may feel differently, but I do hear this as being the biggest complaint over and over. So whether or not it’s ‘efficient’, for me, comes down to whether I can ‘just do it’ without having to think about it. For the most part I find Altium flows very quickly and lets you think about the board instead of the PCB program, which is really what is supposed to happen, especially if you’re doing this as part of your living. Yes there are some odd things in Altium and things I don’t like, but for the most part I can get back on it after a long break and be back up to speed in a few minutes, without even thinking about it.

      Perhaps Eagle could think about a different route, something along the lines of what UltraEdit has done for Editors – Just about everything is configurable, from where you put the bars, to what buttons you have on your toolbars, what lists, etc. you have docked and even right down to what functions appear on the menus and what hotkey combination does what – in other words, the user interface is almost completely configurable to what the user wants, from the extremely ‘full’, to a very sparse interface and with Hotkey combinations I know intuitively. Yes something like that would be a huge undertaking, but it would solve the UI problems many have with Eagle. Anyway, just my 2 cents worth.

      1. The idea you’re presenting is very interesting and to a certain extent is already possible within EAGLE. I’ve written it down as a future topic for a webinar since I’m sure many would be interested in setting up custom menus in EAGLE.

        Some will disagree, but IMHO the eagle.scr is the best single location to configure EAGLE. Users are given one menu that they can customize and adjust to their liking, and even though I’ve never seen any user do this it would be entirely possible to remove the normal toolbars and display a single custom toolbar with the commands setup as you want.

        Shortcuts are also very easy to setup in the eagle.scr. The depth of this feature isn’t immediately apparent from reading the manual, so I thank you for the idea and keep you’re eyes open for a future webinar on this. Might even be a good idea to create a ULP that simplifies modifying the eagle.scr.

        Thanks for your feedback.

        Jorge Garcia

  10. Jorge,
    I appreciate the reply. I learned from your response that holding down the scroll wheel provides pan support. Thanks for that – it does help – although I know of no other application that pans this way.

    We will have to agree to disagree on the UI efficiency. For example, while moving an object to the edge of the window almost all other programs automatically pan. This doesn’t – although I now see I can force this by holding down the scroll wheel.

    Speaking of moving, if I click nowhere near an object and drag the default action should be corral. Your program calls this ‘group’ when it really should be ‘corral’ or ‘multi select’.

    In short, the UI is simply counter intuitive to me, and seems to be the case to others as well. Perhaps as you try to justify the design here you may want at the same time to go back to your UI team and convey our frustrations.

    1. Hi John,

      Don’t worry these types of issues are conveyed to the Developer team. In fact if you look at the EAGLE suggestions forum, you’ll notice a series of posts directly dealing with GUI complaints started by one of our long time users Andreas Weidner.. It discusses possible solutions and improvements that could be implemented without affecting EAGLE too much. We’re working through them and I’m sure you’ll find that most of the issues you’re bringing up have been concisely treated there.

      Jorge Garcia

  11. I have been using eagle as a hobbyist for 2 years and a professional for 5 years now. It does not make sense initially, perhaps group doesn’t group anything. I just ctrl + G select, ctrl + M, ctrl + right click, move rotate, etc. ctrl + shift + r? Rip up some traces. Ctrl + r? Route ’em back. Even my custom ctrl + alt + r for ratsnest!

    The libraries are the worst part, but it is livable. That ‘drop’ button though…

  12. @Jorge:
    I tried the website. I got the following: “Your license is a Non Profit license. Please contact our sales office. ”

    So I wrote the sales office on August 2. Still awaiting a response.

  13. Hi John,

    I see, that is correct. We require non-profit upgrades to go through sales, to verify the use of the license and try to minimize abuse.

    We recently had trouble with our e-mail system, would you mind resending the e-mail. I’m very sorry for the inconvenience.

    Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.

    Best Regards,
    Jorge Garcia

  14. Eagle is POS software with no advantage but cost. I have struggled auto routing a board 8-12 hours, staring at the screen, wondering why it can’t conclude.

    I will sit and stare and watch this software optimize itself right into failure.

    I have been driven to tears on dozens of occasions trying to figure out why it fails.

    I literally hate this software, I have never seen a software product that foisted almost every decision onto the user, and then compounded it by giving such poor help.

    If you talk to tech support, they will tell you that a 25 mil routing grid is not good for IC’s these days. Then why in the #$%^ does it default to it.

    If you want a piece of software that will make you feel like you climbed Mount Everest to do the simplest task, WELCOME TO EAGLE.

    Brian K Mcclung
    BKM Engineering

    1. “I have struggled auto routing a board 8-12 hours, staring at the screen, wondering why it can’t conclude”

      Probably because you are “auto routing”.
      Eagle, like all CAD/Engineering software, were designed to be used by people who knows what they are doing. Although Eagle’s auto-router suck, there is no single autorouter that can do a good layout without having spent a few minutes setting up design constraints and manually routing key signals first.

      I can feel for the poor tech support guy
      “Hey your software is a POS it can’t automagically route a simple board”
      support guy: Yeah, sorry, but a 0.8mm pitch IC can’t be routed in a 25mil grid with 25mil width/clearance traces. doh!

      My advice would be to go to elance (or any other site like that) where for $30/hr you can get someone from India or China to do the layout for you (just don’t expect top quality engineer to do high speed digital or analog intensive for that price), if it is easy board as you make it sound it will probably take someone 1-2 hours to complete it so it will be cheaper than wasting 8 hours hopping your autorouter will magically produce a perfect layout.

      1. Yeh Zeta

        Eagle, like all CAD/Engineering software, were designed to be used by people who knows what they are doing. Oh, OK.

        Yeah, sorry, but a 0.8mm pitch IC can’t be routed in a 25mil grid with 25mil width/clearance traces. doh! Who is trying this, not me.

        Just to be clear, I didn’t get on this site to get help, and you didn’t provide any.

        As far as tech support, they get paid to support Eagle, and unfortunately they earn their money.

        I have made dozens of call, I have followed their advice, and yet still have massive trouble with their product. And do you really think I just stare at the screen for 8-12 hours and make no changes to my positioning or design rules.

        “wasting 8 hours hopping your autorouter will magically produce a perfect layout”. “Magically, I don’t think so. But if it makes you feel better taking that view, completely unaware of what my board looks like, feel free.

        I bet you are a real presence on the public support forums, always ready to defend Eagle. I’ve met your kind before.


        Brian K Mcclung
        BKM Engineering

      2. My current PC has about 50 EAGLE projects, all surface-mount, a few 4-layer, either completed or in progress – and I do not even regularly create PCBs.

        There are always whingers about the GUI for EAGLE, autorouting difficulties, “where is the LM741” difficulties, etc., and yet they are not prepared to spend money and use an alternative product. How do the whingers explain how other users manage perfectly well with EAGLE?

        There is a reason EAGLE has a large user base. Clearly it does meet many peoples needs, and has
        just the right mix of features vs cost.

  15. Ive been using Eagle on and off again for a number of years (free version) the size limitations are fine for the small boards I make.

    The bigest issue is the user interface is confusing to say the least – and now with the most recent updates the icons are now alomst indiscenible boxes.

    The need to use the comand line to perform tasks that should be just a mouse click.
    I pesevere with it because I didnt pay for it. If I had have paid for it I would be sorely disapointed.

    simple tasks like changing the size of a track after it has been routed is near on imposible along with moving and repouring a ground plane.

    try creating new components or footprints arrggghhhh

  16. Since the CADsoft people seem to be reading this site, and because others here seem to feel the same way about Eagle as I do, I thought I’d post some comments here.

    The Eagle team seems to like to add new features to program while the UI remains completely broken.
    Soliciting comments in several forums would lead to a list of bugs / feature requests etc etc which could quickly be fixed in many, many instances.

    Many fixes are trivial, and have documented requests from users to fix them going back 10 years.
    For example how long would it take to fix the “bleep” change the signal from the Properties dialog, bug.
    A half a day? There are literally dozens of other low-hanging fruit fixes and features that would be entirely trivial. For example a dialog box to align, distribute items on the board, arrow keys that worked as other programs, etc etc. Some of this stuff is so simple that interns could easily fix it.

    Of course an argument could be made for not patching a UI that is broken at the core with the reverse mouse click scheme that so many users hate. (And the long-term “cool-aide” drinkers seem to love.)
    I can even live with that evil though, if the rest of the UI were not so broken.

    In any case the Eagle team has said that the next rev is supposed to address some of this stuff.
    1) Is that still true.
    2) Does the Eagle team plan on soliciting any requests from their users?
    3) Are there any plans to release beta versions so people could comment and suggest improvements before the version is released to production?


    I’d dearly like to be able to use KiCad but its development seems to be moving at snail speed. Seems like the developer must insist on doing everything by himself. At one point there was a suggestion that Cern was about to throw some programming muscle behind KiCad but nothing seems to have happened.

    1. Cern’s team is hard at work. You can see the list of their projects here:
      The code is being contributed to the official Kicad’s repository, just it may not be in the release version yet, because it is still not ready for prime time due to very wide range of subsystems that are affected (especially the entire display subsystem). You can see a short demo of push&shove router here:
      I tried the router a couple of months ago and it worked, however there were still some problems with display.

  17. First, my name is Brian K Mcclung with BKM Engineering, and I will stand by any statement I make.

    I have never complained about tech support from Ed and Jorge, show me one place I have.

    Now you rampant Eagle defenders on the these public forums, you I have a problem with.

    Brian K Mcclung

  18. ” ee says:
    October 20, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    My current PC has about 50 EAGLE projects, all surface-mount, a few 4-layer, either completed or in progress – and I do not even regularly create PCBs.

    There are always whingers about the GUI for EAGLE, autorouting difficulties, “where is the LM741″ difficulties, etc., and yet they are not prepared to spend money and use an alternative product. How do the whingers explain how other users manage perfectly well with EAGLE? ”

    Humans can learn to use any kind of clunky interface, it doesn’t mean it’s pleasant or not cause carpal tunnel syndrome. One can easily program in Emacs or Vim for example but then again you can program in Eclipse or Sublime, or X-code and enjoy it a lot more. There are old timers that will tell you Emacs is god’s gift to programmers and will never use an IDE, nor a mouse for that matter.

    I have also created dozens of boards with Eagle, after paying for a license and one upgrade. However, I still chafe everyday at the built in stupidity in Eagle, that is just slightly crazy making. Name another CAD, graphic design or drawing program that doesn’t have a tool to align objects, or move them precisely, or in which the arrow keys do nothing?

    I don’t want to obsess on just that one item, there are literally dozens of inexplicable things about the UI that just feel oppressive, or poorly though out, or backwards, or not orthagonal – if I can coin a word. There are so many things in Eagle that require three to six steps or clicks that should just require one or two. The defenders of the Eagle interface have never used a graphic tool like Adobe Photoshop I guess, where the tools make the job easier, even though it might require a learning curve to use.

    The fact that users have been asking for UI improvements literally years (and in some cases, decades), with absolutely no response from management is not a good sign. While looking for other people who felt the same way, I came across a humorous poll entitled “Name your favorite Eagle bug.”

    I don’t play online games so maybe Eagle is just the penance I need to pay in computer clicks.

    Paul Badger

    1. I don’t play online games so maybe Eagle is just the penance I need to pay in computer clicks.

      You were being kind. To me it is almost torture.

      I have a 10 year old version of Multisim and Ultiboard that is overall easier and more logical to use.

      But it had limitations, so I moved to Eagle. It has been torture learning it, torture using it, and if there was any I could stop using it “today” I would never touch it again.

      But since that is not possible, I’m going to vent about it.

      Any software that forces its users to operate at expert level all the time, that foists almost every single decision onto the user 100% of the time is POS software.

      I don’t care how versatile it is.

      Brian K Mcclung
      BKM Engineering

  19. I just realized something.

    I’m just an incompetent jerk.

    How could I not be.

    Christina Phelps at Advanced Circuits.

    “Eagle, I’ve heard some nasty shit about it.”

    Yeh, I’m way off base, aren’t I.

    Somebody needs to open their freaking eyes.

    Brian K Mcclung
    BKM Engineering

  20. OK kiddies, lets keep it nice or I’ll take your Lego off you and send you straight to bed with no supper!
    Express yourself, but keep it nice please :)

    For what it’s worth, I was using PCB packages 30 years ago, from things like early OrCad and early versions of DOS Protel AutoTrax / EasyTrax (available as freeware for those who would like to try it and yes you still can run it and produce gerbers) . I used Protel (long before it changed to Altium) for many years and it was actually pretty easy learning the key combinations. Once you did, you could go at break-neck speed with mouse in right hand and keyboard doing keystrokes in the left. It really was very fast. Some early Windows packages were tried, but really didn’t cut the mustard. Protel for Win lost a ton of the keystrokes which slowed the pace to a crawl (the speed was instead transferred to the rate of increase of price). These days I have reluctantly learnt Altium and whilst some of the old Protel key combinations work, many don’t and whilst it’s fairly quick, it’s still slower than the old DOS version from an operator (me) getting the info in and sorted. Having said that, it has a lot of good points and I can work with it quite quickly these days and that’s why I use it. As for support, any fab will accept Gerbers and any program worth its salt would produce Gerbers, so that shouldn’t be an issue. I have tried Eagle several times (various versions), by ‘playing’, by reading, by using tutorials like Sparkfun’s, but to my way of thinking, it just wasn’t at all intuitive and was far more likely made by Software Engineers rather than long-term PCB designers. I really tried several times, but it just wouldn’t stick and Altium felt much more practical for me, for others Eagle might work fine and if that’s the case, then good luck to you, we’re all different and have different ways of thinking and working and some need to produce board for a living, others are just tinkering for a hobby. So those who like Eagle or tolerate it, great, for those who don’t, better to move on to something else that suits your needs and not get into a flame-war with the Eagle worshippers :)

    Be a fan-boy of xxx package or express your frustration, but keep it nice please guys :)

  21. The CERN demo looks way cool. Here’s hoping it’s cross platform or at least has a linux version that will run on Macs – seems likely as the GEDA suite originated in Linux.

    I also hope I can bring my libraries in with no pain. I’m anxiously waiting to see it get out of beta.


  22. I was surprised the attacks on me ended so quick.

    Maybe it just got boring, or maybe after that Christina Phelps comment, there wasn’t much left to say.

    Take care gentlemen

    Brian K Mcclung
    BKM Engineering

    1. I was surprised the attacks on me ended so quick.

      No attacks here. But I guess people just stopped responding to you because :

      a) as you said:

      I just realized something.

      I’m just an incompetent jerk.

      it was an easy guess

      or b) you are a troll
      quite funny as it seems you offer PCB layout using ealge on odesk ( ROFLmao ) and do
      my suggestion: learn to use (suffer) eagle and do a proper layout without the autorouter, buy the Electra autorouter or use the Freerouting tool.

      btw, Are you stull using the free version of eagle? per the eagle licence: you can’t make money (on odesk) using the free version of eagle.

  23. Am I making money on Odesk with Eagle, or ruining my reputation with it, I’m not sure.

    As far as the license, who the heck are you I should explain myself. Any time CadsoftUSA wants to bring more negative attention to Eagle, they can come after me. Look how easy it was for you to find out all about me.

    And your selective quotations are quite amusing too. And since you had nothing constructive to say in your first response to me, this latest edition was expected.

    For the record, I have a license good until Dec 24th. At which time I will have concluded my evaluation. I will make a determination at that time whether Eagle warrants an investment.

    Now, since we have both made ourselves abundantly clear, why don’t we both run along.

    I wont bother tech support any more, I will try to develop an effective, expeditious way of using Eagle. If on Dec 24th, I have not achieved this goal, I’ll return to National Instruments on Dec 25th.

    Let me give you a quick lesson in Economics. Whose opinion do you think Cadsoft USA is really concerned about right now, yours or mine.


    Brian K Mcclung
    BKM Engineering

  24. C’mon kids, lets keep it nice please, we can discuss our likes and dislikes without slinging crap at each other.

    Brian – Here is a number of tutorials on Eagle. Not sure if you know about them, but it may help anyway. Various there including making Schematics, PCB Layout, making Footprints, etc.

  25. I think it was valid to question if there was any trolling going on, because he starts his first post with asserting “Eagle is POS software with no advantage but cost.” and continues with that through his other posts. He’s made his evaluation. His further comments reinforce that when he repeats his belief that it is POS.

    Besides, he called himself the jerk, as far as I can tell. This time I would concur with his self-assessment. Nothing nasty in concurring with him.

    Anyway, to the point: for those with an open mind then these are good tutorials, also I find the PDF user guide to be pretty good
    People complain about EAGLE because they expect the UI to behave like (say) Mac or Windows, but get over that hurdle and many realize that it is incredibly powerful and fast to work with. This is the level of capability that other software does struggle to achieve at low cost.

  26. Well it was obvious mud slung from *both* sides and I’m just asking everybody (all parties) not to get into an unnecessary slanging match. The “he said”/”she said” thing only perpetuates these sorts of things and I’m sure we’ve all got better things to do if we really thought about it, spend an extra few minutes with the family, pat the dog, go for a walk, spend the time building your new dazzling latest project (in whatever PCB package you prefer!) and post it on DP, so we can all enjoy it.
    We’ve all said and done things in our lives that we might later regret for being a bit over the top. By all means offer opinions, I did, but just do it in a way that you know is decent.
    FWIW, I bitch a lot to myself about Altium and “what were they thinking when they…” [changed / did some of the things], but I still know it’s a pretty good program overall. Who knows, Brian might like Eagle’s interface if he goes through the tutorials! It didn’t click for me after doing them, but that’s me and I was already used to other packages, so biased like everybody else.

  27. Well gentlemen

    It has been quite awhile since my last post.

    What can I say, I have had a bit of a transition with Eagle.

    My last project with Eagle went fairly well. I also downloaded an evaluation version of Multisim / Ultiboard, and found myself facing one obstacle, learning new software. With comparable capabilities, there is one noticeable difference, and my assessment has not really changed.

    Eagle is terribly complicated, terribly burdensome to work with, no doubt. It has no structure, no judgment capability. You have to develop that 100% on your own.

    If you can develop a structure, you can work moderately well with Eagle.

    But this structure is so difficult to develop, that after 1 year, I still have to consciously think about something as minute as where do I put my origin point on a part.

    I still get irritated as hell at the fact that I have to smash every part. It is incomprehensible to even figure out the necessity to do this. This philosophy extends to Windows 7, and its constant annoyance of requiring you to give yourself permission to do what you want to do.

    I have had several accusations made against me, one of which I will accept, I can be a real horses ass.

    In this case, I’m probably going to invest in Eagle, I did find one work around on my last project that enabled me to complete it, but I can’t work within its size restrictions any more, and it’s not really ethical to use it for free.

    I don’t know how many people know this, but Eagle’s placement area in the free or freemium version is restricted, but board size is not, and neither is the routing area.

    I found this out in desperation, and partially by accident. That, however, is also indicative of my general experience with Eagle.

    Brian K Mcclung
    BKM Engineering

  28. So after all the whinging, you’re still going to purchase it?
    How come, can’t you find better software at a reasonable cost?

    The conclusion seems to be it is good software at reasonable cost.
    Surprised after a year, you have not realized you can group and smash all parts at the same time, if this is what you want to do. Takes 4 seconds. If it still “irritates you as hell” as you say, maybe it says more about you than the software.

  29. After being displaying some semblance of humility, you come back with an insult coupled with your advice.

    Yes, I could get comparable software at comparable price, the additional learning curve made me decide to stick with Eagle.

    Do us both a favor, ignore my comments in the future if this all you have to say.

    Hold on a minute. In order to use this group smash, i would have to have all my components placed on my schematic already, or I would have to do this repeatedly for every new component or group. Not flawless, but better. Of course, if I never, ever, had to worry about it all, that would be best.

    I give 3.5 out of 5 for your advice.

    Thank you

    Brian K
    BKM Engineering

  30. Where’s the insult? The whinging bit? By any account you did, first asserting “Eagle is POS software with no advantage but cost.” and then reporting you’re going to shell out money on it.

    You’re still whinging now, that despite ‘smash’ for a group of components takes a few seconds, you’ll have to repeat this if you add a component. Design your component packages better in that case!

    And I don’t have to listen to your “do us a favor, ignore my comments” instruction – I don’t owe you a favor.

  31. I had a long chat with one of the people at CADsoft USA who said that indeed the UI is being worked on for the next 7.3 or whatever release. All this is only hearsay, that said, these are among the reported fixes:

    • Arrow keys will finally do something useful
    • The rage-inducing “Signal already exists do this in the Name dialog” error message in Properties
    • More functionality in properties dialog
    • A more complete library menu for duplicating parts etc.

    All of which will help with what I also believe is the worst UI of any software I use.

    The Eagle representative was well aware of the reputation of the UI, and even he was sometimes amazed at the complexity of boards built with Eagle. When I asked him about this he replied something like ‘All I can figure is that money is a large factor in some people’s choices.’

    I will note however, as I said in an essay on my own site, that neither the Beagle Board or the Raspberry Pi were designed in Eagle and it would be somewhat insane to do so. For most of the things that the hobbyist sites are doing though such as sticking a chip or two on a board, Eagle works fine. It still doesn’t excuse the awful UI though which never ceases to irritate me, even though I use Eagle plenty.

    Reportedly also the Eagle 8.0 release is also devoted to UI changes – but who knows how much of the very long list of problems will be changed. The first thing on my list would be the insanity of the reverse-click paradigm about which so much has been written :)

    I realize though that there are a lot of happy Koolaide drinkers in Jonestown – so I doubt Eagle will join the entire body of other software (please correct me if you know other examples that work like Eagle) which work according to the virtually universally adopted paradigm of: select one or more objects -> do something with them.

    One speculation that we have around our shop is that Eagle was written before there were mice, so no UI conventions were yet in place. I asked the CADsoft representative about this and he had no information that would confirm or deny the speculation. He did say however that Eagle was around in late 80’s – meaning that the hypothesis is at least possible.

    1. “The first thing on my list would be the insanity of the reverse-click paradigm about which so much has been written”

      That would be a nice change. It is so counter-intuitive.

      Brian K
      BKM Engineering

  32. Is there any way to make the components pre-smashed.

    Here is the problem I am faced with.

    My personal preference is to have component name outside of the package outline, and not put the values on the board itself. Unless you have plenty of room, silk screen can get cluttered.

    My clients may have other preferences. But the point is fine positioning and tweaking of the artwork seems inevitable. Going back to the smash command, I think what gets to me in this case is not only working around it, and I do appreciate your advice in this regard, but I can’t really understand the basis for not having them pre-smashed.

    One of the confusing aspects of Eagle for any new user is understanding the basis for the many decisions Eagle literally forces you to make at all times.

    I still don’t like Eagle that much, but who cares?

    I’m comfortable enough with it now to continue to work with it. If you have some friendly advice on how to use Eagle more efficiently, I’m all ears.

    If you simply want to one up me at this point, not much I can do to stop you.

    Brian K Mcclung
    BKM Engineering

  33. @Brian – Have you tried the tutorials I suggested somewhere above? They may help you, though admittedly I tried them and was pulling my hair out after about half an hour, as it just seemed counter-intuitive.

    I found AutoCAD like that too when I started on that, completely backwards to the way almost all other programs worked. When I first used Turbo CAD, it was just click click click and “Ah, I think I kinda get it”.

    I’d also suggest you go to RS and download Design-Spark. I haven’t really played with it, but it’s free, so why not give it a go?

    As for the UI being crap because of the age, well that could be the case, it all had to start somewhere, but the old DOS version of Protel Autotrax and Easytrax from the 80’s (Later to become Altium) was fine. It was slow if you used the pull-down menus, but I very quickly picked up the key-stroke combinations and when used in conjunction with mouse clicks, you could go at an incredibly fast pace.
    Ironically they went and stuffed up many of those good keystrokes with the Windows version – go figure. I guess they had new developers who thought they knew better, probably something along the lines of “Oh, nobody will want to remember multiple keystroke combinations.”, though it was those combinations combined with mouse clicks that made it so darn fast. And though some key combinations seemed hard to remember, most I found I learnt really quickly and those I didn’t, you could use the menus. I found other people were saying much like myself.

    Fortunately Altium did leave quite a few of the old Protel key combinations in. They also changed the way the tracks ‘rubber band’ when moving things and at least in the older versions (say 6.8) moving a few track around probably takes me twice as long as it used to in the DOS version. Hopefully they improved that in current versions, but I haven’t tried.

    If you are going to be forking out $1k, then I’d suggest having a try of Altium. It is a big things with tons to learn, but I believe it’s a lot more intuitive to drive than Eagle, at least for me it is.

  34. Hi Sleepwalker

    I had to go back and read your previous comments to remember you. I haven’t done too much with the tutorials. On my last project I just tried to take all the lessons and mistakes into account, and it went well.

    It really at this point has become, I am a moderate user of Eagle, why abandon it. You work so hard to get to a point, you just walk away. I just don’t want to expend the patience.

    Now, here is a feature I would love. Different color wires on the schematic.

    Good talking to you

    Brian K

  35. For anyone reading this thread trying to determine a good COA for a PCB layout tool, I can give my quick experience of the last two months. I tried Eagle for a few weeks using printed materials and video tutorials and found the software to be very obtuse, making what would appear to be simple tasks complicated. Restated: I can see where I want to go, Eagle makes getting there difficult. I understand that the interface will submit to an extended learning effort by people with the time to do so – but making PCBs is not all I have to do.

    I then tried KICAD to do the exact same project, and was able to finish learning the interface and submitting a board for manufacture (Defined as “Open the software for the first time to Gerbers”) in less than 48 hours (not an exaggeration). At every turn UI seem to speed the process along rather than get in the way. Many times the graphic on the button and rollovers answered my question about where to go next. The software assisted in solving problems rather than creating them.

    I want to like Eagle – but can’t afford to learn a less-than-stellar GUI.

  36. Although I still use Eagle PCB for all my circuit boards its the most painful program I have ever used. Its very hard to cut and paste, its hard to move a group, its hard to search for parts. Ahhhhgg… I wish they had had done a better job when they first starting making the software so that the whole thing made more common sense.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.