As the web transitions from a simple transfer medium to a smart fabric, increasing elements of life and work will find their way to the cloud. More than an echo of the early days of timesharing systems, cloud-based solutions can reach across application, system, and organizational boundaries to meld multiple services into more effective applications able to help speed the transition from initial design idea to manufactured product.
In this slideshow, we offer a look at some of the more noteworthy browser-based tools that engineers can use for free to design circuits, run some simulations on their designs, and select specific parts. Here, we're limiting our listing to tools that 1) are free, and 2) intended for circuit design. For now, we're leaving out a host of "calculators" that provide an interactive interface to basic engineering equations.
Online engineering tools are only just beginning their rise, but browser-based tools such as those listed in the following pages illustrate the promise of cloud-based engineering. The following pages list these tools organized into three categories: Design and simulation, Schematic capture, and Parts Selection. Within the Parts Selection category, we include tools that bear little resemblance to the old traditional datasheet or part reference guides that dominated the early days of the Web. Today's tools take some remarkably novel and different approaches to parts selection. Read on to learn more.