@David: "...so Altium no longer works..."
Funnily enough, I was visiting a local company a couple of days ago chatting to an engineer who does hardware and software on small wireless network boards -- he does the board design using Altium and he seems to be real happy with it...
"failure to simulate" happened after an upgrade. Prior to the upgrade (about 1998/9/whatever) a whole anlog-digital circuit simulated exactly as the pcb version, but the later system failed...horrible...massive talk on the phone...and my work stopped for about a year in that area, until I got Multisim. The same horrible thing happened with the A word (CAD) when a key 3D design couldn't be even opened by the "upgrade" and the upgrade couldn't make it again and it destroyed any file saved after it was openened by the "upgrade"...shit happens.
So the "shit happens" saying might apply to Altium? Let's see.
My betting is that the Chinese want the IP and they'll improve it hugely, then do it better, so the old IP will be worthless.
Multisim saved me from a financial-career disaster caused by a combination of the P word (re failure to simulate in 1998) and the A word re failure to do 3D CAD approx the same time, together, for about eighteen months.
Multisim works wonderfully. It simulates well mixing analog and digital; and if it fails it has an automatic system of doing in a few minutes what I used to spend days at trying the options.
Altium had the most horrific mess of manuals and "help" of from my experience, whereas Multisim almost never needs support. In a way I'm glad that Altium yesterday, decided after all that because I haven't paid for another year, the version I have is defunct and an attempt to downgrade fails, after 1GB or so of downloads, to get the last 4MB file....so Altium no longer works. I've seen a few blogs now, and believe that Altium is defunct. I hope the last of the remaining people at least help me to get the version that worked going again that worked a month ago.
I have been using National Instruments' MultiSim for a couple months and I love it. I have not laid out a board yet, but the SPICE and schematics are great. They have been constantly improving and are way better than when I looked at them 5 years ago. Being bought by sugar daddy National Instruments must have helped infuse cash to make some cool things in MultiSim. National Instruments is in Texas and Multisim is out of Canada, neither of which is part of America, but they are both a darn sight better than Red China.
The best thing Altium has done is having competitors that shoot themselves in the foot. Cadence sent the Orcad codebase to India and release 10 was a disaster, more crashy than Protel ever was. Then, after recovering from that fiasco, they toss out the OrCAD layout program (Massteck) and force people to get a stripper Allegro they call OrCAD Editor. Allegro is great, once you get a 4-year degree in computer science and cut your pay in half so you can be a 24/7 layout person instead of a creative engineer that does occasional PCB design. Mentor Graphics never loved PADS, and never will. Instead, they dumped Boardstation and tried to migrate everybody to Expedition, another heavy-iron "enterprise class" package where you need two or three departments doing maintenance, library creation, and updates. Altium supposedly got a lot of customers who felt it was easier to jump to mid-range Altium rather than having to go through that whole "enterprise" experience.
Altium has great adoption rates in China, unfortunately, nobody pays for it. I am sure Altium hopes its presence in China will get the government thinking about enforcing IP. They do get cheaper engineers, but those costs are rising, and there is the code theft problem someone mentioned. I am sure that part of Altium's love of "client-server" is that they can hide the whole program from any one engineer. That is probably why they felt they could just leave Australia.
One person hit on my feelings. My grandparents came to America to escape the communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe. I am not too keen on supporting a dictatorship. It may not be evident now, but China is turning into a real enemy. They are snapping up the lithium in Chile and making exclusive partnerships all over South America. They just limited export of any noble metals used for high-performance magnets. Hope you don't use Hall effect detectors. They stayed the same but the stupid magnet just got 10 times more expensive.
Altium has been quite entertaining over the years.
There was Protel, a crash monster so unstable in 1998, a buddy gave me his paid-for copy and went back to Orcad. Then there was the 10-year period when Altium became the elephant graveyard for CAD tools. Tango, PCAD, and I think a few others. When we hardware people gave the software weenies so darn much memory the memory leaks didn't crash the machine, Altium actually stayed up for more than an hour. They started hitting their stride about 10 years ago. They do library creation and maintenance better than OrCAD ever dreamed of. They seemed to understand that the schematic and PCB are really the same information. Symbols and wires in the schematic are footprints and traces in the PCB. And they put in a big button to synchronize the two. A few years ago they did 3-D which I thought was too whizzy, but buddies tell me that they have caught mistakes with it that would have otherwise cost a board spin. Like Orcad going off on PLD design back at Version 7, Altium had to tangent off on FPGA design a few years ago. The upside is that now they actually design the FPGA demo boards so there is actually someone on the property that uses the program. It has gotten a lot better due to that.
I could not disagree more. Nothing is more frustrating then moving between different packages for different functions. In addition, the functions of most of these different packages are highly intertwined and most are based on the same underlying principles (netlists). So you enjoy exporting a netlist from Capture to Allegro, then to PSpice, then? Every function performed in Altium is well implemented. Plus, the walls between software and hardware are coming down and Altium is in my opinion well prepared to deal with this transition. Plus, you are hardly handcuffed to Altium - you can easily export to numerous other platforms if that is your thing. If you hate integrated environments, then you are going to have slim pickings for EDA tools - just check out the blogs at the major software companies and you will find this is the direction the industry is heading.
"Unified Design Platforms" don't work. They inevitably end up linking good tools with bad -- usually in a way that is hard to work around.
Face it, NOBODY makes good tools for all situations.
On the China front -- you may see China as a new and exciting market. I see it as a land of spammers and totalitarian government. I'm sure this will change -- eventually -- but until then, I'm not allowing my browser to talk to any company sited in China.
Thank you for being a Protel customer and I hope I can shed some light on the situation. Altium is acting upon its vision of a unified design platform (replacing tool chains), connected device design (IDC forecasts 15B devices by 2015) and cloud utilization (check out Amazon web services and our recent acquisition of Morfik). These actions/strategies are in tune with technology trends. So Altium Designer will be much different than Protel. Give Altium Designer 10 a try - I think you will like it.
I know that my company has a lot of problems regarding hiring and consequent attrition of engineers in Shanghai. Luckily we've been able to deal with this without sacrificing quality. But I admit that highly rotating engineering job market is great for the engineers, bad for the product quality. I've heard the average increase in pay in Shanghai per year is about 20%!!!! So I don't know how Altium is going to deal with this.
As we unveil EE Timesí 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists Dan Armbrust (investment firm Silicon Catalyst), Andrew Kau (venture capital firm Walden International), and Stan Boland (successful serial entrepreneur, former CEO of Neul, Icera) join in the live debate.