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Blog

The myth of the huge component library

Saar Drimer

When I talk to engineers about PCBmodE, the topic of 'component libraries' often come up. "Converting the EAGLE libraries to PCBmodE could be a huge boost", etc. It does make sense at first, but then it gets depressing when you think about what it means: we've gotten so accustomed to shitty EDA software, that the notion of recreating simple things such as footprints from scratch is unthinkable. No. Good software would let you create basic components with your own preferences very easily, from fresh, freeing you from dependency on libraries that never quite have what you want. Let's admit this: in practice, component libraries aren't that useful -- their style doesn't match yours, they're made for the 'wrong' software/version, or you need to make some tweaks. More often than not, you end up making a new instance anyway! True or false?

I'm a big fan of reuse, but this isn't about reuse. Component instances should be like freshly minced garlic -- you'd  never need to use that stale crap from a tube because it's so damn easy to make fresh. Yes, this is about usability, and the sorry state of EDA tools again -- we've been conditioned to think that things are hard because every time you use these tools the 80s calls and tells you that deleting components from a library requires watching a ten minute video. We've got such wonderful software tools for software developers, and much better understanding of user experience than we had 20 years ago, and it's time we started using them for engineers.