Re: CAD software for PCB engineering and routing
On 21/06/2008, Dotan Cohen <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> I personally would be satisfied paying thousands of dollars for
> Solidworks and not having access to the source code so long as it runs
> on my OS.
I think this is rather nearsighted. Although for what I do,
mathematics, it's easier to argue for openness of the software (a
mathematical proof must be available and the method disclosed,
otherwise, what kind of mathematics are we doing?), I also think it
should be important to argue for the opennes of engineering software.
If you buy it, I think you should also be demanding the source code.
Unfortunately, it seems that many people in engineering backgrounds,
with whom I frequently have to interact, are used to the idea of
paying thousands of dollars for black boxes, whether it be for
hardware and instrumentation or software. I think this is a recent
practice, but I'm not sure. I have heard it said that in times of yore
before companies realised that copyright laws could be used to
restrict their software, it was standard practice to provide source to
your customers, since the software was just the icing on the cake to
whatever else they had purchased from you.
This modern tendency to eschew source seems nearsighted because I have
seen this come back to haunt engineers. More than once, I've seen
their black boxes malfunction on them, the only people with the
ability to fix them have left the company or are out of business, and
then they come to us with interesting mathematics of inverse problems
("I have the output of this black box, how can we figure out what's
inside?"). I feel so frustrated with this, because if only they had
requested for source and documentation when they bought it, something
that apparently never even crossed their minds, then their newfound
problems would be trivial.
This is my strongest argument for openness with engineering software,
from a personal perspective. Duplication of efforts, with many
companies implementing the same or similar software in their own
secret ways (NIH syndrome) is another silly thing that happens behind
copyright laws and non-disclosure agreements and something that
software freedom can reduce or eliminate.
I think you too should care about these things. I have a vested
interest in you caring about these things, because attitudes from
people like you not caring end up spreading to others close to my
field of endeavour, and then we get results as insulting as this one,
a tutorial telling us why we're too dumb to understand their complex
I do not know much about PCB software or to what extent these
arguments apply to your own situation, but my guess is that they also
do and that having source and the freedoms that come with it would
also be hugely beneficial and a good long-term strategy.
- Jordi G. H.