25th anniversary poll gives insight into the key focus areas for PCB design engineers in the global electronics industry
We are celebrating our 25th anniversary by revealing the findings of its global survey of PCB designers. Since the company’s formation in 1988 the electronics industry has evolved considerably, with two of the biggest trends of recent years being the rise of online peer-to-peer communities and social media. CadSoft’s survey found that 83% of respondents consider online peer-to-peer communities to be ‘vital’ or ‘important’ to their work, yet despite this nearly half (41%) remain inactive on such sites.
Meanwhile 42% of respondents thought social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook influence their designs as a resource for gathering product news, design hints and ideas in much the same way as forums. Yet almost the same amount – 36% – think social media isn’t important at all because there is too much “noise.”
Commenting on these findings Thomas Liratsch, Managing Director at CadSoft Computer said: “25 years ago PCB designers didn’t have the luxury of online forums or social media. It’s clear that the vast majority see the benefits nowadays, but a surprising number simply aren’t engaging with these channels. As a result of this disconnect, online community sites such as element14 remain very much an untapped resource to a generation of PCB designers. CadSoft has from its early days been very interactive with EAGLE users through dedicated support forums. These have always been well received by our users, giving them the opportunity to get answers to their questions and to suggest improvements to the software. Some of the stigma attached to social media channels like Twitter perhaps stems from a lack of understanding and suggests people don’t know how to filter out the irrelevant content and narrow the information streams to really focus on key influencers and like-minded peers. Twitter isn’t just for teenagers and pop culture.”
Other notable findings from the survey include:
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) think development boards are reducing the need for custom PCB design
- ¾ of respondents (74%) are targeting control system applications with their design and almost half (46%) are involved in Open Source Hardware
- The majority of designers would put functionality before cost when buying design tools, with 60% of respondents rating functionality as an “extremely important” factor
- element14 voted the most popular online forum for PCB designers
- 87% cited improved library management, speedier part creation as desirable or extremely desirable features for future versions of CadSoft EAGLE
- The majority surveyed (30%) work on 1-3 new designs or updates in a year, while 24% are working on 10+
Ed Robledo, General Manager of CadSoft USA added: “The huge explosion of development boards, which our survey suggests is reducing the need for custom PCB design, is actually proving to be a big opportunity for us, with CadSoft now used for more and more development board design. It goes to show that while the electronic design landscape continues to evolve, there are still core requirements such as usability which remain as important as ever. Historically, this has always been CadSoft’s strength – the ability to provide functional software which optimises an engineer’s productivity.”
The unrepresentative survey, conducted in October 2013, included responses from professional engineers from 42 countries. Full results of the survey can be viewed via this slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/Farnellelement14/e14-cadsoftslideshare-final-28519958?CMP=PRR-EUR-13-0035
Have a look at our interactive timeline with the most relevant milestones of the last 25 years!