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Where do you draw the line?

This morning I was sent the following comment (name changed to protect the innocent):

I don’t need Mentor to fix anything because I don’t do “crappy” work. (Actually a different term was used, but not appropriate for this forum). I don’t do DRC or if I do I ignore the errors and warnings. I just export the gerber files and examine them. DRC is for those who don’t want to learn how to layout a PCB or those that are hired from the street corner.
Just my opinion.

At first glance, my reaction to this is that this fellow should not be using Mentor tools, he should use AutoCAD.

After second thought however, it is clear to me that every designer draws a line to define a threshold in terms of what they expect the software to manage and what should be left up to the designer. For example, I am quite sure that Joe would not like it if when moving a part, we did not move the padstacks with it. So at some level he expects the software to be correct-by-construction. Joe appears to have drawn a line where he wants to craft every trace manually. So I now wonder if he has timing requirements – does he expect any feedback to tell him if the delays are as desired? Does he expect that we will keep diff pairs together? Or maybe he doesn’t define diff pairs and just routes them close together as he sees fit?

So, in the end, every designer assumes that the software will automatically manage the design to a certain extent. As a software vendor however, we need to have software flexible enough so that the system can be tuned to draw that line at the “right” place and allow the designer the freedom to craft as desired.

Where do you draw that line? Are your boards so big and complex that the only way they can be completed on schedule is with a very high level of DRC and automatic management of constraints? Or are your designs simple enough that you don’t want any DRC? Or maybe it doesn’t matter how complex your designs are, your boss requires full and complete DRC with every project? Please provide some feedback, it will help us understand better what our customers need to be successful.


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