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As to be expected, ESE has a lot of debugging posts, asking "what did I do wrong?" or "why doesn't this work?", with a schematic of the circuit they used.

Our friends in SO have a much easier life answering problems like these, because all you need to do to simulate and debug yourself the code they wrote is to control+c control+v in the compiler.

This can't be done with schematics, because you need a file, and nobody is gonna spend time reworking all the components and wires to hope they will get a similar result.

So I was wondering, wouldn't it be a positive and helpful feature both for those who ask the questions and those who answer it to allow the user to upload a specific supported file?

Right now the most we can do is include a netlist, which isn't really as practical. Sorry if this has been discussed before.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You can always add a link to a schematic or whatever in any format you prefer. What's your problem? \$\endgroup\$ – flup Feb 11 '14 at 16:37
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Your question seems to imply that attaching a schematic is not possible, but this is not the case (unless you mean the actual file of your circuit simulator).

One way to attach a schematic is by using the schematic button located over the reply text box (or by clicking CTRL+M). This opens the Circuitlab editor where you can draw a schematic and attach it to the post.

You can also attach images in case you prefer to post a schematic from your favorite editor or when you wan to include a simulation graph or any other graphic resource.

If these are not enough and you absolutely need to attach a file then you can always use a file sharing service and post the link, there are plenty of free ones like dropbox or Google drive.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think anyone actually works in CircuitLab, so I'm not redoing my entire circuit to ask a question. If I'm answering, I can definitely make one, but that's not the point. The point is to debug what others have done, as stated in the post. What point is there to debug something on a different program than the person who asked used? \$\endgroup\$ – triplebig Feb 8 '14 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ And files can be filtered, I would think. I'm not opening anything from google drive, that's for sure. Also, I don't understand the downvotes. Is it a bad question or do people just not agree with it? It's actually an idea I got from the National Instrument forums, where they actually allow people to upload their schematics. \$\endgroup\$ – triplebig Feb 8 '14 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @triplebig You can post your schematic as an image of your preferred editor, you are not required to use CircutLab. It is usually not a good idea (here or in other forums) to ask a question targeted to a specific group (in that case only those that use the same simulator), you can get a wider audience by posting the schematic of the circuit as an image. \$\endgroup\$ – alexan_e Feb 8 '14 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @triplebig votes on meta are just used as agreement/disagreement with what is asked/requested \$\endgroup\$ – alexan_e Feb 8 '14 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Posting an image and a file allows everyone who does and doesn't have the simulator to answer. It also allows the people with simulators to actually debug and be more helpful than they originally would have. \$\endgroup\$ – triplebig Feb 8 '14 at 18:01
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I think this would be nice in theory, but there isn't a practical way to set this up.

  1. There isn't really a way to share a snippit of your schematic/design file like you can with code - it's often all or nothing.
  2. It requires people to have the software installed in order to help, and that automatically alienates a decent amount of people who could answer.
  3. How do you make sure the files are safe? What would happen if someone figured out an exploit to a design tool?

For now, you will need to reduce your problem to images, text, and schematics. You can always take a screenshot.

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In addition to what alexan and W5VO said, I think forcing people to show just the schematic helps keep the discussion about the electronics, not about the simulation. We are not the help desk for CircuitBarf 1.0 or whatever your favorite simulation tool is. Too often people get hung up on the simulation and forget to actually think about the circuit, which is the part that is on topic here.

There are very very few circuit questions here that can't be answered intuitively, or with a few seconds with a calculator. Providing the answer to 5 digits is not only meaningless, but it can displace the real understanding of the circuit that this site is about. Put another way, we're not about telling you what exactly the voltage on the collector should be, but rather how to intuitively understand what drives that voltage, and therefore how to determine it yourself.

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As with code on Stackoverflow, it is equally important on EE.SE to minimize a circuit (or code on SO) to the bare minimum to reproduce the problem faced. Nobody is going to analyse multi-page code for errors, same way nobody will analyse a large circuit diagram for issues. Often a problem solves itself once isolated to the bare minimum and many other times an electronics problem can easily be reduced. For some problems you do not even need a full circuit to focus on the exact problem.

In my experience on EE.SE CircuitLab is sufficient for by far most questions and for the rest there are dropboxes and the like. I particularly dislike uploaded files, because I just cannot be sure of the exact content.

On a side note, one of the goals of this site is to build a knowledge base accessible for others with similar problems. Files with often proprietary format defeats this goal for many, and/or are poorly indexable for search-engines.

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The correct way to debug a circuit, program, or anything else, is to reduce it to it's smallest and simplest reproducible snippet. Many software/embedded forums, actually demand that this reduced snippet be stand-alone compilable. If you just let people include any old file, we'd be wading through nonsense to try to help. In fact, if people more routinely reduced their bug this way, they'd solve their own problems, but when they can't, the reduced problem is much more likely to produce valuable help.

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