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I have a highly technical question relating to converting design files from one electronics design software package to another. It's not an I.T. question and I'm not certain it fits in the electronics.stackexchange.com remit either. Although it does need the attention of electronics engineers, it's not about designing electronics. The design part is already done and dusted.

I'm reluctant to post it on electronics.stackexchange.com unless someone can reassure me it's really "on-topic".

Where should I ask my question?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ what would be the electronic specific part of your question? does it need to interface with special hardware, run on special processors? If it is really just a question on programming something on a pc in a desktop OS that handles data, I am inclined to say its something for SO, unless the questions specifically about some data that is used in electronics. \$\endgroup\$
    – PlasmaHH
    Oct 7, 2016 at 9:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why wouldn't you ask whoever produced the software that you're migrating to? Surely, they would have the best information about converting from other packages. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Oct 7, 2016 at 10:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaveTweed, our paid support ran out 2 years ago. I'd laugh if it weren't so tragic. \$\endgroup\$
    – user98663
    Oct 7, 2016 at 10:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ In that case, you need to find other users of that software. EE.SE might be one place to do that, but I'd recommend searching first for some sort of "user's forum" that's specific to that software package. It might be run by the company that made it, or it might be independent. I would NOT recommend going to SO, because the chances of finding anyone there with the specific knowledge you need would be vanishingly tiny. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Oct 7, 2016 at 11:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you are asking how to convert from (for instance) Eagle to some other package, in my experience it is nigh on impossible to automate. Even moving from one package to another from the same vendor has not produced decent results. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9, 2016 at 11:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question about engineering software comes up once in a while on meta. If you have doubts about this question, you can dry-run it in our EE.SE chat. The customs are more relaxed there, which that can cut both ways, of course. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 13, 2016 at 19:18

2 Answers 2

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Questions about the use of tools specific to EE are on topic here. Your question is OK in that regard.

However, the potential answerers are limited to those knowing both the software packages and the format of their files. That is likely a very small group. While the question (if asked properly) wouldn't be closed, it may also not get any answers.

Unless the tool is very popular, this sounds more like a question for the manufacturer(s), specific support mechanisms. For example, we occasionally get basic usage questions about Eagle. That's fine, but if you are asking about some obscure corner of Eagle, you're much better off on the Eagle forums, not here on SE.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Re " ... potential answerers are limited to ... and the format of their files." -> ... or those silly enough to get enthused, research the subject and provide an answer that gets him/her going in the right direction. Similar happens too often, alas :-). A number of the more obscure/arcane technical questions (not so much format conversions) that I answer happen because nobody knows what they are talking about, I don't know what they are talking about, but my curious background mental gremlin wants to know. Moral: Bait the hook well when dealing with arcane obscuroty. \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon Mod
    Oct 19, 2016 at 11:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RussellMcMahon That is, I think, why Stack Exchange was created in the first place: to ask and answer interesting and hard questions, primarily. The fact that it became useful enough to get answers to more mundane questions seems almost incidental in the minds of many... making Stack Overflow a tragedy of the commons, I suppose. \$\endgroup\$
    – jpaugh
    Oct 20, 2016 at 17:11
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It does seem a bit odd that you're converting designs TO a software package for which you've stopped paying the support fee. (I'd be curious to know the thinking behind that decision, but that isn't relevant here.)

I would recommend that you go ahead and ask a question on EE.SE in which you mention the two software packages involved and give a brief description of the nature of your question without getting into the details. There would be a number of possible outcomes:

  • Someone will express an interest in answering your question, in which case, you can edit the question to provide the details.

  • One or more people will offer pointers to where free support for the package can be found, in which case, you go there to ask your specific question.

  • The question gets downvoted and/or closed, in which case, you go ahead and delete it with no permanent harm done.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Suffice it to say that the people writing the cheques aren't the ones doing the design work. ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – user98663
    Oct 7, 2016 at 12:04

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