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For the past several years, EE.SE has benefited from an integrated schematics editor (and circuit simulator): CircuitLab.

Recently, Stack Exchange received an offer from Mentor Graphics, developers of the SystemVision tool - they're interested in offering a similar integration, a pop-up editor that can be used to embed circuit diagrams into posts, run simulations, etc. This caught our attention, because there's been a bit of concern expressed here over the years that the CircuitLab integration isn't being actively developed (and as such, bugs aren't being fixed).

So I figured I'd ask, is this a tool you'd be interested in adding here?

Feel free to create an account and play around with SystemVision a bit if you've never seen it before; then post your thoughts here. If there's sufficient interest, I'll see about getting our devs in touch with theirs.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What would happen to the CircuitLab schematics already here? \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Apr 6 '17 at 4:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ We'd want to keep CircuitLab active, @pipe - this would be an additional tool. \$\endgroup\$ – Shog9 Apr 6 '17 at 5:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hey everyone - I work on SystemVision. I'd be happy to answer any questions about what we have and what we're trying to build. \$\endgroup\$ – AdamC Apr 6 '17 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Shog9: Probably a bad idea. Having one external tool is confusing enough for new users of the site; having two different tools that have a lot of overlap in functionality can only make matters worse. As others have already said, our primary requirement on EE.SE by far is ease of use. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Apr 6 '17 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ As long as we keep the CircuitLab too, I'd be fine with it. HOWEVER, I've personally had more simulation bugs from SystemVision than CircuitLab on my circuits (sorry @AdamC) The SystemVision simulator has chocked on every single flyback circuit I've tried to get it to run; and it hasn't liked a few of my OpAmp-based audio circuits either :/ \$\endgroup\$ – Robherc KV5ROB Apr 9 '17 at 4:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey @RobhercKV5ROB thanks for trying it out. If you're interested in sharing the design with me that had problems I'd be happy to take a look. Providing correct results without a lot of fuss is very important to us. \$\endgroup\$ – AdamC Apr 9 '17 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ For anyone interested, one of the guys on my team provided an answer to a question here with a design using some of our thermal modeling: electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/18478/… \$\endgroup\$ – AdamC Apr 9 '17 at 20:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AdamC I just tried it for a minute or so and one thing I noticed is that scrolling around a schematic is quite slow - running on a i7-4790k using Vivaldi latest beta. While both editors manage to hog 100% of a core, the Circuit lab feels more responsive. I don't know how it'll feel for users with a slower CPU, but I guess not better. \$\endgroup\$ – Arsenal Apr 11 '17 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for trying it out @Arsenal. We're actually doing performance work right now since we're not satisfied either (not sure we'll ever be "done" with this). We've noticed that especially with multiple waveboxes on a schematic, things slow down unreasonably. \$\endgroup\$ – AdamC Apr 12 '17 at 0:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shog9 Could you list some differences between systemvision and circuitlab? \$\endgroup\$ – laptop2d Apr 12 '17 at 15:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is necessary to be able to specify part numbers next to the parts. It would be even better if they could be positioned relative to the part, as well, if desired (as allowed in LTspice, for example) so to avoid getting text stamped over each other or other parts when that happens. I like the extensive list of digital extras, as well as other extras. I think it's worth adding. \$\endgroup\$ – jonk Apr 14 '17 at 21:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm probably the worst person alive to identify relevant differences, @laptop2d. Peruse the answers below though, and you'll find some observations from folks who actually know what they're talking about. \$\endgroup\$ – Shog9 Apr 18 '17 at 5:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jonk you can move the part labels around right now (usually). Click+drag on a label & it can be moved pretty much anywhere you want. Unfortunately, if parts are very close together, you may have to rearrange the parts in order to get to the labels you want to move. \$\endgroup\$ – Robherc KV5ROB Apr 23 '17 at 17:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would be very happy if they could read each others schematic files. That would make both schematic products more valuable and give e.SE a very robust fallback system. \$\endgroup\$ – KalleMP May 2 '17 at 13:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RobhercKV5ROB Re flyback circuits. Try adding finite resistance to inductors if they are ideal - this may be in your model already. Long ago I used a SPICE like simulator and that was required to prevent divide by zeros in some calculations. R could be very small. Murphy says that that's not your problem :-). \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 3 '17 at 10:12

11 Answers 11

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The primary purpose of an integrated editor would be to allows users to communicate their circuit to others, i.e., to be a schematics editor.

SystemVision obviously concentrates on the simulation. This wouldn't be too much of a problem, but (at least at the moment) its schematics editor is lacking:

  • It does not support showing a part number. (It actually has part numbers, but only internally to allow having templates for the simulation parameters of components.)
  • It does not appear to allow any kind of text or annotion.

With these features added, it might be usable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is great feedback. Both of these are on our roadmap. It's nice to know what users are looking for to help us prioritize. \$\endgroup\$ – AdamC Apr 6 '17 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AdamC Every other schematics tool/PCB CAD on the market 1) supports both designator and part number labels per component, and 2) allows them to be manually placed so that they don't overlap with something else. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Apr 18 '17 at 11:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey @Lundin - we actually have moveable part labels now as well as part values. We're working on some cool things now with part number selection. \$\endgroup\$ – AdamC Apr 18 '17 at 14:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AdamC huh so it's still under develpment then. How come the plethora of bugs in DxD never seemed to produce any fix? Is this just DxD in another name or is this a replacement for DxD? I wouldn't trust your company one iota given the experiences I had with DxD and your companies/distributors ignorance and arrogance. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 5 '17 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AdamC I read your comments and point out that your company, are at the bottom of the list regarding listening. If you are using this site to trial software and get feedback then be clear about it else don't darken these parts. I have been severely hurt by DxD and what MG did back in 2010 and there is no-chance that I will entertain using anything new you might provide. I still have to use PADs because we have so many historical designs that need to be opened but, listen up, the worst and second worst software products I've ever, ever used (in any walk of life) have both been supplied by you. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 5 '17 at 17:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi @Andyaka Sorry you had such a bad experience with Mentor. I can't speak for Dx and my team has nothing to do with it's development. I can say that I personally started this project with the intention of giving people interested in electronics a free place to work and share. We guarantee that all the free stuff you can do now will always be just free. So in no way is this a trial. Whether or not it works out for us to partner with SE, I really appreciate the feedback we've received here. It's invaluable to me and has allowed us to shift our priorities to deliver a better app to our users. \$\endgroup\$ – AdamC May 6 '17 at 19:21
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One major concern is that the tool must suit the Stack Exchange spirit. That is:

  • Schematics produced by the tool must be in a format available to everyone. Which probably means picture format. They should not be in some mysterious format that relies on a specific, protected software. SE or the tool vendor might decide to cancel support in the future and then all schematics produced must still be available.

  • We must consider how the tool vendor profits from this. If their business idea is to get people interested in their tool and then purchase it for professional use, then all is well and good.

    But there may be other hidden agendas. As users, we want no "please register" crap to sign up for spam, no "limited trial version", no banners, no sneaky deals with component manufacturers to favour their components in the libraries etc etc.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Doesn't CircuitLab have Sign Up when you start it, without which you can't save anything? Would that not constitute the limited functionality that you mention? \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Uszak Apr 7 '17 at 23:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PaulUszak Yes, and No...Yes, limited in that you can't save a schematic for use, off-site, but No, I don't personally feel that it seriously limits functionality to EE.SE users who are trying to use the editor within the guidelines of this site. \$\endgroup\$ – Robherc KV5ROB Apr 9 '17 at 4:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PaulUszak Nobody said that Circuitlab has ideal behaviour. It does allow you to save work on the EE site without registering, which is the main point. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Apr 10 '17 at 6:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ If Circuitlab would go kaputt, I'm not sure what would happen. Would all schematics be lost? \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Apr 10 '17 at 6:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Lundin One of my circuits is stored like this - (...//i.stack.imgur.com/pTqDy.png) which suggests that SE could keep hosting the raster image even when CircuitLab disappears. I guess it means that you wouldn't be able to edit it any longer. \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Uszak Apr 10 '17 at 10:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll probably not use anything that requires custom soft to be loaded onto my PC. I'll definitely NOT use any MentalGraphics product that requires custom soft to be loaded onto my PC. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 5 '17 at 17:16
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The number one importance for a schematic tool here on EE.SE should be ease of use for inexperienced users, who come here asking for help with something they are perhaps not familiar with.

If SystemVision is easier to use1, then fine, it's an upgrade. Otherwise not.

Its simulation capabilities are for me completely irrelevant - I've never even contemplated trying to simulate the circuit snippets used in the questions. For reasons of brevity and clarity, I'm not sure it would even be a great idea to encourage completely "simulatable" circuits. Maybe for simple transistor-based questions. I just don't see it as a selling point.


1) I couldn't really try it out. After enabling javascript for half their 3rd-party tracking ad-networks it still doesn't show me anything, except "For an optimal site experience, please disable your ad blocker. SystemVision Cloud® is free and has no advertisements." Yeah right, then why should I disable the ad blocker?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Weird; I run an ad-blocker & didn't encounter this. \$\endgroup\$ – Shog9 Apr 6 '17 at 5:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Among the many websites that needed enabling, the only one considered "bad" by my blocker is widgets-cdn.rpxnow.com. \$\endgroup\$ – CL. Apr 6 '17 at 8:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ We really don't have ads or any ad networks for that matter. Ad blockers tend to disable our login widgets so we added a message to give some help. I found this out since I use one as well. We do use things like intercom for support and google analytics to give us an idea about traffic. \$\endgroup\$ – AdamC Apr 6 '17 at 14:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Have to second @Shog9, I'm on AdBlock Pro and it works fine. \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Uszak Apr 10 '17 at 9:57
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I seem to be a bit late to the party, but I did play with SystemVision for a bit and I have some feedback.

  • Drawing a schematic is actually pretty smooth. I find it somewhat less clunky than CircuitLab.

  • The error message are much more helpful than they are in Circuit Lab.

  • The abstract blocks could be very helpful for system-level questions. Circuit Lab doesn't have PID blocks or three-phase transforms.

  • Being able to put a waveform directly on the schematic is nice.

  • I don't see any way to have both a reference designator and a part number. This is a show-stopper. Fixing this could be as simple as adding a second text label. (Per Olin's post, the default part number should be blank.)

  • The waveform viewer doesn't update automatically when I rerun the simulation. This is confusing. There should be something to indicate that a waveform is old.

  • The "ideal" op amp defaults to a gain-bandwidth product of 1 MHz and an output resistance of 100 ohms. This could confuse college students trying to simulate their homework.

  • Clicking and dragging to move the schematic around is extremely laggy. So is zooming. (I have a 3.5 GHz Core i7 3770k with 16 gigs of RAM, so I'm pretty sure it's not me.) This is using Firefox with three tabs open.

  • I don't see a way to save a waveform as an image. I suppose I can just take a screenshot, so I'll call this a nice-to-have feature.

Overall, I like it and I think it would be a good addition to the site. I'd probably use it more than Circuit Lab if the part number issue (and lack of text annotation) were fixed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "I don't see any way to have both a reference designator and a part number. This is a show-stopper." If this is true then this tool simply can't be used to draw schematics. Indeed it is a show-stopper. Anyone with minimal experience of electronics can tell why this is absolutely necessary: designator=which part in the schematics are we talking about? Part number = what kind of component is it? \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin Apr 18 '17 at 7:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I had the same laggy experience with systemvision, I'm not a fan of that, most of us here want to generate simple schematics quickly \$\endgroup\$ – laptop2d Apr 19 '17 at 21:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is everyone experiencing the lag using firefox &/or intel chipsets? I'm running a 4y/o AMD (forget the cpu model, but not over 2.5GHz) system with 4GB RAM & in Google Chrome (Linux OS) the only waits/lags I have are during simulation. \$\endgroup\$ – Robherc KV5ROB Apr 23 '17 at 17:50
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I personally don't use CircuitLab and wouldn't use anything else you add either. That's because I'm quite comfortable with Eagle and have created some scripts and procedures for getting schematics from Eagle into posts and have the result look nice.

However, I've seen others use CircuitLab with good success. CircuitLab schematics are always more readable than anything else posted by the great unwashed masses. Anything that helps people draw neat and readable schematics here is a benefit. Whether having a second schematic editor would increase the average quality of schematics posted here, I can't guess. I don't see how it can hurt, though.

One problem I see with CircuitLab schematics is that all too often people get lazy and grab a symbol for a similar part without updating its annotation to the actual part they are using. This seems to happen particularly often with opamps. Particularly we see TL072 shown in place of whatever opamp is really being used, with lots of collective time wasted as a result. I have never even tried to use CircuitLab, so I don't know if this is due to some flaw in its UI that makes it difficult to find the right part or to change the value of a existing part, or just laziness of users. If a new circuit editor is added, this might be something to address deliberately.

I'm not sure what I think about the simulation capability of the new proposed schematic tool. The primary advantage is to have neat and readable schematics. We might get more of them if people could easily post a schematic from a simulation.

However, I'm worried that simulation will become more of a crux for the incompetent than it already is. The schematics I've seen here that came from simulation programs usually look like a mess and tend to have various annoying things scattered about that are apparently droppings from the simulation. If the new editor makes it easy to post just the schematic with simulation artifacts removed, then it might be useful.

Another problem is that question are usually more tedious to answer when the OP has done a simulation but doesn't know what they are doing. They tend be more likely to latch on to nonsense beliefs that have to be dispelled before the real question can be answered. I often just skip questions like that as being too much trouble. I'm worried that the simulation capability will cause more questions of this sort.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To help inform you, every component that can have a part name (e.g. NPN, op-amp, PFET...) has a default part number assigned in CircuitLab. The default op-amp is a TL081, for whatever reason. Perhaps it may be more useful for an "ideal" op-amp to be the default to enable simulation and avoiding getting bogged down in details, though it would be tricky to pick what an "ideal" MOSFET looks like. \$\endgroup\$ – W5VO Apr 6 '17 at 15:29
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I'd be concerned with the terms of use with respect to 'rights' and responsibilities.

While the submitter retains ownersip rights SV have COMPLETE rights to do what they want with your submission BUT if there are legal issues YOU are responsible. Given their right to adapt, combine, spindle staple fold and transmogrify, this seems to have tyhe potential for eg POTUS Trump tos a fake news source or to have Chosŏn'gŭl (김정은) nuke you.

Whereas, 'in the privacy of your own home' [tm], you may be able to legally deal with some IP owned by others without risk, by placing it into the SV 'cloud' you may become liable for open ended penalties, and possibly far more likely than if you had posted it on a single site, if SV disseminate it.

Something as 'trivial' as copying a circuit in good faith from the intenet and transferring or implementing it on SV may expose you to open ended legal claims.

Unlike CC-by-SA, where you provide similar rights to other users, and notiobnally have your contribution attributed, here your contribution is anonymous until such time as SV transfers responsibility for legal transgression to you.

From here Systemvision terms of use

Submissions:

  • By uploading, posting, displaying, transmitting or submitting any data to this website (“submission”), you grant Mentor Graphics a worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt and publish your submission in any form. Your submission will be considered non-confidential, and Mentor Graphics is free to disclose your submission to any third party without restriction. For the avoidance of doubt, you retain all ownership rights that you have in your submission.

  • You represent and warrant that you own all rights in and to your submission or that you have acquired all necessary rights in your submission to enable you to grant the above license. You also represent and warrant that posting, downloading, copying or using your submission does not and will not misappropriate, infringe or violate the rights of any third party, including, without limitation, patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, confidentiality or other intellectual property, or proprietary rights, or rights of privacy or publicity. Upon request, you will provide Mentor Graphics with any documentation necessary to verify your compliance with these terms. Except as prohibited by law, you waive any moral rights you may have in your submission under the laws of any jurisdiction. Mentor Graphics has no obligation to monitor or enforce your intellectual property rights, but maintains the right to protect and enforce its rights to use, reproduce, modify, adapt and publish your submission.

  • You agree to pay all royalties, fees, and other expenses that result from your submission. You will not post or link to any submission that violates any applicable law, rule or regulation; infringes or violates the legal rights of any third party; is defamatory, libelous, false, fraudulent, threatening, abusive, obscene, pornographic, derogatory, harassing or otherwise objectionable, or promotes or otherwise incites racism, bigotry, hatred or physical harm of any kind against any group or individual; misleads others regarding your identity; encourages conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or otherwise violate any law, rule or regulation; contains any software virus or any other code, file, program or disabling device designed to damage, interfere with, intercept or expropriate any system, data or personal information; or contains any advertising, promotion, solicitation or other commercial material, or involves commercial activities and/or sales including, but not limited to, contests or sweepstakes without Mentor Graphics’ prior written consent.

  • Mentor Graphics may use your ideas, suggestions, improvements, or other feedback regarding Services in any manner and for any purpose. You agree that all inventions, improvements, modifications and developments Mentor Graphics makes or conceives during or subsequent to your acceptance of these terms, including those based partly or wholly on your feedback, will be the exclusive property of Mentor Graphics. Mentor Graphics will have exclusive rights, title and interest in and to all such property without restriction, liability or compensation to you.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It sounds like mentalgraphics haven't changed their attitude towards users. Don't touch the stuff is my very, very strong recommendation. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 5 '17 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Andyaka I would hope that this applies only to their free product, and that any paid-for versions do not lay any claim to rights to our IP. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 6 '17 at 0:28
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What would I want to switch? I'm not asking a weighted question, but as a developer of products I ask myself this all the time.

Mostly the circuit tool gets used on SE for schematics, not for simulation. Simulation isn't great reason to switch.

Faster drawing and load time is. System vision took 2 minutes to load on my machine the first time and is still choppy in my browser (I do run multiple tabs, but I have 16gb ram 4 core xenon machine) after the first load. I'm not impressed by the choppyness. I've had no such problems with circuitlab

The second problem I see is the ability to generate decent images. With systemvision all of the examples I saw on the website are complex with full schematics, none of the previews were clear because the whole design was in one preview image. Do you really want to see posts like this on EE.SE on a regular basis? I'm not saying its a bad thing, but its something to think about because its not just the tool but how people are using the tool.

Circitlab doesn't have a lot going on, but that's a good thing because you can't add a lot of parts and it generates good images. Whatever is used here, it needs to be able to generate images posted on imgur and needs to generate decent ones.

If the current tool gets the job done then it works.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I suppose it needs to be established whether or not the current tool does actually get the job done, in the eyes of those that matter most to EE.SE., whoever they are. \$\endgroup\$ – CL22 May 3 '17 at 10:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like the images on circuitlab. On the other hand when I used DxD (mentorgraphics) it looked like it had been drawn by a blind trainee draftsperson and the print-outs were even worse - massive black circles where two connections joined - almost the size of a transistor - now WTF was that about. Don't trust MG. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 5 '17 at 17:07
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Another thing worth considering is platform and browser compatibility. SystemVision should aim to have at least the same degree of compatibility of CircuitLab.

As an example, CircuitLab states that safari "isn't officially supported", but it works nevertheless. But this doesn't seem to be the case with SystemVision... This is what I got when I tried to sign up with my Google+ account in Safari with Sierra and AdBlock paused. Same result if I try with the LinkedIn account.

systemvision error

Google Chrome worked, though.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This should probably be a comment on the post, asking for clarifications \$\endgroup\$ – pipe Apr 9 '17 at 17:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll rephrase it, thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – Enric Blanco Apr 9 '17 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ For kind of these reasons, I say to hell with CircuitLab. Long story short, they don't support Android. I asked a question about it: electronics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6183/… \$\endgroup\$ – CL22 May 3 '17 at 10:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jodes You comment seems to be at odds with the post you are commenting on. Maybe due to the edit? Enric says that Circuit Labs works with Safari but that SystemVision doesn't. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 6 '17 at 0:32
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Stack Exchange received an offer from Mentor Graphics, developers of the SystemVision tool

Wow, surely NOT - I wouldn't touch it with a very long stick after using DxD

I used Mentorgraphics DxD for ten months then I'd literally had enough and one morning, I went in and told them that we either scrap using it or it's goodbye from me. They agreed to scrap that pile of sh** called DxD. Since then I have totally not trusted mentorgraphics to produce anything useful. PADs is OK but unwieldy and big brotherish and certainly NOT slick. I'm still using it and every day I get crashes because it can't find the dongle or something random. It's pretty poor.

So based 100% on my fairly solid experience of Mentorgraphics software I have to say NO, NO, NO. They don't deserve to be given any more chances. When I was using DxD they were rude and defiant and kept telling me I should go on a £3k course to understand how to use it properly. THAT WAS GRADE 1 BS of course. They should be ashamed of themselves - they've sold their soul to the devil and they'll never redeem themselves.

Why does Mentor Graphics SUCK so very, very much?

The site above helped me get through the really bad experience of using mentalgraphics products. I realized I was not alone. That experience hurt me.

So, in summary, in case the message isn't strong enough: -

  • The worst software I ever used was a mentalgraphics product
  • The second worst software I ever used was ALSO a mentalgraphics product
  • The list I have of bad software products contains two items and they were both mentalgraphics.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Mentor graphics is terrible, they don't care about what there customers want and they are overpriced. I'd turn down a job if I was forced to use it. I don't know if the evils of mentor graphics translate into the system vision tool however. \$\endgroup\$ – laptop2d May 5 '17 at 17:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @laptop2d I nearly resigned from a job because of them!! \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 5 '17 at 17:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do they deserve a second chance? They had second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth etc chances to fix up DxD and they didn't. Don't use them. Don't even think about using them. Just don't think about them. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 5 '17 at 17:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, they don't, that company should be buried in the ground. Its crazy that they haven't responded to altium. \$\endgroup\$ – laptop2d May 5 '17 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AdamC take note - your company's reputation amongst some engineers is really bad - what nice words have you got that will change that? You were here on meta yesterday and so I'm expecting that you come here quite often so, please do "tell me why" \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 5 '17 at 17:45
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Needs are widespread:

**Great suggestion but I do not support it.

The best tool is the one you know how to use.


Other tools to consider:

  • Multisim (National Instruments) bulky
  • Autodesk’s 123D (fee to save) bulky
  • EveryCircuit looks pretty good but not tried
  • iCircuit - not bad, a derivative of Falstad made for mobiles

11 simulators

  • Multisim
  • 123D Circuits.io
  • EveryCircuit
  • iCircuit
  • Quite
  • CircuitLab
  • DoCircuits
  • TINA
  • PartSim
  • DC/AC Virtual Lab
  • Falstad electronics quirky until you learn all the features
    • Falstad Bode plot my 10th order LPF example

      enter image description here

other opinions

Let's face it CctLab is only to dumb down schematics with primitive simulation and ugly user experience and best suited to electronics 101 or high school

I prefer Falstad for quick and fast slow motion or real time analysis but you must include all non-ideal characteristics including ESR, ESL Vcc,Vee add Rout to OpAmps and logic. There are both javascript and Java versions with spectrum FFT miniplots and calc. plots for watts, or VI vector and another one for filters with Bode plotter

Below is a simulation of a 60kW Tesla coil arc with 240kV on 25pF (bushing) enter image description here

The onus is on the user to enter realistic values and complex RLC equiv circuits and some learning curve exists.

Other simple show N tell Falstad examples built-in

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's awful IMO - totally out dated. An applet in this day and age? It's dead in the water, I can't see any dev wanting to touch it. Nevertheless, +1 for bringing it up!! \$\endgroup\$ – CL22 May 3 '17 at 10:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jodes It's quick for show N tell... e.g. this took me 1 minute , you do not understand the power of physics math in this applet tinyurl.com/mxrbz3e tinyurl.com/lh5kxlb tinyurl.com/n25lm5h tinyurl.com/n25lm5h \$\endgroup\$ – Sunnyskyguy EE75 May 3 '17 at 13:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not doubting the quality of capability of the physics mathematics, but the limitations of applets. I'm sure it can be easily ported, but it will have lacked what makes a great user interface from the get go \$\endgroup\$ – CL22 May 3 '17 at 17:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ You obviously have not seen all the JS and Java version of all the applets, from Falstad nor the built in designs. It can be easily ported to standalone offline in a browser. (see site and links to simulations are trivial to share or the text based schematics.) It may not appear user friendly at first until you learn where everythig can be modified for any component. Another site can easily do passive or active filter Bode Plots, Fourier Spectrum of standard and arbitrary waveforms and the schematic analysis has built in PLL's , simple OA designs , OSC and logic designs.. better>any spice. \$\endgroup\$ – Sunnyskyguy EE75 May 3 '17 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ The limitations are for very complex designs when you need to use IBIS or vendor scattering parameters. But for example an 8th order Cauer filter Bode plot or a class A,B,C,D,E etcPower amplifier with V,I, or Vvs I or Pd dissipation in any or all components shown in a scope autoscaled trace , stacked or not with manual scope sampling times to any value that affects resolution on all traces. It is only limited by your imagination. But logic OA's have 0 output impedance and no bearing with p.n.'s nor Caps have ESR,ESL so the wise user adds those to examine effects of noise . \$\endgroup\$ – Sunnyskyguy EE75 May 3 '17 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ It requires some skill to use but then without skill, what good is any simulation without knowing the real analog world and that every logic gate is an analog device that saturates with a certain ESR and Coss, Ciss. \$\endgroup\$ – Sunnyskyguy EE75 May 3 '17 at 18:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ For fun, here is a Tesla Coil tinyurl.com/lzn3tyx Use the Simulation speed slider to watch the charge ramp up to 10kV and then slow down to see the discharge in slow motion. Change any value and repeat interactively or change any display (right click) to select Power instead of V and/or I and see the 60kW arc power it generates. \$\endgroup\$ – Sunnyskyguy EE75 May 3 '17 at 18:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ You've converted me - it warrants a closer look \$\endgroup\$ – CL22 May 4 '17 at 5:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Anything is BETTER than mentalgraphics products. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 5 '17 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Many experts who have gone past the steep learning curve may disagree. But I agree the learning curve is not worth it for many but then professional IC designers use it. \$\endgroup\$ – Sunnyskyguy EE75 May 5 '17 at 17:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TonyStewart.EEsince'75 their products severely burnt me and hurt me back in 2010. Then to add insult to injury they told me it was me not doing it correctly and really did lay it on the line with my boss back then. They are corrupt and bad people in my humble opinion. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 5 '17 at 17:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I sympathize with you. I hated machine language and Forth compiler errors.... so for those that use it well, no explanation needed, those that hate it, no explanation possible. and for those with experience in expert tools, depends on your ability to resolve quirks. \$\endgroup\$ – Sunnyskyguy EE75 May 5 '17 at 18:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, no, the errors it produced were basic and non negotiable. For instance, in DxD, if you connected a bunch of circuit nodes to (say) a single in line connector then tried to drag that connector to make more room, all the connections got trashed and the only way around it was to reposition then redraw all the connections again. It was total shit. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 5 '17 at 19:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ YIkes .. Even HP had rubber Band graphics in the 70's I can even do that in Falstad by curser row or column and drag \$\endgroup\$ – Sunnyskyguy EE75 May 5 '17 at 20:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ All these irrelevant images and lists serves no purpose but to clutter up the answer section. They don't help to answer the stated question. If you want to push for another tool, please do so in a separate question. \$\endgroup\$ – pipe May 6 '17 at 1:58
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\$\begingroup\$

The simulation is definitely more powerful than Circuit Lab. I would be in favor of the switch on those grounds alone.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm impressed with the fact that the simulator allows a mix of abstract and concrete components (example); this could be very useful in a teaching environment. Unfortunately, simulation is not the primary requirement for EE.SE. \$\endgroup\$ – Dave Tweed Apr 6 '17 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ +4 -4 - Wow!... \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 6 '17 at 0:54

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