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Protel 2004

Discussion in 'CAD' started by Fred, Sep 7, 2005.

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  1. Fred

    Fred Guest


    I'm using Protel99SE and have been apprroached by Altium with an upgrade
    path to Protel 2004. HAs anyone got 2004 that could give a heads up on
    how it compares to 99SE?

    Fred S
  2. Hi Fred,

    Hm, seems to be the same around the world ... we had this first some
    months ago, and since then, every three-four weeks ... ;-)

    For the comparison have a look at their webpage ( and
    look for some documents which list a number of features of DXP2004
    which are not available in 99SE. They show this as a kind of "field
    test" with their own engineers.
    I received the printed version of this but at the moment can't
    remember the document's title.

    For a "hands-on" comparison just tell them to send you the demo CD
    install it and work with it! But MAKE A BACKUP of all your 99SE
    design files because AFAIK the file format has changed completely!

  3. Fred

    Fred Guest

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the response and I certainly will do these things before
    upgrading. I guess what I'm looking for is current users of 2004
    reaction to the change from 99SE.

    I remember when Protel 98 first came out. It was so full of bugs that
    the user base was driven nuts. The program would lock up capriously and
    a lot of work could be (and was)lost. It was very frustrating. As if
    this wasn't enough, when 99 came out, it was a similar situation. The
    user interface was also quite different and was alot of work to learn.
    This coupled with the 99 bugs was a platefull. 99SE has been a good
    stable performer but it was quite a while before it was available.

    What I'm saying is I don't trust Altium to deliver a satisfactory
    product until some time after it's initial introduction; I'm gun-shy.
    I'm looking for how previous users of 99SE felt about learning yet
    another user-interface, how long it took to learn, how stable it is and
    was it worth the effort.


  4. I think you just described Protel 2004 :)
    But they do seem to have got alot of bugs out.. the new features are nice
    too.. like padstack editor which allows different sizes on different
    internal layers. Also the ERC seems to be working now.. not that you would
    have noticed that some schematic ERC's aren't getting flagged even tho, if
    you look at them, you will realise they are turned on. They are all
    non-critical ERC warnings that affect the schematic sheet but not the
    overall design.

    From my own point of view.. if 99SE is good for what you do.. there is very
    little reason to upgrade unless you have money burning a hole in your pocket
    which you just have to spend. I haven't seen a 'wow' feature that is a must
    have ... for example.. 99SE could pour 4 polygons in the time Protel 3.0
    could pour one. Since most of the new features in Protel I've had to work
    around for years... there seems little point in doing it any other way right

    There is a footnote that some parts of Protel 2004 benefit from dual
    processors... but its only some.. and probably small some of a function you
    don't use often (e.g. FPGAs)


  5. F KNOFF

    F KNOFF Guest


    I did the jump full of hope, because there is a converter from PROTEL 99 SE
    to PROTEL 2004 XP, but not everithing was OK, the PCB has to been
    resynchronised with schematics. Altium has upgraded the converter, and I
    have not tried the last released (SP4).
    The new annoying thing is that there was not database with all the
    documents, (changed with service PACK 4, you can do an archive with your
    You have a separate file with each document !
    For the new components, the library editor is globally the same with height
    of the component for placement with height constraint on the board.
    You can do integrated library schematic component with its footprint (you
    have some furnished).
    Compatibilty is always limited to Autocad version 14. (SP4 ?)
    It take more place and more power but doesn't use processeur with
    Hyperthreading (SP4 ?) when I route with my Pentium 4 / 3.2 Ghz it uses only
    50% of the processor power (Dos = Windows XP pro).
    When routing there is a firts pass of analysing the board which is more
    longer than 99SE and after it start routing, but at first it is slower than
    99SE even with a partially routed board.

    Good things :
    You can open 99SE library and 2004 XP library at the same time. You can save
    at the old 99SE Format (Yes File format has changed, why ?).
    It is more stable then 99SE (with service pack 3) I have just installed SP4
    so I could not speak about SP4.
    For drawing PCB there was a bug in circular component so you need to use
    software arc in generating Gerber files otherwise gerber files was wrong and
    PCB looks OK. Bug fixed with SP4 ?
    The router doesn't route easily all CMS fine pitch if you say one pin inner
    and one pin outer and two pin close together should be routed the same
    direction (outer the component by example), but you can add more passes the
    router. (Fixed in SP4 ?).
    You can add/edit easily multiple component properties, but I h'vent checked
    the possibity of linking to a database.
    You can download new components library.

    I only did 2 and 4 layers board with splitted planes at this time and it
    take some time to take the full power from PROTEL XP 2004, well if you are
    satisfied with 99SE and don't want to download new library components from

    François knoff
    To answer replace <family name> with my name.

    Email :fn.<family name>
  6. The database disappeared with the first DXP release years ago
    (2002?), not just at AD2004 SP4. It does support some form of
    imports and exports at greater than ACAD ver. 14, heard what it
    was but don't recall. Statements from tech support indicate they
    are targeting good ACAD import/export operation right up to the
    more recent releases (maybe a year or two behind since it is
    difficult to keep absolutely current). Some portions of the more
    intensive operations are hyper-threading, eventually they plan to
    re-write more to use hyper-threading. You can actually compile
    full 3D components, not just height, but it is not 100% fluid
    passing off to various 3D tools. Also within the component
    library you can now define your component outline and boundaries,
    not just default to the silkscreen and all other features from
    all layers in an all encompassing box.

    So I don't know where Francios gets his info but a lot of it is
    highly suspect. The Altium EDA forum is quite active and has an
    extensive archive, if you are really interested Altium should let
    you join for researching your inquiries. Supposedly from what I
    have read, it will tax most any machine for speed on some
    operations, it is reported to not be as fast as P99SE but then it
    also does a lot more (too much in my opinion).

    I have AD2004 at work but we have not yet switched, mostly
    because of lack of time and resources to manage the switch and
    retrain all the engineers. I monitor the AD forum continuously
    and that is where my info above comes from.
  7. f knoff

    f knoff Guest


    Sorry, you misunderstand me, I mean to say that jump from 99SE to 2004 XP
    you don't have the same format with one database will all the documents.
    You have a lot of individual documents.
    I won't speak about 2002 release because I never used it.

    Some of changes with SP4 is that you can do a zipped archive of your projet,
    but I have to test it more because I have not succeded in making a full
    archive of a projet (some schematics are missing) but there are some option
    I have not tested in making the archive process.

    You can also generate directly PDF document (File menu) very interesting for
    sending a PDF document where every component and pins could be selected.
    No more confusing with designator and footprint for the compagny which put
    the components on the board when you send the .PDF of a PCB generated with
    this function. Not every company could treat the pick and place file
    generated by Protel.

    Well you said that you can export file format more recent than AUTOCAD 14
    format .DWG or .DXF so tell me exactly the key you press or where you click
    with the mouse.
    Because when I want to export, even with service pack 4 installed, ( I have
    just installed it today), I could NOT export to Autocad 2000 format (.DWG or
    ..DXF). I'm limited to AUTOCAD 14 format .

    I you can please tell me exectly how to proceed.

    To modify 3D shape and color of components please tell me exactly the
    key/mouse click you press because I don't know how to do that with Protel
    2004 DXP.

    The Hyperthreading is not used even with service pack 4; I tried it today.

    You said that :

    "> So I don't know where Francios gets his info but a lot of it is highly

    I will answer CLEARLY : I'm a user of Protel 2004 DXP and before I was using
    Protel 99 SE.
    All the infos came from me and my experience of the two version of this
    products, when I did the jump one year ago.
    I've exposed the problems and some of the avantage that I had and someby
    doing the jump may have.
    For a description of the new options of DXP the Altium site is well done but
    the experience is a valuable thing.

    Who is suspect ?
    Somebody hearing something and repeating it of somebody who really use the
    product and really knows its limits ?

    And you Brad Velander who are you ?
    What tools do you use now ?
    Which board do you design (size, class, layers, Analog, Digital, FPGA) ?
    What type of products Segment / Market do you design for ?
    How many cards do you design by year ?

    I really want to know...

    Sorry, but I don't spend time to read Altium forum normally, if I have some
    requests I call the Altium hotline which is excellent in Europe.

    But now with a broken leg, I have more time to read the tutorials and
    read/write in forum .


    François KNOFF

    To answer replace <family name> with my name.

    Email :fn.<family name>
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