Looks like formerly-Cadsoft EAGLE is now officially Autodeskified.
The good news: Better autorouter, modularity, etc.
The bad news: Autodeskified licensing model.
A quick scan doesn't reveal a lot of details, but... under the old scheme, I was paying a few hundred bucks every couple of years to upgrade to the latest major version, could install it on multiple computers as long as I promised to use it on only one at a time, and the license never expires.
It seems that under the new scheme I'd be paying $500 every year, not just for upgrades and support but to keep the software from self-destructing.
This is bad. I have the feeling that I and my clients will be sticking with version 7.7.0 - and that I may need to find a new CAD package for future clients.
See, I do consulting and custom-design work. I deliver CAD files to my clients. They generally don't have engineering departments, and can't justify keeping up software subscriptions. Buying one copy of the software, once, yes; paying every year to maintain access to the project files in their archives, no.
And, should Autodesk go bust or just drop the product in a few years? When the time-limited licenses expire, the software becomes useless, and all the archived designs go bye-bye.
This is absolutely unacceptable. I need to be able to maintain old designs, even decades later.
This is even a problem with free-as-in-beer development software that needs its free license renewed periodically: that means I can't archive a known-working development environment capable of generating identical binaries from the original source code years hence (an important consideration in some industries).
Actually, Autodesk has just retroactively created a problem for me. I'm in the process of tidying up a couple of years-old projects from a former consulting company, and sending CAD files to the old clients... who don't have their own copies of EAGLE. Used to be, they could buy their own copies from Cadsoft, at the appropriate license level, and be done with it. Now, they need to subscribe? Ugh.
Also: It sounds remarkably like the subscription model includes forced updates. Again, unacceptable. I must be able to keep locked-down legacy versions around, and to choose the time for updating the active version. Having the software update itself when I'm on a deadline invites disaster.
Additional: You'd think an old-line CAD company like Autodesk would understand things like product lifecycles, ongoing support commitments, and unacceptable business risks, but apparently not. Do they still employ anyone over 35?
Consider: I plunk down the money for a subscription. I do a bunch of work using the new version. Then... something happens. The licensing server is hacked by Bulgarians. Autodesk is bought out, and the new owners decide to discontinue the red-feathered stepchild. The EAGLE product gets rolled into something much bigger*, with a subscription fee I can't afford. One month after the last successful phone-home license verification, EAGLE stops working and I'm out of business.
Getting business-critical software on the subscription model may sound peachy when you're 20 years old, your office is a table at Starbucks, and your grand business plan is three-years-to-retirement. When you're developing serious products that will be in use for many years, requiring ongoing support, design iterations, and so on... well, you really need stability.
And can I count on the 2032 edition dealing nicely with files saved by the 2017 edition? Really? Because my worry horizon is at least that far out. And I still remember a version of MS Word that, given certain large and heavily-edited documents produced using the previous (a mere two years earlier?) version, would freak out, mangle the document, and crash. But at least that wasn't subscription software, so we just had both versions of Word installed: one for old documents, and one for new.
Update: Rant at EEVblog.
More update: Guess I should look at learning KiCad, and maybe even contributing to it. Have to look at stuff like BOM, back-annotation, and so on. Hey, with an open-source package, if I want to add a BOM feature that talks to a database server, I can do it!
Still more: Looks like there's an import tool for Altium to KiCad, but not EAGLE to KiCad? Given the news, I expect the latter will be along soon. 3D modeling built in? Cool! But. No autorouter? Hm. Apparently there's some compatible web-based router... maybe OK, especially if I can use a locally-hosted copy. Can I resequence the reference designators on the board and back-annotate the schematic to match? That's important; many's the time I've cursed the workflow that presented me with a board that had the components labeled in chronological, rather than geographic, order.
Anyway, looks like I'll have a bunch of learning to do in a few months, assuming Autodesk doesn't see the error of its ways. Maybe some angry hashtags? #AutodeskLicensingSux
And: Just making extra backups of my distribution binaries and installation keys, since, though the old license is perpetual, I can no longer download a replacement binary nor have a replacement key sent to me should I lose it.
I've been using EAGLE since 4.1, in 2003. Right up to 7.7.0, in 2016. And I'm committed to using it for a couple of ongoing projects... but for new business, I'll be looking elsewhere.
More: According to the discussion thread here, Autodesk is absolutely committed to the subscription model.
Which means that the product is absolutely unusable for anyone doing actual work. Up until now, I had been recommending EAGLE for small businesses. No more. Were I in any way involved with funding a startup, I would veto any use of EAGLE, or indeed any subscription-based software, for any business-critical purposes. It's a completely unacceptable risk.
What's more, though you can pay for up to three years at a time, the license is issued for a more fortnight (apparently not 30 days as I'd read earlier).
So, no. Absolutely, positively not. The new licensing model is not by any stretch of the imagination acceptable for any business use whatsoever. And, since the ability to use the freeware version can disappear at any time? Not good for personal use either.
Another option: I should maybe evaluate DipTrace. Already had it bookmarked, maybe from last year's DesignCon or something - maybe they'll have a booth this year? Full license costs about like a year of the fool EAGLE subscription. Ugh: Win/Mac, no Linux - though the download page says it works with WINE, so maybe. Anyway, I have a Windows VM, and post-relocation I plan on having a giant high-res monitor so VM window borders won't be eating into needed workspace. Hey, and they have 3D component models!
I really ought to learn KiCad anyway, but there's something to be said for having a commercial package.
* Anyone remember Generic CADD?