Wednesday, April 30, 2014

An Open Letter to DipTrace

A DipTrace Enhancement Request


For many years I have been using DipTrace for Schematic Capture and PCB Layout. I have found DipTrace to be one of the most functional, easiest to use, and inexpensive software packages for both the hobbyist and professional.

Recent DipTrace Updates

In the past I had complained about DipTrace's use and access method of the schematic and layout libraries. With the latest Revision of DipTrace, my use and access concerns have been resolved - thanks DipTrace.

But, with all of the really good aspects of DipTrace, there are still a few aspects that are a real impediment to efficient use. The problems are with the 3D Library, that is; access, browse, user addition, and updates to the 3D Library.

There are two major concerns with the 3D Library:

The first problem is; the method of access to parts within a single 2500 part directory. There are too many parts in one directory to be efficient while looking for a part where the name may not be known. With each users guess or attempt, the search for a 3D part starts over at the beginning with the first part in the list. It is exceedingly aggravating to have to shift through 2500 parts to access a part near the end of the list. Trying to find or inspect another 3D Part makes the 3D view almost useless.

I suggest placing the 3D Parts into separate directories depending on the first few letters of the part name (i.e, sot), and therefore making the interactive search list much shorter and much less demanding.

The second problem is; even with 2500 3D Parts within the standard 3D library, it rarely contains a special part needed that would make 3D presentation meaningful.

From my perspective, the difficulty is the single format (wrl) of the 3D Parts that DipTraces uses. There are not many inexpensive, useful, and friendly tools available to create or update wrl files. Yes, I am aware of the suggested currently available tools, and the expense of the better tools.

I suggest that DipTrace allow or use a few additional file formats. Specifically the "Sketchup" format.

Sketchup is available and used by an ARMY of many hobbyist and professional people. Many 3D Parts are already available in the Sketchup online library. With a large volunteer army creating high quality 3D online parts, this problem would be forever solved for Diptrace users.

All that DipTrace needs to do is read and use the Sketchup format.

I would also suggest DipTrace provide some simple guide lines for 3D part creation, which should include; part orientation, scale, and pin index. For scale I suggest 100:1, which would make part creation easy for the Sketchup authors.

To be complete, I also request that DipTrace provide the current 2500 parts in Sketchup format for users to explore and expand on.


I would like DipTrace to address these concerns and make DipTrace an even better PCB software package.

Eldon R. Brown - A DipTrace User

UPDATE: Apr 30, 2014, 21:41
The following response was received:

Hi Eldon,

Starting from 2.4 DipTrace supports 4 file formats for 3D models (step AP214, iges, 3ds and wrl).
Regarding folders is good idea - we will consider it.


Still, there is not (many, if any) inexpensive and available software packages for creating and updating new or existing 3D files usable by DipTrace.

I maintain that there is a ARMY of Sketchup users that could be enlisted that would solve this complex problem if DipTrace would allow Sketchup files to be read.



  1. also, I hope there will be an option to save the file to a text-based file just like Eagle (where it uses XML format IIRC). this may slow down the loading and saving, but it will be git friendly.