Scheme-it allows users to share and embed these schematic diagrams on the web, making it useful for generating diagrams that can support a question to a remote colleague or on a public forum that might ask ‘what is the best way to bias this class-A amplifier?’. And designs can be saved or exported to a PDF or PNG.
As a schematic drawing and wiring tool, Scheme-it is implemented well. Parts placement and wiring is impressively fast, and net routing is intelligent. Sharing to a social site is as simple as pasting a URL.
Right-clicking on a part allows users to enter part properties including its reference designator, value, part number and Digikey part number. This information syncs with the bill of materials and can be toggled on or off in the schematic.
The library has a wide range of symbols for analog, digital and RF design. Devices range from passives, discretes (MOSFETs, BJTs) and amplifiers to digital gates, multiplexors, and microwave parts. There is, however, no efficient way to create a part other than drawing it from primitive elements.
Another drawback is that the part library contains only contains generic symbols, rather than any specific orderable parts. Adding numbers and properties manually for every component on the schematic can be a tedious process. It would be beneficial if the library could integrate with Digi-Key’s catalog, both for symbols and pricing and availability.
Another feature that would make Scheme-it more useful would be the ability to export a netlist so as to continue to be able to work on a design in a more fully featured EDA tool. And some other basic features like design rule checks, or multi-page support would also be welcome.
But Scheme-it is not meant to replace tools that cost thousands of dollars. Restle explained that where the tool falls short in functionality, it will make up for in architecture: EDA tools simply don’t provide a way for their users to design online in a way that requires no installation.
He also added that there’s no technical reason why these features couldn’t be added in the future, since it’s the drawing of the schematic that is most server intensive. “Where we take this is going to be based on how it’s received by customers. And we think this alternative online model has some value that the mainline tools don’t have,” said Restle.