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I have an extensive library of PCB layouts in Ultiboard format. If, hypothetically, I wanted to switch to another software package, this would pose a problem, as the Ultiboard layout format appears to be proprietary and not documented. (Could be wrong about that.) Ultiboard supports export to:

  • Scalable Vector Graphics
  • Gerber
  • IPC-D-356A Netlist
  • 3D IGES
  • DXF
  • NC Drill

I'm thinking DXF is the most likely format to be supported by other software packages. What other layout packages, if any, support DXF import?

Related questions: Importing Drawings ( DXF ) in Altium Gerber to DXF converter

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your best option would likely to be to export from Multisim / Ultiboard, rather than try to import the proprietary format into other tools. Not sure what the best format option is though. \$\endgroup\$ – Polynomial Sep 4 '13 at 8:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Polynomial Agreed, reworded question to fit. \$\endgroup\$ – Stephen Collings Sep 4 '13 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you want to be able to do with the design after importing it into another tool? Just tweak the polygons or actually modify the design? \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Hass Sep 4 '13 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoeHass I'd be interested to know what the limits are for any given software package. \$\endgroup\$ – Stephen Collings Sep 4 '13 at 14:20
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It is possible to make Ultiboard export an uncompressed XML .ewprj file by activating its 'Internal options'. Then you can write your own converter e.g. to Eagle or some other non-proprietary format, but the XML is quite complex and the thing needs some time. To activate these internal options a binary patch to a DLL is required; once the existence of this option is known, one can find it in a few minutes with a good disassembler. But this is reverse-engineering (NOT cracking!!) stuff and I can't post more details. Maybe I will write the converter myself some day. Fabio

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Gerber and NC Drill are files for manufacturing PCBs - for routing and holes respectively, likewise with the netlist files which define the connections between your components. IIRC the paid for version of GC-Prevue allows you to edit the gerber data, and as these formats are very standard, you should be able to import into most PCB layout packages.

Generally when you export a schematic to the layout package, it is the netlist which gets sent - but that would then require you to do your layout again.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth mentioning what EDA software will allow a Gerber to be imported versus just an external editor. Not that I do a lot of PCB layout but I'm not aware of any that can create library parts from Gerbers. \$\endgroup\$ – PeterJ Jul 25 '14 at 6:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ While I have not done so myself, I believe that you can import gerbers into native software, like PADS or Altium, but since most part libraries are proprietary to their respective tools, I can't see how you could reverse engineer the parts from the gerber data. The netlist would have a list of the components, which could be used to generate the required parts. \$\endgroup\$ – droseman Jul 25 '14 at 7:33
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To answer your question as to which software will accept DXF imports, you will have to choose a software, check to see if it will accept DXF imports, if it does then proceed with what ever you wanted to do.

A few that may support this:

  1. Eagle -Eagle only supports direct import of ACCEL-ASCII (aka PCAD ASCII) which can be exported from Altium, Protel, and PCAD. You can import others using a third party company like LogicSwap. Eagle actually as a page of tools and converters.
  2. AutoCAD I believe it's possible. It was difficult finding information on such a popular software. They are the company that created DXF files. So that part is easy.
  3. Design Spark returned my email stating they can import Eagle using eip and eis files.
  4. DipTrace returned my email stating they can import the following PCB files: PCAD ASCII, Eagle (using our ULP that coverts Eagle board to DipTrace ASCII), PADS ASCII 2005, OrCAD Min Interchange. Moreover, DipTrace can import Gerber, NC drill and DXF files.

It seems that DXF is a safe bet. However, they all are different. You'll really have to choose a program then assess what are your best options.

Gerber file format is a leading format for PCB Design. It is exported by every software. Importing is a different story. It would seem that using a third party company is also a viable option.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you missed the point. The OP is well aware that Ultiboard will export DXF. The OP wanted to know what other layout packages will import DXF, so your answer doesn't really address the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Hass Jan 23 '14 at 23:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ It does too. I listed four of them. After reading the question I do see that the first two lines of my answer are redundant. The rest of the answer is on topic. I edited accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ – hondabones Jan 24 '14 at 11:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you clarify whether the software you list is PCB layout software and not general CAD? The OP was interested specifically in porting PCB layouts to another layout tool. \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Hass Jan 24 '14 at 11:51

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