“It’s all about managing your data.”
That’s a refrain that we’ve been hearing from designers over the past few years—in surveys and conversations with designers and design engineers.
When we started planning this issue, our most recent reader surveys pointed to data management as a perpetual problem for PCB designers. It’s no wonder: schematics, footprints, BOMs, netlists, fab notes, assembly notes—millions of petabits of data are used to design and engineer PCBs, and readers cite mismanaged data as a constant source of heartburn.
Designers today must manage more data than ever before, while turning it into actionable information that they can use to do their jobs and put food on the table. Think how much of your job revolves around data—updating, measuring, tracking, and ensuring that it’s accurate and complete, because every time another human touches that data, there’s a risk the data will be compromised.
As more than one designer said, “Managing design data is a lot like herding cats.” As a former cat owner, I have scars that can attest to cats’ opposition to being herded. Herding one cat was quite a job. (Sometimes it took me a half-hour to get my 24-pound Maine coon, Night, into a cat carrier when it was time to go to the vet.) This is how we picked our cover image for this month.
In the past, we’ve dedicated issues of Design007 Magazine to specific steps for handling one type of design data, such as fab notes, datasheets, or footprints. But this month, we wanted to step back and look at data management in general, from a more macro level than we have in previous issues. What data management truths are self-evident, to paraphrase our Founding Fathers? Who owns the data in the first place? What are the best methods for ensuring traceability throughout the design process? Should you trust data that originates outside your company?
To read this entire column, which appeared in the November 2021 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.