9 Replies Latest reply on Aug 4, 2017 6:57 AM by phiet

    The Move from Boardstation to Expedition.


      Last year, for various reasons, we decided to take the plunge and move over to Expedition. I had had exposure to Expedition previously under the old VeriBest guise and I knew DxDesigner from my old PADS days, so I was well positioned to handle the change over.


      The first and most obvious question we need to answer is what to do with legacy designs. Do we pay for, or try to convert them ourselves? Or do we maintain a Boardstation seat to handle sustaining engineering tasks? In the end it was decided that the most cost effective solution was to keep BS designs where they were - For the time being at least. Only new product and complete retracks would be put onto expedition.



      Second, libraries, how do we recreate the extensive work we had put into our libraries in expedition?



      For DxDatabook entries, we wrote a script to extract the information needed for each component type, from Boardstation catalogs. This was piped into a SQL database.



      I am sure there are ways to translate symbol graphics, properties and mapping files into Expedition, but I do not believe there is an easy way to do it. In addition to this, regenerating symbols by hand as it were allows you to review your libraries, which will contain a legacy of symbols stretching back a decade and beyond. It gave us a chance to review the way we draw symbols, what properties we use by default and when and so on. To this end, we wrote a spec on how to create a symbol which ensured that every single symbol was drawn in the same manner, to the same scale.



      In order to decide what symbols were essential and what symbols were perhaps less important, we extracted, from our MRP system, a list of the most used parts and cross matched those part numbers to symbols - Giving us a priority list. We could then see which symbols were going to be unlikely to be required for new product, and therefore not waste time recreating them.



      Where we recreated symbols, we ensured that we used the same pin names and symbol names as the Boardstation libraries, in order to expedite processing of Boardstation mapping files to help create Expedition Parts.



      Padstacks were recreated manually, it would have been a fairly easy process to ASCII out pads from Boardstation and import them into Expedition (using a handy little program called "geom2cell") but we wanted to take advantage of the Padstack Editor in Expedition, which, vastly reduced the size of our padstack library.



      Cells were the easiest task. We simply created ASCII files of geometries per partition, and then ran them through the geom2cell program, and since we have named the newly created Expedition padstack library in the same way as our Boardstation one,  the conversion was painless, and with a few click we had a fully populated cell library.



      Expedition part creation was a mixture of manual and automatic processes. We wrote a script to look at Boardstation catalogs and cross match those to Boardstation mapping files, and it then creates an ASCII file in Expedition Part format. We then ASCII in that part to the relevant partition and check that the symbol and cell marry up as expected.



      Things like Drawing Borders etc fro assembly drawings all came over as ASCII files, all we had to do was make sure we created the user layers we required in Library Manager.



      Templates don't exist as such in Boardstation, so these all had to be created from scratch. But I like the concept of them, so we have made extensive use of them rather than just have a simple "vanilla" template. These were created on a per layer count/copper weight basis for layouts and CES (infact we have several CES templates due to creepage and clearance requirements)



      The final phase was testing, from installation (which we wrote a spec for to ensure that each machine picks up exactly the right customisation files) all the way through to gerber/neutral file output.



      We are at a point now where we could go "live", but since the need to have it installed is a few weeks away, we are using the time to write automation scripts in DxDesigner and Expedition to help with post processing.



      The entire process, thus far, has taken around a year, of course during that time we have had to cope with ongoing project work on Boardstation. We have had regular progress meetings and documented everything we have done on a wiki site, we have a project plan and a schedule for each task which is updated regularly.



      It is without question a huge undertaking, but it can be done, so long as you for allow enough time for preparation and planning and track your progress.



        • 1. Re: The Move from Boardstation to Expedition.



          Thanks for sharing your experience moving from a Board Station (BSTN) to Expedition Enterprise (EE) flow. I'd like to continue to hear how things progress as you complete this transition, so please keep posting your experiences.


          There are a number of paths forward for Board Station customers that need to upgrade their design flow. I'll outline a couple of them and their relative trade-offs here. One such path is to make a wholesale change to Expedition Enterprise, and in fact a number of customers are in the process of doing just that (such as yourself). Many of them are using a structured, planned approach as you describe. Further, many of them also leveraged data translators provided by Mentor Graphics to assist in things like schematic translation and library translation. These are available for download from SupportNet at: http://supportnet.mentor.com/reference/technotes/public/technote.cfm?tn=MG83080. Were you aware of these?


          Another path forward is to migrate to the Board Station XE (BSXE) flow. This BSXE flow was designed specifically for BSTN customers to move to newer PCB design tools. It removes the need to translate libraries and design data, as well as removes the need to put in place new library development tools and front end design tools. This approach obviates the need the determine how to manage legacy designs as the BS XE flow includes the classic BSTN flow.


          Customers can also use BSXE as a way to take a step towards the EE flow. This approach is being used to get access to the new physical design tools more quickly and easily than a direct move to EE, and as a result, they get benefits sooner. The bulk of the work to get the BSXE flow up and running will be leveraged when moving to the EE flow. If you or others on this thread are interested, I'd be happy to elaborate on these points.


          Again, I appreciate that you took the time to share your experiences. More importantly, I think many others may find this information helpful in planning their change from the classic Board Station design flow.



          Steve Shively

          Mentor Graphics

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • 2. Re: The Move from Boardstation to Expedition.


            Hey Pete,



            A very interesting read, and thanks for sharing it.    I have one question, "How do you deal with the customization issue?" .



            We have a considerable amount of ample/ shell/ Perl scripting in place to support the Board Station flow and to contour it to best suit our process and down stream tools and systems. What did you do to address this? 









            Jim Cosenzo



            • 3. Re: The Move from Boardstation to Expedition.

              Hi Jim,


              We also have a large amount of AMPLE code sitting on our Boardstation installation.


              There are elements that no longer need scripting as such - For example, we had a have a script that produces a drill table in a pretty format, and does slot lookups and the like, but Expedition handles a lot of this stuff in Fablink/Drawing Editor already, so you potentially don't need as much customisation.


              However, there is still obviously some customisation required to personalise the installation/procedures for your company. We took a decision from the outset to script everything in C#. We could have done it in vbs, and to be honest it probably have been an easier job to do this (there are more resources for vbs scripting in Expedition/Dxdesigner), but we felt it would have limited us when it came to downstream tools.


              TO be honest, most of our scripting is to automate things like Schematic Border creation and title blocks, as well as post processing tasks like Drill/Assembly drawings etc.


              Any downstream applications, like, say, information for Test/Assembly/BOM etc, we extract from the Neutral file (Expedition has the facility to extract a "XE Neutral file", which in essence is a Boardstation neutral file). So the scripting on that side is handled by downstream departments as dictated by thier requirements (It is far easier to maintain and version control a single Neutral file and let departments extract the information they need from that, than to generate and maintain lots of individual files)


              I beleive, (although I stand to be corrected) as of now, a Basic Automation license is included in Expedition PCB, and Automation Pro is a license option. (explained here)




              One thing I will say is this, the documentation for classes etc in Expedition is great, there is all the information you need and more. DxDesigner is somewhat less well documented.


              I can be of any further help, just drop me a line.





              • 4. Re: The Move from Boardstation to Expedition.





                We are planning to move from BS to Expediton. Your message was very informative.  Currently we are using DMS for Boardstation. We want to retain DMS database with Expedition. Is it possible. Do we need to modify or recreate the database (sqlplus) itself? Is it possible to map DMS with dxdesigner?



                Thanks & Regards,






                • 5. Re: The Move from Boardstation to Expedition.


                  Hi Mageswari,


                  We don;t actually use DMS. For version control of designs and checking in an out, we wrote our own version of DMS for Boardstation and are currently extending that to Expedition. I am sure Mentor people can adivse you best on DMS capabilities within Expedition



                  With regards to part documentation and what have you, a lot of that can be integrated trhough DxDatabook. DxDatabook , can basically have as many fields as you like, and depending on how that data is held/creadted, you can link from various sources to populate  DxDatabook.



                  For example, we have a central database with part information, and we have  a bvit of code that generates Boardstation catalog files and then genrates a SQLServer view table from that data to create an ODBC source for DxDatabook (End result, we can easily maintain Boardstation and Expedition libraries). We can then link it via part number to extract datasheets held on our MRP system, or external datasheets from the internet - And this can all be accessed via the DxDatabook window in DxDesigner. We have also added a fields for standard cost (which is taken live info from our MRP system) as well as stock quantities and so on, so that engineers picked approved parts that we buy regularly, as opposed to obsolete legacy parts.









                  • 6. Re: The Move from Boardstation to Expedition.

                    Hi Mageswari, it is definitely possible to retain your BoardStation database and add support for Expedition Enterprise. DMS supports a dual-flow datamodel that allows you to share your valuable Component information amongst the separate flows. Additionally, you may choose to support Expedition Enterprise only; and in this case, you have the option of re-using your CIS definition that you have configured for BoardStation. DMS will "map" to DxDesigner and integrate into your Expedition Enterprise environment by providing:

                    • Integrated Library Environment with web-based Part Request management

                    • Advanced Support for Intellectual Property (versioned Reuse Blocks)

                    • DxDatabook Integration based on DMS (containing CIS data such as cost, lead-time, compliance, datasheets, etc ...)

                    • Versioned Bill of Material upload integrated into DxDesigner

                    • among others ...


                    Additionally, if you choose to support two flows; you can filter the DMS eCAD views of your design community based on the eCAD flow they want to use. For more information, please contact your local sales office.





                    • 7. Re: The Move from Boardstation to Expedition.

                      is "geom2cell" a in houste script or something from Mentor ?

                      Does anyone now the spec of such conversion ?



                      • 8. Re: The Move from Boardstation to Expedition.

                        Hi Phiet


                        from the technote in the first response: https://supportnet.mentor.com/portal?do=reference.technote&id=MG83080

                        "The translators are now a part of the standard Mentor EE flow installation.  The translators must be selected from the available products list.

                        Each translator has its own translation process guide that should be followed. These are available for download from the Product Docs submenu on the Reference tab for xPCB Layout (Expedition PCB) on SupportNet."


                        Hope this helps


                        • 9. Re: The Move from Boardstation to Expedition.

                          Thanks, actually, the BS2EXP requires a board, and quite a few BS license too ...I would like to translate all available geom at the same time (or geom by geom)  without to have to create a dummy board

                          Btw, the BS2EXP is not very verbose of what is missing in term of license