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New Managed Online Libraries and How to Use them

Sam Sattel

eagle-academy

Library Management Woes? Here’s How to Use the New Managed Online Libraries in Autodesk EAGLE

Let’s be honest, creating and managing your libraries can be such a headache, and it’s often the last thing we want to be doing as engineers. Rather than designing something creative, we end up spending hours creating packages, symbols, and devices. But that’s just the beginning of the madness. Then we need to find a way to keep track of changes we make to our components. That’s usually done in a spreadsheet. And then we need to find a way to keep everything organized. That’s generally done in an endless array of folders. And then we have to hope that the manufacturer part number we’ve chosen are still available for production in our next design. And that’s all manual work.

Do any of us enjoy all of this busy work associated with library management and creation? This is why we’ve built a brand new Managed Online Libraries feature in Autodesk EAGLE to make this whole process more efficient and enjoyable. Ready to ditch the spreadsheets, minimize the folders, and get back to what really matters? Let’s see what Managed Online Libraries are, why we made them, and how you can start using them today!

We Love Reinventing the Wheel

The real problem with library management is this – we end up spending more time maintaining our parts and data than do we on our actual design process. And not only that, it’s not like we’re making different parts for each new design. I’ve talked to more engineers than I can count who just end up making the same parts over and over again. But why?

  • Some engineers don’t have a good organizational system to find existing parts, so they just make them again.
  • Some engineers don’t trust the parts that were made by other engineers at their company, so they just make them again.
  • And other engineers are simply in that endless cycle of reinventing the wheel out of sheer habit, so they just keep making the same parts again, and again, and again.

Here’s the problem with this impulse to reinventing the wheel, it takes a ton of time and effort that could be better spent elsewhere. And what will you do when part numbers get updated, and you don’t know about it. Where are you going to keep track of all that data, and who in the world has time for all of this?

reinventing-the-wheel

Are we making anything better by reinventing the wheel as engineers? (Image source)

The good news is that these days there are a ton of freely available libraries that are made specifically for EAGLE. Whether that’s from Adafruit, Sparkfun, or SeeedStudio, the chances are that if you need a basic part, then it’s already been made for you by someone, somewhere.

But even this benefit brings up a whole new set of issues. When you download that library from Sparkfun or Adafruit, what happens if they release an update to one of the parts down the road? You never find out about it. Because what you’ve downloaded is a snapshot in time, and what you have stored on your computer is now a static piece of data to represent something that is dynamic and made to change as the years go on.

All of this wraps up into one giant library management problem that no one has actually taken the time to solve, until now. These are the real problems that we want to address for your day-to-day library management in Autodesk EAGLE:

  • How can we provide libraries that once downloaded stay up-to-date?
  • And how can we provide libraries that remove the worry of “How do I know when a part has been updated?” from your mind while designing?
  • And most importantly, how can we make the library management process easier and more efficient so that you can focus on design?

What Managed Online Libraries Are All About

Close your eyes for just a moment and imagine this scenario with me. You download an online library from Adafruit onto your local machine, knowing that it’s the most up to date copy. After placing parts from this library onto your design, you’re notified that there’s an update available, and so you just press the Update All button and all the parts used in your design update as well. And maybe you choose to work offline for a day, but you still have all of those parts available to use. This, my friends, is what the new Managed Online Libraries is all about.

There’s no fuss about spreadsheets, no need to design your own organizational system. You just download the libraries you need, drop the parts onto your design, and update them in real time. And did we mention that you can work wherever you are, with or without an internet connection, and still have local access to your Managed Online Libraries? With all of that in mind, here are some of the details you’ll want to know about before we dive into how to use the new Managed Online Libraries:

  • More content is coming. As of this blog, Managed Online Libraries version 1.0 includes content from Adafruit, Sparkfun, Seeed, Wurth Elektronik, Nordic, and the EAGLE default libraries. This is just the beginning, and we have a ton of new library content lined up in the future for you.
  • They’re always up to date. When you decide to download one of these part libraries the library will include a reference to its specific version at the time of being downloaded. This will allow our servers to be on the lookout for an update in the future without you needing to keep track of versions.
  • Your personal libraries are still your own. Most importantly, this new Managed Online Libraries feature changes nothing about your own libraries. We don’t want to own your data.  We want to provide a simple system that makes it easier to share commonly used design content wherever you might be in the world.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of how to use the new Managed Online Libraries in Autodesk EAGLE!

How to Download New Libraries

We’ve added a brand new Managed Libraries section in Autodesk EAGLE that makes it easy to check out the growing repository of libraries and download them to your own computer. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open or create a new Schematic document in Autodesk EAGLE.
  2. Next, select Library at the top of your interface and choose the Manage Libraries option in the dropdown list.
    eagle-manage-libraries-menu

  3. In the Manage Libraries dialog, select the Available tab to see all of the available libraries online.
  4. Lastly, choose a library that you want to download, and then select the Use button. This will download the latest version of the library directly to your computer.
    use-manage-libraries

Once the library has been downloaded, you’ll see it listed in the In Use tab. Now that it’s active, you can go ahead and start placing parts as you normally would on either your schematic or board layout from the Add dialog. Any libraries that you downloaded from our Managed Online Libraries will be nestled right alongside your personal and default libraries.

in-use-manage-libraries

Just to reiterate, when you download one of our Managed Online Libraries you are downloading a physical copy of this library onto your machine. So if you want to work offline, you’ll still have access to any and all downloaded libraries. You can find these downloaded libraries in the lbr folder in your application directory on Windows (C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\eagle\lbr\), and in the library application directory on Mac (~/Library/Application Support/eagle). You can also find these libraries nestled in your Autodesk EAGLE Control Panel under the Libraries section.

manage-libraries-control-panel

How to Remove Libraries

It’s super easy to remove a Managed Online Library from your computer, here’s how:

  1. With an editor open, select Library at the top of your interface and choose Manage Libraries in the dropdown list.
  2. In the Manage Libraries dialog, select the In Use tab to view all of the downloaded libraries stored on your computer.
  3. Choose the library you no longer need and select the Remove button to delete it from your computer.

remove-manage-libraries

Note that when you remove a library from you In Use libraries, this library is removed from your computer, not our servers. You can re-add the same library at any time by finding it in the Available tab on the Manage Libraries dialog and selecting the Use button again.

How to Refresh an Online Library

After downloading all of the libraries you need for a project, you’ll want to periodically check to see if there are any updates available for them. Follow these steps:

 

  1. With an editor open, select Library at the top of your interface and choose Manage Libraries in the dropdown list.
  2. In the Manage Libraries dialog, select the In Use tab to view all of the downloaded libraries stored on your computer.
  3. Scroll to find a library with the Refresh Symbol and select the Update button.

refresh-manage-libraries

How to Update Components in Your Design

After updating your libraries, you’ll want to push those component changes to your designs. There are a couple of ways to do this:

  • Individually. You can update individual libraries by selecting Library at the top of your interface and choosing Update. In the Update dialog, you can then select the library you want to update and select the Update button.
  • All. You can also update all libraries at once by again selecting Library at the top of your interface and choosing Update All.

After choosing to update your library or libraries you might receive a notification that changes have been made to your board layout because of a change to a component. If no changes were made to your design, then expect to see Update: finished – nothing to do in the bottom left corner of Autodesk EAGLE.

managed-libraries-update

Your Libraries, On Your Time

Library management can be a headache, but we have the remedy. With the new Managed Online Libraries in Autodesk EAGLE, it’s easy to download and use libraries without having to worry about whether your parts are up to date. And remember guys and gals, this is just version 1.0 of the new Managed Online Libraries feature. Much like the new routing engine that we built months ago, this is simply the foundation for a ton of new and exciting features and functionality to make your lives easier. Looking forward, we’re excited to offer a bunch of new parts libraries from other trusted suppliers, all of which will be version-controlled and managed without you having to do a thing.

Of course, at the end of the day, you still might find yourself needing to make your own parts. Whether that’s because a library you downloaded doesn’t have the part you need, or you just prefer to make your own, we’ve got you covered. Be sure to check out our Library Basics series to learn how to make your own parts in Autodesk EAGLE:

Now it’s time to get out there and focus on all of the fun and creative parts of your project, like designing your schematic, placing your components, and routing your board! As for us, we’ll be over here, hard at work handling your library management, making sure that the parts you use from our Managed Online Libraries are always up to date, right when you need them.

Ready to get started with the new Managed Online Libraries in your next electronics design project? Try Autodesk EAGLE for free today!

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