Autodesk acquires EAGLE: Q&A and a look into future!

Sam Sattel Sam Sattel July 11, 2016

7 min read

Hello EAGLE users one and all!  Welcome to the new website & more importantly, welcome the next stage in EAGLE’s long life as “the people’s” ECAD tool! That’s right, in case you hadn’t heard, just two short weeks ago (June 2016) Autodesk officially acquired CadSoft – the makers of EAGLE – from parent company Premier Farnell!  And we’re super excited!

“Wait, what does this mean?  What’s going to happen to EAGLE?  What’s changing?  What happens to my license?  Will there still be a free version?”

Never fear because we plan to answer much of that both here and into the future!  But before we get there, let me be the first to welcome you to the next phase in EAGLE’s development!  The website – now simply is only one very small stop on the long, exciting journey ahead of us and we hope you like what we’ve done with the place.  🙂

Now before we jump in, let me also suggest having a read of several other interviews, articles, etc. as much of what you’re wondering is probably being answered in real time across various sites as this plays out.  The two I’d consider required reading are Adafruit’s Exclusive Q&A and also Hackaday’s coverage, as both were done in collaboration with ‘yours truly’.  You can also find us on the eevblog forums,’s chat channel and other sites across the web.

Why CadSoft?  Why Autodesk?  Why now?

So an obvious question is “Why?  …Why did Autodesk acquire CadSoft?  Why now?  And what does Autodesk have in store for EAGLE?”

The acquisition of EAGLE marks a new phase in not just EAGLE’s development, but in Autodesk’s as well.  You see, we’re serious about becoming the standard for the design and manufacture of the whole product / widget / whathaveyou and this move into electronics is the next big frontier in our development as that company.  So where in the past we’ve had amazing tools for mechanical design, 2D CAD, additive manufacturing, subtractive / CNC, even media and entertainment; the acquisition of EAGLE marks our push into the next big frontier:  the board.

Now lest you shudder ‘just how is Autodesk is going to come up to speed on electronics and PCB design?‘ let me be the first to say that Autodesk has assembled an amazing team who combined with CadSoft’s already rock-solid developers, have the skills to both improve EAGLE’s core (see below), while maintaining its simple, easy to use workflow.

In regards to “why EAGLE?” the answer was absolutely clear:  EAGLE is the Schematic and PCB design software for makers, hackers, startups & professionals for a reason!  Likewise, being at the center of the open source hardware community, it’s these people & their contributions and the spirit of what this represents that makes EAGLE a stand-out.  We couldn’t let this go to just any company.  If we’re serious about having an impact on how electronic products are developed, it makes sense to bring Autodesk’s resources to bear alongside the Cadsoft team to take the EAGLE to the next level!

So what’s next for EAGLE?

Well firstly, CadSoft’s development team has just grown overnight and with it, our ability to deliver important, high-valued features to EAGLE – the things users have been asking for most!  So for example:

Now this is both an early & abbreviated list, but it’s some of what we’ve already identified as ‘high-value targets’ because well…most of us have actually used EAGLE!  (Imagine that…a company that builds things making the tools used to build things!  🙂  And with a larger development team made up of some of the best and brightest from the ECAD industry, rest-assured we’ll get there.

How does this affect licensing?  Pricing?  License types?

Simply put, the pricing hasn’t changed.  However, we have seriously reduced the numbers of different license types / SKUs to try and simplify things.  So instead of multiple matrices of 60+ SKUs we’ve settled on two fundamental license types:

…And likewise, some naming has changed to bring the license types into alignment with Autodesk nomenclature.

So where previously there were Light, Standard and Professional tiers; these map to Autodesk’s Standard, Premium and Ultimate license tiers respectively.  It is the same functionality but with different naming.  Same numbers of layers, board area, etc.

Will there still be a free version?

Absolutely yes. We have no plans to eliminate the free tier at all.  This is central to EAGLE’s success and aligns with how Autodesk does business today.  We’ll continue this license to ensure everyone has access to powerful, easy to use schematic and PCB software.

Let me also suggest that for users evaluating free tools, check out Fusion 360 along with Autodesk’s full range of software.  You’ll find Autodesk provides free tiers of it’s mechanical design & manufacturing tools to students, educators, and even startups (making less than $100K / year) for FREE!

What about the $169, 6-Layer Make License?

The $169 non-commercial Maker license lives on and will continue to live on for the foreseeable future.  This is a great tool for people requiring that extra bit of horsepower for their personal projects!

What about Educational Pricing?

We have done what Autodesk does for all educational licenses and dropped the cost to $0!  So if you’re a student or a professor at a school or university & using the software for non-commercial applications, you are now entitled to a free copy of EAGLE!

At the same time, we’ve gone ahead and increased the numbers of layers for the Education version to 6 layers!  Reason being?  We build stuff!  That’s right – the folks at Autodesk building electronics design software are largely engineers – and these days let’s face it, students are designing more with wireless.  This means you’ll want a plane layer to match impedances to make those trace widths far more manageable.  Likewise, if you’re building anything with big memory requirements (embedded linux?) then you may end up with DDR and again, impedance controls / microstrips / striplines, etc all (generally) require an internal plane layer to get the job done!

How does this affect upgrades?

Upgrades work as they had in the past, for the most part.  If you want to upgrade from v6 Layout + Schematic to v7 Layout + Schematic, then you pay 33% of the license price.  Simple.

If you want to upgrade from v6 Layout + Schematic to v7 Layout + Schematic + Autorouter, then you first pay the upgrade cost of 33% to v7 Layout + Schematic and finally, you pay the difference in cost between the two v7 license types.  Same as before.

What’s different?  For a limited time, we’ve reduced the price to upgrade legacy v5 licenses of EAGLE from 66% to 33% of the license price.  So if you’ve got a version 5 license, rather than paying 66% of the new license cost to upgrade, do it now for only 33%!

Will I be required to pay ‘maintenance’?

Simply put, no.

What about 3rd Party Tools like Simplified Solutions, etc?  Are they no longer available?

The 3rd Party tools are all still available and rest-assured, these products will still work with EAGLE!  We’ve decided however not to sell these products on the CadSoft site but instead move these products to Premier Farnell for sale thru our reseller channel.  This enables us to really focus on the task at hand – ensuring we deliver the next generation of EAGLE!  Support for all 3rd party tools continues to be handled by the 3rd party tool providers so please contact the vendors for assistance.

Wrapping it up…

So this is a lot of information and we will follow it up with more information as time goes on.  Please feel free to leave us comments or email us with any questions or concerns you might have.

We look forward to an amazing future with the CadSoft team and hope you’ll come along for the ride!  It’s going to be an incredible journey!

Best regards,

Matt Berggren

Director – Autodesk Circuits / Tinkercad / 123D and now…EAGLE!

Twitter: @technolomaniac

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