Import from ProTel 99SE

Hi all, I’m a relatively new user of KiCAD and am extremely happy having already completed a few projects.
I have a number of old projects that need updating, and were originally made in Protel 99SE. I have read the existing posts, but am wondering if there has been any further progress in methods to import them since the last posts in 2020? Any help or pointers would be very welcome.


Maybe you could import via Altium, but I really am not sure.

If you have gerbers or can make them, then the FAQ article below may help. It will require some work for each project, but it’s much better then “nothing”.

Just a “thought” regarding older designs.

I learned the hard way that it is a good idea to, as a minimum plot / print the schematic and board to a pdf file. This way if importing is not possible and the original tools are not availably you have some reference.

We had a version of MicroSim (??) in work. We didn’t keep it up for a variety of reasons. I went back to look at an older design and MSim no longer worked due to changes in Windows versions. The info was lost.

BTW: These were NOT production designs, but devices used in lab testing. And they were schematics only.

It is very important not to forget, that although we have gotten really exciting new software tools in the past decades, the software-centric approach of the pioneering days still persists.
From a user perspective this means, that the data - which typically is the main value for the user - comes second, third, fourth or perhaps even further down the list of priorities.

My experience from professional work was - for example - that when the new version or brand of software came, or even just a new phone - it was as if the whole business had burned down to the ground and you had to start from zero again.

It is a testament of the shortcomings of human approach to thechnology, that the user data is still largely treated as a necessary evil or a nuisance, and we have not gotten further than we have.
I am aware that there are attempts at standardizing data formats or at least making them a little bit interoperable in some cases, for example pdf, but it is only a limited success still. In many cases, vendor lock-in is still common practice.

Hence, anything that is important, must still be printed on paper and stored in a physically safe archive.

I wish you lots of luck in typing over a few MB of source code from paper, re-entering a KiCad project that is only on paper, re-creating STEP models or one of the many other data formats.

Paper is mostly obsolete. I do have a printer. I use it so often that the last time I wanted to use it I was fiddling for half an hour with driver settings (I bought a new PC 2 years ago) before I discovered I did not close the paper tray. I do have a laser printer, because I can generally print less then 5 pages with an inkjet before the ink clogs up the nozzles.

I also do not agree with this:

User data is the first and topmost asset of a company. I spent several of my working years writing software. PCB designers are producing data each day most of their working time (and probably other sorts of data during other hours). Changing software may be a disruption (for a few weeks?), and it is memorable because of that, but it is temporary. It is the rest of the year that is filled with the daily work of producing data.

The addition of database driven libraries in KiCad was a mayor step, because it allowed a lot of professional users to take KiCad seriously. If they could not port their database of “parts” to KiCad, then adopting KiCad was simply no option.

PDF is also a horrible (defacto) standard. It’s sole intention was as a media between content producers and printing presses, and to keep the document exactly “as is” during the process. Now try to reflow a PDF file formatted for A4 on a monitor with a smaller screen such as for example an E-reader.

If you see it from the perspective of a software developer, I understand that your viewpoint is somewhat different. That use case is not quite what I would consider a “user” in the sense of the word that I had in mind in my post above.

But for a non-software-developer user perspective, the experience I described was real. I sure agree that user data is the first and topmost asset of a company, but the people involved in making, selling and buying the software do not always implement the software, the choice of software and deployment process according to that principle, and the result for the end users can be far less than optimal.
It is a lived experience, I can assure you. But the business was not software development, rather a different one.

If you’re in the gardening business, then I guess data is not a big part of your daily job.

And hopefully, a company values their people as more important then their data, but there seems to be a trend that thinks people are easily replaceable in some companies…

And of course, such broad generalizations are not very meaningful in the fist place. Different sorts of companies doing different things, different cultures, etc.

It doesn’t do a good job at that as it is actually an executable language based on postscript. If you don’t embed fonts, strange things can happen.

I assumed you were talking of non-human assets, so I went with the statement you had already made about the most important asset.
There are a lot of businesses outside of software development where the data is very important.

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