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You can import schematics and symbols from PADS or a third party tool by using the Symbol and Schematic Translator (File > Import, then select the relevant software). Files can be imported from the following software versions:

  • Altium Protel 99, DXP, 2004, 2006, AD6
  • P-CAD 200x
  • CADStar V5–V9
  • OrCAD 7.2–16.2
  • Eagle 6.5
  • PADS 9.x, DxDesigner Schematics

If you have a file from a newer version of these tools, you may be able to save them in the tool as one of the listed prior versions. 

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Importing PADS Netlist Projects into Designer Schematic

To import a netlist project from PADS into Designer Schematic, follow the instructions below. Note that only projects created in 9.x versions of PADS DxDesigner schematics are currently supported for import into Designer Schematic.

  1. Create a new Designer project (File > New > Project)
  2. Select the Import the PADS Netlist project (File > Import > PADS Netlist Project…) from the File pull down and browse for the PADS project file (*.prj)


  3. In the Open Blocks dialog, select all the schematic blocks and press the Open button to translate all schematic sheets from the design.
  4. Properties names can vary from the source project to a Designer Project.   For example most properties in PADS are uppercase. The list of properties supported in Designer Schematic is at this link: https://www.eewiki.net/display/MentorGraphics/Properties+Glossary.  A dialog box opens for Property mapping, which opens a mapds.cfg file located in the default location of C:\Designerprojects\WDIR 

    The file is simple, the first column is the property in the original file, the second column will be the component properties as seen in Designer.

  5. Expand the Schematic block in the navigator to see that all sheets were translated and placed in the Schematic 1 block. Note that you can delete sheet 1, which is an empty sheet, and rename the block, board and the sheets to have more intelligent names.


  6. Open the Settings Dialog (Tools > Settings) and go to the Symbol Libraries tab.


  7. Select the Add New icon () to add a new symbol library to the translated Designer project. This will open the Library Dialog. Browse for the symbol library in the PADS project and add it to your Designer project.

PADS Project Symbols

Unlike importing competitor tools, the import process from a PADS database into Designer does not include symbol libraries. If you do not have access to the symbol you will not be able to modify the symbols.

When you complete the import process, go into the Symbol Libraries tab of the Settings Dialog (Tools > Settings) and add the PADS symbol library to your Designer project. This will let you access the symbol files, therefore allow you to edit the symbols.

Importing Files from a Third Party Tool

To browse for schematics to import from the Symbol and Schematic Translator menu, click Add. After choosing files to translate, you can select a new location for the translated files. Select Translate to begin the translation process.

A results page will indicate whether translation was successful. If it was unsuccessful, the results list will indicate the source of the failure and suggest which file types can be translated.

Sending Designer Schematic Projects to Others

When preparing a Designer Schematic database to send to another person, it is useful to change the library paths to soft paths to allow the recipient to edit symbols. Follow these steps to change the library paths to soft paths:

  1. Go to Tools > Settingsand select the Symbol Libraries tab.


  2. Select a library and double click on it to open the Library dialog box.


  3. Change the path so that it is local to the project. An example is shown below:


  4. Copy the library to the local project if the symbol files are not already there.