The Truth about ODB++

Let me immediately dispel a rumor I heard this week. The rumor was that Siemens/Mentor intends to take the ODB++ format private or charge for it.

As the manager of the ODB++ Solutions Alliance, I can state that rumor is absolutely false. There has been no discussion along those lines, nor could I imagine we would ever care to do so.

Since 1995 when the format was first introduced to the industry the name was derived from Open Data Base. We added the “++” when we expanded the format to include component data in 1997. Valor had created a data exchange format that the industry found beneficial to use as it was common between our design, fabrication and assembly customers.

Once the format was widely embraced by the industry, we became the stewards of the format, much like Microsoft is with Word and Excel, and Excellon is with their drill format and Gerber (now Ucamco) was (is) with 274X. Some people misunderstand the word “proprietary.” Proprietary means it is owned by, or managed by someone, and that is exactly what we do – we take responsibility for managing the format to support the industry’s needs in a timely manner. If you take a look at the format documentation available on the ODB++ Solutions Alliance website (, you will see the many significant enhancements we have made to the format with each version.

Below are widely used electronic industry formats that are proprietary listed with their current owner:

As far as I can tell, each of the above proprietors has been a good steward of their respective formats.

The ODB++ Solutions Alliance now has almost 50,000 users (48,946 as of August 28, 2018) and there are 71 software vendors currently committed as development partners to the ODB++ format ( In a survey we ran last year, we found that 48.7% of all companies used ODB++ for at least one application ( No one would be foolish enough to betray that many supporters, nor can I imagine why anyone would want to.

With regard to the concern that Mentor/Siemens will start charging for the format, that also is completely false. Everything we do regarding the ODB++ format stewardship is free:

– The ODB++ format specification is free
– The ODB++ Viewer is free
– The ODB++ Inside application for Cadence Allegro is free
– Technical support to the ODB++ user community is free
– The support we give to the ODB++ Solutions Alliance Development Partner is free

It’s understandable to ask if a format specification is free, as some format specifications do charge a fee. We do not and have not ever done so with ODB++.

I hope this puts the false rumors to bed. If anyone has any questions or concerns about the ODB++ format, please feel free to reach me at