Electronic engineering product design is a complex process which has enjoyed an increasing provision of computer based tools since the early 1980's. Over this period computer aided design tool development has progressed at such a pace that new features and functions have tended to be market driven. As such CAD tools have not been developed through the recommended practise of defining a functional specification prior to any software code generation. This thesis defines a new functional specification for next generation CAD tools to support the electronics product design process. It is synthesized from a review of the use of computers in the electronics product design process, from a case study of Best Practices prevalent in a wide range of electronics companies and from a new model of the design process. The model and the best practices have given rise to a new concept for company engineering documentation, the Product Book which provides a logical framework for constraining CAD tools and their users (designers) as means of controlling costs in the design process. This specification differs from current perceptions of computer functionality in the CAD tool industry by addressing human needs together with company needs of computer supported design, rather than just providing more technological support for the designer in isolation.

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