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ECAD Module is NOT backward compatible with the old EMN standard! Please let them export EMN files

ECAD Module is NOT backward compatible with the old EMN standard! Please let them export EMN files

We are trying to move towards the new ECAD Module to follow the IDX standard. However, some of our suppliers and other teams still require the older IDF standard with EMN files (because their tools can't import the IDX standard). According to the below article, this newer (more advanced module) can not export EMN files that a regular assembly can do. How can this not be backwards compatible? Now we have to be limited by the regular assembly just because the advanced one can't do EMN files? Please 'FIX'! (not enhance, but FIX).

Ticket - 15698365

Article -


@msharma @EyalChaki 


Totally agree to that.

Have been astonished as I figured out that it is not possible to even create an IDF from ecad assembly.

We have to integrate several suppliers to pass and get information about restricted areas (e. g. for tooling and test adapters). This can't be done with only IDX in current state? IDX is for exchanging data only between mechanical design and electronic design directly. So ex- and import in ECAD assembly has to be possible. IDF files can be edited easily with text editor or by simple programs to add the restricted areas to the master IDF. Electronic design then gets the restricted areas from all of them in one IDF. The next question then arises: How can the result be integrated in IDX data or existing design from that or how can this be managed with IDX (if suppliers are capable of using IDX).

So please, for first step - enable the writing of IDF from ecad assembly

Status changed to: No Plans to Implement

Hi @jwagh,

I understand your inconvenience but unfortunately backwards compatibility for IDF format is not something I am looking to support.

IDF had been discontinued as an industry standard long ago (last 4.0 schema is from 1998) and replaced by a more robust IDX format that is being actively enhanced.

ECAD Assembly in Creo allows for  functionality that is not supported by EMN and Regular Assembly, some examples are:

  • Assignment of IDs for selective collaboration on board objects
  • Cuts/Slots cannot be supported
  • User defined ECAD areas are not supported
  • Flexible restrictions areas are not supported
  • And much more..

This is why the more advanced module (ECAD ASM) does not support EMN.

Supporting EMN would mean limited export, functionality & collaboration and active development & validation of 2 different data structures for every change or enhancement we introduce. 

I understand that this is not the answer you were looking for, but this is not a bug to fix. It's a product decision. I hope that suppliers move to modern tools and workflows sooner than later.


@JuergenLanzendo ,

I am not aware of any gaps between IDF and IDX in relation to keep in/out areas. There is even support for User Defined Areas to pass any information you want. It's true that IDX is not as easy to edit as IDF but it's also a practice we are discourage. We want to make sure ECAD and MCAD are fully synced at every stage. Maybe if you better describe you workflow and what you are unable to achieve with IDX, but could with IDF, I would be able help.

You can PM me directly.


Best Regards,

Alex Y.


@Alex_Y 😭

This is highly unfortunate. We were hoping for this to be similar to exporting an .iges file. It doesn't have rich feature data, but it needs to be good enough for some use cases. Even though the IDF standard is old, most cad systems do include it as part of the base feature. For the IDX standard, it is usually behind a pay wall, like with Creo, that makes it harder to implement throughout the organization. 


The IDF is needed for collecting areas from different tool suppliers (they are making the test equipment) it is the most easy way to add their IDF files, which contains board and areas only, to an existing idf with a text editor or by simple program. It's also to color the areas of different suppliers. So we need to write an IDF with all parts and areas (not anything more special) and then later add the different IDF files to that manually.

There is a workaround for creating an IDF file from an ECAD type assembly. This text is from PTC.


As Creo uses IDX, no IDF can be created from that PCBA.

‒ An IDF baseline export can be created when working with a standard Creo assembly.

‒ Creation of a baseline IDF export from a Creo ECAD Assembly requires a workaround with a few extra steps.

1. Set option, " ecad_idx_import_as_std_asm yes“
2. Save current board assembly as an IDX
3. Open newly created IDX in Creo, with the option, ecad_idx_import_as_std_asm , the user will get an option to open as regular Creo Assembly.
4. Once the IDX is opened as a regular Creo Assembly, the user can save as IDF.

• Only when using ECAD subtype, IDX can be used


Hope this works and helps a little.