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"Let us stand on each other’s shoulders, not each other’s toes." --Tiny BASIC developer Dennis Allison, 1975
 
"Let us stand on each other’s shoulders, not each other’s toes." --Tiny BASIC developer Dennis Allison, 1975
  
=== What files do I need to share? ===
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=== What files should I share? ===
  
Open-source hardware means sharing the files needed to build *and* modify your hardware.  As the [[OSHW | open-source hardware definition]] explains, that means the version of the files that you would prefer for making changes to the design, not an intermediate or obfuscated version.  For mechanical stuff, this means the original CAD files.  For circuit boards, it's the original schematic and board layout files.   
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You should share all the files needed to build *and* modify your hardware.  As the [[OSHW | open-source hardware definition]] explains, that means the version of the files that you would prefer for making changes to the design, not an intermediate or obfuscated version.  For mechanical stuff, this means the original CAD files.  For circuit boards, it's the original schematic and board layout files.   
  
Unfortunately, the original design files for hardware are often in proprietary formats for expensive software tools.  In this case, it's helpful and encouraged to also offer versions of the design in alternative or intermediate formats that can be viewed or edited with common or free programs.  For example, PDFs of circuit schematics, Gerbers for circuit board layouts, and IGES or STL files for mechanical objects.  These allow people without access to expensive or proprietary software to make at least some use of your design.  Please note, however, that this is not a substitute for releasing the original files - the core of open-source hardware practice.
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Unfortunately, the original design files for hardware are often in proprietary formats for expensive software tools.  In this case, it's helpful and encouraged to also offer versions of the design in alternative or intermediate formats that can be viewed or edited with common or free programs.  For example, PDFs of circuit schematics, Gerbers for circuit board layouts, and IGES or STL files for mechanical objects.  These allow people without access to expensive or proprietary software to make at least some use of your design.  Please note, however, that this is not a substitute for releasing the original files - the core of open-source hardware practice.
  
 
=== What are other best practices for open source hardware? ===
 
=== What are other best practices for open source hardware? ===

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