CERN Shows Off New KiCad Module Editor

Photo from video demo of new KiCad module editor

CERN, the people that run a rather large particle collider, have just announced their most recent contributions to the KiCad project. This work focused on adding new features to the module editor, which is used to create footprints for parts.

The update includes support for DXF files, which will make it easy to import part drawings, or use external tools for more complex designs. New distribute tools make it easy to space out pads evenly. The copy and paste function now allows you to set a reference point, making it easy to align blocks. Finally, the pad enumeration tool lets you quickly set pin numbers.

CERN has already implemented a new graphics engine for KiCad, and demonstrated a new push and shove routing tool. The work plan for CERN’s KiCad contributions shows their long term goals. If you’re interested in what CERN is doing with KiCad, you can check out the CERN KiCad Developers Team on Launchpad.

After the break, watch a quick run through of the new features.

[Thanks to dkozel for the tip!]

37 thoughts on “CERN Shows Off New KiCad Module Editor

  1. Great progress! I have used kicad only once, and on a simple project, but I recognize the huge improvements CERN is making in the router, gui, and now library creation.

    1. I’ve tried using it. I have used Mentor Graphics PADS professionally and as a result felt that eagle was lacking. This is amazing… I think CERN support is a great reason to use KiCad… looking forward to giving it another chance, and look forward to the future!

  2. Everything that is good came out of the Europe: Internets (the WWW part of it), acid, good cars, good beer, Roman Catholicism.

    1. Then there’s also communism, nazis, fashists, most of the “good” nerve agents, technically the A-bomb research (while done in USA, the key figures were “imported” from Europe)… :P

      Also, what good cars are you referring to? The ones that can be classified good are also quite expensive, and last time I checked, the US is doing fairly well in the expensive/super car market…

      p.s. I live in Central Europe ;-)

      1. Volkswagen and Volvo are both relatively affordable cars, but are also very good.

        The Americans don’t have a very good track record for ordinary car quality. Anyone can make a good car for half a million dollars though.

    2. I know what Christopher Hitchens would have to say about the claim that Roman Catholicism is “good”. It might be better than dealing with Cthulhu, but not much really.

  3. Great to see improvements! A killer feature would be the real-time sync of the netlist, between the PCB and the schematic editor, in both directions.

    1. I think the latest compiled version for windows already does that if you have both windows open i seam to recall it changing things when i changed it on the pcb.

  4. Very nice! The module editor is one of the weak points in KiCad ATM… very happy to see progress in it (and anything else).

    Cheers

  5. I work in particle physics instrumentation development, too.
    While at work we use Altium Designer, I am a big KiCad fan at home
    (all my hobby projects are done with KiCad).
    When I saw the video it felt warm inside my heart and it felt a little
    like the day before christmas :D

    I’m definitely going to compile the newest tarball the next days!

    Great work, especially the “inkscapish” alignment tool! Great idea.

  6. KiCAD is fantastic. I use it for commercial and personal projects.

    I just wish that the Windows build on the official site included the CERN improvements, and that it was more recent than a year ago (building from source is not trivial). KiCAD desperately needs a more usable parts library (integration with a web service?) and better continuous integration for its development process.

    1. I thought I was going crazy but you confirmed that the windows binary is a year behind! This is just crazy! Has anyone built a windows binary that has all these changes?

    2. Compiling is pretty easy using the kicad-winbuilder tool, which does all the hard work building the dependencies.

      1. That’s no excuse for having a year old windows binary. If you want people to use your project, you have to make sure you have a working, up-to-date installer for windows.

        Build nightlies, beta’s, whatever. Just do so. People want that shit or go straight back to eagle.

        (Who am I? I maintain a small 3D printing project called Cura. Which many early users loved for the fact that I kept up-to-date releases every month while all other tools where saying “build from source”)

    3. That already exist for the footprint lib. Recently the footprint lib got a new format called “pretty”, is is basically a git directory that can be hosted on github and be accesed directly in kicad with the github plugin enabled. Additions and corrections are managed via pull requests on github.

  7. I started using KiCAD less than a month ago and I love it. I am more than happy to see the input from CERN and will be trying to compile the latest version tonight. I too wish that the Windows version was updated to incorporate at least some of the new features… but I am happy to see them coming along nonetheless.

    Well done CERN for helping move open-source EDA tools forward (in a big way!)

  8. Now if only I could find a decent ebuild (gentoo package file) for a live build. Also if only bzr wasn’t so damned slow for big projects.

    1. bzr is damn slow for anything. Why ubuntu-people decided to reinvent the wheel and not use git (or at least svn) is way beyond my understanding.

  9. Using kicad since 2007, I can’t wait to see him reaching the level of Altium !
    Some company should be frighten (hey cadsoft ready to die ?!). I would love a more advanced control on plane and diif pair :)

  10. Cute, but still seems to be a lot more “draw” than “CAD”. To address the weaknesses of KiCAD’s module editor, I wrote a parametric CAD that generates KiCAD modules. It’s called “fped” for “FootPrint EDitor”.

    Here’s a very short introduction:

    http://downloads.qi-hardware.com/people/werner/fped/gui.html

    To play with it, install the “fped” package or build from sources.

    I posted this already a few hours ago, but my comment never showed up. Maybe it got censored because I also added links to kicad-libs-modules (PDF, an overview of the footprints we’ve made with it in Qi-Hardware), to also show the automatic measurements indispensable for reviews, and the use as somewhat odd 2.5D CAD. So I’ll stop here and see if my comment passes this time.

    – Werner

  11. To get the latest Kicad for Windows you need to use the Winbuilder tool. It may seem a bit daunting at first, but its really not bad.

    You need to install a few prerequisites, but everything else is automatically downloaded and compiled with a simple “Make” command thanks to this tool:

    https://launchpad.net/kicad-winbuilder

    I build every night on my computer and am always looking forward to new bug fixes and features.

    1. Winbuilder will not work in Win7 x64 for me. Errors out on various things. Could be because of Eclipse/Mingw32 for other projects. Only way I got it to compile (5+ hours, had to do it twice!, and two DLLs were missing…) was in a WinXP virtual machine. Works there, can see the GitHub libraries. But when I try to launch the build in Win7, the GitHub libraries are not available. I know the devs are working on a lot of things… but no release in over a year? “Winbuild-your-own” is a nightmare.

        1. Could be Nick, thanks for the heads-up. In the mean-time, I found a work-around for the “missing GitHub libraries” issue. In Win7, under \users\you\appdata\roaming\kicad there should be a file named “fp-lib-table” (no extension) which is about 11kB in size. If it’s not there or very small, find “fp-lib-table.for-github” from the build in \kicad\share\template and copy it there, then rename it. One more thing, open up the environment variables, and set “KIGITHUB” to “https://github.com/KiCad” and restart KiCAD.

          Thanks to the devs and to Cern!! Some of these new changes are very welcome. :)

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