Making Eagle Work With


Ever so slowly, we’re inching towards a world of Internet-based electronic design tools. The state of these tools, including Upverter and other cloud-based solutions, hasn’t been all that great until now; with any new piece of schematic capture and PCB layout software, the libraries will be woefully inadequate in the beginning. This is about to change, because is now allowing Eagle libraries to be imported.

As you may well be aware, Eagle is the de facto standard for homebrew and hobbyist schematic capture and board layout software. Even though Eagle isn’t open source and is limited to rather small PCBs with the free version, somehow Eagle has retained its popularity, most likely due to the huge number of component libraries available.

By allowing users and designers to import Eagle libraries, the folks at are capitalizing on a huge amount of work done by designers and engineers over the years in creating custom Eagle parts for just about every component imaginable. It’s a great accomplishment for the team and a boon for anyone wanting to move their PCB design tools over to the cloud.

25 thoughts on “Making Eagle Work With

  1. I hope Hack a Day continue with previous posts promoting Kicad instead o Eagle.

    Really Eagle is a nice tool and almost all hobbyist (including me) started with it, but as author noticied it is not open-source and it limits user PCB board size for free usage.

    More people using Kicad is important to it get critical mass and evolve faster. I noticed recents Kicad versions are becoming more easy to use (but not so friendly as Eagle) and more beautyful and I suppose it is just an initial response because a little bit more people are using it.

    1. would love to check out kicad myself, but where to find it?, seems like most recent one is from january 2012, unless you build it yourself. (Yes, some of us still uses windows..)

    2. Eww, KiCad UI is really horrible. And I mean, really.

      Ok, I was brought up on Eagle, but still.

      + No libraries, and so on.
      With Eagle moving to XML as its format… I don’t know.

      PS. Does KiCad even have back annotation?

      1. I was brought up on Eagle too, but I’ve moved one towards KiCad, and its a different workflow, but it works really well I’ve made quite large boards with many layers and i would say its just as good as Eagle if not better. And do you mean component libraries? Because KiCad does support that and you can even get the Sparkfun libs..

      2. Kicad has a bunch load of libraries, even an online search for them:, it has library converters for several popular packages, including Eagle, and it surely has backanotation.

        I’ve myself moved from Eagle to kicad just two weeks ago. I can say, that I can do stuff faster than with Eagle. At least that’s for me.

        One of the big differences is that symbol is not as tighly tied to a footprint, so you can start designing your schematics without thinking about packages and board layout. Symbols are connected to footprints at later stage.

        I would love somebody to make Eagle design import into kicad, then I could upgrade all my open source projects I’ve done to the day.

    3. Not everyone has an ideological objection to closed-source software. If the open software is also the best, great. But I for one have no problem paying a reasonable price for closed source software if I like it more than the free alternative.

      If the price isn’t reasonable that’s a separate issue.

      1. Bingo. My sentiments exactly. I get tired of people who continually bleat about “oh, it’s closed source, that’s no good” – I don’t care a hoot about whether I can recompile it from source code, or make modifications to the program, or whatever else you do with an open-source tool.

        If my aim is to design circuit boards, then I want a tool to do that, and I’m going to use the best tool available, be it open source or not. I’m in no position to judge the merits of KiCad, having been brought up on Eagle, but I don’t feel that it should be given prominence purely because it’s open-source. If it had novel features which Eagle lacks (e.g. good support for teardrop pads!), then that would be worth shouting about. But not just because it’s open-source.

        Apart from the fact that Eagle has an established user base and good customer support. Every time I’ve contacted them I’ve got a prompt, precise reply, often from one of their software engineers. If you’re selling a product, then it puts the onus on the seller to provide good support. Again, I’m not saying you don’t get good support with open-source products, I just feel it’s less likely.

      2. It’s not about paying a fee, which would be perfectly fine, but rather being enslaved by the software creators. The day they cease development or change their rules is the day you’re screwed. Many of us donate money to Open Source projects instead of buying commercial ones. The difference, price aside, is that should the author die or lose interest someone else can keep on with development.

        1. Yes, i agree everyone seems to think people who like open source software are just a bunch of cheapskates and ignore all the other benefits; i’ve donated both time and money to open source projects it’s not about money, it’s about freedom and control, I don’t even know how many times i’ve tweeked open source software to work exactly how i want it to or get it to run on my hardware. How could i go back to being at the developers mercy, waiting for new features and bug fixes? I’ve used both eagle and kicad and yes, eagle is nicer, for now. The entire point in promoting an opensource alternative is once you have enough people using it, the development and support actually gets much better then the closed source program because that will always have a limited amount of people working on it due to buget constraints

        2. Software is also a product. I’m a software developer, and I make money by selling the product.

          If a tool is wildly popular but the author intends to discontinue support (and one would assume sales), it would be a great gesture to open-source the project then. There’s plenty of precedent for that. But to state that an inferior open source project is preferable to a closed-source product is obviously wrong if you’re intending to actually use the software.

          I don’t know either tools well enough to judge their quality, but your argument of ‘enslavement’ is overwrought.

        1. This!

          It’s not about the program, whether it is or is not Open Source. It’s all about the data! Your work is data. If you can not look at your own work without paying someone for the software to use it then why bother?

          If I use Kicad then I will *always* be able to open my files. I will *never* be in the situation where I can’t because I can’t pay for the software, or the company goes bust and the software no longer works.

          Furthermore, if I make something with Kicad I can give it to you, and you are under no obligation to pay for anything to allow you to use it. If I make it with Eagle then you are either obliged to pay for the software, or you are restricted by the limitations of the free version.

          1. Well, since Eagles files are xml, they are kinda readable too.. As long as the datafiles are not closed binary blobs, you can always convert to other tools if Eagle or KiCad goes away.

          2. Sorry, I shouldn’t reply to my own messages, but if you us Visio and want to scare yourself, take a look at the 3rd-party viewers for Visio files that you’d be able to use if MS decided to pull the plug (which they do. Often.)

  2. A lot of people saying “promote KiCad more” because it’s open source.

    I would like to be the one to say “promote Fritzing more” because it’s open source AND it has a good user interface for hobbiests, completely unlike both KiCad and Eagle which have terrible unintuitive interfaces.

    If somebody came to me and said “I want to get into electronics, what software should I use”, I would tell them Fritzing.

    1. Intuitive != convenient and fast.

      The idea of interface is not to be learned fast, but not getting in the way.

      Eagle does that (ok, interface in it was better in version 4.x, than in 5.x-6.x)

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