[TriEmbed] Eagle vs KiCad vs...

Brian triembed at undecidedgames.net
Tue Mar 26 13:11:44 CDT 2019


Chip has made some very good points on the value of commercial software, 
and I disagree with nothing he's said.  I just thought I'd muddy the 
waters with a bit more info about KiCad on some particular fronts:

1. Workflow
I'll be the first to agree that KiCad's workflow isn't necessarily very 
intuitive.  It's bugged me for a long time that to go from schematic to 
layout involved clicking three or four toolbar buttons, and that those 
buttons aren't in workflow-order in the toolbar.  I also missed Eagle's 
automatic forward/backward annotation.

However, as a KiCad contributing developer, I can tell you that KiCad is 
getting a /lot/ better in this regard.  Yes, there's still a few more 
steps, since KiCad doesn't directly tie schematic symbols to footprints 
(there's only a tenuous connection whereby a symbol can "suggest" 
footprints), but the aspect of communication between schematic and 
layout UIs has improved a lot.  Forward and backward annotation isn't 
automatic yet, but there are toolbar buttons for each.

2. Part library
KiCad lacks wide support among manufacturers for part libraries. 
However, the availability of user-contributed libraries is constantly 
growing.  I end up using some fairly esoteric parts that most armchair 
electronics warriors would never approach (0.4-mm-pitch QFNs, for 
example), and have to design a few footprints and symbols in every 
project, but I would expect the average breadboard-to-PCB designer to be 
able to find a vast majority of needed parts already in community 
libraries.  KiCad is also, with some limitations, able to import Eagle 
libraries.

Well anyway, so much for my KiCad advertising pitch. :-)  Whatever you 
choose, I wish you the best of luck in your PCB-designing endeavors!

Cheers,
-Brian






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