5.99 first impressions

I’m a new kicad user, and I wanted to offer some first impressions and thoughts.

First, I’m really impressed with the functionality in a free package, and the dedication of the volunteers that make it possible. You have created a to that works very well, and I was able to create my first project very easily.

Now, a little more specific information. I am an electrical engineer and have been designing FPGA boards (and some others) for around 20 years. I have used several commercial cad tools, most recently dxDesigner for expedition (I have always worked in a group with a designer that does the layout). Although things work differently in the tools I use at work, I found eeschema to be easy enough to adapt to. The biggest comments that I have are the following:

-Is there a way to select multiple symbols and either change them to a different part or to change some properties of those symbols together? I was not able to find a way, and it is something that I would use frequently.
-Is there a function to align several selected items to each other? dxDesigner had this right on the tool bar, and I missed having this to line up text on different lines, or to bring passive components into a neat line.
-For alignment, I like that mentor has lines that appear when you are placing it moving a symbol and it is closer to alignment with others. I saw done discussion of this, and would love to see it added.
-Is there a way to change the default when you drag a symbol to be what the g key does? Dragging with the nets had been the default on every other tool that I have used for a while (including the schematic editor in Intel’s Quartus), and I found myself trying to make a nice and the needing to undo since i forgot to type g first.
-Has there been any discussion of adding to the constraints to have rules for length matching? While I might not need this for any personal projects, having a way to enter there kind of constraints from the schematic editor go a long way towards simplifying high speed layout. Net classes are a good start.

I don’t have as many connect about pcbnew, since at work I don’t do my own layout. I was able to route the simple board that I created, and have it out for fabrication and assembly, so it worked for me.

Once again, thanks to the team for all the work you have done.

-James

Thanks for testing the nightly builds! As a reminder, any bugs or feature requests should get logged in GitLab if they haven’t been already (posting about them here first is fine, in case someone knows a workaround or knows that it has been reported or requested already)

Edit Menu > Change Symbols lets you change multiple symbols to a different symbol. Tools > Edit Symbol Fields lets you change multiple symbol fields in a grid view. If you use the grouping function in the Edit Symbol Fields dialog you can quickly change fields (properties) of multiple at once.

Not at the moment, alignment of parts to each other is only possible in Pcbnew. Please file a feature request for this if you are up for it.

I am not quite sure what you mean by this, do you mean guide lines that let you line things up with each other? This is already in for wiring, but not for moving symbols. Again, please file a feature request so we don’t lose track of this.

Preferences > Editing Options > “Mouse drag performs drag (G) operation”

Yes, this may be partially in for 6.0 but lots more length matching improvements planned for 7.0

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In Xpedition, when you are doing schematic capture, it has this really useful feature that when you bring a 3rd part close to a bank of others, it draws alignment tools to show when they are evenly space. Super useful for OCD

Poormans sketch below - if I can get Xpedition booted ill show

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Got it, I think this isn’t on the roadmap but if someone can file a feature request it would be something that could get added to the alignment tools in both eeschema and pcbnew (also we’d have to add the alignment tools to eeschema in the first place). I have seen this kind of “spacing inference” in graphics design tools a lot.

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(Note, I’m describing features in 5.1.9, I’m not sure if they are in 5.99.)

You can get a similar functionality by enabling full screen cross-hairs. I also have found a preferences setting to keep the cross-hairs always on instead of only when drawing/moving something. The cross-hairs always snap to the grid even if the mouse pointer doesn’t.

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Thank you, that is a big part of what I was thinking of. There are also line that come up that would go across the top and bottom of the caps that you show to align them. With the two tried of guides, the parts are aligned and evenly spaced. Not something needed for functionality, but I think it looks better.

I’ll give it a try. Not quite the same as the guide lines on the screen, but much better than counting the grid lines.