Continuing the discussion from About librairies, project folders and pcb_new standalone use:
Let me apologize in advance for this long-winded post …
Now, I hate to come out strong like this, and I’ve thought about it lots, but at this point I can’t help but feel that Kicad is a big waste of effort for me. Indeed, so far the cost in time has been more than considerable in trying to learn about Kicad’s inner intricacies - totally unreasonable in my view. Please follow me for a minute or two as I’ll explain in more details …
To put things into perspective, in the last two years I’ve successfully completed 36 working pcb projects, 2 of which were done in Kicad, the others with the much simpler and more straight-forward expressPCB - with a level of confidence still hovering around the zero mark in the Kicad case. With expressPCB I can get a layout done in hours and then sent out to my CNC board maker using someone else’s perl script (like I said, I ain’t no coder). Today, I tried giving Kicad another fair shot as I still wish to graduate away from my CNC-prototyping setup and ran into yet another dumb nightmare. I can’t imagine trying to do more complicated work with this thing - maybe it’s me.
So, I went poking around some of my previous Kicad project folders just to “see” what I had done a year ago (which I vaguely remember as I’m doing so much work) and whenever I merely opened and closed any pcb layout in standalone mode I noticed that one of the files (fp-info-cache) in the project folder got re-dated automatically even though all it contains is the character 0 - like, what’s the point ?? Consequently, the said project folder gets automatically re-dated as well. Since I rely lots more on creation dates rather than folder names etc. (last thing I worked on) everything gets screwed up date wise, and I end up having to go through all my project folders to find what which layout went to print. I feel this is the most retarded thing I’ve ever seen. With expressPCB there’s only one file to deal with, no managerial issues whatsoever. In that case a project folder means what it means, a project pcb, with files saved in the same folder in a no-brainer sort of way date-wise - ie., with no automatic re-dating if I simply open and close a file without re-saving. I’m sure you guys have a reason for doing this - but, it’s totally beyond me.
I’ll be honest, from day one Kicad has been a complete PITA for me - I can’t imagine I’m the only one. IMO there should be a note right up front in the distros that says very clearly Kicad doesn’t look up libraries and such. Instead, after installing the problem the user (me) is made to feel like the install didn’t work properly. As I’m no coder I ended up spending days in frustration going through a rabbit hole of webpages before “learning” that Kicad was designed this way - there’s should be a note up front that says this thing won’t work out of the box. Why this is not made un-ambiguously clear in https://kicad.org/help/getting-started/ is beyond me.
When I brought up the issue on the linux side as to why this is not stated in the program description I was treated like an idiot for not reading the documentation on the app side - I had to dig so deep to learn this basic fact it’s something I find completely stupid. I can see the lack of mutual cooperation as part the cause - seriously ill-thought documentation the other. One piece of open source working with another piece of open source, neither taking the proper responsibility to make things clear enough for the new would-be user.
IMO your file management tactics should form Chapter 0 of your documentation …
I feel like I’m done with this program as I’ve wasted so much time with issues I shouldn’t be dealing with. I think it’s time for me to bail as it’s been nothing but one headache after another, and then to worry of “when’s the next piece of BS gonna hit me ?!” Hence the seemingly inane questions that started this thread. Like I said, I’m no coder - so these things are really not clear or obvious to me as I imagine they would be to a coder.
Feeling forced to come here after mucking with it for this long just to ask “very basic” questions about how the program works (or wants to see things structured) is telling. I’ve read and re-read the docs countless times, and have even bought an outside guide - to no real avail of solid info at this level.
My recommendation if you care to listen: first, I think you guys need to work better with the distros to make sure the “software managers” have a note at the very top of the program description stating what to expect (and not) - specifically, that it won’t work out of the box as is. Rather than expecting the would-be-user to go on a wild chase to find out libraries aren’t included (or linked-to) in the installation process somebody in your organization I think should contact various distros to make sure their content description better matches this/your reality. I can’t stress how confounding the auto-date file management appears to me - somebody better explain. Indeed, I feel there really should be warnings up front and lots more clarity in the documentation on how to properly do this. Remember, some of us are not career layout jockeys nor programmers and if the program is not really designed for more casual users (I guess that would be me) then there should be an indication of this somewhere up front in a thoroughly clear and un-ambiguous way.
Based on some of the confirmations I got above (thank-you !) it seems to me so much work or effort is needed to do this right that you would have to be a coder. I think, somehow, this should be stressed up front as well. Either that or this software really isn’t designed for casual work - the overhead is unreasonable in this regard. I still don’t know what Git is, and have no desire to know, mainly because I don’t have any more days to throw at this “ongoing” dilemma. It’s almost misleading IMO to call this free software considering the amount of time I’ve lost on it.
I’m at the point now where I want to have nothing to do with this thing. I was hoping I could import art work (tracks as you guys call them) from expressPCB, say, the same way logo’s are brought in, but you guys don’t support users who might have another style of work-flow, hence this post. Your documentation mentions none of this outside of an already obvious and typical schematic->netlist->pcb work flow. It seems that a big part of the documentation is redundantly aimed at people who’ve never done design work before - not your job IMO - while the salient features a somewhat experienced EDA user would want to know are missing.
If the program isn’t really geared for simpleton or off-road users like myself, a career mixed-signal design engineer with some experience with Cadence and other platforms, then there should be notes indicating that programming experience is mandatory here. I’m an old school analogue circuit designer and despise anything requiring coding - I need to focus on my design work not the inner workings of the tool. This is a major FAIL for me.
I know you guys are trying your best, but seriously I find this is a really screwed up approach to documenting your layout tool - sorry. Version 5 and it’s still confusing as hell for me - having to spend hours in this forum to find the missing parts to your documentation - which says lots. In comparison I’m still screaming along with ver1 of expressPCB, thank-you very much; child’s play in comparison. Yes, I realize Kicad is edging itself towards the more involved user, but still …
Again, sorry if my critique sounds harsh or misplaced (and long-winded) since this is probably mostly a documentation issue. I don’t mean to go on the attack here, just giving you my feedback. Hopefully you’ll find something useful this rant.
Best regards nonetheless and thanks for any useful input. I have otherwise enjoyed working with the program and see it as a serious piece of work but personally I feel the lack of transparency and straight-forwardness extremely frustrating … like I said, maybe it’s me