In Eagle, at least in older versions (around 6 I think), the silkscreen layer that is part of the footprint can’t be edited very much. In Kicad you can at least move all the text around, but in Eagle it was only the value and name.
In Kicad you can edit footprints on a per-part basis too, so when the silkscreen is problematic you can just do a custom version that is just for that part on that board. Again, in Eagle I don’t think you could do that… This is going from memory though so don’t quote me.
So for those reasons and more the recommended way to do good silkscreens in Eagle was to use this script that copied the silkscreen layers to new layers that could be freely edited, and then just export those when generating gerbers. Of course the major down-side was that if then moved anything the silkscreen didn’t move along with it.
Anyway, I went back to just using the silk layers in Kicad.
I’ve been using the Silk and Fab layers a little differently then normal for similar reasons. With the recent changes in the nightlies, I’ve also taken a step back to re-evaluate how my personal libraries work with the official libraries.
To be fair Kicad’s supplied libraries are a lot better, so there is much less need for this. It’s usually when components are placed very close together, but in Kicad you can just set the silkscreen to invisible and draw a new one in its place.
As the silkscreen for official lib KiCAD footprints usually follows industry guidelines it shouldn’t be in the way of other stuff
And as components are stored with the layout, you can modify the footprint in-situ. No need to hide the silkscreen… btw, are we talking layers here or elements?
Some simple examples might be things like having connectors with footprints extend over the side of the PCB and wanting to panelize. For example a right angle pin header, where the electrical part of the footprint if just some holes spaced 2.54mm apart, but the silkscreen extends way off to the side and over the edge of the board.
Actually the other classic one with pin headers is the outline marking of the block, when you intend to solder wires in directly so don’t need to observe the usual keepout area.
Another example is when footprints are placed over each other. Sometimes it’s useful to have a choice of multiple components based on requirements/availability.
As I said, most Kicad footprints are fine. Eagle has/had a lot of really bad ones, often auto-generated somehow it seems.
Well, in all of those cases, editing the footprint in-situ [CTRL]+[E] will get you what you want… just remove/change what is needed and voila.
Those changes will not affect the footprint in the library.
Only caveat - if you reload netlists/footprints you should be very careful with the ‘Exchange’ options…