Cloud based KiCad?

Prob a dumb question, but, think there’ll ever be a cloud based version of KiCad for project sharing and such?
As someone who knows very little about the nature of open-source freeware, I’m guessing that the principles and practicalities involved in making this available for free makes it not feasible to have a cloud based KiCad.
Just thought I’d ask for the heck of it!

The problem is mainly that the front end code would need to be rewritten. Since KiCAD is mostly the front end code it wouldn’t be feasible. But since full browser virtual machines exists there’s really nothing stopping form doing this today.

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That’s not the problem, the licence frameworks for cloud dissemination have existed for a long time, for example: GNU Affero General Public License - Wikipedia

The main hurdle is supporting the rich graphical interaction that KiCad requires. Execution in web browsers has come a long way, e.g. wasm: WebAssembly - Wikipedia but is nowhere adequate.

KiCad already supports having the files in the Cloud. I suppose the issue is that PCB layout is not easily split into a team effort. I can imagine how two people trying to shove tracks at the same time might be hard to code

I suspect what OP has in mind is the EasyEDA model, ECAD As A Service, not collaborative editing.

Taking into account the presence of easyeda both in the cloud and offline mode, I see no point… And if you add even limited resources kicad with a lot of bugs and flaws, then it is better to start working on… At least translate the functionality of third-party plugins into native functions of kicad because something falls off from version to version… Imho

By the way, for reference, easyeda falls in Chinese universities, like Kicad in Europe…

Maybe some sort of cross user interactive features in the desktop client one day which I think are kicking around on a wishlist but not a “cloud program”.

Honestly one of the desires of KiCad is you control your data.

A lot of these cloud services screw you over many times over on that. Sure, they are neat, but want to revisit a design 4 years from now? Better pay up and hope they didn’t delete your files because you didn’t want to pay that subscription fee indefinitely. Want to make sure they don’t leak your data irresponsibly? Well almost all cloud services in their ToS actually state they are not liable of any intellectual property damages to you if shit happens. Etc, etc

Not to mention everyone and their mom has increasing amounts of regulation to meet in many countries. The US Defense Industry has infectious law that requires even suppliers that produce a single screw for a higher level defense contractor to comply with cybersecurity regulation. One of those requirements is using cloud services that are run by US Citizens only (among other things)

The EU is getting really big on their data sovereignty and have various court cases going to mandate that cloud services must host cloud data for EU citizens/companies in the EU exclusively. Other countries are doing the same.

And the reason this all matters is because a cloud EDA hosts intellectual property. That will become a big magnet for being included as third parties in lawsuits seeking data from it.

Suddenly a cloud program gets expensive to run.


So KiCad would use more browser resources than something like cloud based photoshop or adobe illustrator?

I guess I wasn’t really thinking of it as a team thing. For myself, I have a desktop and a laptop. Would be neat to be able to use both to work on one project conveniently.

Funny enough there’s a article published by Chrome at how amazing a workaround Photoshop has to the browser being terrible at memory management. Basically a server is tracking images and returning mipmaps of the actual image while editing so that it doesnt overwhelm chrome.

So it works if you have money to spend on backend servers for a crutch


Use OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox or a plethora of other cloud hosts to store your files and automatically retrieve them on the other PC.

I hear ya. Like I said, I’m not up on how it all works and figured doing cloud based anything would be more costly and complicated. The cloud thing is indeed a double edge sword. I hated when photoshop went cloud based. I was near livid. Then they kinda got me with the convenience thing. Once I got used to being able to do things anywhere on any device, it’s a little hard to go back. But obviously a for-profit program owned by a mega corporation is a much different animal than KiCad and I would hate to see KiCad ruined by going a similar route.
Just for the record, I want to say I’m constantly amazed at how powerful and feature rich KiCad is, especially considering the fact that it’s FREE. I’ve found KiCad to be one of the rare exceptions to the “get what you pay for” rule. I really love the program.

Can you expand on what you mean by “supporting files in the cloud”?

Again, just use a cloud drive from the provider of your choice.

I understand. But obviously that’s much different than the way cloud based programs interact. Yes, it will work, but in a much clunkier way. For example footprint editing and such can start to get a little tricky between things, but, not impossible.

I’m not a fan of cloud based applications and I can’t imagine how KiCad would be better that way. But it’s certainly convenient to be able to just leave your work open – it has been saved automatically – go to whatever place, whatever machine/OS, open the address in a web browser, log in and continue your work. A plain cloud based file store doesn’t do that, nor does git or other file sharing system. A VCS could work like that if it would be integrated in KiCad and automatic: saving would be automatic and it would push changes to your other software instance.

KiCad nightly now warns and asks you to reload libraries if it detects changes because they were updated in the folder externally. I.e. shared network drives but cloud drives should work the same.

So you cant use your computer form any device? I mean i can use my computers, even desktop applications from anywhere using a VDI. You don’t need a cloud app for connectivity or somebody else’s server for this. You can even do it in your phone if you wish.

But sure could be useful to be able to run it in a browser, but like i said there is a full emulation in browsers so this is already possible though slow.

It is not ! Former times I did this frequently with my fellow until he retired. To be honest, we used Expedition what has a team pcb feature. But this feature is also based on simple data export/import. At least, for placement the team members need to have an agreement on who is working on what circuit part with a brief floorplan of the complete project. Everybody works on his own copy inside own part of the PCB floorplan. At the end of placement, XY position and rotation data is generated from each of the partitial placements and this file is imported into the master file (with our without traces). Only final optimization steps and traces between the circuit parts needs to be done by on single operator. Three experienced designers may cut the time to about half‌ duration.

The biggest problem today seems that I dont have any fellow layouters available and I never pay for any PCB express or urgency surcharge as I can do another design while the previous one is manufactured