Dimension tool discussion (new features in 5.99)

I added leaders first because they are pretty easy to implement and also pretty flexible in terms of how you can use them to mark up a design. We’ll see if I get to any of the other types (orthogonal should be pretty easy, angular less so) before V6 freeze; if not they can be added during V7.


First off: the leaders tool looks unbelievably useful, great work @craftyjon – I’m 100% sure that’s going to be a “how did I get along without this” tool.

If we’re just talking about wishlist drafting features that tools like Altium implement, taking a peek at this quick video showing off their ‘Draftsman’ tool is worth a look. I’m a big fan of the things like the point at edge->click->drag to create dimensions dropping where you want the line/text.Especially the way they highlight the edge of what you’re about to create the dimension from, I feel is a pretty great UX approach. (They highlight a lot of other wonderful looking tools in there, but at that point I think it’s discussing what would be another application for us alongside pcbnew/eeschema, so I digress.)

I doubt anything like that UI/UX approach would be feasible by the 6 FF, but it might be worth discussing tossing it on the back burner for 7 perhaps!

We already have some issues tracking the need for better drafting tools in V7 and beyond. Not sure we will take quite the same approach as Draftsman but in general we do need more tools in this area (I use Draftsman at my day job and so I’m quite familiar with things it does well and poorly)

(feel free to open specific feature requests for additional drafting features / tools if you don’t find them in the tracker already)


Oh that’s excellent! We use Altium at the office too, but I’m exclusively KiCad at home; so I very much feel you with that being aware of the things I like and dislike it does. Gives excellent perspective. I’ll have to dig through the issues and see what has been suggested. Perhaps a ‘drafting’ label on the gitlab might be useful.


Agreed, I just created one

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Being a “Discussion” post, the following may give some additional measuring tool ideas… Perhaps not worth posting but, I’m in Oregon USA, 7 miles from fires and can’t go outside due to air quality… thus, killing time :roll_eyes:

Kicad’s measure tool has been a great tool for me - most of the time.

Occasionally, I need to get dimensions off of a PCB photo someone sends me. Most of the time they don’t want to take apart the ‘whatever-it-is’ until ready for the down-time while making their PCB/etc. And, cannot access it entirely for measuring with tools.

In that case, I ask them to lay an item (on the PCB) with known dimensions (preferring a Ruler/Scale but, a penny or paper with known dimension also works).

From that, I scale the desired objects (board, holes, cutouts…etc) and make their PCB and/or 3D printed enclosure.

In Kicad, I’ve done this a few times but, sometimes spend too much time fussing with the BMP tool (iterating the slider to get a reasonably good image).
It’s often not doable if the image has multi-colors.

• I made a Kicad Plugin to call up my Java-Based tool and wonder if there are aspects of it to consider incorporating…

The tool can measure anything on the Display as long a there is One known dimension. I even measured width of my house knowing the width of front door and confirmed with actual dim.

A useful aspect of the tool is collecting dimension data and writing a text file.

#1) A good quality PNG was loaded into the BMP tool, exported and used in Kicad. Because image is qood and one dimension (the PCB width) is known (100mm), it was easy to scale correctly by ratio’s from Kicad’s measuring tool.

#2) I took a screenshot of some PCB gizmo on the internet. Can’t get a good image using the BMP tool, thus, I did it with my tool and based dimensions on the photo’s 556 Chip (I measured one in my box).
From that, I measured the PCB’s height - all within the tolerance, of an unsteady hand and vision.

Again, this post is about ideas for your tools enhancement, if useful. FYI - I posted the tool a few years ago for Fritzing users here at Github


Super useful for Cmts.User!
@craftyjon, could the text allow multi-lines, variable replacement and alignment control (left/right/center)?

Interesting feature!
@craftyjon, would it be possible to switch between different types of arrows?

Feature requests do not go here, please take them to the issue tracker

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Right now we draw arrows as two line segments. You can control the size of the arrows but we don’t support other arrow styles (like curved ones, or closed triangles).

@craftyjon (thank you) have just added the orthogonal dimension tool and center indicator (available on Place menu).

I just tested the new expandable toolbar button. It’s fine otherwise, but the drag movement threshold seems to be too small. Very often the mouse moves accidentally a tiny bit, a couple of pixels, when clicking, and this causes opening the button options even when not wanted. Then, if I don’t select the button again but go straight to the canvas and start drawing, the tool isn’t selected.

I still don’t like the fact that there are now two kinds of expandable toolbar buttons, the other one being the zone button which doesn’t have any visual marker but requires RMB.

I think we can keep the threshold small if we fix that (right now Ian and Jeff are working on fixing the crash bug seen on some platforms)

I still don’t like the fact that there are now two kinds of expandable toolbar buttons, the other one being the zone button which doesn’t have any visual marker but requires RMB.

This new one will become the preferred style

I designed these two for very different purposes. The RMB menu is more settings access (yes, the zone-fill ones are marginal there, they were kind of a proof of concept for it, but the router RMB menu is more like what it is supposed to be).

The expandable buttons are meant as more tool activation toolbar buttons (essentially giving us more toolbar space). In fact, we can have both an RMB and a toolbar extension - the router tool has that currently when the route single track action is on the toolbar.

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I remember that from a previous discussion, that’s why I said “I still don’t like”. It’s possible that we all learn to use them automatically, but I bet they will be confusing at first.

At least add a visual marker for the expandable menu, too. There’s now a small triangle for button expansion; add for example a two or three horizontal black lines (like the “menu” icon in modern flat mobile interfaces) in the top right corner to indicate a menu. Otherwise the user has to go through all buttons with RMB to find out if there are menus or not.

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