ExpressPCB schematic importing possible?

Is it possible to import a schematic created with ExpressPCB (extension = .sch) into KiCad? I know my schematic can be converted into an .xml file, tho’ that will pro’ly open a new can of worms. Thoughts?

XML is more likely to have some merit since e.g. eagle imports also only work from XML format.

XML is just a general “ruleset” of how information is packaged. The use of this standard does not say anything about the details. This means it does not mean that some program can read the information presented using XML generated by some other program.

In other words: the fact that eagle uses XML does in no way indicate if XML generated by any other program can be read by KiCad (or eagle). The only indication would be if ExpressPCB would claim that the XML is intended for export to eagle.

XML probably indicates it’s human readable. XML is also supported with libraries in most programming languages etc. Therefore it’s probably easier to handle than a native format, which is probably binary. (I say this without knowing anything about the native format of ExpressPCB.) The situation is probably comparable with Eagle.

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The question however was: Is it possible to import this format. It was not: Which of the formats would be easier to implement in some distant future should some developer find time for it.

And the only honest answer really is: Sorry there is no known (to us) way to get your schematic made with ExpressPCB into KiCad.

What you and jos wrote might therefore have some merit but not in the context of the question asked in this topic. At least not without a massive disclaimer that you answer a related question.

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Rene - this is good information - thanks for addressing my concerns. I guess I will need to redraw my existing schematic in KiCad.

The lack of standard file formats, or even interchangeable formats, has been a chronic pain in the world of PCB layout as long as I have been associated with the industry - 30 years or more. I don’t know how many times I have heard an “industry leader” say something like,

Hey, this lack of file portability is crippling productivity. Let’s all be reasonable and define a common standard that allows our users to interchange design information with other publishers’ software.

The problem is that “Let’s all be reasonable” always seems to be defined as “Everybody should use the proprietary formats we developed for our own software.” The only “standard” the industry seems to agree on is the Gerber format. Even that has some notable limitations - not surprising, since the origins of the Gerber format are in the 1960’s, and a different industry, using different technology.

From an ethical and philosophical perspective I must commend KiCAD for using plain-text, human-readable, open, file formats. In the near term probably the best we can hope for is that other software packages will start to include the ability to import KiCAD files. Eventually they may also export KiCAD files. In the interim, when you must move a schematic or layout from one ECAD program to another . . . . you’re screwed.


The latter is improbable - it’s more realistic to expect that each software package could export to some readable format and would implement importing such formats from other software packages. For example Eagle can write to a human readable XML format and therefore it was possible to have an importer in KiCad.

I doubt the willingness of software companies to export directly to other companies’ formats - even if it wouldn’t hurt them financially, exporting is always lossy because of impedance mismatch, and who wants their software to export something worse than the original? Especially when we can know for sure that the customers would blame them instead of those who make the importers for other software.

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The history of this industry supports your belief. We can still hope for a change in the fundamental attitude of even one major commercial company, followed by an industry-wide push for interoperability.


I have used ExpressPCB quite a lot, and to be fair, the only reason they have put out the free schematic and PCB packages was to facilitate using their own fab-house - they were not meant to be general purpose design tools for others.

I have found myself in the same place as the OP, having large ExpressPCB schematics for which I may want to use a different fab-house (ExpressPCB has some limitations that have become deal breakers for me) and had to just redo them in KiCad. The biggest pain has been finding matching symbols, the actual process of linking everything up was much faster than I anticipated.

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Is it true that ExpressPCB can export to XML? I couldn’t find any info on their website.

To answer my own question, after digging around I can’t see anyway to convert ExpressPCB designs to any interchangeable format. Their business model of closed and proprietary in order to use their fab service hasn’t changed.

I would consider anything designed in ExpressPCB as “lost effort”.

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There seem to be 2 possible methods,

1 - Recreate From Scratch
2 - Pay ~ $60 for the gerbers and recreate schmatic

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