There is no guarantee for that. (Some of them are, a lot of them are not! I think nightlies from last year are quite stable. But files generated in nightly are generally incompatible with the stable version and sometimes even with other nightlies.)
Yes (From the top of my head: step support, highlight net in schematic, custom filters in cvpcb, update pcb from schematic, 3dshapes importer, …)
There are two uses of the word “stable” here. Stable can mean “doesn’t crash very often”. The other use in software development means “no new features being added”. New features can both cause crashes and incompatibility with previous or future versions.
Ideally, a formal release is stable in both senses. But what KiCad means by “stable release” is that new features are not added, only bugs fixed, which should lead to both kinds of “stable”.
As a general rule, nightly builds are not stable in either sense. “Pioneers take the arrows”, so there is a trade-off between exploring new territory and the pain of taking arrows which can only be assessed on a subjective basis. Personally, I am very averse to crashes, and while the new features are nice and maybe increase my productivity by 10% I can wait until they are well honed and debugged before using them for regular work.
It does not hurt do experiment with nightly builds. Just be aware of what you get into.
And be aware that files saved with the current nightlies are not compatible with the stable release. (Which means if you use nightlies for a project, there is no way back while you work at this project.)
I use mostly nightly builds. (On one of my computers i currently have a stable version installed to test pull requests of the symbol and footprint libraries. My work pc runs a nightly build.)
There was a time where i had no other option because the stable release did not work at all with my operating system, graphics chip, graphics driver and/or libraries. (I never looked into what the real reason was. Nightlies worked back then so i switched. This was back when the files of nightly builds where still compatible with the stable version.)
In short: If you want to play around and test new versions (help with bug searching) nightly is the thing for you. If you need a stable pcb design software: stay at the stable version. (Exception: If the stable version has bugs that make it impossible for you to use them, then maybe try nightlies. This also helps the developers because it is a difference if the bug you found in stable also exists in nightlies or not.)
I don’t know if this findable to download online anymore:
Version: (2016-12-22 revision d365dc5)-makepkg,
The file name is “kicad-r7409.d365dc5-x86_64.exe” and 334308KB in size.
Note: I’m not as experienced nor knowledgeable as others are on this forum. This version simply is what I found that fixed a couple of bugs, and added a couple of features that the stable up to 4.0.5 is lacking; I have not yet tried the .6 stable.
ON EDIT: DRAT! I don’t know how I dumb thumbed the file size entry. Thanks for keeping me honest.
As I said, once I found a version that fixed the bugs in the stable, I was pretty much satisfied; I didn’t, and still don’t, care if the stable never crashes and my methods only crash PcbNew once every four months.
The installation packages seem to be already well-compressed. My zip-program reduced the file size by only about 5Meg (out of 350Meg); it would take about a 100-fold reduction to get it down to a size that could be attached to a Forum post here. I don’t know what the upper limit for attachment size is in my email but I suspect it’s much less than 350Meg!
[quote=“Sprig, post:13, topic:6082”]
Do you know why you went with the newer version? . . . . [/quote]
Starting last fall I was downloading and installing nightly builds once or twice a week. Around 15 Feb I got a version that corrupted files. I filed a bug report, the developers took action promptly; but I reverted back to the last version that worked for me. I was starting into a couple of significant projects, and watching the traffic on this Forum and the bug tracker, I decided I wasn’t brave enough to risk a return to the nightly builds.
The version I’m running (R7628) crashes once or twice a week, but all I lose is my work since the last “Save”. I have it installed on 3 different machines, all Win7/64, and one machine has the great majority of the crashes so it may not even be a problem with KiCAD per se.
I’ll probably leave these here until the next major release, or at least until there seems to be a consensus among Forum users that a particular nightly build is very well-behaved, even if not totally “stable”, across the major OS’s.