Getting Start KiCAD 5.0

You can check the official documentation but a lot of the stuff on the net hasn’t really caught up with the new version yet. 5 isn’t that old so I’m not sure people want to tackle new pages/videos until a few things shake out in some of the ‘dot’ releases.

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Documentation, too, is a volunteer effort. I once was in the process of renewing that document but didn’t go all way through. I should start again aiming for 5.1. Help is welcome :slight_smile:


@Rene_Poschl has done quite a job with the FAQ. That and the questions asked here should give a good indication of the areas of most interest. But yeah, I did allude to the 5.1 release in my comment above. Maybe you could start a thread and organize some help. Layout exactly what kind of help you would need. Personally I’m not that familiar with anything other than the basics but could probably go through and make sure things like menus matched the documentation.

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Hi Mike,
This video by BuildElectronicCircuits showed me the proper workflow to set up and print a simple PCB earlier this year when I had kicad4.0.7.

[](http://BuildElectronicCircuits demo. circuit)

After upgrading to kicad 5.0.0, I remade the same circuit shown in the video. The set of operations needed to create the PCB artwork is basically the same. However, the package names (you need them when assigning footprints) mostly all changed. In 5.0.0 the package names are longer, more logically grouped, and more descriptive of the actual part. For example, the through-hole resistor in 5.0.0 is now named Resistor_THT:R_Axial_DIN0207_L6.3mm_D2.5mm_P7.62mm_Horizontal This indicates the pitch (distance between holes) is 7.62 mm, and the width of the resistor is 2.5 mm. I don’t know what L of 6.3 mm means.

The L is the length of the body of the part. For something like an axial resistor (especially mounted horizontally) knowing the body length isn’t all that important because there are pins outside the envelope of the body. But it is included on the resistors to keep the format of component names as consistent as possible across all the libraries. What you call the width is actually the diameter, which specifies both width and height. (The height is important to know how the designed board will fit into enclosures or board-stacks.)

For a component where all the pins are within the envelope of the body, you need to know the length to keep from trying to overlap component bodies in your design. There is the courtyard layer to help with this, but sometimes you want components to be physically touching (courtyards encourage a small gap), like LED display modules packed together to make a larger display.

Thanks Russ.
I assume that the demo video is for KiCAD 4.0.7 as you had. Am I right?
Have you seen any help document online is about older version Kicad?
Let me ask you this: when you upgraded your kicad to 5.0.x, any error/warning occurs when you open your old (4.0.7) kicad schematic? Or, components’ packages are auto remapped to their new ones?
The “package” is component’s schematic and footprint or JUST component’s schematic (CAE)?

You’re welcome, mikekicad.

[quote=“mikekicad, post:8, topic:13695, full:true”]
I assume that the demo video is for KiCAD 4.0.7 as you had. Am I right?[/quote]

Yes, you are correct, mikekicad, it was done using KiCAD 4.0.7.

[quote=“mikekicad, post:8, topic:13695, full:true”]
Have you seen any help document online is about older version Kicad?[/quote]

Yes, I have a plastic notebook somewhere that into which I printed out the workflow diagram and the menu of program commands. But some of it became obsolete w/ the upgrade to 5.0.1. For example, the ? key no longer displays the list of hotkeys.

So I eventually just switched back to my handwritten paper notebook to write down what I need to remember.

[quote=“mikekicad, post:8, topic:13695, full:true”]
Let me ask you this: when you upgraded your kicad to 5.0.x, any error/warning occurs when you open your old (4.0.7) kicad schematic? Or, components’ packages are auto remapped to their new ones? [/quote]

I am still a newbie w/ kicad. When I upgraded to 5.0.0 (now to 5.0.1) w/ apt-get, I purposefully decided to not open my old 4.0.7 demo project (the one in the video) because I had read on this forum about the additional things you need to do when opening 4.0.7 files, and I wanted to avoid the extra hassle. So I purposely avoided doing that.

[quote=“mikekicad, post:8, topic:13695, full:true”]
The “package” is component’s schematic and footprint or JUST
component’s schematic (CAE)? [/quote]

I think the package is only the schematic symbol. I think a footprint is completely independent of the schematic symbol except for the number of pins. The number of pins for all the schematic symbol devices must equal the number of pins on the footprint associated with that device. (I say all the schematic symbols because, for example, some ICs have four or six different boolean gates in one package.) You can use any footprint so long as the two numbers equal. (If I’m wrong about this, somebody please correct me.)
Another thing I discovered w/ kicad 5.0.1 is that sometimes if kicad is working abnormally, if you close your schematics, and then shut down the program completely, and then restart the program, the issue disappears. For example, this morning the mouseover balloons for all eeschema’s keys were completely blank. So I restarted the program and they came back to normal.

Thank you, SembazuruCDE. Now I know what a footprint’s courtyard means.

I am new too. I was assigned to use someone’s computer. When I open schematic from Kicad (5.0.1) on this pc, a popup about remap the library/components…I don’t understand what happened. I used another computer with kicad 4.x.x installed to open the same project, everything seems normal (no error popped up), so I guess that, the previous guy installed new kicad (5.0.x) just before he left.
All I consider is the libraries. Have you ever tried to upgrade or downgrade KiCAD without touching its libraries?
I am thinking of how to save the libraries and will import to Kicad after installing/upgrading/downgrading. Any advice?

These discussions might help if you’re unable to simply replace 4.0.7 as I did.

Library Downloads for KiCad 5.0
The official KiCad libraries are available for download at
Library data are provided as compressed archives of the individual
libraries within the following categories:

Schematic symbols:

PCB footprints:

3D models:

How to remap the schematic file so that kicad can properly lay out
a v.4 schematic in v.5. (pcb):

I uninstalled Kicad 5.0.x and installed 4.0.7, and follow your video provided earlier. When assign footprints, this occurs “Errors were encountered loading footprints” The links yo provided for downloading the libraries is for Kicad 5.x.x. When I installed kicad 5.0 i didn’t have any problem. Now I have problem loading footprints for kicad 7.x.x (not 5.x.x)

IThe version 5 libraries are not completely backwards compatible with 4.0.7 - they have some new features like support for rounded rectangle pads. You can still download the old libraries here

Version 5 has many bug fixes and improvements but the workflow is not so completely different. If you have only just started out on your KiCad adventure you won’t have too many legacy projects to consider. I would suggest working through a tutorial and if you come unstuck, come back and ask. Actually it would be really helpful for anyone writing up to date documentation to know which bits of their tutorials need updating. Also, bear in mind that you might need to poke around and experiment - that is a good thing! You will get to know and understand how the software works much better by experimentation than by slavishly following a tutorial.

Thanks for your advice, John!
Let me tell you whole story. I replaced someone’s potion and use his computer which already Kicad installed. First day I use the KiCAD to open his designs, a popped up tell me remap…I have not used the KiCAD before, but I know it is very careful for the libraries. If we mess it up, we might need to start from scratch for each component. Therefore, I didn’t do anything but crossed it out.

He worked there for years with the old Kicad version. I questioned myself why he upgraded new version before he left, and what for?
My co-workers (software) who worked there with him tried to install Kicad 4.0.2 on different computer and it still has something else for libraries again.

To separate from work, at home, I installed kicad 5.0.x in my fresh computer, so far it worked fine. To test, I uninstalled kicad 5.0.x and install kicad 4.0.7.
I created new circuit and everything is fine until I assign footprint for components. It popped up load error: “Errors were encountered loading footprint”. If I come back with kicad 5.0.x, it will have error again. So, I seem not go backward neither forward. That’s reason why I don’t want to touch kicad at work.

I think that if I know how to copy my current libraries and how to import to Kicad, it might work. However, I feel the Kicad libraries are not consistent for all versions. One is not compatible with others.

Do you have any solution for this? please advise. Thanks!


That assumption might do you no good. KiCad is quite tolerant with what you do with it. There are processes there that should protect your project. And even if you break it temporarily you can salvage it. (This might however require somebody expirienced.)

Version 5 has many new nice features. A lot of things make the live of the designer easier. In a company such a decision should however be taken as a team. All designers should be on the same version of kicad. (Or any other tool for that matter)

4.0.2 might not be the best idea either. Version 4.0.7 is fully compatible with version 4.0.2 but has a lot less bugs!

This might be because you have version 5 libs and try to run version 4. Others already told you that version 5 has different libraries than version 4. It also manages symbol libs differently. So there is another point where you could introduce an error.

Noble idea but maybe a bit extreme. You can not really destroy something as long as you do not touch a project. So use company time to learn your tools. (To be honest they should be the ones to provide you with training to do your job.)
So sit down and go through tutorials, experiement with the tools and test your assumptions. (This is how one learns stuff. Not by being afraid of breaking things.)

That is different depending on which version you use. For footprint libs we have this stuff documented in this tutorial: How can i install a specific version of the footprint library? Be aware that the default setup of version 4 uses on demand online libraries (Which you probably do not want in a company setting.)

In version 5 the symbol and footprint libs are managed in a very similar manner. (The tool is called the symbol lib manager instead of footprint lib manager and found in the symbol editor instead of the footprint editor. Everything else is the same.)

Symbol libs in version 4 are a completely different story. There is not really a place where you can setup libs globally. The nearest feature to a global library management is working with the template project. (The lib setup is copied to new projects from the template.)

Now we would need to know how you define consistent. I assume you mean compatible or even stable. Lets look at both these definitions.

First we need to define minor and major releases. A minor release for kicad can be identified by a change to the last two version number digits. So for example 4.0.7 is the 8th minor release in the major version 4 series. (4.0.0, 4.0.1, …, 4.0.7)
After 4.0.7 no further minor releases for version 4 will be made. So the next release is a major update. This one got the version number 5.0.0. An update to this version is 5.0.1 and we expect 5.0.2 to follow soon. There will be a kind of in the middle update shortly with version 5.1.0. this one can still be considered as a minor update with regards to libraries and project files. (No change to the file formats, only the graphical interface changes)

All kicad files can be worked on by all minor releases within a major release series. So this means they are fully compatible with each other. Version 5 can open any version 4 library. So this means kicad is forward compatible in this regard. However a version 4 can not open version 5 libs if version 5 used newly introduced features. So the libs are only backwards compatible if the designer does not use any new features. We have a version 4 backport of the version 5 library available

Now lets look at stability. A library can be considered stable if no (unnecessary) changes are made to existing symbols or footprints. Sadly the version 4 series of the libraries can not be considered stable.
This changed with version 5. Here we take care that the libs are stable.
Even stability does not necessary mean that working with two different version of the lib can not lead to problems. Adding new stuff to the lib is after all permitted in my definition of stability. So if you add a symbol from the newer version of the lib to a schematic then the guy with the older version might not have the symbol at all.

Thanks for your reply.

However, I don’t need to know the reason (because, I know it is of libraries compatibility). I want to know the solution.


@Rene_Poschl has given a very clear explanation about the situation regarding libraries. From this you will understand that Version 5 libraries are not entirely back compatible with KiCad 4 (apart from the back ported library that was linked to).

This is why, after installing 5 & it’s associated libraries and then uninstalling it and then installing KiCad4 but retaining the V5 libraries you have run into a problem.

Version 4 libraries are recognised as having some deficiencies; they are forward compatible with KiCad 5 but are not recommended. The Version 5 libraries are much improved and reorganised.

Which route you go down depends on your specific set of circumstances. There is not a single right solution - what you choose to do depends on what you need to achieve.

For example, If you are working with colleagues, you all need to be on the same major version i.e. 4. or 5 and standardise on the same libraries. If you have lots of historical projects, you may decide to maintain those in 4 - possibly dedicated a machine/ virtual machine to keeping that running.

However, 5 is the current & recommended version. It has had lots of bug fixes since 4.0.7 and is considered stable. It has many new features compared to 4. Once installed, along with the version 5 libraries there is a mechanism for bringing an older V4 project up to date which generally is robust. There are a couple of FAQs about how to deal with libraries - esp if you have a previous 4 install in the FAQ section of the Forum.

Usual sensible advice on keeping multiple backups etc obviously apply whenever you do an update to any software.

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So any solution to fix this issue?

I want my older version back with its original libraries. If I go forward that uses version 5.x.x, what I can do now? Any time I open schematics, it asks to remap, and most of time, after remap there will errors or warnings, such as:

  1. Couldn’t find such footprint

  2. Some or all component symbols become blocks

Please advise. Thanks!


This will not change no matter what you do with the libraries. This is the way how a schematic is transferred over from version 4 to version 5. As soon as you save the project this dialog should no longer be shown

Symbols becoming blocks indicates a damaged cache library or a failed attempt at remapping/rescuing. (As part of the remap process you should also get the remap dialog that tries to salvage your project. For more details read my previous answer.)

One option is to install the version 4 library in version 5. Or use the version 4 lib just for this one project and make future projects with version 5 libs.
(Read the FAQ articles posted above to learn how to install a specific version of the footprint libraries. Try this and report back with specific questions if you get stuck.)

Additionally: are you aware that answers per mail are directly included in the forum? Including your signature that shows your mail address in clear text. (Ready for bots to find)

Now we have a kind of tutorial for updating a project from version 4 to version 5: Converting KiCad version 4 projects to version 5 (Remap a project)

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