How Usable are the KiCad 6 Nightlies?

Haven’t seen any recent updates or user experiences so thought I’d ask before spending/wasting time downloading and installing and risking any conflicts with my 5.1.6 installations.

I don’t generally need much fancy/exotic stuff like Altium import or impedance matching, but am keen to enjoy UI improvements like copy/paste, better library management and so forth. I use both Mac and Windows.

Is it worth diving in now, or too buggy? Any advice on which one(s) are most stable?


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Honestly, despite the tremendous efforts of the devs (have a look at the commits pages), it seems to me that there are still too many bugs to consider it usable beside testing. If you want a more precise idea, you can have a look to the issues list.

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The current focus of the development team is more on implementing new features rather than ensuring stability / squashing bugs, so now is definitely not a good time to rely on the nightly builds for “real” work. Serious bugs usually get fixed quickly, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be disruptive. That will change later in the year (we are targeting sometime in September for feature freeze, and after that, the focus will be on bugs).


September is sooner than I would have thought. SUITE! :wink:


Just a target, not a promise, but 6.0 has been in the works for a long time so it’s exciting to have even a target :slight_smile:


Thanks for the helpful explanation, but I have been stuck in nightly land and have been eating bugs for lunch just to get them out of my way. This short list is not rigorous and may not be up-to-date:

  1. Save path for symbols wants to be project folder and not library folder.

  2. Tendency for Eeschema to crash when zooming with hotkeys. At least it is not as deadly as a crash while zooming with an airplane.

The Feature Freeze schedule is certainly easier to keep than the actual release schedule. The latter moves on and on with each new found bug.

I agree with others: now it’s not the time to start using 5.99 for other than testing.

Even if the current and upcoming planned feature set was more stable, there’s one big open question: what happens with the symbol library? The library hasn’t been migrated to the new file format. I don’t think the consequences of the changed library for end users can be fully predicted for now. I would wait for that to happen first before starting new real designs – unless, again, you are willing to spend time with changes and problems.

While I appreciate the developer’s effort, I have to say:

Too buggy.

There are lots of bugs all over the place. Footprint editor, zone filling, crashes out of the blue, unexpected behaviour of selections/focus, all sorts of issues. The thing is, many do not show up in the issues list. And: no - it’s not my installation, no - it’s not me not finding my way around CAD or computers :slight_smile:
However, no board was destroyed, but you have to frequently save due to the crashes and other effects.
It’s just annoying and time consuming.

I’m now a hobbyist/maker only, so it does not really matter.

But for professional use: no way.

Are you talking about the nightly builds, the development version, 5.99? That’s meant to be the version where not all bugs are yet fixed, just like craftyjon said:

If your experience describes 5.1.6, that’s of course not the purpose, it’s meant to be stable and usable.

So report them. Or if you are using 5.99, stop using it and use the stable 5.1.6.


It’s 5.99 nightlies.

Truchsess’s questions was about nightlies, and so were my observations.

Of course with nightlies bugs - even lots of them - are expected, so no complaint here.

And it’s obvious to use the latest stable version for production work.

OK, I’m reorienting myself reading your first post again. For some reason I thought you were talking about KiCad in general. Maybe it was because of

These made it sound like you are worried about the state of KiCad, although it is as planned. If something hasn’t been reported yet, it will be reported and will be fixed sooner or later.

I myself find new bugs all the time and sometimes they are annoying because I thought it would be obvious and should have been found in the initial testing after coding by the developer, but this is the way KiCad development happens.


Fair enough. English is my second language, so that might cause misunderstandings.

That’s exactly what I felt.

I would wait until feature freeze as this should at least guarantee file format stability and some sanity in sharing projects with others

I don’t think the library team wants to consider moving to the new format before the feature freeze. I expect that after we have some better tools in place to move lots of libraries quickly, and we are confident the symbol format can be frozen for V6, the library team will be able to make a plan to provide official libraries in the new format.

I understand that this is annoying. I think the main reason that this happens is that creating schematics and boards is a complex, time-consuming process. There are thousands of different things a user could do along the way. If the developers were to make very thorough tests after every change, the pace of development would probably be 10% of what it is now. I think it actually is more efficient for the project if we have some users like you who are able to do a great job with testing: because you aren’t also working on developing code, you have much more time to actually use the software and find issues that only show up when doing specific actions.

So, as long as we have enough dedicated users who are willing to deal with that annoyance to help us, this works out. I just wanted to say thank you, and that I think despite the annoyance this is actually a process that works pretty well given that it is all a volunteer effort.

The developers depend on us users having a wider spread of PC hardware to find bugs with and generate decent bug reports

That’s very exciting, thanks!

We need a file format freeze. And then we need a few month to clean up the lib (for a real proper library with proper use of the new format i would assume at least 6 month to be honest. So i suggest make a file format freeze long before you plan the feature freeze)

Edit: I kind of assumed this would be self evident so i never really pushed for such a workflow (especially as i am currently extremely limited in the time i have available for kicad).


I have been using the 5.99 for about a month and it crashes regularly but does have some nice new features. What concerns me is that whatever I do develop can be used going forwards. As a hobbyist it’s not so critical. Be aware though that if you move a project to 5.99 the files become instantly incompatible with 5.1 so take a backup…

The main issues seem to be around memory handling. The symbol / footprint editor crashes frequently, so be sure to save before attempting to open it. I have done 3 successful boards with 5.99 but not without a lot of crashing. Nothing much lost though. Oh yes - the 3D ray tracing also often causes a crash. Again, no damage as long as you saved beforehand. It’s a bit like playing an 80s computer game, save regularly.


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Please report these crashes, these are not the norm and if there is not an issue to track it, it will be much less likely to be fixed.