You only have one chance to make a first impression.
I’ll tell you about my first impression of KiCad, be warned,
I suffer from sarcasm and cynism.
For all unwilling to read much or not having the time or with a
very short attention span of a TV commercial, scroll down
to the last paragraph and seek help regarding your condition.
I have some background (or “preliminary damage”) regarding EDA.
First was P-CAD in the late eighties (yea, I am that old…)
followed by Eagle, starting 2005, but just infrequently for
inhouse (and hobby) projects.
Right now, I have time (called summer vacation) and feel like
giving KiCad a chance.
The Download was very fast, >6MB/s, thank you very much.
There is not much to say about the installation, besides of your
“This is still a work in progress… but GPL…”
Hello? Are you too lazy to replace that stub with the GPL file?
Mr. Stallman and his lawyer brigade might react a bit miffed,
so please make him happy.
(Can’t decide which version? Make up your mind, you will have to
do it anyway at some point. Or just throw a coin…)
The program starts as it should. Aww, what a cute little window
on a 2560x1440 desktop… Well, that’s the same as with Eagle…)
My first action: “Help”, “KiCad Manual”.
Result: “Help file ‘KiCad’ could not be found”
My second action: “Help”, “Getting started in KiCad”.
Result: “Html or pdf help file getting_started_in_kicad or
Getting_Started_in_KiCad could not be found”
That’s a bad outcome for someone new to this program.
Is there someone actively acting on making it hard for people
to switch to KiCad?
Under “Preferences”, I’ve seen “Configure Path”. That might help
solve this glitch.
Nope, nothing regarding help files. But 3 of 4 entries pointing
to a location not existing on my hard drive, “C:\msys64…”.
Hey, getting that correct is the job of the installation
program, there should be no need to do it by hand.
At least, the files are installed on the disc. With a sinking
feeling I register the English tutorial version being of 2011,
the German one being of 2006. It’s well known documentation
being the neglected stepchild regarding free software.
As I found a tutorial, why not using it?
The first surprise, new Icons, different ones than used in
the tutorial. Well, that’s to expect after 4 years.
Creating a new project… Where? Another path that should be
changed or be configurable. Defaulting to a directory where
everything has to be done with administrative rights is a
bad idea. OK, basically that’s Microsoft’s error.
But for me, that means uninstalling KiCad.
And reinstalling it again, using a different directory
containing all the programs I like to have under my control
without Microsoft’s paternalism.
Now, the tutorial, second try. A minor glitch in point 11,
where I should first save the schematic project. That menu
point is grayed out. I bet I can save if I change something,
just the age of the tutorial showing.
But, at point 39, the tutorial comes to a grinding halt.
I should insert “PIC12C508A” from the microcontrollers library.
Just, that part doesn’t exist.
I selected some existing part and continued, making a
The rest of the tutorial went very well, up to a completely
routed board, even DRC was happy.
The workflow, where so many people gripe about, right now I can
live with it as it is a reasonable sequence of actions.
For THT I don’t expect it to ever be a problem, SMD being
more critical because of the many different footprints
using and abusing the same name.
Next I’ll make a small project, just a sensor with signal
shaping and amplifier, both using KiCad and Eagle.
At least one version will see a prototype made.
So, below the line, I’m content with the EDA part, but
the package as such needs some more work.