Kicad Future Development Goals


#1

Hello out there,

Im using Kicad solely for my home-brew PCBs and with V5 it is 100% up to these tasks.
But I have another, professional life as an electronics engineer :wink:

Some jears ago I was part of a team that evaluated new PCB-CAD systems for the company. One might think we discussed things like the ones in this forum. But the final decision was based on:
Does the Systom support SAP ?
Does it support production machines, ICTs, AOIs and so on ?
Does it include flexible panneling functions ? (In German: Nutzen)

In the end we bought the buggiest and ugliest candidate - but it WAS professional Software ! :grimacing:

I imagine creating such functions needs a lot of work, money and NDAs and it is much more complex than adding new features.

I wonder, is there a strategy/dicussion if KiCad will/should someday go that way ?

Greetings, Chris9


#2

There is a KiCad v6 road map here

Did all / some of your projects end to use that features?

I know a bit of the Germany industry culture, do you think there is a bit of cultural influence on this kind of evaluation and decision?


#3

Hello,

today purchasing is even more concentrating on interface and digital factory features. Technical quality and especially usability are fading. There is an almost religious believe any problem will dissolve if the tools are chosen according to some digital strategy.

I have some experience with french engineering. And while they are often stressful they have a more pragmatic aproach concerning tools and procedures. So, yes this may have to do with “german perfection”.


#4

The problem with interfacing with things like SAP is that there might not be one standardized interface. This makes it hard to implement support for it. Or more precisely: To tell when to “advertise” that the support is there.
A company who sells a pcb design software can easily say “we have support, just buy our integration package and we will take care of it”
That is not really an option for a non profit open source product. There is no paid support that could do that job.

I am not suggesting that there should not be an interface for such tools. However i doubt it will come any time soon. (But i am also not in a position to make this decision. So all is just my opinion)


#5

NDAs are not really an option for an open source software. This would only be an option for a third party plugin that communicates between kicad and whatever needs an NDA


#6

Hi Rene,

you are right, this would be very difficult for an open project. And I dont mean I WANT KiCAd to become buggie and ugly :wink:
To me your way is just fine.

I just sometimes fear SW like KiCad may not survive the automation boom without hopping on the train.

And that would be REALLY SAD !


#7

There will always be a place for open source. It does not really matter if large companies use it.


#8

For SAP, Its not easy to dig up information from the outside, could you give some context about how this functionality works, e.g. is it API access?, is it some networked database file? is it just a tagged file structure that the users can pull from?

To an extent the git repository structures built into Kicad emulate this, but with better understanding of exactly how it works, and how its intended to interface would greatly assist it being developed on. If you have an example export file, attaching it could help.

For production machines, e.g. ICT (In circuit Testers) I would believe these would only need the netlist for the basic ones, and things like resistances and impedances for more complex ones, again having access to a demo file, and what kinds of information get encoded in would help.

For AOI’s, I suspect they would work of gerbers, and possibly the board 3D model, can you give any examples of what kinds of files they need to work?

Flexible panelising is something that keeps being requested, and is something that will likely show up sooner. but please clarify exactly what ways you wish it to be flexible in.


#9

Hello Rerouter,

I m no expert for these things. Before making Layouts became a pain I changed my field of work and left the PCBs to dedicated professionals.
Personally I do not need this but I see that SW like KiCad is often rejected in big companies due to lack of these features. And of course “it cant be good if it is not expensive”.

I think EAGLEs switch to Autodesk has to do with this. When I joined “my company” EAGLE was an accepted tool. Today colleagues just smile when it is mentioned.

So, I can not help with details and I think it will be as Rene suggested. Maybe someday someone will offer Interfaces for money if KiCad becomes famous enough.

Oh, I would like panelizing anyway to save PCBs and chemicals at home :grin:


#10

I dont need expert commentary, just some context, knowing how those systems are catered for could spur someone to start on the groundwork, Kicad at its current momentum will keep growing and gaining features, while its not being built with the intention of large companies, its open source, so there is nothing preventing it either.


#11

Thats true, but I am really no longer involved in these concepts - I just hear things. If one of my colleagues from those departments gets interested in his own PCBs I will certainly ask him to share this knowledge.

But when I tell people, even young engineers, that Im doing my private PCBs I am looked at like a dinosaur. Ok, I confess my first layout tool was EDDING in the 80s :upside_down_face:


#12

Companies deciding to pour money down commercial venture holes because it is safe isn’t a given.

Free may not be free to some top web companies but contributing to Linux is better than the alternatives. Kicad may not have to provide the services listed in the OP but would be wise to make sure these features aren’t precluded by design choices from being added later.


#13

Seriously, who cares if commercial companies have to pay for software. I never get up in the morning and think, “How can I help all those companies with multi-million budgets save on license fees, and then make even more profits which they funnel into tax havens and pay hardly any tax?”


#14

My point is that some of these companies DO pay by contributing back to Linux with time and money. That helps everyone.


#15

Folks,
a lot of people just forget most important thing: its not even important what tool you use, way more important how good you are!
Remember: Pink Floyd’s “the Wall” was recorded using 16-Track machine and fully manual analog stuff. Result: just awesome.
Im very deep in german industry (Oil-Industry too) and know how “stiff” the structures here (still be).
Switched one of big german companies from Pulsonix to Altium about 8 years ago: it was a 1 -Year project (!!!) cause of things like “documentation font looks not like our old one”- kind of diskussions etc…:wink:
Most important thing: really good developer will generate a great product using even just graph-paper+pencil+rubber (and, honestly, I learned developing this way in my university-time 30 years ago). Bad one will not help Altium&OrCAD&SAP&Co…:wink:
Sure, I miss some tools in KiCAD, but switched one Austian company from Altium to KiCAD about one year ago and results are very impressive.
Cheers,
Sebastian


#16

Sebastian. Out of curiosity. Exactly what functionality do you miss?

And for the OP i went digging. And indeed ICT and automatic visual checking tools just work off the gerber and a back generated netlist from that gerber.


#17

Well, for example Ive a round board (its a watercool-CPU block needed RGB-LEDs around) and invested a huge time to make a round traces - its a “piece of work”, really. Moreover, Ill like to have more (or better?) functianality on routing traces as well (rounded, radius of rounded corner etc).
More extended cleariance will be very nice to have feature: to define specific on part/pad/footprint/board-outline etc.
Use different type of polygon on same net/plane : sometimes only one part of polygon needs to be thermal, but other part of the same plyfon even as solid etc.
Its all not a huge deal, but will make my life as developer way easier as well…;-).
As I wrote, I switched one Austrian company to KiCAd and other german company I work for use KiCAD in all projects as well (ok, Im main-developer in electronic hardware here :slight_smile: )
Best regards from northern Germany,
Sebastian


#18

@Rerouter: one of features that can be very very handy - import/export libraries from database.
Meant: every bigger (even small) companies have own database with parts allready in use/tested/approved (by quality management department) - whatsever. Use miltiple E-CADs or even switch to other will anyway needed library re-creartion and copying on any workstation. Last step can be managed in KiCAD directly.
One more: every developer/company have own folder-structure inside of project. I make some folders manualy cause its historical by me: “production” (for Gerbers&Co) , “documents” (for Schemaitc-pdf’s etc), “mechanicals” (for M-CAD files), “datasheets” (for specific datasheets for this project, UL/RoHs files etc). so, it will be nice to have “generate specific folders include project” just from KiCAD itself…:wink:
Ive a lot of similar feature-requests…:wink:
Best regards,
Seb


#19

Curved/rounded traces are one of the most requested feature and it seems possible it will be part of v6. Or v7 :slight_smile:

This has been under discussion in the dev mailing list, too. Local values for clearances.

I don’t understand. Do you mean pad/zone connection? You can set it for the footprint or even for one pad, it overrides the zone setting.

This sounds simple because it doesn’t touch the core functionality at all. Maybe it could be done with a python script - that feels like an ideal solution.


#20

@eelik: about polygon, Ill try to explain what I mean.
Just say: Ive copper polygon on top with GND-Net. Using “thermal reliefs” is best cause of possible THT parts and soldering- its less “thermal stress” for the parts on assembly. Well, but Ive some , just say D-PAK, P-PAK etc where I need really more solid copper around one of pins for thermal design- its a problem. Create one polygon inside ither with different setting (in this case “solid”) will not help cause KiCAD convert inside polygon to outside polygon settings. Add “graphic polygon” will help some way as workaround, but even not a most eleghant way imo. Better will be whrn every polygon will be not converted or, better- just ask developer for conversation, cause, maybe developer wish it in own way. Same here if more than one polygon have different nets.
Rounded traces for watercool-CPU block was horror to create, really… And the mechanical&electrical clearance is at the moment fixed (mechanical: I mean between track and board-outline). Just say: electrical clearance on my board is 0.2mm- thats ok, but I cannot allow traces to go 0.1mm to board-outline (mechanical, is pure mechanical thing and not even electrical distance).
Create custom folders: its really nice to have cause every developer/company have over years own well organized file structure. By the way, generating of Gerber&Co directly to project folder makes all complex to figure out when re-creating Gerber&Co. Ill say: every creation of Gerber&Co must create new folder and rename it to date/time (or somthing like that) : this makes way easier to figure out whats going on.
Cheers,
Seb