Load Nightly Build PCB into 5.1.10

A long while ago I made a few PCBs with a nightly build. I want to load them into the 5.1.10 but can’t. It says that I need a newer version. I can load them with the latest nightly build still. Is there an easy way to convert it to 5.1.10?

That’s a bummer. The best I was able to do is to export it to a DSN. I loaded that into freeRouting and saved it as a specctra file. I was able to load that into 5.1.10.
I’m missing my board outline, ground fills, and any shapes I created. The silkscreen isn’t where it was. Its better than nothing.
I wish I could at least copy and past from one version to another, but it doesn’t work. Thank you for the explanation.

You can also extract data (such as a complex PCB outline) directly from the Gerber files:

Gerber export is only per layer, so if you want to only want a part of a layer, then export it to a user layer, or some extra copper layer, and then take out only things you want in pcbnew.

Why can’t you use the 5.99 nightly for this file moving forward?

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Asking the real question here!

@jeewiz13 do you have a more specific need rather than just “move a project created in 5.99 to 5.1.10”?

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I want to get back to official releases because I am not happy with the nightly build that I have. Granted that the build I’m using is pretty old at this point. I feel like there may be a point where I can no longer load my PCB files outside of the nightly builds and may have an issue sometime in the future that ruins the boards I spent a lot of time on. It may not be irrational but I would feel better if it were on an official release.

Your should install the latest nightly and use that. It’s miles ahead and mostly stable. I designed a fairly complex board in it from May-September with no issues. The nightlies are also only forward compatible.

I understand your concerns.

Quite some time ago (4 to 7 years) I was in a similar situation. I was working on a hobby project in a nightly version and that was very buggy at the time. I just could not work with that version at that time, and the project could not be opened anymore in a previous KiCad version. Back then it was also not possible (or very difficult) to have different KiCad versions installed at the same time. For me it resulted in reverting to the stable version (I think it was KiCad V3) and abandoning that project. A few years later I did open it in the next stable version, and now I also use it for some tests in KiCad-nightly V5.99. The project still works, even though I’ve never ordered the PCB.

Now, in 2021 the situation is different.
First, you can easily have both KiCad V5.1.x and KiCad-nightly V5.99 installed at the same time. On top of that, KiCad-nightly V5.99 is both quite stable, and unlikely to change much before a release candidate of KiCad V6 (and later KiCad V6 itself) is released. KiCad V6.rc1 was expected early this year but there are lots of small bugs discovered and being fixed, but all of them add up in a quite big delay. At this moment some people are starting to doubt if KiCad V6 will even be released this year.

There are still bumps in the file version numbers (On average about once a month this year), and sometimes there are also new bugs introduced that can be very annoying, but those are generally fixed within a few days.

As you probably know by now, going back from project in V5.99 to the stable V5.1.x is difficult, because a complete rewrite of the schematic file format.

So how old is it?
In the nightlies, bugs are fixed daily, and bugs that affect usability have a high priority. Therefore Updating to a recent nightly is the least you should do.

That point has been passed long ago. The schematic file format change was years ago, and it describes the situation you are in now.

Well, it is a nightly, but as with any computer program, there are no guarantees. Your HDD or SSD may fail and you loose all your data. Your power supply may fail, output too much voltage and burn down your whole PC. In these “modern” times you PC may even get hijacked by ransom ware.

The standard remedy is to make backups. I have a habit of backing up any project on which I’ve done more than “trivial” changes at the end of each day. And a decent backup strategy also saves your work in the (unlikely) event KiCad damages your project beyond compare. KiCad-nightly V5.99 also has a quite decent built-in backup system, that zips your project into a sub directory, and even multiple copies if you want it to.

So I fully understand if you want to stay with the stable KiCad V5.1.x for a while, but for the projects that you’ve ported to (or started in) V5.99 it does not make much sense to go back to the old stable KiCad. It’s difficult to do so, and KiCad V6.0.0-rc1 is “nearby” even though that is not a stable KiCad V6.0.0 yet.

So now I’m wondering what I would do in different situations…
I have mostly switched to KiCad-nightly V5.99 myself. I want to get to know it, I want to help with finding and reporting bugs, and I very much appreciate the new schematic format which embeds schematic symbols in the schematic itself instead of relying on external libraries.

If my livelihood depended on a proper working KiCad…
I would not convert old projects to V5.99 (yet), but for new projects I would probably still do in KiCad-nightly V5.99, but I will take a few extra precautions:

  1. Figure out how to install a very specific build of the nightlies.
  2. Backup that build, so I have a base to fall back to even if the whole Internet collapses.
  3. Spend some extra efforts on backups:
    • Save .svg or .pdf formats of the schematic, which can always be viewed.
    • Generate Gerbers and back them up, so there is a way to recover with KiCad V5.1.x if it’s absolutely necessary.
    • And of course the normal daily backups against general computer failure.

With those 3 precautions in mind I would feel safe enough to use KiCad-nightly V5.99 for “important” development. I would still update often ( twice a week or more) because of lots of small bug fixes. Numbers 1) and 2) are a safeguard against not being to be able to work on an important project for a few days.

Also note that I only find this method acceptable because KiCad-nightly V5.99 is quite far in its development cycle. If it was early in it’s development cycle I would not consider this. The many improved and new features of KiCad-nightly V5.99 also make it very tempting to use it.


I went with nightly as a new user coming on board to open an “old” PCB designed in KiCad that was apparently done with Nightly 2 years ago so I was either going to have to face all this conversion hassle… or just use Nightly. I figured it was worth a shot and its not hurt me so far. Which backs up @paulvdh’s point about how far into development the V5.99 builds are and how its not full of crazy problems from big changes.

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