Netlists & Pads in footprints : improvements

Netlists & Pads in footprints : improvements I wish for…


Netlist and traces are key to the success of a design.

Traces on the schematic (and on the board) should display netlist:
A right-click on the schematic should reveal the name of the net on the schematic,
also give ability to rename and or display the name.
On the board it is beautiful to see the net names in the traces - neatly done.

Hovering over a net on the schematic and on the board (with its connected pads) should highlight all of the same named net, even if it is not connected directly, but by name of the net only.
This is to see and prevent errors. It makes the schematic & board
come alive and easy to follow.
This is a major advantage.

Eventually Kicad should also be worked to not need to generate a netlist to export to the board…

Selecting multiple pads in footprint designer should give you an option to change all of their properties like pad size and shape. And. I am missing the octagon shape for a pad.

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Which version are you using? I think most of the features you describe are implemented in v5.1.5

Some of your points are difficult to follow, especially this:

In all EDA software packages, AFAIK, schematic uses “wires”, so you can’t display the net name inside it. in KiCad net names are text items, you can add and remove them as you wish. If you want something else, you should describe it more accurately or maybe give a screencast of an application which does what you mean.

Use the Highlight net tool in the schematic.

Use Control+mouse button click on the layout on a track or pad.

These will be even better in 6.0; you can try with the nightly builds if you want to (with a dedicated test project).

It doesn’t need netlist. Use Tools->Update PCB from Schematic.

You can “Copy Pad Properties” and “Paste Pad Properties” (from context menu->Pads).

This will be easy in 6.0 (or now in nightly builds for testing) by using chamfered pads. See Post-v5 new features and development news.

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Isn’t the name of the net the name of the label on such net? As far as I can see, if I don’t bother to put a label on a net, I’m signaling to the software that I don’t care what name it has. Also, by renaming the label, you technically “rename the net”.

Not as easy or obvious as hovering, but on Pcbnew you can press the ` character and enter into a tool that lets you click on any pad and it highlights all the pads in that net, regardless of connection state. It even lets you change tools while keeping the highlight.

The equivalent on Eeschema is Ctrl+B.

[Pro tip: if you press Ctrl + F1 it opens a window with all the hotkeys for the current program. It even has a search bar, very nice!]

For the time being, I suggest you to try FreeCAD and the awesome Kicad StepUp Workbench plugin. There you can create almost any parametric shape for all of your footprint needs.


KiCad generally has two types of nets. Unnamed nets that get their name during the update pcb from schematic process (or on netlist export) and named nets that get their name from the label with the highest priority.

Talking about “the netname” does not really make any sense when using massive hierarchical designs. When i work inside the low levels of the hierarchy i am not interested in the name given to the net at a higher abstraction layer (That would violate the concept of separated knowledge domains).

As an analogy think about programming. When i define the functionality of a class i really do not care where it is instantiated. All i care about is if the interface behaves as defined by the design specs.

while on this topic: are there (on PCB side) colored nets in 5.1.5 already (I just haven’t found them) - or in the plans for v6?
This is useful for e.g. analog designs to color power-supply nets -V/GND/+V etc.

There are plans for ratsnest coloring for v6 but they haven’t been realized yet.