Question about features and versions of KiCad


firstly I would like to say, that I am a huge fan of KiCad. Personally I’ve been using Eagle, followed by gEDA and than switched over to KiCad about half a year ago. At my job we are using Altium Designer 16 but there is still a lot I like about the workflow of KiCad.

Having that said, I am very confused about the versions and features of KiCad. Some days ago I updated from version 2016-05-02 BZR 6765 to the current version 4.0.4 just to realize that some features were missing:

  1. In cvPCB there was a filter option next to a text field called “Filter footprint list using a partial name or pattern” which i found hugely helpful and very intuitive. And now, in 4.0.4, this filter simply is missing.

  2. In PCBnew after importing a new netlist all new parts were neatly parsed and I could place them with my cursor. This feature has gone as well. All new footprints are stacked on top of each other.

  3. I like to use rounded rectangles for my own footprints. They look nice. But after updating to 4.0.4 I could neither use my old libraries nor could I place rounded rectangles as pads.

I was wondering why my older version of KiCad had more features than the current one. Where can I get an updated version of my old 2016-05-02 BZR 6765?

Thanks in advance!

PS: I am running KiCad on a Mac using OS X 10.11.6:

Application: kicad
Version: (2016-05-02 BZR 6765)-product, release build
Libraries: wxWidgets 3.0.2
libcurl/7.43.0 SecureTransport zlib/1.2.5
Platform: Mac OS X (Darwin 15.6.0 x86_64), 64 bit, Little endian, wxMac

  • Build Info -
    wxWidgets: 3.0.2 (UTF-8,STL containers,compatible with 2.8)
    Boost: 1.57.0
    Curl: 7.21.4
    KiCad - Compiler: Clang 7.0.0 with C++ ABI 1002

The info captured is not 4.0.4, but from a build back in May ?

The release blog does say this
“The stable release version 4.0.4 is made from the stable 4.0 branch with bug fixes cherry picked from the development branch of KiCad.”
which means stable release versions may be subsets of the nightly builds, which I see are running at ~r7135

4.0.4 has basically no new features above 4.0.0 from around the new year.
The nightlies do have new search, 3d viewing, rounded rectangles etc, but are not quite trusted not to mangle your files

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Thanks for your quick reply!

So if I would like to upgrade to a newer version of KiCad featuring the functions of my old build 2016-05-02 BZR 6765 I should look at the nightly builds only? When will these features hit the stable branch?

Correct. Unfortunately a new stable upgrade version rather than just bug fix is a long way off. I use nightly for real work and keep one machine with stable to check on problems raised on this forum


I have been doing this for about a year now. Never had any significant problems with the nightly builds. (Running KiCAD under Win7/64 on 3 machines.)



The features will be in the stable branch at the next stable release (KiCad 5). In the latest plans KiCad 5 will be released after some major rework on eeschema, so I’m betting we won’t see a new release for about a year. Some other devs feels the same way and some are mumbling about an intermediate ‘4.5’ release with all the new toys or even an early 5.0 release with the completion of eeschema set for version 6. It won’t be long now before the latest nightly builds have the OCE plugin enabled by default so users will be able to use STEP and IGES files directly; hopefully the ‘kicad2step’ tool will also be merged. kicad2step is a stand-alone command-line tool but a menu item will be added so that the tool can be invoked via a GUI.


I certainly hope we don’t have to wait a year to see the interactive router become at least as useful as the default canvas. Trying to make use of the interactive router, since it does have some nice features, actually slows you down because you are constantly switching back and forth. The most basic features of the default canvas are missing from the OpenGL canvas. Eeschema works fine as it is, I would rather see them finish PCBNew!

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I would take a snapshot of nightly when the mechanical interface is stable and is building on all platforms and declare it 4.5.0

Allowing nightly and stable to drift too far apart causes confusion to new users and results in most serious users running nightly. This is not wise for stability and also eats ppa server bandwidth

Well said.

In the same way, 3-D visuals are eye-catching but of very limited practical usefulness. (And that assumes you have a full set of accurate 3-D models on hand. It’s difficult enough just to keep the footprint libraries up to date!) I’d give up the whole 3-D capability in exchange for an OpenGL display with all the normal features working.


The rounded rectangle pads and the cvPCB search box are the day to day essentials for me

What are you missing in the OpenGL canvas? Whenever someone asks on the developers’ list we don’t get much of a response.

Some people use the 3D VRML files to eventually produce 3D models for other purposes. I never use the VRML files because I have no use for them; I did use the IDF models but even they were such a nuisance that I eventually wrote tools to create STEP assemblies which I need for almost all my projects. There still aren’t many developers who contribute regularly and the developers that do tend to concentrate on features that they need for work, so progress is usually slow on just about everything.

Time for a “sticky” on the differences, perhaps?

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I am on my way out at the moment but I will reply to this a bit later, need time to compile the list. :slight_smile:

Here’s a list of some of the missing/inconsistent features between default canvas and OpenGL canvas.

  1. While routing a track backspace does not undo the last corner.
  2. With the track/via tool selected delete/backspace do not delete tracks/segments.
  3. With the track/via tool selected Undo does not work from either the Edit menu or CTRL+Z.
  4. With no tool selected (selecting the arrow from the top of the tool bar) backspace still does nothing but delete will delete track segments, not the whole track.
  5. With no tool selected “Break Track”, “Select Working Layer”, etc. are missing from context menu when right-clicking on an empty area.
  6. “Break Track”, “Set Flags”, etc. missing from the context menu when right-clicking on a track.

Yeah, we need something like that + someone to nag occasionally. Better still if someone could just step in and do it. :slight_smile:

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4.1.0 is behaving badly right now 4.1.0 Pcbnew slow for rendering changes (solved)

This is why an intermediate 4.5.0 stable would be a good idea. Sooner or later nightlies bite

I am too aware that 4.1.0 is unofficial. There was some discussion above about a possible intermediate release as “5.0.0” is far in the future after the Eeschema rewrite and 4.0.4 is strictly a bug fix only on the 4.0.0 from last year, so missing several new and now stabilised features