Schematics: moving component and straightening wires etc

I’m completely new to Kicad and wanted to try it out. I have made 100s of PCBs professionally.
I normally have a quick play with new software to get a feel for it. My initial impressions are poor but I’m intrigued why the interface is so strange!
For example:

  1. as I change modes; wiring, add symbol, add text etc the mouse icon doesn’t change to indicate the mode (apart from an arrow for edit mode) This is so simple to implement and valuable feedback in a GUI for ease of use.
  2. I connect a couple of components and click and drag a component and it becomes disconnected from the nets (OK I now know that I should press G first) The most important feature of a schematic diagram is the nets - why doesn’t using a mouse work like every other graphics program I use - and move the component while retaining the connectivity?
  3. I move a component and get connections rubberbanded! Why would anyone want this to happen? Surely the component should move and connections move as required and keep horizontal and vertical.
  4. Once I have angled connections how do I neaten the them?- a right click and select ‘tidy connections’ would be nice or is it just easier to delete connection and start again?
  5. I can’t see what item is selected due to a lack of highlighting.
  6. Selecting an item with a key press (such as G) and then having the item move around with a mouse movement rather than a click and drag I find extremely weird and unintuitive.
  7. CTRL click to add components to a selection isn’t implemented
    I’ve made a simple design and have the components in the PCB editor but have stalled because I have lost confidence in a program that I find so unintuitive. Please can someone explain what I’m doing wrong! Do I just stick with the weirdness and eventually get used to its peculiarities?

Sure. Some of the things you have mentioned will be improved in the next version, and I think user friendliness will continue to improve over time.

I rarely use CAD tools professionally, but every one I use seems to have a weird interface which requires time to learn, so I don’t discount KiCad for that. And I am glad I chose to learn KiCad instead of Eagle.

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Indeed the editing paradigm of eeschema in v5.1 is legacy from 90’s. It has been completely changed in v5.99 (the unstable development version leading to v6) so that it follows the normal UI paradigm of selecting items and acting on them. You can try the nightly builds to test this. At least numbers 1, 5, 6 and 7 (using Shift) are there.

No one wants this to happen, but KiCad is work in progress and this is just another thing which hasn’t been implemented yet. Please take some time to give a thumb up to features you especially want to be implemented because development is at least partly driven by these user votes.

I started using KiCad as my first EDA, followed a tutorial shortly and then learned by investigating and trying out etc. I didn’t find it difficult at all, although weird. I’m happy the developers took time to re-implement the whole editing system of eeshcema for version 6. Eventually there’s always something you just have to accept, but development goes on and you can even affect it.

For 4. If you have angled connections in Eeschema you can drag them (G short key) by a corner.

I never had much problems with learning KiCad. I found it quite easy and intuitive, (although maybe a bit strange). When I started with KiCad (I think it was V3) there were some serious bugs in the library management but that was years ago.

The weirdest thing you have to know and have to account for is that Eeschema (at least up to V5.1.x) works with “perfect coordinates”, and this pretty much means you have to put all schematic symbols on a grid of “50” and wires too.

In KiCad-nightly V5.99 some limited snap ability is starting to be implemented.


Thanks - G for angled connections works!
I want be able to use KiCad but it’s a little more frustrating than it should be for new starters!
I’ll keep playing and wait for version 6.0 - it doesn’t sound like it’s too long to wait…
does anyone use KiCad for manufacture by Eurocircuits - they are supposed to directly accept design files?

That is very well said.

I do think that aI123456 should try 5.99. Might find it encouraging.

yes that’s a good idea - I’ve searched for a download link for 5.99 but can’t find one!
Do I need to build it from the source?

See the “nightly builds” in (provided that you use Windows).

thanks - I hadn’t realised it had installed 5.99 and left 5.19 still installed and working.
The highlighted selection and multiple selection is great. It just needs the orthogonal mode for connections working and automatic removal of orphan lines.
An improved, more consistent concept of ‘nodes’, ‘segments’ and ‘nets’ behind the scenes of connections would help I’m sure…

It’s a bit off-topic, but anyone claming the KiCad’s editor to be “unintuitive” must have never used LTSPICE.
(got goose-flesh only by thinking of it)
Anyway, lots of progress is done in 5.99 indeed, but even current 5.1 is more than suitable for everyday work. I’ve started around BZR-3256 (“Kicad 3”) and it got massively improved since.

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These two are a bit contradictory, but I know what you mean. I actually like the rubberbanding, as it prompts you to reconsider the net layouts after dragging a component.

What I’ve experienced with KiCAD is, that you need to use the right mouse key intensively to get a feel for the move/drag/select/properties possibilities. When you’re an ace, you can use the key shortcuts.

Regardless of right mouse or short cut, I don’t think what OP is asking for (clicking just a part and having it ortho-drag nets) is available. And I agree w/OP that coming from other cad systems, it’s pretty surprising.

OP: you can sometimes accomplish this by selecting the surrounding nets AND the part before dragging. For a part with lots of nets, this might be problematic though.

Thanks for the friendly, helpful responses on the forum everyone!
After trying the latest version I think I’ll come back and have another look at using KiCAD after the next update…

Welcome Al,

  1. I agree.
  2. Press the M key to move a piece.
  3. Apparently that is too hard to program without visually disrupting
    the appearance by dragging wires overtop components to which they are not connected. I haven’t tried.
  4. I just delete and start over. Maybe somebody else knows a way
    to reprogram a tidy wiring function. I doubt it.
  5. That is probably the worst thing of all. If a highlighted piece is
    NOT visible, it is logical to assume the piece is now offscreen due to zooming and/or panning. But is this ALWAYS true?
  6. That is news to me! If Ctrl- does NOT append the pointed-at piece to the list of highlighted pieces, how is it done?

I do think designers should try to solve at least one of these “unintuitive” attributes of kicad to use your adjective before moving on to coding more complex user actions. But that’s easy for me to say, as I am not trying to code it. Maybe some of these attributes could be fixed by programming a “Repaint Screen” button ? (assuming a display list is used)

I would think it would be easier to recode any one of these weird display attributes before the code becomes larger, as opposed to waiting until more features are added. But perhaps some of these attributes are insoluble due to reasons unclear to me. Or perhaps fixing one of these attributes might introduce an additional complexity to the user interface that is not readily apparent.

kicad 5.1.19 is the last stable version of kicad, I am told. 5.99 is as-is, meaning if you might find parts broken off or not-working correctly, don’t complain ! Maybe “experimental” would be a better adjective. I haven’t tried it myself.

I should mention that the kicad < UNDO-last operation > function that seems to work consistently well, AFAIK. That is a superb feature! I very much appreciate having it.

Just my opinion.

You mean 5.1.9 is the current latest. Nine, not nineteen.

OOPs! Yes, I mean kicad 5.1.9. Thanks for correcting me, SembazuruCDE.

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One way I’ve found to “snip” part of a schematic to move elsewhere on the canvas is to drop a bunch of junction dots on the lines into the section you want to move… then just draw a lasso that captures all the parts and leads, then drag away.

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