Those who use nightlies: GerbView new features / testing wanted


Hi all,

If you follow the developers’ list, you already know this, but since we are getting ready for 5.0 RC I thought it would be good to post here to get more visibility:

GerbView now supports the GAL (OpenGL / Cairo) graphics engine. You can switch using the View menu just like in PcbNew.

This change is mostly visible as a performance improvement, but there also a few other tweaks:

  • You can pan with the right mouse button
  • The measurement tool is available
  • Selection disambiguation now uses the same highlight effect as PcbNew
  • You can choose arbitrary colors for layers

Any of you who use nightly builds and work with GerbView are encouraged to try this out (use OpenGL unless your computer doesn’t support it) and report any bugs you find to the tracker:



Thanks for your great work Jon :slight_smile:


Looks like a nice enhancement, Jon; thanks, good work. I have not found any issues so far.

I have one comment of more general character, which does not belong in the bugtracker, just something to think about long term, and which also applies to PCBNew: So far we have seen OpenGL canvas only provide non-transparent colors. For routing tracks for instance I find that I usually prefer that. However for a quick overview of a board, I still find the transparency of the Classic canvas quite attractive. In other words, each has it’s strength. I see that even more clearly in GerbView. OpenGL allows one to focus more on each layer selecting one at a time. But it is also nice to have the option of transparency for quick overview and check of alignment. This is of course no problem now or in v5; we will still have the Classic canvas and can switch back and forth. However I am very much aware that the Classic canvas eventually is planned phased out. So that raises the question if adding an option for transparency for OpenGL has been thought of or even is possible? I am not sure if it would need full functionality, perhaps more like a viewing mode would be adequate?


The current nightly already supports transparency for layers in open gl.


Thanks Rene, that was good news, one keeps making discoveries (or rediscoveries) in KiCad. All will not be lost for those who prefer to “permanently” set colors to the transparency of the Classic canvas. However obviously it is not possible to switch back and forth on the fly now. Could it in the future be defined two sets of colors that could be quickly swapped with a left side button without setting it for every affected layer each time?


Do you really want two sets of colors, or just a toggle for transparency?
For 6.0 I’m planning a color theme system including some of the features from software like Altium / Xpedition, which would allow you to quickly toggle between sets of layer colors. I’m also considering playing around with making transparency easier to set (vs. having to go through each layer and adjust the opacity on the layer color).


Setting global transparency would likely be fine if that can be done - one would need to experiment a bit with the transparency to see if individual colors requires different adjustment or not to look good.


It wouldn’t necessarily need to be a single global transparency in the end. I want to play with it and see what makes the most sense. For example, you could have a different transparency setting for the active layer vs. all the other layers, and different transparency for filled zones vs. tracks/pads, and so on.


Yes, and I notice that with default non-transparent colors in pcbnew, during routing the routed track takes on transparency as a means to stand out, while the current net gets highlighted and other nets dimmed.


Kicad nighties for Linux has disappeared, so how can I test it?


Which distro you use? Compiling from source isn’t necessarily too difficult. If you use the latest Ubuntu I can help with that.


Nightlies (that use the launchpad servers) will be back soon. The servers needed to be patched against Meltdown/Spectre.

According to the mailing list this patching has been finished but the waiting list for processing time is so long that it might take a few more days until new nightly builds will be done.


thanks for your explanation.

I use Mint Cinnamon. Accordingly Rene_Poschl’s post I should only patiently wait. Thanks for your help.


My biggest issue with GerbView is inability to switching quickly to a single layer view. I would be happy to see something like high contrast mode in PCBNew or at least a shortcut that would toggle off and on visibility of all other layers except for the current layer. And one more thing, since it is the same software package, it would be fantastic to match the layer colors to those used in PCBNew.


But there is the high contrast mode in GerbView nightlies.

Unless your name is Hildo you can vote for this bug:


I don’t use nightlies so it’s possible they have changed it, but right clicking on the layer manager panel allows you to select “Hide All Layers But Active” or “Always Hide All Layers But Active”.

Middle clicking on the colored square for a layer allows you to change the layers color, which matched the behavior of PCBNew (4.x).

Again, this may have changed in nightlies, I know there was talk of changes to the layer manager of PCBNew but hopefully these changes have also been merged with GerbView.


And one more… more thing. PT and NPTH holes in the OpenGL mode in GerbVew can’t be loaded together - one replaces the other. If I try to load NPTH after PT it will still display all of them, but some of the PT holes get messed up (small size of PT holes shows with the big size of the NPTH)


May be I’m completely dumb, but I don’t see it. I’m using yesterdays nighty.


Thanks! That right click always get’s me. It is like an Easter egg hunt. All useful features are carefully hidden.

My point was that I DIDN"T want to change colors. They should be opened with layer colors assigned from your PCBNew settings.


I have today’s nightly on Windows, it’s in the left side vertical toolbar just like in pcbnew.