Trying to make atomic part

I have created a schematic symbol, pcb footprint and 3D part for a component.
For my convenience I wish to make the part atomic, that is to say, symbol, footprint and 3d shape all linked.

I’m having trouble with the symbol-footprint association:
In schematic library editor, I have added the footprint to the footprint filter field in the properties dialog. I used the correct def format “FootprintLibrary:FootprintName”.

This seems to have added the following lines to the .lib file:

When I add the part in Eeschema, the footprint field is blank. I have to run CvPcb to make the association.

I wonder if footprint filter list is not the correct place to make the atomic art footprint definition.


In the “Library Editor” click on the black capital “T” icon to open the “Field Propberties” dialog. Then:
“Add Field” to add new fields, or set the Footprint field to the default you want to use.

Save library. and use it.

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Perfect, thank-you!

BTW, I notice that there is a field for Documentation in the Component Properties->Description tab, and also a field for Datasheet in the Field list you mentioned. How are these different? Do users tend to paste the datasheet url in both fields?

Just went throug the KiCad reference manuals, because I also wanted to more about how the datasheet links actually work.

The “*.dcm” file apparently has something to do with links to the datasheets.
“datasheet” is written as 2 separate words in the documentation: “data sheet”, (But I searched only for the string “data”.

In the past I have experimented breefly with the “Datasheet” field by putting a full path name there, and that worked, but what I wanted was to just put the part name there, and put the path name in some default configuration file. I don’t know how that works, and did not spend much time on it.

When searching through the KiCad reference manuals, I found very few references to the data sheet stuff and that did not help either.

For the moment this is a dead end for me.
This close to the release of KiCd V5 it does not seem smart to put much effort in this.

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Thanks for the insight. Looking forward to V5.


Currently the datasheet should be put in the field list. The other is a remnant of old times, there was a brief discussion about it in the developers mailing list.

But for now it works like this: If there is a datasheet in the describtion, but not in the field list. The describtion value will be copied over to the field list.

If there is a value in both, the field list value stands. All functionality like open datasheet etc is using the one in the field list now.

I am talking about the upcoming v5 release now :slight_smile:

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@TotalKrill Has anything changed in KiCad 5 on updating fields in an existing schematic?

Once I did some research to find out how the exact behaviour is implemented. Those days I’ve documented my results in a German wiki post:

The main drawback I saw there while thinking about an atomic library, is that nothing gets updated automatically from the library, except for the symbol drawings.

EDIT: in other programs like Sketchup and Inkscape there are many options on how to copy/link objects. Perhaps something like this could be helpful in KiCad too. 2018-05-02_003

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