Vote for your Preferred KiCad tutorial formats

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@bobz suggested a poll might be interesting to see what media are preferred …

so, here is a poll… (This may not work as its the first time I’ve tried this feature!)

I fully expect a mixed response and I have a feeling that there are some areas which benefit from sitting down and reading through to understand and there are some features which you just need to see a quick demo.

Anyhow, here goes;

What format do you prefer KiCad tutorials to take?

  • I prefer Video tutorials
  • I prefer Written tutorials

0 voters

For video tutorials on YT it’s preferable if CC are enabled by the uploader (whether real subtitles or auto-generated) because … → Open transcript allows to search and jump using text, and allows to auto-translate into 100+ languages.


Sorry, I think it’s not a binary choice, you should have an It Depends option. There are situations where one is better than the other.

When the information conveyed is mostly descriptive, or you want to read it through at your own speed, jump to particular points, maybe read multiple times, written is better.

When the information is visual, for example how to open an external hard disk case to shuck the disk drive inside, a video is easier because you can see for yourself the locations and appearance of objects. With words, you have to write things like look for the screw that is to the left of the logo, etc. etc. With a picture you just point to it.

Of course if would be even better if both media could be combined. Why can a tutorial not have both? You could have pictures and short videos interspersed in the text, or videos that have transcripts. You see a lot of the latter in MOOCs like those on Coursera or edX. Of course it’s a lot of work for the course developer, but we’ve had multimedia for decades.

The reason is of course many people think they can just turn on their smart phone and start blabbing away. So I have a preference for written because I’m tired of talking heads in videos where you don’t know how much longer you have to listen to the instructor before they get to what you want to know. If there were an accompanying transcript, it wouldn’t be so bad.


Oh speaking of automatic transcripts, I used to have a good laugh at all the things KiCad got transcribed to in YT videos: KitKat, keycard, kid cat, keep cup, and on and on it goes.


Combination of text and video: a written tutorial with links to short video demonstrations. Videos would have handwritten subtitles without KitKat chocolate bars (which I have laughed at, too) and also overlay titles which tell which step it’s in. Then there could be all the short videos combined which essentially present the written tutorial, or some larger part of it, in a continuous video.

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Thank you, John!

Additional nonsense here to clear the bar of minimum character count…

I don’t seem to be able to vote, or maybe I’m doing it wrong.

But if I could vote, it would be 100% for written tutorials. Takes one tenth the time to find key information as opposed to listening and watching someone drone on in a video.


The results are up, so I think the survey has

The results are up, so I think the survey has closed.

If I get your gist, something describing motion (such as maybe how to flip pancakes or stir batter) in a cooking video that makes sense. But I don’t see that as being so relevant to running KiCad. One subtle but important thing seems to differentiate a lot of software:

To run an early Microsoft GUI menu, you needed to click at each step of a menu tree. I actually preferred that over the newer Microsoft interface:

In newer Microsoft GUI menus the trajectory of the cursor matters. Just the cursor position pulls up the next level of the menu tree. I do not like having to control the cursor trajectory in the manner required. Most of us never received any instruction on that, but I suppose that a video might be helpful if instruction were needed. I just want to poke the menu in the right place, never mind how I got there.

Many KiCad keyboard shortcuts seem to act immediately upon pressing the keyboard instead of having to click the mouse after pressing the keyboard shortcut key. If KiCad differed in the opposite direction (that is to say that a lot of other software acted immediately while KiCad required a subsequent mouse click) then beginners might wonder why nothing was happening and some written instructions might be helpful.

But you also have to take into account that memorisation of a series of steps is more vivid when you have seen it done. E.g. say you want to demonstrate how to generate gerbers, A short 30 second video showing the places to click and options available is better than a textual description. And this doesn’t need a camera, there are screen video capture apps.

Video tutorials are OK when visuals is the priority.
There are two major drawbacks of video tutorials for me:

  • lack of search/indexing (to find what’s important to me),
  • risk of incompatibility between screencast pace and individual reception pace (to put it in other words, the video may be too quick (=frequent pausing and rewinding) or too slow (=boring)).
    With a written document I can usually quickly find what’s interesting for me, and adjust the learning speed to my taste.

However, creating a proper quality written document, with helpful screenshots here and there, with emphasised focus point, is (IMO) much more time consuming.

Video tutorial is today’s “Fastfood” in learning domain, at least for such knowledge as discussed here.

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You know that YT videos have speed controls, right? As do Coursera and edX videos. I often set the speed at 1.5x.

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Why assume a tutorial must be one or the other? Text with embedded video for clarity?

Yes and not. The nature of real-time video will be boring bridges between real actions, because that’s how things work. Of course video can be heavily edited and cut from pieces, but I assume most folks will think of realtime screencast as a video tutorial. And realtime will mean both boring (obvious, mechanical actions) and too fast (where lot of things happens).
Anyway, written form gives me more freedom. Written with embedded videos to show certain things for which video is the most convenient way of conveying knowledge, even better.


The tutorial format I find totally useless is the video where you watch a mouse pointer wander around a screen, clicking here and there, with no narration or other explanation of what is happening. Especially when it’s a 30 minute video demonstrating many “features” of an application.

Otherwise, I can learn from just about anything.


The real problem is that making a video looks easy but actually requires devotion to good execution which few do. In the absence of expertise which pedagogists have worked out long ago it’s better to KIS with illustrated text. Perhaps the reason some turn to making videos is shortage of writing skills which also requires effort.


If someone wants to try creating a good video, taking screencasts for bug reports or forum answers is very good practice. Try to think from a viewpoint of someone else, think about the pacing, avoid unnecessary mouse moves and clicks etc. I haven’t even tried talking at the same time. If you’re self-critical you will very quickly notice that it requires planning beforehand, several attempts and much more work than just walking through some steps. For actual instructional videos post-editing is of course necessary.


The standard should be a video accompanied by a walkthrough that covers each step. I think videos are really great for learning, but don’t expose enough search terms to be of use to people looking to implement a specific thing. By also including a walkthrough or small article, if someone wanted to only understand a certain concept, they’d be able to locate that step and carry on. For example, if there’s a tutorial focused on some larger design, someone might only want to know what it takes to mark edge vias to cut (in order to make a castellated module, for example). A user would at least be able to locate and use that portion of the video provided the article covers that step.
Generally speaking, in terms of searching, written articles trump videos by quite a lot.

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I learned how to use KiCad from Shawn Hymel’s KiCad 4.7.x series he did for Digikey. I truly hope a similar series happens for KiCad 6 which walks through making symbols, footprints, a schematic, PCB layout, creating gerbers, previewing them, and then ordering a PCB.

Unfortunately, in a blow to accessibility and disabled users, YouTube took away user-submitted captions last year, putting all the onus on video uploaders to provide subtitles and translations to other languages. YouTube was either unaware or doesn’t care at how many thousands of of volunteer hours were invested in captioning and translating useful videos.

YouTube and Android’s AI-generated captions are total crap when faced with anything but slow, clear, plain jargonless English. In other words, unboxing videos.