Was stuck on creating libraries - Now just general KiCad banter

I am COMPLETELY lost on how in the name of hades a person is supposed to open a library they make. Most of the tutorials have talked about creating a project library, which I have done. After doing that, this library is visable as a project library in Preferences->Manage Symbol Libraries. However the title bar forever shows “no library selected”. Nor does my library appear on whatever the unlabeled list of things is on the left side. I assume those are the libraries but clicking, double clicking, or right clicking offers no option to open them, only to do various things with them.

I’m completely stumped by this interface. Why it is not simply a matter of right-clicking and opening the library I don’t know but I’m lost in this thing. I have no idea how to proceed and most tutorials I have seen must be for older versions because they say to do things that I do not see available to do in the menus.

Frustrating… but I assume I’m not getting something about the thought process that I’m supposed to be using here so if anyone can point me to something that gives me some hints here I’d appreciate it!

I want to use this over DipTrace because it’s Mac native, but it’s not been terribly intuitive thus far. I need to understand the philosophy behind the libraries or I’ll end up with a nightmare.

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The tutorials will take a while to catch up with the new version. I guess the new interface still has some quirks, but less than the old one.

How did you create your library?

  1. I would create a new library in Symbol Library Editor
  2. Click “Create new symbol”
  3. Note that the dialog asks to select a library (if “no library selected” shows in the title bar)
  4. The next dialog asks you to name the symbol
  5. Then save the symbol/library
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For symbol lib stuff take a look at this answer of mine:


Ok, not too intuitive but at least I have a process that seems to work for it now. It’s also slightly different in the footprint editor. I really hope I don’t have to spend too much time in that because it is not terribly fun trying to properly space out the pads in there. I suspect it will get easier as time goes on. I’ve got my first completed PCB under my belt now and it’s starting to make sense to me.

Thanks for the pointers. That helped immensely.

Take a look at my tutorial for footprint creation. There are many options to make this easier. Tutorial: How to make a footprint in KiCad 5.1.x (From scratch)?

TlDr: Use the user grid or the array functionality

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Hopefully you will get here great help from the users of this forum and then things will start to become more logical.
Just a side note, something that “grinds my gears”, KiCad is not a product ( as there is no company, market or economic related activity ) KiCad is an open source software project.


KiCad is indeed a product, since a product is nothing more than the “result of an action or process”. KiCad is the result of the voluntary actions of many people, including yourself, who donate their time and effort, following a well defined process, produce and maintain this fine product we call KiCad.


I disagree, when people say “product” in this context they mean product(1) not product (2). At the very least, it is a very ambiguous term, because an Open Source project is a very different to commercial activity.

noun: product; plural noun: products

an article or substance that is manufactured or refined for sale.
"food products"
    a substance produced during a natural, chemical, or manufacturing process.
    "waste products"
    synonyms:	artefact, commodity, manufactured item/article/thing; More
    creation, invention;
    goods, wares, merchandise, produce, solutions
    "new electronic products"
    commercially manufactured articles, especially recordings, viewed collectively.
    "too much product of too little quality"
a thing or person that is the result of an action or process.

It is interesting how language shapes thought. In the West, our words are oriented to commercial activity. In other cultures they are oriented to community actions.

Anyway, there is no need to use ambiguous terms, we can call it “a program” or “software”. KiCad is not a product in the way most people use that term.


@1.21Gigawatts @bobc nice views on the subject!

My meaning is in the sense of #2, I am aware this is an open source project and a voluntary effort. I still see it as a product. It is produced by open source methods. I do understand how it might ‘grind some gears’ though. I’ll just state that I’m not setting out the expectation that this works like $5000 + yearly subscription software.

It’s really a nice bit of work really. As I said, I’ve nailed down a fairly simple board with it and I’m starting to understand the way the schematic capture and PCB layout works. There are a number of things I like so far better than my experience with DipTrace and I far prefer to natively work on my projects to having to open a Windows VM. The 3D visualization is really nice. I love that the net names are shown in the pads.

I think the library editors are where some weaknesses show. The procedure seems different and as best I can put it "unintuitive’. Most other parts I have been able to figure out pretty easily but the library editors just completely had me stumped. I could see no logical way to make the file I just created the ‘active’ file. That could be made a quick menu click or even have the library I just created be the active library and now I start making symbols. I also think there are some repetitive tasks that could be made easier

I’ve tried it a couple of times in the past and have admit gave it up early because I had difficulty getting my head around how it was organized and what to do. Now that I have put some more serious time into learning it, I’m starting to get the hang of it.

These are just things I’ve noticed that feel difficult to me. That’s not an indictment of the project (how about that word?) or people’s work so please don’t think I’ve come here to trash it. It’s obviously capable software that I intend to learn to use.

I assume you use v 5.0.0. I don’t think anyone ever thought that the library management in 4.0 was a distant relative of intuitive. In the name of hades, don’t use that. The situation could be better even now. But it will definitely be better in future versions.

The situation with 5.0.0 is this: the symbol library editor with the left hand tree panel is completely new. The footprint manager is different, it’s old. The underlying library mechanisms are different between the symbol libraries and the footprint libraries. This is far from ideal.

The footprint editor will be mostly similar to the symbol editor in 5.1. But even then the underlying library mechanisms are still different. That will be changed in 6.0. I believe that then it’s possible to have identical library management for symbols and footprints. And because there will be more experience with the new editors when 6.0 is developed there won’t be so much rough edges anymore.

Thanks for the clarification! My “gears are not grinding” anymore! :relieved:

I agree that there is some process ( specific to this project ) that results on a product of that process.
It is important that people understand the differences involved on the processes from #1 and #2, special and related to this topic, #2 usually misses or do not apply the costumer support and the quality&control.
Q&A are in the feedback control to #1 products to make sure they will fulfill the customers needs and wishes, so they will be happy and keep paying for it.
There maybe other opensources projects that may do/work with kind of Q&A control feedback but not KiCad ( as I see / feel it ).
I think this may help explain why lots of users on your situation end here complaining about KiCad library management :stuck_out_tongue:

I will left here my experience and tips on how did I managed to work with KiCad libraries.
I started using KiCad about 8 years ago. If libraries are bad today could you imagine it during that time?
I never understood why people complain about working with libraries with KiCad because I don’t remember I ever tried to use it.

I learned the file formats of KiCad ( project, symbols, footprints, etc ) and after that, I only use the OS explorer for create, delete, rename, move files and some text editor to add and remove symbols / footprint on the files. :nerd_face:
Then I just use KiCad to graphically edit/draw that symbols / footprint.

Sometimes I even can make changes on symbols/footprints without using KiCad ( eg: change pad names, parameter names or values, etc )

It is faster for me.

I think I’m ready to send this out. It’s a ‘smart’ switch I use in any of my Linux SBC projects to let Linux signal to turn off it’s power. Uses the common “Press to request off, hold to force off” interface. 4 Layers, SOIC, SOT-23, and 805 packages are about as small as I can reasonably do in the home environment. This about a 20% size reduction from my original 2 layer layout.

Thanks for the help getting through the roadblock! I really appreciate it. I can say I moved from “trying to like” to ‘liking’. Seems some of my gripes are already being looked into anyway. I really love the 3D visualizations! That even helps me catch some things I might no notice staring at the CAD interface.


Not unexpected. :wink:

There is nothing in the context of either the title or the OP’s post that implies definition 1.

Even more interesting is those who think they can dictate to the rest of us how to use the English language.

The definition of “product” is pretty clear. Definition 1 as posted above is a specific case and represents a common use of the word, where as definition 2 is the general case that is also common and applies no matter the context, even in mathematics where the “process” is multiplication. A “product” does not even have to be man made. The Grand Canyon is the product of erosion. The energy from the sun is the product of fusion. Do either of those two statements have any commercial context or imply something that is for sale?


Nice board, but unless there are a lot more components on the other side of the board it should be pretty easy to shrink it further if you care about size. Most likely 4 layers are not needed either so with smaller 2 layer board you can save $$ on manufacturing.

Is your design open? I could take a stab at routing this just for fun.

Gasp? No auto router? :wink:

All components on one side is my own constraint. I like using my digital hot-plate to solder it up rather than fight with hot air or a soldering iron. With everything on one side I can just place them, melt them and set them aside I can even populate and solder several at a time. At $15.00 for 10 at 4 layers ($1.50 per)… I’m not going to sweat not needing to fiddle with routing power around. If I dropped the transistors to the back side I could definitely get it smaller.

Let me confirm a few things and I’ll put the project out there.


Gasp? No auto router?


Well if somebody wants a t-shirt like that and wants to support kicad