What is the current plans for improved library management?

From Eli

What is the current plans for improved library management?

I am an Altium user but have been looking seriously at KiCAD. I have observed great strides in the PCB tool. For professional use, some of the tools “at the edges” often are as important as the core PCB routing. One issue is library management as well as BOM & Post processing. One particular library management style is to drive components from some database source. In many cases part families (think passives) share a common symbol but there are thousands of part numbers that can be programmatically generated. In my current tool, I have large libraries that are driven from a datastore so I can have “real” passives with full manufacturer information, etc. In Altium they are call “database libraries”. One can create a library that covers an entire part family pretty quickly. It solves a genuine issue for professionals as all parts put on a schematic should have a fully qualified manufacturer part number, footprint, additional parameters, etc. This ends up driving a BOM that has those parameters included. It is rare for professionals to use “generic” parts as CM’s require a real part number. In the use case of passives, having a way to drive parts from a data store (spreadsheet, SQL) is extremely powerful. Keep in mind this is not the footprint data or symbol drawings database, rather all the metadata that links the information. Orcad/Cadence has a similar system. This makes creation of large libraries really simple as you don’t have 1000’s of copies of the same schematic symbol for your resistor/capacitor/inductor libraries. I feel that some focus on data management side would be a great addition and make integration into professional workflows much simpler.

I have the same problem and am also coming from the Altium world. I set up the parts management system at my current job from scratch using a custom MySQL database holding data and using Alitum’s DBLIBs. It’s far from perfect and we are in need of a more elaborate tie in with supply chain for purchasing and life cycle management, however KiCAD can’t hold a candle to it. KiCAD is great for moving quickly, especially in a team of one, but it breaks down quickly when you need the rigor of qualified parts and a purchasing supply chain. I wish there was an equivalent to Altium’s DBLIB where I can tie together symbols and footprints with metadata to form peaceable parts.

I’ve searched pretty hard and I’ve yet to find a parts management workflow that fits my needs that anyone else has done in KiCAD. Consider this a +1 for your question. It looks like this was asked at KiCon 2020. Is there anywhere I can see if there was a follow up answer?

We’re planning such capabilities for KiCad 7

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Awesome, I’m looking forward to seeing how that fleshes out. Thanks for the answer and keep up all the great work!

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I’m glad to have it in the works and look forward to an early release