Why Choose KiCad over Eagle?


No not really. :slight_smile:

I get the convenience part and accept that.

But IMHO it’s a trade-off - you give up control over the output result for a little gain in not having to deal with the gerbers. For some people this is OK, they might not even notice. For others it’s unacceptable, or at least avoidable.

Though - I’m sure I’m guilty of it as well for some things in my life - trading convenience for control. :innocent:


Hi all,

Another important difference: Kicad does support slot holes. Eagle don’t. And the workaround is quite complex, so +1 for Kicad


I put the word “hobbyist” in quotes, not because I wanted to put hobbyists down. I usually frown upon the use of the terms “professionals” and “hobbyists” but I couldn’t think of any better term at the time.

But one sure way to let the fab know that you are a hobbyist is to send them your design files. Use what ever terms you want but that simply isn’t the way it is done 90% of the time. Some fab houses will cater to the hobbyist market by accepting the design files but they are few in number. Gerbers are universal, I doubt there is a fab on the planet that would not accept them.


Call BS all you want, but I’ve seen things like that happen several times.


If you say so, but I would really love to see an example of that. I’ve been making boards since the days of laying tape and stickers on Mylar before exposing the film and I’ve never heard of such a thing. Can’t even imagine a process where that would be possible.

Anyway, I’ve removed that comment from my post in order to not derail this thread any further.


I fear this thread is lost already. About half way down (starting at about post 30 give or take a few) this thread went from answering the question to a wishlist report of unrelated stuff (can still be seen as part of answering the original question). And now we are discussing if it is better to send gerbers or design files. (Yes i am guilty as well)

I think the later discussion could be split from the main topic. @Joan_Sparky (or any other member of @moderators group) what do you think?
Maybe this way we can get more value out of this. (The gerber/design files discussion can be found more easily and this pro/con kicad discussion would get more readable.)
But i’m not sure if it is even possible. (The discussion is mixed in with lots of other stuff. I have no clue how powerful this thread splitting tool is.)


I’ll try tomorrow, unless someone else is faster… too tired today. 400km driving and 6 hours in 30 degree hot damp tropical forest installing electronic gear with mosquitos around is quite a drag :wink:


I also just swapped from Eagle to KiCAD - mostly because of the new license scheme for Eagle. I had a look at KiCAD 2 years ago together with some other alternatives, but at that point I felt nothing came close to Eagle which I had been using since about 1996.

Now I had a new incentive to look at KiCAD while at the same time KiCAD had time to evolve. As one of the first test cases I remade a layout which I had previously made in Eagle - completely from scratch. During this short journey (2 days) KiCAD really grew on me.

Yes, I completely agree that the coordinate system for board layout is a crappy mess, however, I got used to it. Using grids in various units and spacings I first defined my board layout and then it was easily possible to place everything where it should be.

The library structure appears illogical between eeschema and pcbnew - files in a folder versus parts in a file. I am also afraid that everything will fall apart if I moved my installation to a different computer because of the loose binding of directories (Windows edition). I prefer to keep all libraries at a completely different location from the program files, but definitely not where Windows thinks that user files should go. I just didn’t have the time to figure out how to move all libraries and defaults somewhere else.

I ABSOLUTELY like the routing as compared to Eagle and the possibility to change individual pads on the board without affecting the library. Only drawback as already mentioned by others above is the placement of vias - I made a via-device which I placed then, but I ran into problems using “duplicate” or “copy” (what’s the difference?), because it would never grab my via-device.

In short: I will not go back to Eagle.


Try this thread for a start

Somewhere I had posted some more compressed information with screenshots on this, but can’t find it right now.


Thanks for the tips! I will look into those once I have time again. For now I already got used to the current behavior and can live with it. I guess most KiCAD users and developers do :wink:


That’s the reason why a lot of the bad stuff in every (open source) software stays forever. (Ok it is not localized to software. This applies to everything in live. Once you have a workaround it is not worth the effort to “fix” it. Until it really breaks.)


Why choose KiCad over Eagle??..
Well for me it is very satisfying to create a pcb like this… from an open source (free) program :slight_smile:
Which, if I can do it, you can do it. :laughing:
I just finished and sent this to oshpark yesterday. Kicad for Windows V 4.0.5
Most of the footprints were created by me in the footprint editor. I usually start with something close and then edit and save it to my own personal footprint(.pretty) library. I also make heavy use of editing (on the fly from within PcbNew) many of the footprints to slightly change, say, the silkscreen and then quickly save it back to the pcb. Once you get used to doing that, you will find it is VERY convenient. Also make heavy use of uploading the gerbers to oshpark and and then STUDY STUDY STUDY what oshpark shows you on screen. Then go back and fix/change and re-submit the corrected gerbers.
(oshpark side note) Also think twice about ordering more that 3 of your boards before testing them. I just wasted 6 copies of the previous version of this board before catching a major error.


In some military circles this is called “administrative tactics”. Rather than totally eliminating your adversary’s ability to perform some function, you leave enough capability in-place that he can do the job - but very inefficiently. For example, destroying all of the bridges over a particular stretch of river would force your opponent to build new bridges - perhaps with even greater capacity than what you destroyed. But if you leave a few old, low-capacity bridges in place he will tolerate the resulting traffic bottlenecks, tie up more trucks and spend more time driving the extra distance to use the remaining bridges. And perhaps commit more military forces to protecting the newly-created choke-points in his transportation system.

As @Rene_Poschl pointed out, many organizations are hampered by analogous situations.



Ohhh, I like some of those “extra” bits of information such as identifying the pin functions, the reminder about the capacitor mounting (but why not just put a rectangle in the silkscreen?), etc. And the modified 'lytic footprint, so you can use two different lead spacings.



To actually answer the question:

A bunch of years ago, I did a side project for a small company (friends, too, but don’t worry, it was paid, and it continues to pay) which required doing a board layout. I had considered handing it off to my then-employer’s layout person (who also did side gigs) but I figured, what the heck, I can do this. So I looked at various offerings at the time, which were Accel, Orcad, PADS, Ultiboard and EAGLE. We used Accel at the day job, so it was my first choice, and the learning curve would’ve been steep*, but the cost was more than I could afford. The cost for Orcad and PADS were on the same order as Accel.

That left Ultiboard and EAGLE. Trying the latter was easy, because they offered the free version for small designs. And I tried it, and I hated the user interface and I hated the library system. (That the free version was too limited for the design I needed to do was not a consideration.) So I bought Ultiboard 2001 and its companion schematic capture Ulticap (instead of Multisim, which I didn’t need). And it was perfectly fine and I did a bunch of designs with it.

Fast forward a bit, and I’ve migrated most everything from Windows to the Mac. While my copy of Ultiboard ran fine in a Windows XP machine, it clearly was at a dead end (notably it won’t install on Windows 7 and later), even though National Instruments bought the program and was offering upgrades. So I started looking for something new, preferably a package that ran native on the Mac.

First, I considered an Altium license, as it runs well in a virtual machine. But the price is a barrier. So …

There were (still are) actually some Mac options. The Osmond PCB layout program uses the Capilano DesignWorks schematic capture looked interesting, but the pair had, and still does, to an extent, the look and feel of an OS 9 application, which led me to think about whether it was actually still supported.

gEDA was, and to an extent, remains a clusterfuck of unrelated bits and bobs bundled together with duct tape (not even gaffer tape). The M4 macros for libraries? Please, god, no. And it ran on certain flavors of Linux, and wouldn’t run on OS X (I shit you not, there was a dependency of a dependency whose maintainer hated Macs and endeavored to ensure that the package wouldn’t work on that platform), and I think the worst part of it was the common developer response to feature requests: “Why would you want that?” Seriously, that’s the response I got when I suggested putting the net names in the traces and pads. Now gEDA has been forked, but who cares.

EAGLE runs well enough on the Mac, but its user interface is still hateful and its library system is still a mess, and it is still missing features that Kicad has. The interface and the libraries aren’t going to change, so that was that.

At the time, Kicad was still kinda wonky, but it actually compiled on the Mac, and it worked well enough to create boards. And the development process was active and improvements were being made all the time. Now that I have a bunch of designs and a few years of experience with the program, I think you can’t really beat it for what it offers. Certainly, it’s worth paying EAGLE money for.

So that’s my story.

  • “steep” learning curves mean that you learn the topic quickly, not that it is hard! Look at a chart with the X axis as time and the Y axis as knowledge. A steep slope means learning quickly.



Thank you! Yes I am attempting to create a semi universal esp8266-01 board. I figure some may want to use whatever they have in their junk box for the electrolytic. I also included both through hole and smt for the 10uf Tant on the input of the vreg. After I test it out I plan on sharing the design with others and hopefully the extra markings will make the board easier to use for someone who did not eat/sleep/drink the design for several days like I did as the designer. I also added an extra hole for the 3 pin power switch so if someone doesn’t have the same switch they can simply use a 2 pin header with a little push on jumper for power on/off. And the SMD pads are the oversized variety designed for hand soldering.

There is a footprint for a 4 pin 1" oled display and you can install a solder bridge to connect the push button (which also has both through hole and smt pads) to any of the inputs on the esp module.

I find that in many cases it is better to include the component value instead of R1 or C2, etc.

This is about my 5th board design with kicad and I have grown to like it. Although the footprint and schematic library symbol system takes a lot of getting used to. And I make liberal use of the front and back silkscreen text and line/polygon capability to add the various extras.

Probably a good idea to try and design a couple of test pcb projects just to kick the tires and get used to everything.



You have obviously been into electronics, both vocationally and avocationally, for quite a while.

It used to be that back-side silkscreen was a pricey extra-cost option but several board houses now offer it for no-cost or low-cost. Recently, I even had a board fabricator suggest that some information on one of my boards should be moved to a back-side silkscreen layer.



I’m of a similar mind about the need for controlled libraries. Engineers at one company using Protel all had their own libraries, and it was a constant nightmare trying to keep a design usable when someone moved pins around because it was easier than moving the connections. Later we had to undo a lot of that silliness, which cost quite a few weeks worth of labor on a couple of hundred designs, but was an absolute requirement if we wanted to maintain the designs years down the road.

I’m a rank newbie to KiCad, but I’ve used other EDA packages all the way back to the old DOS version OrCAD 4. One feature that Protel had was the ability to export the schematic symbols used in a design into a separate design library (the PCB side always included footprints in the design), which makes it easier to share designs between different people. I get your design PLUS all of the schematic and PCB symbols, so I can see what YOU had immediately. That’s a very handy feature, particularly on a free CAD package that will be used by a bunch of folks across the planet that might want to share designs. Exporting designs through PDF is utterly worthless, as that means you have to re-draw the design from what’s essentially an electronic printed page. It’s OK for a quick look, but I’d like to hand my entire set of designs off to someone and let them go wild.


KiCad has a cache file of the eeschema libraries and embed all footprints inside the pcb board file…

-cache.lib: …​ a local copy of all the symbols used in the corresponding schematic, so that when the folder containing a KiCad project is copied to a different PC, the schematic can still be opened and printed and will still look the same as the original draughtsperson intended - even if that other PC does not have those symbols in its main libraries (or has symbols that coincidentally have the same name but are completely different).

then the project is portable, unless for 3d models… this can be achieved using the same configuration for the ‘KISYS3DMOD’ or using a relative path to project folder through ‘KIPRJMOD’ environment variable


(I don’t know if this qualifies as “Resurrection” or “Necromancy” of this thread, which started as):

I haven’t seen a mention on this Forum, but the official KiCAD Blog reports that one obstacle to migration from Eagle has recently crumbled:

"The KiCad project is proud to announce the support for importing Eagle projects . . . "
Testing: Eagle Import Plugins

I haven’t tried it, and have never been an Eagle user so I don’t have any projects laying around to test the feature with. I’m sure the developers would appreciate any reports - both success and failure - from anybody who can give the feature a try.