Why such bad documentation?

I downloaded KiCad 5 and started to learn what it does and how it does it
The first thing I came across was horrible documentation!
Why? This program has been in development for 27 years, and has this docs to show for it?
For example:
under “1. Schematic Symbol Libraries” , there are only 2 paragraphs!
“If you track the symbol library repository” ? How do you do that?
From the little explanations, I am assuming that the github library is the most up-to-date and complete.
How does one use that instead of the build-in files? Why can’t it create a copy of these files locally for faster access, yet include the link of the files on github when the project is saved?
I gave up looking for YouTube videos from experts on how to do things. I found no experts. They all seemed like learning themselves as they recorded! “Contextual Electronics” Chanel is but just one example.
I am going back to my Protel. It maybe old, but at least it has great documentation and I know how to use the software. No wonder no professional ever uses “Free” software.
This is the problem with open source “Free” software. The documentation makes or breaks a product. Any open source software I’ve tried, lacked good docs and the software was full of bugs that no one wants to work on.
Maybe in another 27 years, you’ll get it right (doubtful).

… the lazy volunteers didn’t properly documented it.

Will you be the first volunteers to proper document KiCad?

  • If your answer is “no”, then you have your answer for the past 27 years.
  • If your answer is “yes”, then we may have the answer for the future!

EDIT: you can ask for a refund if you are really not happy with it :wink:


A typical smart-ass remark without any logic.
How could I document a software I know nothing about?
Go back to your cult activities.
EDIT: This subject is now muted. I don’t have time to argue with cult members.

Your proprietary software don’t have a github repository for new symbols. No way to use the non-existent github repository, no need for documentation how to do it, problem solved.

So, what is your own explanation for open source software lacks documentation?
What do you propose to solve this problem?

The good with the open source software is that people come with goodwill and make great contributions to it, so others can enjoy it.

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@Mai_Mariarti, you may be right for a set of pro-documentation forks. But I’m a forks that don’t really need much from documentations, then this would not be a big deal. I use this software for my work just fine. I’m sure many do to. I never understand what is the definition of professional – it is a relative term, and it change on every one mind.
Each software, require a culture change when you work with them (OrCAD, Mentor Graphic, Protel, Edge, as well as KiCad).
I hope you play with it more, and see the culture by doing, not reading. Just like the culture of each country, they not going to document everything for you.

You certainly did not try very hard.

  1. You could have politely asked a specific question here on the forum.
  2. If you spent a little bit of time looking, you might have seen the blue letters at the top of this forum that read FAQ.
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If anyone see’s any merit in keeping this topic open, send me a PM.
I only see a rant without any good will or effort by the OP to be cooperative.
Probably too set in his tracks and inflexible to adapt to new environments.
We can only help those who want to be helped.


I have Protel 3.6.0 from 1997.
I have seen these:
And said: I’d like to work with PCB that way (with my Protel I can’t) just to have more pleasure from designing.
We have bought Protel few months too early. The next version had the push router. We told the firm who selled us this software that it is not fair that they knew that in few months there will be new (with many changes) version and didn’t told as to wait a moment (these were times without www where you can check everything). The only they offered us was that we can buy next version with 10% discount. But this software was for us much too expensive to pay for it two times.
I am slowly preparing myself to work in KiCad. I have done one PCB with KiCad and then 6 with Protel (as they just have to be done fast).
I think that if you have later Protel version then me there is no reason to move to KiCad now.
I like for example to make my GND connections lines be blue, and VCC (and other power) be red. And during placement to hide my GND connections. Now KiCad don’t have the possibility to colour connections. It will be in V6 I think. There are also other things I think even my old Protel is better then KiCad (I think of possibility to extend any change made to be globall with filtering what global means), but I have no enough practic in KiCad to be sure that it has really no solution to be comparable with it.
The doccumentation was not so bad for KiCad V4. But V5 introduced many good changes but not written in doccumentation yet.
I have read the whole doccumentation for V4 and V5 (I didn’t know it is not up to date) but I think it was waste of time. The better is to just try using and ask here if you don’t know something. You will get help, and links to tutorials for begginers, but you should not make people don’t like you by your criticise KiCad too much.

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The sub-optimal documentation is a known issue. This stems from a lack of manpower as others already pointed out.

We have a few FAQ articles that might get you started.
Particularly Library management in KiCad version 5

@Mai_Mariarti could you point me to the documentation you used? I can not find the passage you list in the online documentation of EESchema.

That one seems to have a quite helpful section about library management: http://docs.kicad-pcb.org/stable/en/eeschema.html#_manage_symbol_libraries