Electronics > KiCad

Copper zones won't fill

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--- Quote ---Seriously, it's FREE software
--- End quote ---

That's a can of worms to open!

I don't think reality is allowed to be distorted by something being free. Sure, one is also free to not buy it, but if it sucks dead donkeys then being free only means there is little point in trying to get your money back. And being free doesn't usually prevent someone from taking pride in their work.

However, in the specific case of Kicad, it is targeted to be as good as commercial offerings. Users expect a certain amount of professionalism from the developers, and the developers would be silly to disregard that - look at how it and other packages languished in the foothills of hobbydom until some higher purpose (aka an entity with funds and a need) either took over or steered the direction. Without CERN, Kicad wouldn't be the high quality product it is today. And it's important to recognise that it is the quality that makes Kicad desirable, not the free-ness (you can get Altium for free if you really want).

Open-source developers deserve our thanks and some leeway, but if they can only turn out good stuff when they are paid developer rates, perhaps they should be looking for a more suitable project.

Well, yes and no.
Most projects work in a constrained resource environment (unless it's Moon landing or Manhattan project). So they need to prioritize on where they allocate the resources. I think the KiCAD project made a good decision on focusing on actual development than writing help files. Why?
First while you correctly state that user documentation is part of software development, but it is not done by the same people in any serious project. I think you get better bang for the buck by spending CERN donation on software developers than on technical writers. Being an open source project it is accepted if not even expected to have a community based help and support. So I don't think much is lost by some unfinished help files.
Second by actually having the TODO in the help file, I think the development team acknowledges that there are thinks still to be done, instead of just sweeping things under the carpet. Would it be any better if instead of "TODO: write the help" you would have "On this page you set the parameters for zone fills." Like we see too often in professional software where there is a one sentence description for a window with 4 dozen fields and buttons.
Should they have not released 6.0 until all TODOs are removed? No. It's much better for the momentum of the package to go forward with features, usability and reliability  by focusing resources on them.
At least this is my opinion. YMMV.

I do have different requirements and expectations. For years I used Altium (paid for by employer.) If something was missing from the documentation then I called them. We paid some thousands of USD per year for support and I felt entitled to support.

But I know that documentation is always the last thing to get done. The developers could have held off an official release of V6 until the docs were ready, but they decided not to wait. Ideally, someone with experience in technical writing would have volunteered to work on the help files while the code was being written, but evidently there was no such person. Instead, as is often the case with software like this, the coders are going to end up writing the help files, but they've been busy.

So, yeah, cut them some slack. These days as an independent consultant I use Kicad professionally. It's not perfect (neither is Altium) but I use it and am grateful that it works as well as it does. FWIW, I installed V6 on the day it was released. I've spent some time with it, but continue to use V5.10 to complete projects that I was already working on.


--- Quote from: eugene on January 06, 2022, 05:54:46 am ---
--- Quote from: Cerebus on December 30, 2021, 02:12:38 pm ---
--- Quote from: Simon on December 30, 2021, 08:18:53 am ---why do you think the developers think it is finished?

--- End quote ---

Well, call me old fashioned, but when you've gone through two release candidates, then you bump the version number and make a release announcement it's becuase you've got a complete, finished fully functional product. Sure, you may have plans for the next version, but that shouldn't include "complete the help files for the previous version".

--- End quote ---

You're free to continue using V5.1 until you've decided that V6 is finished, no matter how you define 'finished.'

EDIT: That sounded snarky, and to be completely honest, I might have wanted it to. But, you have been arguing that the developers gave a version of the software the title of "released" when (in your opinion) they should have waited until a later version. OK, well, if that's not just semantics, then it's not far from just semantics. So, if you disagree with the developers that's your prerogative. Just wait until we get to the version that you would have released and start using that.

Seriously, it's FREE software. You should be supporting the developers. Start a college fund for their kids, or maybe just be kind and show appreciation for the hundreds of hours that many of them have individually contributed. It's OK to scoff off the retort "if you don't like it then fix the code yourself." But here we're just talking about a situation where you think they bumped the revision number before they should have. C'mon, really?

--- End quote ---

All the usual FOSS fanboy tropes, yet no acknowledgement that software without documentation is not finished and not worthy of being regarded as of release quality. Why oh why, do the FOSS fanboys always counter any criticism, no matter how valid with "It's free, you should be grateful." and characterise any criticism as moaning?

By the way, "semantics" doesn't mean what you thinks it means.


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