Author Topic: KiCad 6 is coming!  (Read 23282 times)

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Offline Karel

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Offline thinkfat

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2021, 11:55:56 am »
Manually exporting the net list was never a thing with KiCad 5 either. I cannot remember ever having to do it. I always used "Update PCB from Schematic".
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Offline Whales

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2021, 12:08:21 pm »
Kicad 6?  Chrome is already up to version 88 and Firefox 84, Kicad really needs to catch up.

On a more serious note: it looks like a lot of interface changes have occurred, I'll have to see how they feel in-person.  I really hope eeschema's background colour hasn't changed to grey as the screenshots suggest.


Thinkfat is right about the update PCB from schematic stuff:

Quote
To be fair, in KiCad 5, the “Update PCB from Schematic” button did exist, under the Tools menu. But in KiCad 6, the transition to a netlist file-less workflow is complete.

What was incomplete about it previously?  It works fine in 5.1.8 and it's on the toolbar, not just hidden in a menu.  Maybe an error/oversight in this article (it's a really big article)?

Offline janoc

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2021, 12:24:51 pm »
Manually exporting the net list was never a thing with KiCad 5 either. I cannot remember ever having to do it. I always used "Update PCB from Schematic".

You still could do it and it was sometimes useful - e.g. when you didn't want to delete some components that weren't in the schematic on netlist update. And before version 5 it was the only way to do things. The "Update PCB" button only automated the workflows of exporting the netlist and reloading it in the PCB editor.
 

Online SiliconWizard

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2021, 05:00:16 pm »
Kicad 6?  Chrome is already up to version 88 and Firefox 84, Kicad really needs to catch up.

On a more serious note: it looks like a lot of interface changes have occurred, I'll have to see how they feel in-person.  I really hope eeschema's background colour hasn't changed to grey as the screenshots suggest.


Thinkfat is right about the update PCB from schematic stuff:

Quote
To be fair, in KiCad 5, the “Update PCB from Schematic” button did exist, under the Tools menu. But in KiCad 6, the transition to a netlist file-less workflow is complete.

What was incomplete about it previously?  It works fine in 5.1.8 and it's on the toolbar, not just hidden in a menu.  Maybe an error/oversight in this article (it's a really big article)?

I'm not quite sure yet how far they have gone with this "change". Yes, it was already available before. BUT... I think behind the scene, they were still using netlists. I suspect the change is that now they are using some kind of internal data instead of netlists, or something.

I remember it was discussed on the Kicad forum last year - particularly, I was making the point that netlist -> PCB was a useful feature for people willing to use the PCB editor without using the schematic editor (I was working on a schematic-less design tool that would export to a Kicad netlist).

Some people on the forum assured me they would just make the schematic -> PCB more "seamless" (still not completely sure what they really added in v6), but that they wouldn't remove the "netlist import" feature in PCBnew. But I was still concerned that they would now have little incentive to maintain the netlist import feature, and that in time, it might become not up-to-date and eventually would disappear. Which would frankly SUCK.

Anyone knows for sure if the netlist import in PCBnew will still be supported in v6?
« Last Edit: January 23, 2021, 05:02:23 pm by SiliconWizard »
 

Offline janoc

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2021, 08:32:05 pm »
I doubt that they removed the netlists completely - netlist is not only for the PCB design but also for things like circuit simulation (which, BTW, KiCAD supports as well).

In the new version the manual netlist generation is available under File->Export->Export Netlist from the schematic editor.
 
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Offline gnuarm

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2021, 12:33:03 am »
I haven't checked the version 6 release but I believe it now contains the Altium importer.  We had to use that on a project recently by using the nightly builds and it worked... not perfectly, but better than naught.  I expect a few more of the issues have been resolved with the release.
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Online james_s

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2021, 04:57:58 am »
On a more serious note: it looks like a lot of interface changes have occurred, I'll have to see how they feel in-person.  I really hope eeschema's background colour hasn't changed to grey as the screenshots suggest.

I would assume it's configurable. The default in the older versions is blinding white, I always change it to black first thing after installing, I'd be shocked (and really annoyed) if they took away the ability to customize colors.
 

Offline phil from seattle

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2021, 08:16:49 am »
In reading the article, I get the sense that this is more an internal change (S expressions uber alles) and some visual candy.  Now that I've got all the obscure aspects memorized, time to change! Hopefully it will be easy.

It doesn't look like they put effort into simplifying the libraries - it took me a while to figure it all out but is way more convoluted than it needs to be.  Especially if you want to distribute a kicad design. There really needs to be a button that packages up all the lib elements for distribution. Something that Eagle does automatically since like 2005. I find missing symbols and footprints in all sorts of Kicad files out there. Annoying to have to chase them down, if you even can. Still haven't found the Pico's USB connector symbol.

I also hope they made managing design revisions easier but it doesn't look like they did. Again, something that is trivially easy in Eagle.
 

Online james_s

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2021, 08:25:54 am »
IIRC there is a library cache file you can package up that does more or less that. It's certainly not the most convenient or intuitive thing though. KiCad has warts for sure, although I'm used to most of them by now and Eagle has one much bigger and nastier wart that I can't work around, that is the licensing.
 
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Offline pidcon

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2021, 02:24:11 pm »
This is very good news. I hope in the future when the software is as mature as other established open source software, they would offer a Long Term Support (LTS) version.
 

Offline gsocker

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2021, 02:39:52 pm »

It doesn't look like they put effort into simplifying the libraries - it took me a while to figure it all out but is way more convoluted than it needs to be.  Especially if you want to distribute a kicad design. There really needs to be a button that packages up all the lib elements for distribution. Something that Eagle does automatically since like 2005. I find missing symbols and footprints in all sorts of Kicad files out there. Annoying to have to chase them down, if you even can. Still haven't found the Pico's USB connector symbol.

The new schematic file format embeds the symbols used. This should completely eliminate the missing symbols issue. From the PCB side, footprints have been embedded in the PCBnew file since at least V5.

On a more serious note: it looks like a lot of interface changes have occurred, I'll have to see how they feel in-person.  I really hope eeschema's background colour hasn't changed to grey as the screenshots suggest.

I would assume it's configurable. The default in the older versions is blinding white, I always change it to black first thing after installing, I'd be shocked (and really annoyed) if they took away the ability to customize colors.
Color schemes are now JSON files and can be selected in the preferences. The EESchema default background color (if an older configuration wasn't imported) is now something along the lines of the one in "Solarized Light" themes.
There is a collection at https://github.com/pointhi/kicad-color-schemes
 
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Offline janoc

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2021, 02:42:25 pm »
This is very good news. I hope in the future when the software is as mature as other established open source software, they would offer a Long Term Support (LTS) version.

You mean a software that has been around for over 30 years (not kidding - KiCAD was started in 1992) and has a major and still backwards compatible release only every 2-3 years (e.g. Kicad 4 series started in 2015, Kicad 5 in 2018 ...) is not mature "as other established open source software" and needs an LTS version? Seriously?  :palm:

What for, exactly? And if you still do need one (even though you can always keep an installer of an old version around - it is not like an OS which if you use an old version you could get instantly hacked) - are you willing to pay for it?

Maintaining an old version of the software costs developer time and money. KiCAD isn't something like Ubuntu where there is a corporate sponsor with a millionaire owner behind it financing it and where the long term support is needed because you can't change your server OS every 3 years. And even the Ubuntu LTS versions are supported only for 5 years from the date of first release.

Another case in the point - Qt toolkit developers TrollTech have recently announced that their LTS versions will be available only to paying clients. Guess why. It does cost a non-trivial amount of resources to maintain.
 

Offline Yansi

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2021, 03:10:00 pm »
My main concern is, whether the new 6th version of KiCAD can:

a) SELECT MULTIPLE OBJECTS and CHANGE a COMMON PROPERTY  (like a text size, via diameter,  trace width, etc.). Without this, it is still a toy PCB CAD. Having to click hundreds of objects one by one, making 5 clicks or so to change a trace width or whatever, is beyond annoying.

b) MAKE CURVED TRACES.  My first task in KiCAD at my former employer was to draw a curved flex-PCB and it was almost an impossible job to do. I needed to hack around it by drawing the stuff in a graphical editor, export in DXF, import in some other (not Cu, mind you) layer and then manually switch the imported lines to a F.Cu / B.Cu layer piece by piece, arc by arc.  God I hated the KiCAD since! 

c) So does it finally allow to import DXF into a copper layer?  Someone ingenious decided that the import DXF dialog does not contain a copper layer as a selection.  :box:

d) Allow a graphical object to become an electrical one too. Like for example, how is one supposed to connect a PCB antenna pattern (or any other distributed element structure) to an electrical net? Even if you manage to go through b and c steps above, you still can not connect it electrically and need to use hacks.

e) Allow to switch the annoying quadrant IV operation into a Quadrant I, such as almost all CADs use. Yes, I am talking you, the flipped Y axis.

These are some of the stuff why I have not considered using the KiCAD so far personally, but hell I would like to!

So do you know if any of the stuff above got any improvement or at least an option is available?
 

Offline thinkfat

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2021, 03:43:13 pm »
My main concern is, whether the new 6th version of KiCAD can:

a) SELECT MULTIPLE OBJECTS and CHANGE a COMMON PROPERTY  (like a text size, via diameter,  trace width, etc.). Without this, it is still a toy PCB CAD. Having to click hundreds of objects one by one, making 5 clicks or so to change a trace width or whatever, is beyond annoying.

b) MAKE CURVED TRACES.  My first task in KiCAD at my former employer was to draw a curved flex-PCB and it was almost an impossible job to do. I needed to hack around it by drawing the stuff in a graphical editor, export in DXF, import in some other (not Cu, mind you) layer and then manually switch the imported lines to a F.Cu / B.Cu layer piece by piece, arc by arc.  God I hated the KiCAD since! 

c) So does it finally allow to import DXF into a copper layer?  Someone ingenious decided that the import DXF dialog does not contain a copper layer as a selection.  :box:

d) Allow a graphical object to become an electrical one too. Like for example, how is one supposed to connect a PCB antenna pattern (or any other distributed element structure) to an electrical net? Even if you manage to go through b and c steps above, you still can not connect it electrically and need to use hacks.

e) Allow to switch the annoying quadrant IV operation into a Quadrant I, such as almost all CADs use. Yes, I am talking you, the flipped Y axis.

These are some of the stuff why I have not considered using the KiCAD so far personally, but hell I would like to!

So do you know if any of the stuff above got any improvement or at least an option is available?

a) yes, but only for traces (edit: also vias), it doesn't seem to work for text items.
b) yes, curved traces are available now.
c) yes
d) no. while you can draw e.g. arcs now on a copper layer (and import graphics items into copper layers), you cannot assign a net to them. you can connect traces, but it might fail DRC then. The items are recognized as obstacles by the interactive router, though.
e) yes

What I'm still missing is via fences. It's the primary reason I didn't yet ditch KiCAD 5.

« Last Edit: January 24, 2021, 03:45:59 pm by thinkfat »
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Offline gsocker

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2021, 03:54:55 pm »

My main concern is, whether the new 6th version of KiCAD can:

d) Allow a graphical object to become an electrical one too. Like for example, how is one supposed to connect a PCB antenna pattern (or any other distributed element structure) to an electrical net? Even if you manage to go through b and c steps above, you still can not connect it electrically and need to use hacks.

So do you know if any of the stuff above got any improvement or at least an option is available?
You can't import copper and assign a net in PCBnew, but I suspect the following will work (don't have anything to test with it, though):
  • Insert symbol into schematic with pins for connection points and connect nets
  • Create footprint
  • Import DXF into appropriate copper layer in footprint
  • Create custom pads in the appropriate spots, numbered to match the schematic symbol
  • Assign created footprint to the schematic symbol
At that point you should be able to route tracks to the custom pad points.
 
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Offline janoc

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2021, 04:18:41 pm »

d) no. while you can draw e.g. arcs now on a copper layer (and import graphics items into copper layers), you cannot assign a net to them. you can connect traces, but it might fail DRC then. The items are recognized as obstacles by the interactive router, though.

A not so dumb workaround for something like this (e.g. a PCB antenna) is to first create a footprint/component for your graphic item and design the copper parts as pads. Then it will work fine.
 

Offline Yansi

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2021, 04:29:42 pm »
Well, it does not work as easy as you  say. Try it!

If you for example need to connect the pad to a ground pour, it won't work. The ground pour will avoid filling to it due to seeing the graphical line at/next to the pad as an obstacle.  Same with the interactive router. You will be fighting with it to get it connected.

Even if you create it as a footprint. You can try for example the 2.4 GHz IFA PCB antenna, that is included somewhere in the KiCAD libs.
 

Offline madires

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2021, 04:53:49 pm »
Interesting new features! However, I hope the limited naming scheme for bus signals will be changed into a more practical one. The current bus[0..n] is quite cumbersome in most cases. No way to create an SPI bus with comprehensible signal names, for example.
 

Offline Yansi

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2021, 05:39:55 pm »
My main concern is, whether the new 6th version of KiCAD can:

a) SELECT MULTIPLE OBJECTS and CHANGE a COMMON PROPERTY  (like a text size, via diameter,  trace width, etc.). Without this, it is still a toy PCB CAD. Having to click hundreds of objects one by one, making 5 clicks or so to change a trace width or whatever, is beyond annoying.

b) MAKE CURVED TRACES.  My first task in KiCAD at my former employer was to draw a curved flex-PCB and it was almost an impossible job to do. I needed to hack around it by drawing the stuff in a graphical editor, export in DXF, import in some other (not Cu, mind you) layer and then manually switch the imported lines to a F.Cu / B.Cu layer piece by piece, arc by arc.  God I hated the KiCAD since! 

c) So does it finally allow to import DXF into a copper layer?  Someone ingenious decided that the import DXF dialog does not contain a copper layer as a selection.  :box:

d) Allow a graphical object to become an electrical one too. Like for example, how is one supposed to connect a PCB antenna pattern (or any other distributed element structure) to an electrical net? Even if you manage to go through b and c steps above, you still can not connect it electrically and need to use hacks.

e) Allow to switch the annoying quadrant IV operation into a Quadrant I, such as almost all CADs use. Yes, I am talking you, the flipped Y axis.

These are some of the stuff why I have not considered using the KiCAD so far personally, but hell I would like to!

So do you know if any of the stuff above got any improvement or at least an option is available?

a) yes, but only for traces (edit: also vias), it doesn't seem to work for text items.
b) yes, curved traces are available now.
c) yes
d) no. while you can draw e.g. arcs now on a copper layer (and import graphics items into copper layers), you cannot assign a net to them. you can connect traces, but it might fail DRC then. The items are recognized as obstacles by the interactive router, though.
e) yes

What I'm still missing is via fences. It's the primary reason I didn't yet ditch KiCAD 5.

Thank you for answering, seems there indeed is some improvement. Even though the d) is not solved yet, it is a rather niche problem and there are some haccs that can be utilized for that.

I may give it a try. I would like to use that tool, it is overall a very capable one, but those little things are always the most irritating ones.
 

Offline gsocker

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2021, 06:42:38 pm »
Interesting new features! However, I hope the limited naming scheme for bus signals will be changed into a more practical one. The current bus[0..n] is quite cumbersome in most cases. No way to create an SPI bus with comprehensible signal names, for example.
This is supported, but I don't think the documentation has been updated yet. The old syntax is still supported, and it's also possible to do something like SRAM{RW CS ACK A[0..16] D[0..16]}

 
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Offline julian1

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2021, 10:04:06 pm »
The move to s-expressions inspires confidence! (better than json or yaml) Should help a lot for readability, scripting and manual text editing.

I also like that netclasses can be managed from eeschema, not just pcbnew. Identifying and tagging nets with associated netclasses is a big kicad painpoint. 
 

Offline futureshocked

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2021, 01:53:09 am »
I have updated the article to clarify this, thank you.
 

Offline futureshocked

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2021, 01:56:47 am »
In KiCad 6, you can still use Netlist the netlist file. You can find it under the File menu (I have edited the article to mention this).
 

Offline thinkfat

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Re: KiCad 6 is coming!
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2021, 07:24:47 am »
Well, it does not work as easy as you  say. Try it!

If you for example need to connect the pad to a ground pour, it won't work. The ground pour will avoid filling to it due to seeing the graphical line at/next to the pad as an obstacle.  Same with the interactive router. You will be fighting with it to get it connected.

Even if you create it as a footprint. You can try for example the 2.4 GHz IFA PCB antenna, that is included somewhere in the KiCAD libs.

It should work if you create a footprint with a custom-shaped pad. If you import the antenna structure into the footprint, place a regular pad e.g. on one leg, then select the whole and then there's an option somewhere to make the whole thing into a pad with arbitrary shape. I remember I made a spark gap with this trick. That's not even new, it was already available in KiCAD 5, only you couldn't import graphics onto the copper layer, IIRC.
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