It took around 3.5 years of development to release KiCad 6.0.0 open-source EDA suite, as the previous major release, KiCad 5.0.0, was introduced in July 2018.
KiCad 6.0.0 comes with a refreshed user interface that’s supposed to reduce the barriers of entry for new users and users switching from other design software with notably the schematic and PCB editors now feeling like being from the same program instead of completely different tools.
As noted by the developers, it’s difficult to summarize all the changes because of the thousands of updates made between KiCad 5 and KiCad 6, but here are some highlights:
- Revamped schematic editing with the object selection and manipulation paradigm as the PCB editor, and several new features such as net classes, one-click wire start, intersheet references
- Brand-new schematic and symbol library file format allowing embedded symbols
- Redesign of the PCB design tool with new options such as Save and restore custom view presets, independent zones, pads, vias, and tracks opacity control,
- Support for rounded tracks, hatched copper zones, and unconnected annular ring removal.
- KiCad’s updated 3D viewer has become faster, supports raytracing lighting controls, highlighting of objects selected in the PCB editor, and easier access to frequently-used controls.
- Simulation and utilities – Expanded support for SPICE simulation, E-Series resistor calculator, etc…
- Importer – New: Altium Designer, CADSTAR; improvements: EAGLE
KiCad 6.0 will also be the last release to support XSLT BOM generation scripts and the SWIG Python API, as those will be deprecated in KiCad 7.0. The developers recommend people migrate to Python BOM scripts and a new Python API will replace the SWIG API. Additional changes can be found in the official announcement.
KiCad 6.0.0 is available for download now for Windows, macOS, Linux, and FreeBSD. I could install it on Ubuntu 20.04 in a few minutes with the program and associated recommended packages taking 5,694 MB of additional disk space on my drive according to apt:
sudo add-apt-repository --yes ppa:kicad/kicad-6.0-releases
sudo apt update
sudo apt install --install-recommends kicad
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.