KiCad 8: The New Standard in PCB Design Software

KiCad 8.0 launches with new features, improvements, and bug fixes, plus 1500+ new symbols and 760 footprints. Learn more!

KiCad, a free and open-source software suite for electronic design automation (EDA), available for Windows, Linux, and macOS, facilitates the creation of schematic diagrams and printed circuit boards (PCB).

With a user base ranging from hobbyists working on their next home project to professional engineers designing complex, multi-layered PCBs for commercial products, KiCad caters to a broad spectrum of users with its comprehensive set of tools.

Recently, the KiCad project proudly announced the release of version 8.0, marking a significant milestone in its development journey. Let’s see what’s new.

KiCad 8.0 Highlights

This latest version comes just a year after the release of KiCad 7, yet it boasts an impressive array of new features, improvements, and bug fixes.

KiCad 8.0 Electronics Design Automation Suite
KiCad 8.0 Electronics Design Automation Suite

KiCad 8 introduces a myriad of changes and additions spearheaded by the efforts of hundreds of developers, translators, and library contributors. Despite a modest decrease in commits compared to version 7, the development cycle has stabilized, indicating a matured pace of innovation.

One of the standout improvements in KiCad 8 is the overhaul of the official KiCad libraries. The libraries have seen unprecedented growth, with over 1,500 new symbols, 760 footprints, and thousands of updates to existing parts.

This expansion has been supported by adding eight new librarians and processing over 1,700 merge requests, showcasing the community’s dedication to enhancing the software’s resources.

In addition to library enhancements, KiCad 8 has made significant strides in interoperability. It now supports importing full projects and libraries from various other tools, including EasyEDA, CADSTAR, Solidworks PCB, Altium Designer, EAGLE, and LTSpice.

This broadened support facilitates a smoother transition for users migrating to KiCad from other platforms, enriching the ecosystem with diverse design assets.

The new version also introduces advanced features for both importing vector graphics into the schematic and symbol editors and healing shapes in the PCB editor. These improvements enhance design precision and ease the integration of complex shapes and annotations, further elevating KiCad’s utility for intricate projects.

Export capabilities have also seen notable upgrades as well. KiCad 8 enables exporting boards to IPC-2581 format, offering an integrated package for fabrication and assembly.

Moreover, the STEP exporter in KiCad 8.0 now includes copper shapes, catering to accurate electromagnetic simulation needs. At the same time, the schematic editor supports netlist export in Cadence Allegro format, bridging the gap for users across different platforms.

The command-line interface, introduced in KiCad 7, has been expanded with new features, including DRC and ERC reporting in JSON format, BOM export, and more. These additions enhance the software’s flexibility, catering to automated workflows and complex project management needs.

Documentation has not been left behind, with comprehensive updates and improvements ensuring that users have access to the latest information on the new features and changes.

Refer to the release announcement for detailed information about all changes in KiCad 8.0.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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