KiCad Project Lead Discusses The Future

After last week’s chat session with the Product Manager of Autodesk EAGLE, the Hackaday community welcomed the project lead for KiCad. Wayne Stambaugh has been the lead for the open source PCB tool since 2014 and has been a contributor for much longer. He stopped by to do a similar HackChat on January 20th, 2017.

Version 5

One thing that is apparent from the chat is how loose the schedule is on the release. Since all time is donated, releases are not planned around a hard schedule, but more around a “when they’re ready” approach. This ultimately makes for an uncertain deadline but the features make it out eventually.

Wayne explained that the main focus of the next release (KiCad is currently on version 4) will be on the schematic tool. This tool is called eeSchema and has not had a significant overhaul in many years.

While the mention of most work being on Wayne’s machine, there is a large contingent of contributors to the codebase. However, there are only a few that are allowed to push to the main repositories.

Version 6

Past the schematic changes coming in Version 5, there will be changes to the methods of doing layout and general user friendliness models:

Sharing the Roadmap

The ultimate finding from this online meeting was that many of the planned features are available on the KiCad roadmap which will be presented in-depth at FOSDEM. That conference is coming up February 4th and 5th in Brussels. Check out a preview of the slides that Wayne shared during this chat session. Many of the planned changes are listed there.

Want to help?

The KiCad roadmap is much more fluid than other CAD systems, especially those with developer budgets. This is due to a volunteer workforce for the project. There are exciting things ahead for the CAD industry and KiCad continues to create new features that will please users looking for open source solutions. Wayne is always looking for those willing to jump in the fray:

Check out KiCad’s main site, where you can download and use the program for free.