KiCad 7.0.0 is here and it brings a plethora of improvements

Yesterday the KiCad team released KiCad 7.0.0 – a surprise for those of us just getting used to the wonders of KiCad 6, and it’s undoubtedly a welcome one! You may have already mentioned some of these features in the KiCad 2022 year in review, and now we can play with them in a more stable configuration. There’s a plethora of features and fixes for all levels of KiCad user, novice, hobbyist, and pro alike – let’s start with a few everyone will appreciate!

The first thing you want to hear is the kicad-cli Binary – yes, KiCad gets native command line support, and you can make a dozen different things out of it, from Gerber and BOM files to STEP and schematic PDFs. It used to be that when you switched from schematic to PCB layout, you would end up in the middle of an unplaced ocean of footprints – now KiCad 7 gives you tools to automate the placement of newly added footprints! There are routing functions that automate the drawing of traces – it’s not autorouting per se, but it puts some of the functionality of a simple but powerful autorouter at your fingertips. Last but not least, if you’ve ever had a mysterious KiCad crash and you’ve been too busy to file a bug report, you’ll be glad to know that KiCad now has privacy-conscious crash reports for debugging crashes like this one — an addition to that already helped to find some long-standing bugs causing KiCad crashes.

A schematic screenshot showing a grayed out component marked as
A grayed out Do Not Populate component

For those of us who are getting past the beginner level with KiCad, there’s a solid set of additions too! Perhaps drag and drop stands out the most – you can use it to insert schematic and PCB parts from other projects onto your boards, and if that doesn’t already mean subdesign support, then it’s definitely a step in the right direction! Then there are features like database integration support for filling in component information fields, do-not-fill indicators that gray out the schematic symbol and remove the component from the bill of materials and place files, simulator integration improvements, hyperlinks in schematics even when exporting be preserved in PDF. Improvements to mechanical and draft rule checking, automatic zone refilling, and a dozen other cool things. We particularly like the feature pictured above, which allows you to reverse engineer boards by placing a bitmap image of the board in question in the PCB editor workspace and drawing traces on it, even with page flip support – check out the version blog post for a video demonstration!

This release is really exciting, and it seems like the KiCad team is moving towards an accelerated major release schedule when comparing today’s date to the December 2018 release of KiCad 5 and the December 2021 release of KiCad 6 . We can’t wait for the treasure trove of bug fixes that are bound to follow a .0.0 However, with such a larger-scale release, it seems like features are moving from tests to stable releases more quickly, and that’s a huge benefit if KiCad remains the highly competitive PCB suite it is. Some of us have already been driving this KiCad version in its “nighttime” state on a daily basis, and we can’t wait to apply these features in hacking projects!

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