Summary of discussions in the foss-pcb mailing list
This is a place holder to keep track of ideas discussed in the foss-pcb
mailing list, which aims at defining a roadmap to bring FOSS PCB design
tools to a level of quality and features comparable with some of their
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Phase I. The Features.
Below is a list of desirable features for a FOSS PCB design tool, as
discussed in the mailing list.
Cross platform support.
Procedure to accurately transfer schematics and PCB layout to and
from other ECAD tools (guaranteed supportable for other FOSS tools;
proprietary tools if possible). Extra points for true reversability.
IPC-356 netlist export, which is used by board fab houses to drive
their flying probe electrical test equipment.
Integrated push-and-shove router (or at least push/walkaround mode).
Hardware-accelerated display engine.
Support for split planes. You can draw the planes in negative (i.e.
you draw only the cuts in a contiguous copper plane and assign the
resulting slices to power supply nets).
Object filtering. For example, typing "obj.typeTrack &&
obj.layerTop" selects/masks/unmasks all tracks on the top layer.
Property editor capable of editing groups of objects of different
types (a nice tabular view).
Assigning footprints directly on the schematic. Library browser in a
docker window with footprint/symbol viewer.
Scriptable constraint editor. There are constraint categories, like
Length, Width, Clearance where the user can specify the acceptable
values and also the conditions (using the scripting language) under
which the constraint is checked.
Common shell for schematic editor and PCB layout applications. One
advantage of the common shell is allowing a component selected in
the schematics to be highlighted in the layout, and viceversa.
Pin-swapping and back-annotating pinswap data from the PCB to the
schematic (without any messing with netlists).
Integrated functional simulation (ngspice, Qucs...). "A simulation
run should be as simple as with ltspice."
"Slightly integrated" EM simulation (for power/gnd integrity,
A library model that contains all the complex relations between
symbols, footprints, purchase information, simulation models and
Export/import to a 3D mechanical CAD application.
Web-based model for parts libraries using revision control to
leverage crowd sourcing.
Designs in human-readable text format so text diffs can be used to
efficiently track changes using version control systems. Extra
points for preserving file content order so the diffs are minimal
and easier to interpret. Extra points for visual diff-ing involving
reasonable development effort.
Pin swapping constraints, i.e. a possibility to attach a script to a
particular component which governs which pins can be swapped and
how. For example in Xilinx FPGAs, such a script would detect the
supply nets for each bank and automatically add the corresponding
I/O pins to an appropriate swap group. It could also identify
half-banks (a nightmare when using IOSERDES blocks in
Spartan/Virtex6, etc...) or GTP clock regions.
Automatic pin assignment file generation for ISE/Quartus/Lattice
from the schematic.
Align/distribute tool in PCB layout editor.
From the firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list: "To
refine this idea a bit, perhaps what we really need is a
cross-platform, "cross-ecosystem" tool for generating schematic
symbols and PCB footprints, that could import from those three, and
export to those three as well. That could be a phenomenal "rosetta
stone" application, and could do wonders for the OSHW community as a
Phase II. Choosing a tool to start with.
The list above represents a state-of-the-art PCB design tool. We have
decided to work on Kicad and try to bring it to a level of quality and
features compatible with the list. We think Kicad is the current FOSS
project which most resembles what we have in mind as our future PCB
design tool, and we feel more capable of making meaningful contributions
to it than to other tools. See the
project we have created
to organize our contribution to Kicad.
Phase III. Coming up with a list of work package descriptions.