Learning About KiCad

KiCad is a "GPL'd suite of programs for EDA (Electronic Design Automation)".

See also: KiCad Usage Notes

General Notes

Other resources

Running KiCad on Mac OS X

See: Kicad SVN builds for OSX

(The remainder of this information is almost certainly out of date.)

Building KiCad On Mac OS X

There is no official binary on the main KiCad site (as of September 2007) but someone has built a Mac OS X binary for KiCad--it is available in both ppc and i386 builds. You might want to check for more recent versions are available in the side bar of the site. (Mac OS X KiCad compilation details are also included.)

Unfortunately the binary doesn't actually work correctly by default (as of September 2007)--the application windows cannot be made active or receive focus. It turns out this is a common issue with the wxWidgets implementation on Mac OS X (wxMac)--see the answer to "Why can't I set focus to my wxMac application?". In brief, the issue is that a straight command-line binary isn't recognised as a GUI application because it's not in a bundle. The wxWidgets wiki has details of how to build an application bundle for Mac OS X.

After I discovered all this and manually created an application bundle for each individual KiCad tool I found there was already a comment on the original blog that contained a Makefile that would build the required Mac OS X application bundles for KiCad. It seems the comment has gone mostly unnoticed as the probable solution since the end of March 2007...

. How to convert KiCad binaries into application bundles .

Until Mac OS X KiCad binaries are available as application bundles here's the general way to create the bundles manually (note: you need to replace <appname> with the appropriate tool name e.g. eeschema , cvpcb , pcbnew etc.) :

# From the 'kicad' directory containing the 'macosx' directory do this:
mkdir <appname>.app
cd <appname>.app
mkdir -p Contents/MacOS
cp ../macosx/<appname> Contents/MacOS/
echo -n 'APPL????' > Contents/PkgInfo
cd ..

You'll also need to link, copy or configure some of the support directories into the Contents sub-directory of the application bundle.

. Or let me do the hard work for you .

I have created an archive that when extracted over the binaries linked above will set up "usable" Mac OS X application bundles for KiCad. I have only tested it on PPC 10.4 but it only uses a shell script to do its work.

I was lazy and went with the (almost) easiest thing I could do that worked (but still made updating the script easier), so it's a bit of a hack. Ideally KiCad should be bundle-ized and use proper inter-application communication but this will hopefully get people started more easily using KiCad on OS X.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Retrieve and extract the KiCad binaries archive linked above. (This creates and populates a kicad directory.)
  2. Get http://code.rancidbacon.com/files/kicad_macosx_bundle_overlay_20070903-0.tgz
  3. Open a terminal window.
  4. Change to the kicad directory (i.e. the one that contains directories macosx , help , internat etc)
  5. Untar the archive (will extract files to the current directory).
  6. Open the kicad directory in the Finder.
  7. Try double-clicking on the kicad application that should now appear.

Hopefully that should work for you too! The icons within the applications to switch between KiCad applications should also work too.

Bugs encountered on Max OS X

I did encounter bugs (some presumably Mac OS X specific) using the above method but I also managed to produce a two component schematic and PCB auto-routed design in the process. I hope to document the details more in future.

@@ TODO: Document the bugs and so forth.