Online / 6 & 7 February 2021

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Real-time Netlisting in KiCad

Motivation, Implementation, and Benefits


KiCad 6 features a new real-time netlisting system that is used to determine connectivity between items in schematics as the user draws them. Previously, netlisting in KiCad was a relatively slow operation that only took place when commanded by the user. I will discuss the motivations behind this system, some details of its implementation, benefits it brings, and some opportunities for future improvements.

Netlisting is the process of generating a set of connected items from a schematic drawing. Traditionally this was needed for creating a "netlist" for PCB layout: a list of electrical nets, and all the component pins that are part of each net. We now also use this term in KiCad to refer to determining which graphical objects in a schematic are electrically connected to each other. This includes the component pins that are part of a traditional netlist, but also things like graphical wires and labels that are used to connect pins to each other.

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Photo of Jon Evans Jon Evans

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