KiCAD, a free and open source EDA tool, solves the stages: schematic capture, PCB layout, gerber generation or visualization and library editing.
In my OpenAVL project [OpenAVL - an AVL Open Source project (I), OpenAVL - an AVL free project (II) - using an open source compiler too! ], I try my best to use open source software products in the whole project. These open source tools include open source C compiler (WINAVR/WINARM) open source JTAG debugger, and open source EDA tool. I found Kicad, a free and open source EDA tool, which is maintained by Mr. Jean Pierre Charras, a researcher at LIS (Laboratoire des Images et des Signaux) and a teacher in IUT de Saint Martin d'Hères.(France), in the field of electrical engineering and image processing.
Kicad has been developed for years. It becomes a multilingual, cross-platform and complete independent EDA tool, follows GPLv2 license. It is a set of software tools with a project manager:
- eeschema: Schematic Capture;
- PCBnew: Board Editor with 3D viewer, requires open source Wings3D as 3D modeler;
- Gerbview: GERBER viewer;
- CVPCB: footprint selector;
- Kicad: project manager.
It offers comparable performance to the popular commercial EDA tools like PADS/OrCAD/Protel. Besides the listed features, Kicad works on three major operation systems, Windows (2000 and XP), Linux/UNIX (Mandrake/FreeBSD/Solaris) and MAC OS.
I highly recommend to the users to read its tutorial and FAQ first, especially to the people who were working on commercial software tools. The work flow and terminologies are slightly different, do not let your previous experience misguide you. This software also offers comprehensive help information and supports PDF document links.
After all, it is a complete, multi-platform, powerful, and handy tool collection for your electronics projects. However it would be better if the author embedded a library sharing web service in Kicad. We can save some efforts in drawing components and footprint libraries.
One of the official site of Kicad project.
Kicad Libraries (for eeshema and PCBnew)
Multilingual Kicad Wiki site.