Comparison with other EDA tools
Of course people compare LibrePCB to other EDA tools, especially Eagle and KiCad. To help you deciding which EDA tool is best for your needs, here a short overview about the differences between LibrePCB and other EDA tools.
LibrePCB vs. Eagle
- LibrePCB is free of charge – without limitations, even for commercial usage
- LibrePCB has an integrated library manager, thus it’s much easier to install and update libraries
- LibrePCB library and project files are better suited for version control
- The schematic- and board editors of Eagle are currently more powerful (LibrePCB does not yet support hierarchical sheets, DRC, BOM export, 3D view and more)
LibrePCB vs. KiCad
Library management with LibrePCB is much easier:
- Easy-to-use library manager to install and update libraries – no knowledge about Git and GitHub needed
- LibrePCB does not bundle (possibly outdated or low-quality) libraries together with the application – you have the full control over what libraries are used
- Only one library file format for all kinds of library elements – a library can contain symbols, footprints, components and in future also 3D models
- No broken references – you can rename symbols, footprints, pins, pads etc. without breaking other elements
- LibrePCB organizes parts by hierarchical categories, thus it’s easier and more intuitive to find the part you’re looking for
- No broken projects caused by updated or removed libraries – LibrePCB projects are self-contained and completely independent of system libraries
Version control of LibrePCB files is more fun:
- All files of LibrePCB projects and libraries are highly optimized for version control systems
- User-related settings are strictly separated from project-related settings so you don’t commit annoying, useless changes (like your zoom level or canvas position)
- LibrePCB has a canonical file format – if you save a project without making relevant changes, no files are modified at all
Netlist synchronization is easier with LibrePCB:
- Schematics and board work on the same netlist, so they are always in sync – no manual forward/backward annotation is needed
- You never have to worry about the pinout of components – LibrePCB stores all connections between symbol pins and footprint pads in the library
Although LibrePCB has many cool advantages, KiCad is (currently) much more powerful. It has an amazing amount of features which allow to design very complex PCBs. LibrePCB is still a very young software and thus lacks many features needed to design complex PCBs.
So, if you are looking for an intuitive EDA tool to quickly design a simple PCB, you should give LibrePCB a try. But if you want to design complex PCBs, LibrePCB is probably not (yet) the tool you are looking for.