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More Kicad library madness

After producing a few designs in the bleeding edge versions of Kicad (see previous posts), I was smacked with some seriously painful side effects.

In particular, when updating the installation, migrating it to another system, or attempting to run a fresh install on another system, you design files are likely NOT going to be compatible. It is the nature of not working with stable releases.

After receiving a new computer at work, I went about the usual installation of the nightly builds. I copied my design files from one computer to the other, and loaded one up. BING! Errors! WHAAAT?

I was EVENTUALLY able to get into the relevant files with notepad++, and with a bit of googling and guesswork, was able to "fix" my files enough to get them to load. Even so, some library footprints simply do not work well.

If you have started to work exclusively with the .pretty library format, pay attention:

I decided to move back to only using stable releases for a while. The side effect of that is that designs made in the nightly build will have to be edited manually to get them back, and worse, anything using a .pretty component will need the component rolled back to the old format of .mod / .lib

I have yet to figure out how to roll back my SYMBOLS in the schematic editor (I dont have that many in the new format anyway), but have stumbled onto how to get those footprints back.


  1. run PCBNEW
  2. open the module editor
  3. under file/load module, select "import module from file"
  4. Browse to a footprint .pretty folder and open the component of interest (you may notice this is the ONLY way in which current stable releases will find the new format)
  5. under file, select "save module into a new library"
  6. browse to an appropriate place (wherever you save all your other footprints)
  7. Give the library a good name. on my rescued modules, I give it a name like "blahblah-pretty-rescue" so that I know that it came 'from the future'
  8. assure that you are saving as a LEGACY library, and save it
  9. CLOSE the module editor, and go back to PCBNEW
  10. hit Preferences/Library and add your new library to the available list in the usual way
  11. Repeat steps 2 - 4 to load another .pretty module
  12. You can now save it to the SAME module library, or repeate steps 5 - 10 to create a seperate one


The latest versions of the nightly builds have an extensive collection of .pretty libraries available on github.

IF you have the one of these nightly builds installed, you can EXPORT any of the footprints from the github repos to a .pretty file on your PC, then IMPORT as described above.

Unfortunately, the only way to view the footprints and export them is to have a newer build. So, if you do not have both an experimental version and stable version of kicad installed, its not something you could do.

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