Fritzing vs Kicad

I am hoping to choose a different pcb designer. I had been using DesignSpark or AutoTRAX DEX but for various reasons have not been satisfied.

I have narrowed my search to Fritzing or Kicad. If someone has experience with both and can provide the pros and cons of each, I would appreciate it.

(Obviously Kicad does not have the solder-less board feature which is nice but not a deal breaker)

Thanks - J. Zumwalt

Mr. Zumwalt,

There are quite a few differences. First off they are 2 different projects. But you knew that. But, with that said, they both operate in different ways.

I’m sure this is a Fritzing biased site, but what DO I know…

Kicad is still heavily developed and all that development is done by CERN. I’m not sure Fritzing holds a candle to their flame as far as funding…

Fritzing is still in Beta, Kicad is not.

Fritzing works seamlessly in all modes, Schematic to PCB, whereas Kicad does require a netlist export. So kicad is more of a multiple program all based-in-one solution.Those programs are; Eeshcema, pcbnew, GerbView, a schematic library editor, and a PCB footprint editor.

Fritzing relies heavily on the usage of .SVG files. Good for me because I can use my favorite vector graphic program to make part foot-prints. So if you’re a fan of vector graphics Fritzing might be a popular alternative.

Kicad has a more robust toolset @ a cost of all loosing all intuitive learning aspects. Might as well have the manual next too you @ all times. Kicad supports multi-layer board design, while Fritzing does not. I could have seriously dove in here, but I’m not wasting my night…

I’ll sum it up with ease of use. Kicad is far more in-depth and complicated to use. Fritzing’s initial target market was hobbyist, learners, and makers.(forgive me if I left anyone out) Designed to get their feet wet without convoluted madness going on.

I personally have both installed on my system, I’d also recommend you do the same. This way you can use both and decide for yourself what is best suited for your particular needs. We can swing our you-know-whats all day long… But in the end, what matters? A final product. There is no right or wrong way for 2 layer basic board production. But this is a simple choice if you need more then 2 layers…

Have fun! Best of luck to you :+1:


I also have both installed on my system, and was using Kikad before I really new what Fritzing could offer. I do simple hobby projects,(555’s arduino, amplifiers, APC synths, etc) and in my opinion Fritzing just seems to be much easier to design with for my needs. I like the simple, but still flexible interface. Not much clutter and it’s easy to find what i need. I have also used eagle, and I could hardly follow along even while watching tutorials because it is a pretty complex program. I have no formal electronics training, only self taught, so the easier the interface, the better for me.

For the simple projects I make, a top/bottom layer is all I need, and Fritzing offers all the features I will prob ever use. If you are doing something more complex perhaps trying Kikad or Eagle is the best path for you.

I can not say anything bad about Kikad, but for my needs Fritzing works well and I believe it is easier to learn it more quickly then Eagle or Kikad. I suggest you start with Fritzing, and if it does not meet your needs, you can look into Kikad or one of the more robust applications.

Thank you for your response and giving a lay of the land.

I was headed toward using Fritzing - and have been experimenting for a couple days. I would be satisfied with it except that the parts editor does not seem to work very well. For example when I make a new part, can I save it, share it, were is it located?

The “Sparkfun” ICSP connector has the pins in the wrong order. So, I made a new one. When I looked for it, I found a dozen files with bizarre serial numbers and no way to copy/save/share the file for the future? I tried renaming it but then Fritz could not find it. If I made 25 custom parts with an occasional edit, it looks like Fritz might make several hundred temp files - not good! Is there a way to clean up the Fritz temp files?

Thanks for the response…

Parts are located in the MINE bin, 3 down from the search parts button. That should get you square with the parts you’ve made.

IF the sparkfun part is wrong. can you please post about it real quick in the BUG’s section? ::+1: Thanks!

As for temp files, what version/platform are you using?

Thanks for the interest.

I am using 0.9.2 under Win7_64bit.
It began to fill {user}/…roaming/…/fritz with the temp files. Every time I did an edit, I ended up with a new gobbly gook file. After attempting to rename a legit file and edit a xml .fzz or .fzp file I found somewhere that was pointing to the renamed file, it complained the file could not be found.

By that time I had about 25 temp files for a single part. So I deleted/reloaded Fitz so that I could have clean directories. I will retrace my steps this weekend and report back what is going on.

What I am trying to do is save and possibly share the parts I make. My experience with DesignSpark is that if you do not save your parts someplace else on your drive, a new version will wipe out your previous work.

[When you say the “Mine” bin, I do not seem to have that directory with my new install - perhaps I need to create a new part to get it made?]

The MINE parts bin is the second parts bin down from the parts search. These are my first five parts bins in-order from the parts search button. Parts search, CORE, MINE, Arduino, Sparkfun, Seeedstuido, and so on. All parts you create will be in the MINE parts bin. IF you are looking for parts created inside Fritzing in an oudside file/folder structure, you are starting in the wrong place… As for temporary part files, Fritzing will create a few. Are these files hogging up a bunch of hard drive space? I remember the days of 20mb hard drives… So I’ve hardly even noticed the space used. I did just glance in my /home/user/.config/fritzing directory. I’m using 49mb of temp space myself. And yes some of those files can used to be cleaned-up, Not even sure how some of all that got in there. Interesting nonetheless. Let us know what you come up with.

Anyhow, if next time you can break this out into more specific sections for your questions. We’ll try and keep this one for your Kicad/ Fritzing specific question. This way others can add to your initial question, without digressing to far from the original topic. Good luck, Have a great day!!

Ah! I think we had a communication break down :smile:

I was speaking of the the physical disk drive directory. As I explained earlier, I want to be able to save my hard work. For example suppose I am going to upgrade to a larger hdd drive. How can I transfer my custom made parts to a new OS installation on another hard drive? Or, transfer my parts to my laptop from my desktop?

This was the problem I ran into with DesignSpark - backing up or saving custom parts.

If you right click on the MINE part’s bin and do a save-as. You have a quick backup of all your parts :grinning: Super-duper easy. You can also backup your hard files. As I always pull my entire home directory with rsync for backups. (I am a linux user) So I never really worry. But once you have those files secure, I’m sure you’ll feel better about the situation yourself.

Then you can just open that saved parts bin on a new install, and you’re roughly where you left off on your last system. Might be worth trying for piece of mind.

Good luck!

OK - GREAT! I found the import / export too.
I suggest that the main “Part” menu provide these options - this is the intuitive place to look for this functionality.
Perhaps a submenu “My Parts”

Hello J. Zumwalt,

i personally use KiCAD most of the time.
it has some more powerful options in the layout-editor i think…

  • but i do smd stuff and moderately complex things sometimes…
    and most often have the need for a 3D-case so i export the KiCAD-generated 3D model and use it in my MCAD work-flow to design a case.

if i want to visualize a wiring for a project i also use fritzing - the breadboard view is just super easy to quickly make a explanatory drawing!

for easy dip things i think Fritzing is the right tool :smile:
its just as every time: use the right tool for the right task :smile:

sunny greetings

1 Like