Comparison of KiCad and EAGLE Usage

Which one is more popular: KiCad or EAGLE? Originally, I thought this could be answered with a few simple searches on Google or Github. However, as with most interesting questions, getting the answer was a bit more complicated. I ended up writing a script that counted all the repositories on Github that contained schematic files for KiCad or EAGLE, and this is what I found:

This graph only tracks the popularity of KiCad and EAGLE usage in public repositories on Github, so usage for private repositories is definitely missing. I believe that this data would also track pretty closely with the growth of open-source hardware.

As you can see, the rate of growth is still pretty healthy for both KiCad and EAGLE. For KiCad, it looks like about 5 repositories are created per day on average, and for EAGLE it’s close to 3.5. You can definitely see an inflection point in July 2017 for EAGLE. The acquisition of EAGLE by Autodesk occurred in June 27, 2016.

Is the rate of growth increasing or decreasing?

The concept of tracking growth rates with logarithmic plots has been discussed a lot recently in the context of COVID-19, and this made me wonder the same for the growth rate for KiCad and EAGLE. Using a plot with the y-axis scaled logarithmically makes it easier to see how the rate of growth (as defined as the percentage change over time) is changing:

This graph makes it clear KiCad has maintained a near constant growth rate from 2016 to 2020, although it did slow down a bit from prior to 2016. For EAGLE, the inflection point in 2017 caused an increased growth rate, but it has slowed down. The slope of the two lines in the log plot from 2019 to 2020 is pretty close, which indicates that both KiCad and EAGLE have a similar growth rate.

Methodology Details

The above data was created using the following methodology:

  • Find KiCad files: Use Github’s code search API to find all files with the extension .sch and contain the word “eeschema”.
  • Find EAGLE files: Use Github’s code search API to find all files with the extension .sch and contain the word “eagle.dtd”.
  • The information returned for each file shows which repository it is contained in. Go through the list of files and create a list of repositories.
  • Use the Github repository API to find the create_date for each repository

The graphs in this article are updated automatically each week.

What does this all mean? Which one should I learn?

Mostly it means that the usage for both KiCad and EAGLE continues to grow, and that it’s not likely that one of these CAD programs will become obsolete anytime soon. So choosing which one to learn should be decided on other factors besides just popularity.

Learn more about KiCad

KiCad is free and open-source. Some resources for starting to learn KiCad:

Learn more about EAGLE

EAGLE is now part of the Autodesk Fusion 360 package that cost $60/month but you can still find a free hobbyist version for download.