Thea Flowers' KiCanvas Lets You View KiCad Projects Directly in Your Browser

Loading local files or pulling data from GitHub, KiCanvas aims to make it easier to share your KiCad projects.

Gareth Halfacree
12 months agoHW101 / Productivity

Software engineer Thea Flowers has developed a tool designed to make it easier to share your KiCad hardware projects — by providing a browser-based interface for viewing the files, dubbed KiCanvas.

"KiCanvas is early alpha but I feel it's time to let it out into the world for all of you to try out and break," Flowers explains. "Presently, KiCanvas functions as a stand-alone web application that can view files stored on GitHub — providing an easy way to share your designs with others. However, this is just the beginning of my plans for this project."

KiCanvas puts KiCad projects right in your browser, as an easier way to share your work. (📹: Thea Flowers)

The project came about when Flowers was looking for a way to share KiCad schematics in articles without just dumping screenshots, developing a Canvas-based renderer which allowed for simply interactive embedded schematics. "Folks really liked the interactive schematics," Flowers explains. "This got me thinking - why isn't there a browser based viewer for KiCad files? The closest thing we have is InteractiveHtmlBom but it only handles boards and requires a KiCad plugin to generate the files ahead of time. I wanted a truly seamless experience - point it at a KiCad file and it'll show it."

That's where KiCanvas comes in. Written in TypeScript with Canvas and WebGL, KiCanvas is able to parse and display KiCad files directly in-browser without having to load KiCad itself — giving you an interactive view into schematics, PCB designs, and overall projects. The viewer includes panning and zooming, the ability to select and inspect symbols and footprints, as well as to select board layers and toggle their visibility — though, at the time of writing, only KiCad 6 files could be fully rendered.

"I hope KiCanvas can eventually become something useful to the entire Open Hardware community," says Flowers. "I'm so excited about the future of this project — it hasn't even reached its final form! This is a project I'm truly creating for the community. It will always be free and open source. I'm thankful for everyone who's shown excitement, provided feedback, and supported me in various ways."

KiCanvas is available to try on its website now, and can load local KiCad files or those stored on GitHub; its source code is available on GitHub under the permissive MIT license.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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