KiCad Developer Culture


This document lays out the desired ways of working for the KiCad lead development team. It is meant to provide a basic introduction for new developers as well as a reference for current lead developers in how to manage and resolve uncertainty and conflicts.

Base Guidelines

  • We are a team of equals.

  • We respect our userbase.

  • We respect each others’ contributions.

  • The code we contribute belongs to everyone.

  • In a disagreement, everyone gives a little.

  • We prioritize our families, our health and our offline lives ahead of KiCad.


We are a team of equals

This means that your opinions will be given equal weight with every other person on the lead developer team.

In the event a decision is deadlocked after multiple developers have weighed in, the resolution will be made by the Project Lead. This is, however, an outcome to be avoided if at all possible.

We also recognize that we each bring different experiences to the team. We will try to give weight to the lead developers who actively use a particular feature when deciding on implementation issues.

We respect our userbase

We all come to this project, developers and users, with differing expectations, experiences and english fluency. When dealing with each other, it is inevitable that these differences will lead to conflict over politeness, appropriate expectations or any of the myriad other impedance mismatches we might have in our communications.

As lead developers, our behavior in public project spaces reflects on the project as a whole. We will hold ourselves to a higher standard in our behavior than the standard to which we hold the end users.

We will not respond to any issue report, merge request or forum post when we feel annoyed or irritated by the person posting or by the content of the post. We provide a Zulip channel where lead developers can tag others to take on the burden of calmly responding. We will do the following:

  1. Post a link to the page in question

  2. (optional) Express any frustrations we have

  3. Say why this content is wrong

(1) and (3) are required. (2) is optional but available if it helps to diffuse the emotion around the content. At this point, another, disinterested lead developer will take on the task of responding. You get to go back to coding other things.

Failing to follow this guideline will inevitably lead to drama. And drama sucks time from both you, the other person and the rest of the lead developer team as we end up dealing with the response and not the actual content.

We respect each others’ contributions

While we all make mistakes, we will not revert the contributions of other developers without their explicit consent, even when we think that they might not have implemented something in accordance with our views of the policies.

We each are responsible for the quality of our own contributions. If there is a disagreement over a commit, it must be worked out over e-mail/Zulip/video call/etc with the person committing the code. We do not fight in the code base.

In the event that a problematic commit has been made to the codebase and the person responsible is not available to discuss it, then the commit can be reverted after publicly (either on GitLab or Zulip) discussing and agreeing on this with the rest of the lead development team.

When we disagree with a contribution made by another developer, we will address it directly with them politely. Examples of polite feedback might include:

This code doesn’t work for me when I…


I think that this code will cause problems because…

Examples of rude feedback that we will avoid include:

This code stinks/sucks/is really bad/etc


Whoever screwed up this part of the codebase…

Naturally, we are all welcome to provide ourselves with as much impolite feedback on code we have written as we can handle. :)

The code we contribute belongs to everyone

We are a free/libre open source community. Everything that we contribute to the KiCad project belongs to and is the responsibility of the whole KiCad development team. Copyrights on new files will be assigned to the KiCad Development team. They may be additionally assigned to a primary author or sponsor of the code that is written, but this does not mean that the original author has veto power or even greater weight in the discussions of how the code develops.

When we commit code to the KiCad codebase, we are standing on the shoulders of everyone who has done so before us. Our contribution will be changed, updated, refined and polished in ways that we did not anticipate and that we might not even agree with. That process is a compliment to the author of the original code because the changes would not have been possible without the original work.

In a disagreement, everyone gives a little

We will frequently come to a point in discussion of either the specification document or code itself where we each have a different opinion about the direction of a particular feature or other implementation detail. When this happens, we work to prioritize the elements that are most important to each developer.

We decide which parts of a feature are more important to us and ask for those parts to exist, giving up on the parts that, while still very important, are less critical than others. Everyone is expected to moderate their positions to come to a consensus.

We offer our opinions in ways that make it known how important the opinion is and why. For example:

It is very important that I am able to modify the start point of lines and arcs in the same way because I need this to be a unified interface for XYZ


I have a preference for the print dialog being non-modal so that I can see the preview update in real time but it is not a strong one.

It is important to assess our own priorities when entering a conversation with other developers. Not every opinion can be the top, number 1 priority.

Each developer on the team is highly skilled and if more than one is disagreeing with you, it is always a good idea to step back and examine if your opinion might be out of place or need to be changed.

We will give extra consideration to the concerns raised by the developers who actively use a feature and those that are willing to implement their own vision.

If the developers involved in the discussion cannot agree, after each has moderated their position to accommodate an agreement, the final decision will be made by the project lead. Involving the project lead in resolving disputes is to be avoided if at all possible.

We prioritize our families, our health and our offline lives ahead of KiCad

KiCad is a wonderful place to contribute to the community. We strive to be open and engaged with each other. We try to laugh with each other and support one another. But we are still just an online group of like-minded people. We will not place pressure on each other to work more or longer. We will encourage each other to take breaks from coding. We will watch for signs of overwork or stress and encourage each other to care for our own wellbeing before the wellbeing of the codebase.

We will design our systems and procedures in such a way that facilitates anyone needing to take an unexpected leave of absence.