[Noisebridge-discuss] [Fab] free-cad - the one true free mechanical CAD package that will save the world!

Corey McGuire coreyfro at coreyfro.com
Tue Mar 27 21:33:16 UTC 2012

Last time I touched BRLCAD was about 5 years ago, before Orb Swarm.  The
effort to get it working was enough to make me, at the time a Penguin
Purist, install Windows and Solidworks.  When Chris Tacklind is your
resource, you do what he does and you like it....

On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 1:02 PM, Michael Prados <mprados at gmail.com> wrote:

> Really, only enough to determine that the work flow of BRLCAD is way
> different from all the proprietary mechanical CAD programs.  For the most
> part, it's been my impression that the proprietary programs evolved in the
> direction they did for good reasons, except where it seems market forces
> have steered them wrong (since it is always therepeutic to make a bitch
> list, see mine below.)
> Corey, you are adequately fluent in at least one proprietary mechanical
> CAD package to comment on whether the BRLCAD work flow is "different and as
> good" or just... different.  I'm open to the idea that the proprietary
> programs have it all wrong, but I'd need good evidence.
> -Mike
> ----
> Mike's 95 (+/- 87) Theses to Nail to the Door of Dassault Systems,
> Parametric Technologies, Siemens, and Autodesk
> 1. Your software is too expensive, and your student versions are too lame.
> 2. You nickel and dime us for every little extension.
> 3. You offer no good interchange format that allows easy modification of
> mechanical designs.  STEP and IGES capture geometry well, but not design
> intention.  Solid Edge is even trying to gain market by using "synchronous
> technology" as a workaround.
> 4.  You attempt to keep us on exorbitant annual maintenance fees by
> needlessly changing your proprietary data formats every year, and not
> offering a way to save backwards compatible files.  This is a mean, dirty
> trick.
> 5. You have forsaken all but Windows platforms, even though your entire
> industry grew up on POSIX compliant workstations (Irix, Solaris, and HPUX.)
> 6. The API's you offer are not conducive to user scripting in the design
> process.  Whereas, a little SCAD style code would fill in a lot of blanks
> in complex geometry, this is out of the reach of anyone who does not have
> the time to learn a complex, Microsoft based development environment
> targeted at proprietary extensions.
> 7. Your data formats are binary based and proprietary, making it
> impossible to merge changes between users, and otherwise use tools like git
> and svn.
> 8. While you do continue to add meaningful new features to your software,
> you can not adapt to new technology and design methodologies as fast as
> frustrated users could duct tape together mash ups of open source versions
> of your code.  This slows progress in any form of engineering that involves
> a material thing.
> On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 1:27 AM, Corey McGuire <coreyfro at coreyfro.com>wrote:
>> BRL cad was given some "summer of code" love a year or two ago. I don't
>> know how it materialized or if, indeed, it did.  Have you touched it since
>> then?
>> I hope I can make Wednesday. As of now, quintuple booked.
>> On Mar 27, 2012 12:19 AM, "Michael Prados" <mprados at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> ps I noticed that in my original post I wrote Bricscad, which is the
>>> name of a proprietary package I know little about, whereas I meant BRLCAD,
>>> a FOSS package I've poked around at a bit.  Mea culpa, caveat lector.
>>> On Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 7:44 PM, Michael Prados <mprados at gmail.com>wrote:
>>>> All right, since you asked so nicely!  Not sure I've got an hour of
>>>> demo with freecad so far, but I think there is definitely an hour's worth
>>>> of discussion of what makes an effective mechanical cad tool and why.  I
>>>> can be there a little after 8pm Wednesday.
>>>> -Mike
>>>> On Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 11:24 AM, miloh <froggytoad at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>> On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 5:29 PM, Michael Prados <mprados at gmail.com>wrote:
>>>>>> My background is in mechanical engineering, so I'm only being
>>>>>> slightly hyperbolic in the subject heading.
>>>>>> http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/free-cad/index.php?title=Main_Page
>>>>>> I have spent some time with Blender, Bricscad, and Openscad, and they
>>>>>> are each useful for many tasks.  But I am convinced that the fundamental
>>>>>> architecture and philosophy of these projects means that they will never
>>>>>> displace mainstream mechanical CAD programs, even with focused attention
>>>>>> and support.  That is fine, because they are intended for different
>>>>>> purposes.
>>>>>> Free-cad, on the other hand, has strategically tied together several
>>>>>> free software projects to create a package with the potential to win the
>>>>>> hearts and minds of people doing mechanical design, given enough support
>>>>>> from the community.  I have been watching it for a couple of years, as it
>>>>>> surpassed several other nascent projects to become the prototype of
>>>>>> something that could transform how we interact with physical objects.
>>>>>> It isn't there yet, but its developers seem capable and determined,
>>>>>> and I think it is time they got some love.  Last Sunday, Stallman cited CAD
>>>>>> as one of the three most important areas for free software development.  I
>>>>>> find this fact very encouraging, since he, unlike me, has no reason to be
>>>>>> especially passionate about how objects are designed.
>>>>>> I want to see if there is interest at Noisebridge in aggregating a
>>>>>> special interest group devoted to free and open source mechanical CAD
>>>>>> software.  My intention would be to focus on free-cad, but if another
>>>>>> serious contender should arise, I'd be interested in learning about this
>>>>>> too.
>>>>>> The goal that inspires me is a future where free-cad is a strong
>>>>>> alternative to Solidworks, Pro/Engineer, and Inventor, to at least the same
>>>>>> extent that Gimp is an alternative to Photoshop, and ideally to the extent
>>>>>> that gcc is preferrable to many proprietary compilers.  Some of the things
>>>>>> that I think a special interest group at Noisebridge could focus on are:
>>>>>> * learning to use the package as it is
>>>>>> * creating new tutorials
>>>>>> * evangelizing to people doing mechanical design, who generally don't
>>>>>> know much about free software
>>>>>> * studying the architecture and workflow of the program, and how it
>>>>>> compares to proprietary alternatives
>>>>>> * reaching out to the core developers, and providing feedback
>>>>>> * writing code, at any of three levels - bolt on extensions, patches,
>>>>>> and contributing to the core
>>>>>> * exploring how free-cad might be better tied in to rendering, 2d
>>>>>> cad, 3d printing, CAM, 3d object scanning, open source robotics, openscad,
>>>>>> and online 3d repositories like thingiverse and google 3d warehouse
>>>>>> Unfortunately, I'm sort of committed until late April, but I wanted
>>>>>> to get the idea out there while it is on my mind.  Am I the only one
>>>>>> interested in this topic, or am I in good company? Are there people
>>>>>> interested in meeting to talk about this?
>>>>>> -Mike
>>>>> Mike, I know you said you were busy until late April, but can you come
>>>>> in and present Freecad and your vision for Freecad for an hour at
>>>>> Replicator Wednesday this week (03/28/2012)? I'm really interested in the
>>>>> project and I think I can get some others in the community interested in
>>>>> checking it out.
>>>>> We can have a few presentations using the big screen and audio. I'll
>>>>> ask Matt to come and show off his http://reconstructme.net/ kinect
>>>>> based scanner, and I'll present some things I made with the  elegant and
>>>>> simple http://www.openscad.org/
>>>>> Of course Andrew Rutter will also bring in Type A Machines prototypes
>>>>> and have them printing samples.
>>>>> Replicator wednesday isn't just for the 3D printer types, in lieu of
>>>>> any other regular meetings we are the de facto regularly meeting fab group
>>>>> at Noisebridge, focusing on all the things to make all the things.  If you
>>>>> want an introduction to the Noisebridge tools shop, the Makerbots or
>>>>> Repraps at Noisebridge,or the Nb Laser cutter, come to Replicator Wednesday
>>>>> the first of the month (04/04/2012 in April) and we'll give everyone an
>>>>> introduction.
>>>>> -R. Miloh
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Noisebridge-discuss mailing list
>>> Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
>>> https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler - Albert
Einstein <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein>
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo Da
Perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there
is nothing left to take away - Antoine de Saint
Keep It Simple Stupid - Kelly
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