Hi, this is my blog, and also a guestbook. I publish stuff I do from time to time. Be welcome and feel at home, have a coffee and don't hesitate to drop me a line or two. All languages are highly welcome, especially the most exotic ones (nederlands, bij voorbeeld...).

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Already 63 messages this year, showing all of them, or browse by tag: sketches, freecad, opensource, linux, works, architecture, projects, 3d, blender, detail, talks, inthepress, animations, opensurce, firefoxos, bede, idsampa, photo, gaming, wordpress, webdesign, Architecture, trilhas, orange, cooking, or search the 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, .

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in categories  sketches  permalink:  385   posted on 24.07.2017 1:32
From Yorik
Couple of bad ones this week, just for the record... The last one was waiting for a concert to begin

in categories  sketches  permalink:  384   posted on 16.07.2017 21:24
From Yorik
Traditional Sunday Minhocão sketch

in categories  sketches  permalink:  383   posted on 15.07.2017 24:13
From Yorik
Today's drawing with Urban Sketchers São Paulo, in São Paulo city centre.

in categories  sketches  permalink:  382   posted on 05.07.2017 23:43
From Yorik
Drawing I did today at praça Roosevelt

permalink:  381   posted on 04.07.2017 3:02
From Yorik
Commenting post 379: Hi,

This is not so easy unfortunately, you cannot just take a script written for one application and make it run on another, even if they are written in the same language. It would take days or weeks and might be even easier to rewrite from zero.

It might be easier/more fficient for you to work in Blender, no?

permalink:  380   posted on 03.07.2017 19:24
From Arq German Alcala
Commenting post 372: Tengo interes en Patrocinar FreeCAD, favor de contactarme, te envie solicitud de amistad Facebook.

permalink:  379   posted on 03.07.2017 9:11
From amer
Hi yorik
I am amateur interested in the history and the immitation of citadels and old castles built in stone and brick
And as I want models with details cornices, bow, pilaster, ceiling, etc.
I try to write a macro for freecad
For this I find a program written in python to blender:
Add_mesh_masonry.py written by Paul Spooner
Can you help me to make it compatible with freecad especially with the architecture workshop of freecad

Thank you in advance and here is the code:
# add_mesh_masonry.py (c) 2007 - 'til now; Paul Spooner (Dudecon)

snipped (...)
# optimize for speed. Make it run faster?
# Grout model... yeah.
# consider removing wedge crit for small "c" and "cl" values
# wrap around for openings on radial stonework?
# auto-clip wall edge to SMALL for radial and domes.
# unregister doesn't release all references.
# repeat for opening doesn't distribute evenly when radialized - see wrap around
# note above.
# if opening width == indent*2 the edge blocks fail (row of blocks cross opening).
# if openings overlap fills inverse with blocks.
# Negative grout width creates a pair of phantom blocks, seperated by grout
# width, inside the edges.
# I was going to add an "inner/outer" toggle for steps and shelves but user can just rotate 180
# though you can't set shelf and steps on opposite sides of wall...

permalink:  378   posted on 02.07.2017 22:52
From Yorik
Commenting post 376: Hehe I thought someone would ask... We linux users cannot resist desktop screenshots.

The desktop is fluxbox (yeah I'm old-school but I really like it), with a theme I did and modified a bit afterwards to match the gtk theme base color, the gtk theme is elementary dark, the icon theme is Surfn Numix, the background I don't remember, and the geany theme is made by hand, just editing the filetypes.common file.

permalink:  377   posted on 02.07.2017 22:37
From Yorik
Commenting post 375: Thanks! Those are indeed good ideas... You are thinking ahead of me!

permalink:  376   posted on 02.07.2017 16:44
From Gergő
Commenting post 372: Hey,

I don't know the first thing about FreeCAD, but when I saw your screenshot I instantly fall in love with your Geany (and GTK) theme. Could you possible share what themes do you use (and where can I get them)?

Thank you very much!

permalink:  375   posted on 02.07.2017 6:33
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 372: Thanks for the news and congrats for the grant. About the patron. maybe you could give printed copies of your book. Or send them t-shirts with the FreeCAD logo (or with legends like "I am a FreeCAD patron", etc)

permalink:  374   posted on 29.06.2017 21:16
From Yorik
Commenting post 373: Oh thanks!!! I didn't know that. Will look at it right now.

permalink:  373   posted on 29.06.2017 20:27
From viralata
Commenting post 372: Hi Yorick, I don't know if you had a look at it but BlenderCam in it's last releases had a slicing part with a way to pack curves on a sheet. No idea what algorithm it uses but should be opensource.
A bientôt

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  372   posted on 29.06.2017 20:08
From Yorik

FreeCAD Arch development news - June 2017

Hi all,

This is time for a new review of what has been going on in Arch development this month. Quite a lot actually, it's exciting that several things I've been working on during the last couple of months begin to flourish into pretty interesting and usable features.

There is another interesting thing happening, is a very good synergy between the WikiLab project I'm working on now, which you must grow tired of hearing about, and FreeCAD developement. FreeCAD fuels the project development, which in turns fuels FreeCAD with bugfixes and new features. Me and other FreeCAD community members are really keen to pursue and extend that synergy further with other projects.

As always, don't forget you can help me spending more time on FreeCAD, by sponsoring me via my Patreon campaign. As a side note, that campaign is really taking flight, sooner than I had expected, I'm highly overdue to update the campaign page, and add some whistles and bells such as goals and rewards.

As a possible reward, I am thinking about doing some short videos, explaining in detail specific feature of the Arch workbench, and more generally, doing BIM with FreeCAD. For example, one about walls, one about working with imported dwg files, things like that. These videos would be, in a first time, available to Patreon supporters only, as a kind of present to thank them, and then, after a couple of months, added on youtube for everybody. What do you think? Good idea? Lousy idea?

So enough of this, here is the real stuff:


If you are following the progresses of our WikiLab project, you might have seen that the crowdfunding campaign ended successfully, and we are now getting started. The wood panels have been ordered already, the final cutting sheets are being made, and the cutting should begin next week. This will take roughly two months, during which we will contract a constructor to build the foundation and base walls, and hopefully everything will be ready to build the WikiHouse-based part, at the end of August, during the university holidays, and just before the rainy season.

On the image above is a first "rib" we've been mounting this month, as a kind of proof-of-feasability, and to boost the crowdfunding campaign too. It went amazingly well, this element was built in about 2 hours by 5 people, it is very easy to understand and build, and the solidity is really impressive.

I'm also starting to write a manual (in portuguese) that willbe the actual construction document. No plans and sections in this project!

There are still several details to solve, some of them have been already discussed and solved on the WikiHouse community slack, which is a really cool way to solve these issues collaboratively, something we've been doing with OpeningDesign for quite some time already

Last month I also had an online conversation with Harry Knight from the WikiHouse Foundation, and wrote an article on Medium.com about our project. Check it up!

We are also studying small changes and improvements to the design, such as holders for shelf supports, and ventilation holes at the top, that can be closed with 3D-printed custom lids.

Draft Label

This is a new feature I've been working on, inspired by Revit's tag objects. In Revit, you have different types of tags, that you can attach to an existing object. That tag will then automatically display a certain information about the attached object. For example, material tags will show the material of the object, door tags will show the door number, etc.

In FreeCAD I decided to go for a bit more generic approach: There is a new generic Draft Label object, which is made of a piece of text and a two-segment line, which can have an arrow at its end. The text can be made to display some property from the attached object. At the moment only a small list of properties are available, and can be selected from a drop-down box, but the system is very extensible and you could have those Labels display just any kind of information that can be retrieved from the base object.

As always, this is only the first, rough version, it works, but over time and use it will certainly refine ito something more solid and powerful. It should also gain additional feature so it can be used for all the Revit scenarios: show component numbers, space tags, etc. All these should be displayable in a distinct manner (in a rounded rectangular frame, in a circle, etc...)

Shuttleworth Foundation

The other big news of this month, is that I've been elected for a Shuttleworth Foundation Flash Grant! Thanks to OpenSourceEcology fellows, who indicated me! I still don't have fully formed plans for what to do with the money, but a couple of things I definitely want to do: 1) Help founding the wikilab project above (that is done already), 2) Turn the FreeCAD manual into a printed book. Most of the work is done already, it still needs a professional editor review, then it can be printed and sold, which nowadays is very easy thanks to sites like lulu.com. And 3) extend what I'm doing with the money from my Patreon campaign, spend more time coding for FreeCAD. I would be able to work half-time on FreeCAD for a coupe of months, I'm trying to see how to set that up now. As a point 4), I might have more/better ideas later on, still thinking about it.

GSOC / Rebar

This year, FreeCAD has received four student projects for the Google Summer of Code. For who doesn't know, it is a program by Google to sponsor students to work on open-source projects during the (northern hemisphere) summer months. We are now approximately at the middle of the coding period, and our 4 students are doing great!

I am myself mentoring one of these projects, together with Bernd, which is Amritpal Singh's proposal to extend the Reinforcement bar tools in FreeCAD's Arch module. So far so (very) good, Amritpal is surprising us with the quality of his code, which you can already test if using a development version of FreeCAD: Just install the Reinforcement addon via the addons manager, and on next run, the Arch workbench will detect it and add its tools under its current Rebar tool.

The objective of Amritpal's work is to extend the User Interface around the Rebar tool, to add it a series of tailored dialogs to create specific types of reinforcement bars, such as straight bars, U-shaped bars, stirrups, etc. All this UI work integrates with the current Rebar object, which is kept as the overall, can-do-everything Rebar object. The different dialogs help the user to create and edit these rebars in a more friendly way, but doesn't remove anything of the power of the base rebar object, which is simply made of a profile, an extrusion path, and a series of placements, and can therefore represent any kind of rebar we can think of.

Everybody wins with this approach: The normal user, who just wants a clear and easy way to add reinforcement bars, and the power user, for who these dialogs are not enough and who wants to tweak or script these rebars in any way possible.


Here is the best part, in my opinion. I'm working (it's not finished yet, but working already) on an algorithm to perform bin packing in FreeCAD. It is an operation that consists in placing/packing different shapes inside a container (the bin), so it uses as little space as possible. The immediate output, obviously, is toproduce cut sheets for WikiHouse-style constructions, like this:

Interestingly, this is a subject that renders a lot of theory (lots of research papers on the net), but few open-source applications. The only "readable" ones I found were SVGNest and the WikiHouse plugin for SketchUp. None of them is usable directly in FreeCAD (different coding language, too tied into their host system, etc), but they provided precious resource to understand how such an algorithm should work.

They both use the same concept, which is the no-fit polygon. The idea is more or less this: You place a first piece inside the container. Then, for each other piece, you try to "rotate" it around the already placed piece(s). You are basically trying to place the new piece as close as possible to the ones already there. By doing this, you end up defining a "no-go" zone, that is, a zone where our piece cannot go otherwise it would overlap the already placed pieces. By subtracting that zone from the container area, you obtain an "available zone" where the new piece can be placed. You then place the piece at the leftmost available position in that zone, try again with different rotations of the piece, measure the results, and keep the one that occupies the smallest space.

The above concept is working already. It takes a lot of time now, it still needs a lot of optimization. But the concept seems solid. Later on, I will try to implement a genetic algorithm which would run several passes, swapping the order of some pieces, and keeping the best solution. There is a lot of space for improvements.

In the coming days/weeks I should have a basic implementation ready in FreeCAD, so we can start playing!


The nesting system described above is made to work with any shape or feature of FreeCAD. You select a series of flat objects, and another flat object as the container, and the algorithm will return a series of placement transformations, that you can apply to the object to have them packed into the space defined by the container shape. So this will work with any Part-based object.

However, the main interest for me is to use this with Arch Panel objects, for constructions such as our WikiHouse-based project above. These panels, at the moment, already have several features that will be useful for this kind of use, such as the Panel Cut feature that produces a flat view of a Panel, to be placed on a Panel sheet, you see that everything is ready for the nesting, we already have both the shapes and the container.

I already added a couple of useful features such as individual margin settings for each Panel Cut (the minimal distance it must keep with other pieces on the sheet), and the ability to render a Panel Cut either as a Wire or a Face. I also added a way to define and represent wood fiber orientation on a Panel Sheet:

This, allied with a way to restrict possible orientations of a piece on the sheet, will allow to have the nesting algorithm respect the fiber orientation when placing the pieces. There are also other features to come, such as the possibility to use any shape as the container (at the moment it is restricted to rectangular shapes), and I believe we will have a pretty powerful and flexible system.

Then the last operation needed in order to make FreeCAD produce WikiHouse components entirely, is to generate Path objects from the Panel Sheets, a task that has been already worked on extensively by Sliptonic (check this video where he explains it all).

That's it for this month I guess, as always,all comments and ideas are welcome, be it by posting on Patreon, on my blog, or on the FreeCAD forum!

in categories  sketches  permalink:  371   posted on 25.06.2017 22:13
From Yorik
Drawings I did today on the Minhocão. First aquarelle in ages, there is work down the road...

permalink:  370   posted on 20.06.2017 21:28
From Alex
Commenting post 361: Hi Yorik.

I'm reading your blog from some time now and I'm happy to see some advancement into the Freecad development.

As a furniture designer/manufacturer I have plenty of experience on using different profesional software solutions into this field. As you can imagine my interest is to see implemented in Freecad more features related to the furniture CAD/CAM.

I can help with my expertise and also financially if you want to develop this kind of features. I begun to learn myself puthon thinking to begin to develop by myself the tools that I need, but my free time it is very limited and I didn't made much progress.

As I see you are interested on implementing some nesting capabilities in Freecad, so I will share with you some algorithms that I found. I will send to you by email.

For furniture manufacturing, besides nesting and CNC mechanisation, Freecad will ned to have also support for the automatic generation of drawings, BOM and edgebanding capabilities.

in categories  opensource  linux  permalink:  369   posted on 15.06.2017 23:30
From Yorik

Writing a task list powerline segment

This is one of these notes to self, in case I want to redo/extend/modify this in the future... Not sure it is of any interest to anybody less nerd, but here it goes for your enjoyment anyway I use powerline since quite some time, it prints fancy prompts in your terminal, where you can plug all kinds of nice nerdy info to be printed, like time, cpu throttle, weather, etc.. If you have a shell that has two prompts (left and right), powerline uses it too. It's easy to install on any linux distro, it's in all packages repositories, and very configurable.

Basically I only used the left segment that shows the current path, and a short right one that shows the current branch if you are in a VCS-controlled folder (git, hg, etc..) and if it's dirty or clean. This is basically how powerlines comes out of the box.

Recently I also discovered taskwarrior, and I quite liked it too. It's a very simple command-line based task list system (I like doing lists) and it has a powerline plugin that shows you the most urgent task to do. I liked that a lot too, having the task under your eyes there kinds of makes you want to get rid of it, so you end up doing it so you can mark it as done, and this has marvelous effects on the processing of your whole list...

I also wanted to sync these tasks somewhere online too, so when you are in the street and you remember something you need to do, you can add it to the list directly from your phone, and forget about it.

Taskwarrior has a server system, but it seemed a bit too much to me, plus I don't have a full-featured server to install the taskwarrior server to (only a standard webhosting service),so this didn't work either.

I use a lot the notes system of nextcloud, pretty easy to use from your cellphone, it has beautiful markdown support, etc. I use that for about everything. So I thought about a very simple task list system, that you could manage from nextcloud's notes app. It's basically a simple text file, where tasks are lines that begin with a *. Lines that don't begin with a * are not tasks, you can write or organize the way you want:

It is synced to your computer, so locally it's a simple text file that you can edit the way you want (I put an alias in my .zshrc like this so I can just run "taskedit" from the teminal

alias taskedit='nano /home/yorik/Documents/Notes/Tasks.txt'

Then finally I wanted the most urgent task to appear in a powerline segment. It's actually pretty simple. All you need is to write a python script like this:

from powerline.segments import Segment, with_docstring
from powerline.theme import requires_segment_info

class ActiveTaskSegment:

    def __call__(self, pl, segment_info=None, create_watcher=None):
        #pl.debug('Running powerline_tasks'
        taskfile = "/home/yorik/Documents/Notes/Tasks.txt"
        f = open(taskfile,"rb")
        lines = [l for l in f]
        for l in lines:
            if l[0] == "*":
                l = l[1:].strip()
                l = l.replace("**","")
                if "T:" in l:
                    t = l.split("T:")
                    l = t[0].strip()
                    t = t[1].strip()
                    t = None
                segs = [{'contents':l.decode("utf8"),'highlight_groups':['critical:success']}]
                if t:
                return segs
        return []

active_task = with_docstring(
    '''Returns the next active task
    Highlight groups used: ``critical:success``
Then you need to save that file in some place where python can find and import it (for ex. one of the folders indicated by sys.path in python). Then in your .config/powerline/themes/shell/default.json, together with the other segments:

            "function": "powerline_tasks.active_task",
            "priority": 40
And that's it. powerline_tasks is the name of your .py file. The first task found in the file will be printed, and if there is "T:" in that task, what comes after is printed differently so you can use it to set a deadline or something:

Finally I also wrote a short "taskdone" script to delete the first task when it is done:


taskfile = "/home/yorik/Documents/Notes/Tasks.txt"
f = open(taskfile,"rb")
lines = [l for l in f]
f = open(taskfile,"wb")
done = False
for l in lines:
    if l.startswith("*") and not done:
        done = True
        print "Marking task",l.strip(),"as done"

in categories  sketches  permalink:  368   posted on 10.06.2017 23:54
From Yorik
Todays drawings with Urban Sketchers São Paulo, at Vila Maria Zélia, a 1917 housing compound built for factory workers

permalink:  367   posted on 05.06.2017 16:34
From Yorik
Commenting post 366: Yes, that is true. At the moment the best way is to export a SVG file, then open it in inkscape and print it frmo there, this will give you total precision.
In 0.17 development version, TechDraw now has PDF export available too.

permalink:  366   posted on 05.06.2017 16:05
From Prashant Patil
Commenting post 361: I Love FreeCAD app its a great tool. Easier to learn and master, you dont have to be an engineering -drafting major to use it. I have learnt it all by myself and some tutorials on youtube. It's great.

I often try yo take prints of my drawings but the print feature still needs more work to be done.

in categories  sketches  permalink:  365   posted on 04.06.2017 23:45
From Yorik
Chinese ink, on the Minhocão

in categories  sketches  permalink:  364   posted on 03.06.2017 24:35
From Yorik
A quick drawing made today in Higienopolis...

permalink:  363   posted on 29.05.2017 22:50
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 361: Great news and very interesting the online chat. We hope to see the release of V0.17 soon.

permalink:  362   posted on 29.05.2017 16:39
From Danilson Gomes
Commenting post 361: Estou gostando

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  361   posted on 28.05.2017 24:18
From Yorik

FreeCAD Arch development news - May 2017

So here we are for our monthly report of what has been going on on the FreeCAD front this month. As usual, I will mostly talk about what I have been doing myself, but don't forget that many people are working on FreeCAD, so there is always much more happening than what I talk about in these notes.

To resume quickly, Werner has been busy working on the whole FreeCAD, as usual, but specially enhancing several issues in the tree view, making selection of large objects much faster, added several FEM tools, and fixed hundreds of other things. Looo has started merging core stuff from his Python3 branch into master (step by step, we will get there), WandererFan made a big update to TechDraw, Abdullah worked on better exceptions handling, and Realthunder is pursuing his work on PathArea, a set of tools inside the Path workbench, that work a bit differently than the others (they rely more on shapes).

But there is much more. For a deeper look at what has been worked on recently by me and others, check the commits log on github. Also, don't forget that more and more is happening outside the strict circle of FreeCAD source code, since it becomes more and more convenient to plug external workbenches into your existing FreeCAD installation. By the way, one of these external workbenches that becomes more and more interesting for BIM work, is Flamingo Tools. Check it if you haven't yet (look at the very professional pdf files in the "tutorials" folder)

So below are the highlights of what I have been doing recently. I also fixed a lot of small issues, but that are not worth mentioning here.

Don't forget you can help me spend more time on FreeCAD by collaborating to my Patreon campaign. This campaign is beginning to grow to impressive levels (special thanks to AlephObjects!) and I might soon have more impressive news to reveal! So next month I'll start improving it a bit, add goals and maybe rewards. I have a couple of ideas already. Don't worry, all of you early backers will automatically qualify for the whole suite


The most important feature I've been working on this month is a new Multi-Materials system. The idea is simple: Arch objects (and already some other FreeCAD objects, such as FEM) already have a Material property. If you give an Arch object a material, it will take the color of that material. Scripts and macros can already use the information contained in that material, for example the density, but so far that is all it does.

Arch objects can now, instead of a Material, take a Multimaterial. The multimaterial simply holds a list of materials, each with a given thickness:

This can already be used in Walls, Panels and Windows. Walls and Panels will use this to construct multi-layer walls and panels, and windows will use this to give a different material to each window part (frame, panels, etc). These objects all become multi-solid, and will contain a same number of solids and materials. With this, the paradigm change of the Arch workbench to multi-solid is now complete: Before, Arch objects were made of exactly one solid. Now, Arch objects can be made of one or more solids.

So far intersections of these multi-layer walls are not done automatically, I am still investigating the best way to achieve that...

Snapping and Working Plane improvements

With other users we were recently looking at Microstation's AccuDraw system. If you ever used Microstation, that is one of its most interesting features. Everytime you click a point to draw a shape (polyline, etc), you have an incredible amount of options available. The snapping system in Dratft/Arch is very much inspired from it, but there are still a couple of interesting features missing:

One first improvement is a new button in the task panel to realign the Draft working Plane while drawing a Wire/Polyline, along the latest segment drawn. This gives you a series of new alignment options and works very much like AccuDraw.

There are also a couple of new tools to place the Working Plane accurately: The Working Plane button now also works with 3 vertices selected, instead of a face, there is a new tool to place a Working Plane proxy in the document, that has the effect to save a working plane position. At any moment later, you can simply reset the working pane to that saved position.

Finally, I have added a couple of convenient macros to the Macros repository (remember that with FreeCAD v0.17 you can now install any of these macros directly from the Addons Manager): A first one rotates the view so it faces the current working plane perpendicularly, which basically allows Draft to behave like the Sketcher when drawing in a certain plane, and another that does the contrary: It moves the working plane so its center is exactly at the center of the current view. This is useful when you are drawing far from the working plane origin, and therefore you are out of the grid limits.


Another area I've been pretty busy this month, is not fully FreeCAD. It is our WikiLab project. By the way, I will have a chat online with people from the WikiHouse Foundation on youtube, on monday 29th. If this subject interests you, be sure to join us! I also recently wrote an article about the project for the WikiHouse website that you might like.

The project crowdfunding is also coming dangerously close to its end, if you have a couple of Reals to spare, please consider helping it, the experience gathered with it will be precious for everybody...

We also started cutting a couple of test pieces like these:

This was basically to calibrate the machine. One of the partners of the project is 123painéis, that is where the cutting (and part of the assembly too) is done. But it also served to test if OSB panels would work well, and I can tell you they work amazingly well. I was afraid the cut would be a bit rough, but the cut is just perfect, and the finish is very nice.

"Enough of that!" will you tell me. "What relation with FreeCAD does this have!" Well, a lot actually. To begin with, the project is entirely developed on FreeCD. Also, I did a lot of coding for the Path workbench which was a sponsored job, made with Brad Collette (sliptonic in the FreeCAD world) and Daniel Falck. But at that time, I didn't know much about CNC manufacturing. Many ideas were implemented under their guidance, but, I must admit it with great shame, without fully knowing what I was doing. Now that I'm going through the whole process, everything is making sense and clicking into place.

Also a lot of subjects, that I was aware already, such as tolerance, dogbones, nesting, etc. now required some thought from me. This didn't result into actual coding, but rather on design strategies. FreeCAD proves to be an amazing tool to work with these panel constructions, you can take high advantage of parametric objects. To give you a small example, all the holes are parametric. Changing a hole (adding dogbones) requires you to only change one hole to adapt the whole project.

Be sure to check the main work file if you want to have a better look. All the project development is done in FreeCAD, the full model is also available here

All the generation of DXF cut profiles is automatic. The only missing part is automatic nesting, which is not easy. The only open-source app I found that can do nesting is SVGNest, unfortunately its code is very hard to adapt to FreeCAD. I'm currently studying it to try to understand how the algorithm works, and maybe try to rebuild it in FreeCAD.

Next step will be to generate the GCode directly from FreeCAD.

Start center redesign

I am also working on a new version of the Start Center:

It has several tabs, and will be vey configurable. You can play with it here, and discuss it on the forum if you have ideas.

Todo list

I will finish with adding here a couple of ideas I had while talking with other users, that I'm currently working on or will attack one way or another in the coming weeks:

  • Add a "snap between 2 points" mode. That could be easily done with the new teporary snap points feature added last month:
  • Add a "snap from" mode that allows you to snap to a certain distance from a point
  • Add a system to check if addons need another addon or a specific python module
  • Add a way to check if an update is available for a given addon
  • Add a series of intelligent 2D BIM-oriented objects in Draft/Arch: Section marks (if possible placed automatically on TechDraw sheets), parking slots, vegetation symbols, etc...
  • Add a kind of magic leader/tag object that can display automatically some info about its target object, such as material, name, size, etc... Similar to the series of tag objects in Revit.
  • Adopt a wider concept for Arch Floors, that would embrace a much wider scope than simply floors, but could be used to gather other Arch objects in any kind of situation, not only per floor. It should also be based on App::Part to benefit from its nice handling capabilities (it can be moved like if it was one single object).

in categories  sketches  permalink:  360   posted on 27.05.2017 24:21
From Yorik
Today's drawings with Urban Sketchers São Paulo, at Horto Florestal park

permalink:  359   posted on 24.05.2017 23:39
From Chris Badger
Hi, Yorik - I really hate to bother you through this channel, but I cannot get my FreeCAD registration activation, after several attempts over last 24 hours. The FreeCAD Forum has a catch-22 for this: "if having trouble with activation, contact Forum Admin". But....haha...to contact admin, I need an activated account. I tracked you down here thru github.
Can you ping someone to investigate? username: olddognewtricks email: nospam@ameritech.net.
Sorry again to pester you. Thanks!!

permalink:  358   posted on 15.05.2017 10:53
From leo
Commenting post 67: i using Ubuntu how to install this script

in categories  sketches  permalink:  357   posted on 07.05.2017 22:26
From Yorik
Today's drawings with #USKSP at São PAulo Pinacoteca, in the middle of a pretty cool antique car fair...

permalink:  356   posted on 07.05.2017 21:50
From Yorik
Commenting post 355: I'm really sorry but there is no way to answer this question.. It's done when it's done, that the motto of FreeCAD But have a try at one of the 0.17 development versions, they are very stable already.

permalink:  355   posted on 07.05.2017 17:12
From Rusty Feather
Please speculate: when will the next stable version of FreeCAD be released?

permalink:  353   posted on 03.05.2017 20:01
From Yorik
Commenting post 352: I can't understand what your problem is... Could you register on the freecad forum at http://forum.freecadweb.org and post your problem there? Try to explain better what is exactly the difficulty thart you have, you will have more chance to get the right answer. Thanks!

permalink:  352   posted on 03.05.2017 18:30
From marcus
I'm having the following difficulty in freecad.
My tools do not remain.
It's the macros!
Parts library
Work features
How do I make them stay?
Can someone help me?

permalink:  349   posted on 03.05.2017 13:05
From sudha
hi rying soemthing in python

permalink:  348   posted on 02.05.2017 20:27
From Yorik
Commenting post 347: Normalmente cuando este erro aparece (undefined symbol), es porque una biblioteca fue correctamente incluida durante la compilación, pero no fue correctamente linkada. En consecuencia, el código compila, pero no ejecuta correctamente porque no se encuentra el .so que contiene este symbol. Debes procurar donde existe esta DlgCreateSpur16staticMetaObjectE (u algo similar, este nombre debe significar algo), y verificar que el archivo .so que lo contiene está correctamente linkado en cmake. Me disculpe no poder te indicar mas precisamente como hacer eso, no soy muy bueno con gcc y todo eso, pero debe ser relativamente fácil de encontrar la solución...

permalink:  347   posted on 02.05.2017 16:50
From Julio César
Hola, espero estés bien, primero me presentaré, soy recién graduado en la Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas en Cuba. Pertenezco a un proyecto que tiene como objetivo promover el uso del software libre en la industria cubana, específicamente el FreeCAD. Para lograr este objetivo necesitamos ser capaces de adaptar el FreeCAD a las necesidades y preferencias propias.

El problema concreto que tenemos es:
Tenemos un módulo implementado en C++ y utiliza directamente para modelar las funcionalidades que ofrece el OCE.
Creamos la estructura del módulo con la herramienta fcbt.py e incluimos todas los .h y .cpp en el CMakeList para que se compilen junto al FreeCAD.

Cuando compilamos lo hace bien, sin embargo cuando seleccionamos el módulo no da el siguiente error:
SpurGearGui.so: undefined symbol: _ZN11SpurGearGui13DlgCreateSpur16staticMetaObjectE

Le agradeceríamos mucho su ayuda en este tema pues ya hemos leído los posts y tutoriales de la página y no entendemos porque nos da ese error.

Por favor si pudiese responderme a **nospam**@uci.cu le estaría muy agradecido.

Gracias de antemano. Saludos.

permalink:  345   posted on 30.04.2017 21:20
From Yorik
Commenting post 343: Hi, you would need to provide more information, there can be a huge number of reasons why an import fails. But this is not a very good place to discuss those specific problems, the best way would be to create yourself an account on the FreeCAD forum at http://forum.freecadweb.org and describe the problem with more details there (be sure to read the first post in the "help" section, it explains it all). There will be more people to help there, it'll be easier to get the right answer.

permalink:  343   posted on 30.04.2017 6:05
From halms
Commenting post 325: cant seem to open up ifc files i exported from revit. keep getting import error. any guides for revit export settings? thanks

in categories  sketches  permalink:  342   posted on 29.04.2017 21:56
From Yorik
The sketches of the day with Uban Sketchers São Paulo at Ibirapuera Auditorium

permalink:  341   posted on 29.04.2017 21:54
From Yorik
Commenting post 339: Hola Jaime,
Es difícil te ayudar así por aquí, es mejor te criar una cuenta en el foro de freecad en http://forum.freecadweb.org y postar (hay una sección en español) ahí hay más personas para ayudar... Pero debes describir los problemas que encuentras con más detalles y precisión, se posible con capturas de pantalla... El primero post de la sección explica como hacer.

permalink:  340   posted on 26.04.2017 7:07
From Jaime Rodríguez
Se me olvido dejarte mi correo electronico: **nospam**@gmail.com

permalink:  339   posted on 26.04.2017 6:55
From Jaime Rodríguez
Hola Yorik.
En primer lugar deseo agradecerte el gran trabajo que haces compartiendo tus conocimientos y contribuyendo al desarroyo de FreeCAD.
Soy un usuario del sofware libre, tengo Fedora-25. Soy aficionado al diseño arquitectonico, vengo de usar AutoCAD y Revit.
He estado siguiendo los tutoriales de Obijuan orientados al manejo de FreeCAD en el diseño de piezas. He encontrado tu blog y es muy interesante y completo para adquirir los conocimientos que deseo sobre el manejo de FreeCAD orientado al diseño Arquitectonico. Pero tengo muchos problemas.
FreeCAD en Fedora no funciona correctamente, no funcionan bien los modos de navegacion, los componentes como ventanas,puertas etc...no toman bien las posiciones ni las transparencias en los vidrios. Las dimensiones en los muros son enormes, apesar de que los tengo configurados en el panel correctamente. no se que puede estar pasando. Te agradeceria si me puedes orientar a corregir estos problemas pues estoy muy interesado en poder diseñar con FreeCAD.
Otra cosa, perdona que escriba en español, pero no se Ingles. Entiendo el Portugues y el Italiano aunque no lo escribo correctamente. Muchas gracias, un cordial saludo.

permalink:  338   posted on 23.04.2017 1:12
From Rafa (bitacovir)
Commenting post 337: Thanks for your hard work and no problem with long posts. I enjoy reading them. I was testing the arch panel tools with a project inspired by the wikihouse project. It is not a house. I'll publish it in the forum soon.

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  337   posted on 22.04.2017 19:16
From Yorik

FreeCAD Arch development news - april 2017


This is a short report of what I've been doing this month regarding the development of the Arch Workbench of FreeCAD.

At the beginning of this year I was complaining that the economical crisis in Brazil was making things hard here, and guess what, now we have so much work coming in that it got hard to find time for FreeCAD! This is something normal when you are working free-lance, it is always a roller coaster, but now thanks to my Patreon campaign there is a growing piece of stability in the balance, I need to find better ways to equalize everything. But it is really thrilling.

Also since a couple of months I got a major contribution from AlephObjects, the makers of the famous Lulzbot 3D printers. They are sponsoring not only me but a wide selection of people and open-source projects related to 3D and 3D printing (they are a major contributor to Blender). These guys are carrying on their shoulders a pretty big part of the open-source 3D world!

It would really be great to see more companies involved in supporting open-source projects development. For a company, supporting a project or a developer is a rather small investment, and is a much, much cheaper and interesting way to spend money than paying expensive monthly licenses to a software company just to be able to use their software.

By supporting the development of an open-source project, even with a small amount of money, a company would probably already have a big say in the development and be able to obtain features they need way faster than waiting for a software company to decide to implement them. Also, unlike when you are renting a software license, development and formation go hand in hand. Software companies might offer training programs, but it is always a short-term thing, while getting involved in an open-source project creates a much deeper, long-lasting and sustainable relationship between the company and the software, where training and learning and new features/versions is not just a service you buy once (and everybody who worked in a company knows that both these things wear off quite fast), but a permanent feature.

Okay that was my little minute of publicity, if you are a company, be as cool as AlephObjects, sponsor me!

Now back to real news. This month I have been working mostly on small things, bug fixing, and small user experience improvements throughout FreeCAD.

New snap mode

Several applications (AutoCAD-based apps, Sketchup) have this "hold" system where you hover the mouse over a point for a certain time, then the software "remembers" that point and offers you new snap locations for it. Call me crazy, but I always got a bit annoyed with the fact that you have to wait a second or so with your mouse stopped, in the middle of a fast operation like drawing a polyline.

So I thought, why not let the user insert those hold points manually, wherever and whenever (s)he wants? It is now implemented, and it works pretty well: Press Q anytime, while drawing, to add such a hold point. New snap locations will become available orthogonally to that point, and at their crossings if you have more than one. This is really fast, and can easily be extended further.


Support for materials and colors in DAE and OBJ import and export

This was a long-time issue, but it's finally done. When importing DAE and OBJ files (using the Arch OBJ importer), object color and transparency will be correctly rendered in FreeCAD.

When exporting to these formats, if the object has a material attached to it (currently only Arch and FEM objects can have a material), color and transparency will be taken form the material. If not, they will be taken from the object itself.


This makes exporting your architecture models to Blender for rendering much more comfortable, since all materials will be already there in Blender (same material/color in FreeCAD will create a same material entry in the OBJ or DAE file, and therefore in Blender).

Panels and Path

@sliptonic recently released an impressive video showing how the Path module could use the Arch Panels objects. We worked further on this, and added a series of improvements that pave the road to be able to comfortably build a model such as a wikihouse in FreeCAD, and be able to create, fine-tune and export g-code directly from it.

Misc FreeCAD-wide improvements

Small things have been fixed such as bugs in the DXF importer, small improvements to the object link dialog, the ability to define which wire of a window will cut the hole in its host wall, and bugs in the scaling of TechDraw views.

A couple of Arch utility tools, as well as the new Sketchfab exporter, have also been moved out of the FreeCAD source code, and are now in a new, separate WebTools. This will allow to bundle in that workbench a series of additional python modules related to web operations, that would be annoying to bundle in FreeCAD itself. This will make it much easier to install, and thanks to the new built-in Addons manager in FreeCAD, installing external workbenches has now become a piece of cake.


I also developed a new addon workbench to use CAD Exchanger to add support to several new file formats such as Rhino's .3DM or ACIS .SAT (which allows you to export Revit families to FreeCAD!). CAD Exchanger is a paid application, but I believe there could be a good synergy there, especially if they support more commercial file formats (also dreaming of decent 3D DWG support? Lobby them!), that are beyond the reach of an open-source project. And paying for a plugin to add commercial formats support to our favorite open-source app is something I would have no problem with, certainly I'm not the only one. Let's hope this synergy will flourish.


Major features


I have a large list of major features that I want to implement in FreeCAD and Arch, I've been talking about most of them in the previous development news, but these are all issues that require a lot of thinking, for example xrefs or walls. Very often I get comments like, why don't you make it work like in Revit (or ArchiCAD, or -name your favorite software here-). The thing is, you can rush and implement an interface quite quickly. But the really important part is not what the user sees or does, it's the underlying structure. If you design some user interface on top of a badly designed data structure, sooner or later you will get yourself limited by the limitations of your data structure. And it will be very hard to get around it if you designed a user interface already. But when you have a well designed structure, adding a good user interface on top of it is easy.

We had this discussion recently about the reinforcing bars tool in FreeCAD. It needs a better interface, that is obvious, but, more important, the reinforcing bar system behind it must be robust and flexible enough to be able to support any kind of crazy situations such as, for example, non-uniform (spline-based) curved walls. If we don't have that, sooner or later our model will fail to address a certain issue.

Then when we have such a powerful system, designing a user interface on top of it, which allows you to, for example, click a column and automatically place a series of reinforcing bars by just specifying a couple of parameters in a nice dialog box is much easier. And if you need a case that the dialog box cannot do, the underlying model can do it. You can still write a small python script that will solve the problem.

That development philosophy is at the deep roots of FreeCAD. Often newcomers complain about the lack of user-friendliness of the FreeCAD interface. But we use to think that there is a right order in software design: First make sure your base structures are powerful and flexible, then design the interface for it.

The interesting aspect is that I think we are entering a kind of new epoch in FreeCAD. Many parts of it are now pretty robust, flexible and stable. And there is a series of new developers coming in, interested in working on the interface side of things. This is also a very precise and long-term work, there is no magical solution, UI-wise. Everything is a question of testing, seeing what works best and what users like (an indication that it works well), and refining.

By the way, have you seen the revamped icons that @agryson has been working on? Also, don't forget that FreeCAD also support color and icon themes, thanks to the hard work of @wmayer and @pablogil...


Sorry for that long diversion, but there is quite some time I wanted to explain better that thing, "why FreeCAD still hasn't a better user interface". We'll get there, but first things first.

About the other major features I am still exploring and didn't find a good attack path yet:

  • Xrefs: I think we are close to something there (see the discussion ). I was first thinking to start with something hybrid with different "modes" where you can either make it insert, in the current document, a full copy of all the objects of the references document, with all its properties, or just a "condensed" view of those objects, but the digital project approach is totally doable and seems much more interesting.

  • Walls: Two things are becoming highly necessary: Support for more complex, multi-layer walls, and a more powerful system to join walls. Note that both these things are possible and working already, but the system is still a bit cumberstone. Multilayer walls is the easiest one to solve, what we need there is probably a kind of "super-wall" object, that would hold the different wall layers. The auto-joining is a more delicate issue. Currently, joining two walls makes them turn into one. But that's not cool, we need to be able to still manipulate these walls independently. Most apps do tricks to make them look like they are joined, but they are still independent objects. But I still didn't find a good idea to do that in FreeCAD.

  • Types: As I was writing in an earlier post, In Revit the concept of individual object almost doesn't exist. Everything is part of families (communism?). In FreeCAD, the individual object is king. Relationships exist between one and another, but the concept of a "family" is very shallow. However, working with families and types in Revit is really good. I'd like to introduce that more in the Arch workbench, and make objects more dependent on some more general definitions. However, how to do that without loosing the precious individuality, which gives a lot of freedom that Revit doesn't have? No clear idea yet.


Sorry for that long read once again, hope you enjoyed, and I'll try to find ways to manage my time better next month! Don't forget you can help me to spend more time working on FreeCAD by sponsoring me on Patreon.

Also, have a look on our ongoing wikihouse-based project in Brasil, be sure to have a look at the FreeCAD files!


FYI, the image above has been heavily reworked in inkscape, but the sheet is originally exported from FreeCAD.

permalink:  333   posted on 20.04.2017 1:42
From Marco
Thank you for publishing this inspirational site and showcasing such a great works. Hope to see a longevity life on this site and your body of work published.
Best - Marco

in categories  sketches  permalink:  332   posted on 09.04.2017 22:29
From Yorik
More sketches!

These I made with Uban Sketchers São Paulo at the Água Branca park today:

There were made with Fabien in the city center this week:

And these a bit too fast last week at the MUBE:

in categories  sketches  permalink:  331   posted on 27.03.2017 13:14
From Yorik
One more dose, first time withUrban Sketchers São Paulo, at rua Avanhandava

in categories  sketches  permalink:  330   posted on 26.03.2017 21:04
From Yorik
Some sketches of yesterday at the CCSP

permalink:  329   posted on 23.03.2017 14:42
From Yorik
Commenting post 328: Wow, impressive testimony! Thanks so much, man! I agree 100% about the need for better tutorials, it's actually on my TODO list. Have you seen this series? It actually shows quite a lot about Arch: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdkonWvx-bL2TIvDtnz2BiQ

permalink:  328   posted on 23.03.2017 9:32
From Willem Basson
Commenting post 325: Hi Yorik,

As a complete novice to 3D parametric modelling, I had to make a decision in September last year whether it is worth my while to involve myself in it at all and, if so, would FreeCAD be the program worth my while investing in. After some research I decided, since I cannot afford the commercial packages anyway, to take the plunge and invest in learning the program and thereby grow together with FreeCAD. I downloaded the 12 very helpful 'FreeCAD Lessons for Beginners' and was soon able to tackle a complicated 3D architectural design problem that intrigued me for months that otherwise would have been too difficult for me to solve just making use of 2D methods. I also discovered that the parametric approach immediately enabled me to draw out site layouts program where missing dimensions sometimes have to be deduced from the others with far greater ease, which I then imported into my existing 2D CAD program - an immediate practical application for someone as 'green' as myself.

And now, 6 months down the line it looks like I may be doing my first full blown paid 3D job for a client on FreeCAD soon. This is blowing new life into a career that was threatened by redundancy. Very empowering.

I am delighted to read here how well FreeCAD is comparing with Revit. That is very reassuring.

Allow me to express my sincerest gratitude for the wonderful work you-, and the rest of the software development team, are doing.

If I may place my most pressing need on the 'development request wishlist' it would be for a series of tutorials for complete beginners, like those first 12 general ones I started off with, just focusing on the Architectural Workbench and BIM. I am really struggling to make proper full use of this workbench.



permalink:  327   posted on 21.03.2017 16:06
From archana khare
Commenting post 159: sir. i am an architecture student and my thesis project is open mall. i loved your work for open air mall. i need to know the brief concept behind the project as per design basis. let me be the part of it thank you

permalink:  326   posted on 21.03.2017 14:59
From Jonathan
Commenting post 175: This solution worked when nothing else did. Thank you.

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  325   posted on 19.03.2017 23:27
From Yorik

Revit and FreeCAD

Last couple of weeks I've had the opportunity to do some work in Revit. This was highly welcome as my knowledge of that application was becoming rather obsolete. Having a fresh, new look on it brought me a lot of new ideas, reinforced some ideas I already had, and changed a couple of old perceptions too. So I cannot resist the temptation to do a little comparison between Revit and FreeCAD.

For who is not used to this blog, you must be warned that I am one of the developers of FreeCAD, and therefore my opinions here cannot be anything else than strongly biased. But for the sake of the exercise, I'll do my best to keep as neutral as possible, and look only at the technical side (I won't mention all the open source side of things).

The most important point I think, is that both pieces of software are surprisingly more similar than we use to think. Working in your spare time on a small open source project, and getting bashed all over the internet about how perfect Revit is, you end up thinking your humble work is phenomenally behind what thousands of Autodesk programmers can produce. It turns out that's a pretty wrong perception, I think. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but FreeCAD comes out surprisingly well compared to Revit, and is actually better in many areas.

I'll start with what is similar in both apps. Both are fundamentally based on constrained sketches, that is, 2D shapes where you can put constraints (radius, length, etc), that you extrude to form 3D objects. Other extruded 2D shapes can then be used in boolean operations (union or subtractions) to produce the final object. So, very fundamentally, the modelling process in Revit is not very different than FreeCAD. In both apps, you'll find these profiles everywhere, underneath almost any object.

Both applications use reference planes to draw onto. In FreeCAD, there are several modalities depending on the workbench, but the concept is the same: You define a work plane, which is a plane in the 3D space, then you draw your 2D shapes on that plane, then you extrude.

The higher-level objects, like walls, structures, windows, etc... are in both applications convenience wrappers around these basic modelling tools. It would be a hassle to have to draw every outline of every wall you need in your project, so the wall tool does that for you, you just need to draw the baseline of the wall, and the whole modelling operation (make the 2D contour + extrusion) is performed automatically for you, and performed again every time you change something to the wall definition.

All the rest, that makes a full BIM application, is basically extensions around this modelling "core". It also surprised me how little the Revit core has been modified over the years. All the new features of these recent years are in that area around the core, not the core itself. This is not necessarily a bad thing, when you think of it, BIM work is composed of a very big part of theses things that are not solely 3D modelling.

The bad sides of both applications are also surprisingly similar, and, even more surprising to me, equal in number and annoyance. In FreeCAD, due to its young age, and the fact that there is too little work spent on the BIM module (don't forget you can help me to remedy the problem!), all kinds of shortcomings, limitations and incomplete features cross your path all the time. Fortunately you can work around these most of the time, and your ability to find and use these workarounds grows with your FreeCAD experience, up to a point that it doesn't annoy you anymore. That typically happens with all FreeCAD developers, so it's important that new users report the problems they encounter.

In Revit, my impression is that you basically encounter the same amount of annoyance. My even deeper impression (a secret I won't hesitate to reveal to you now, exclusively!) is that in the perfect world of Revit, where "everything works", so to speak, programmers are extremely reticent to add anything that could "stain" that perfect model. So all kind of external, hybrid, workaround features are vetoed or minimally implemented because they couldn't avoid, but highly discouraged.

But, more useful than the rant, I also made a list of points that I found good in both applications, with the obvious idea to gather things to improve in FreeCAD.

Revit strengths

  • The workflow is totally adapted to architecture. This is really a joy to work with. All these little annoying tasks you have to fill your day with, put annotations, make a list of this or that, have some kind of automatic tool. Revit has few tools and buttons, but all of them are a typical architect's task. I don't think any other BIM app offers so much comfort to the architect. No wonder once you begin to use it, you are hooked.
  • Autocad-like output: What comes out of the 2D views is really a perfect AutoCAD-like output. With lines, hatches, everything. And you can draw on top of it, which allows people new to Revit but used to AutoCAD to hack their way our of problems very easily, at the cost of infuriating Revit pros around, maybe, but at least you can get the job done even if you are new to it.
  • Hundreds of auto 2D objects: I guess that's the most valuable thing Autodesk has added around the Revit core: All the whistles and bells that you used to do manually in AutoCAD, are now smartly handled by some automatic tool: Automatic leaders that pick a value of what they are showing. Automatic tables that gather all the notes found in a view. Automatic section marks that update with the page number the section is in, etc.
  • Autocad hatching and "syntax" everywhere: The 2D output of Revit is ready to be worked on further and natively in AutoCAD. I don't think any other BIM app produces so nicely editable DWG files.
  • Ease to work in 2D views: Revit is made mostly to work in 2D views. Many tools are in fact only available in 2D views. But one has to admit they are very comfortable to work with. The hidden lines system is mostly cumberstone in the 3D view, but it takes all its meaning in 2D. You really work on a 3D model like if it was a 2D drawing.
  • Ease to manage objects by category: The categories of Revit objects (families and types) are very strict. Objects that don't fit in these categories (for example imported objects) are almost useless in Revit. However, this has its advantages too, all the "siblings" relationships that exist, for example, between several types of the same family, or under a same category, are pretty powerful. In Revit, designing object categories is almost more important than desinging individual objects themselves.
  • Fast 2D views: Revit pseudo-experts out there will quickly tell you that it's because Revit is a database, doesn't generate its 2D views, and (insert commercial bla-bla shit here), but the fact stays, screen views must be generated, and hidden geometry must be calculated. When an object changes, all the views where it appears must be updated. And this is really fast in Revit.

FreeCAD strengths

  • The workflow is not specifically adapted to architecture: This is the exact opposite of Revit's first strength. FreeCAD is a generic application, and not a specialized one. This will give you less comfort, but bring a wide series of tools, workflows, solutions or ideas coming from other areas (mechanical engineering, etc). There is always a wide series of possible ways to achieve something, so you (almost) never find yourself in a "this cannot be done" situation. Also, being not specific to architecture, FreeCAD can easily be used by people who are not architects, to design buildings or parts of buildings, their own house for example.
  • Modelling is very powerful and free: Modelling capabilities in Revit are limited. In no time you find yourself in front of something very hard or impossible to model. In FreeCAD it's really hard to find something you can't model, and if so, it's easy to use geometry modelled in other applications.
  • A complete tree: Revit doesn't show you each and every object in its tree view / project browser. FreeCAD does. That has a lot of advantages.
  • FreeCAD can work much more easily with dumb or bad geometry: In Revit, for an object to be workable with, it must comply with many rules dictated by the general structure of the modelling core. Basically, it must be an extrusion, its base 2D shape must be translatable to Revit's 2D system. Otherwise you can do very little. FreeCAD on the other hand can even work with mesh data and use that in BIM workflow. An important consequence is that importing stuff from IFC integrates much more seamlessly in FreeCAD, while in Revit it's a very delicate matter.
  • Freedom to organize model as one wishes: In FreeCAD you have many ways to group objects together, and group these groups inside other structures. So you have a very big freedom to organize your model as you like. If you don't want to use the levels/floors system, no problem. If you have something that's not exactly a building, together with your building, it's easy to create a specific structure for it. It makes you also think about how to organize yourself, which is good.
  • Ease to work in 3D view: As much as the 2D views of Revit are comfortable to work with, the 3D view is not. The 3D view of FreeCAD is really a joy to work with, comparatively. You can easily hide/unhide or temporarily change the display style of individual objects, select part of objects, and visualize well all the reference and work planes. Here, you can really work in the 3D view.
  • Ease to work with other kind of data from other people: Revit can, with many limitations, work with IFC and DWG files, and you'd better keep them as linked (unmodificable) files, not try to import their geometry to do something meaningful with it. In FreeCAD, on the other hand, it is pretty easy to turn anything into a valid FreeCAD (and therefore BIM) object: IFC or DWG objects, but even mesh objects from Sketchup or Blender.
  • Happy mix of imperial and metric units: There is no such thing as a template in FreeCAD. You could work on a model in centimeters, hand it over to someone in the US who will see everything expressed in inches. Internally, FreeCAD draws everything in millimeters, always. Only what you see on screen is expressed in the unit of your choice. You can also always insert values in any unit, no matter what the current scheme is, or even mix units in a same expression.
  • Easy to manage objects one by one: Contrarily to Revit, where the power lies in categories of objects, the focus in FreeCAD is on the individual object. It is easy to turn individual things off (and turn them back on afterwards), modify a single instance of something without the need to refer to categories or families. You can easily recreate a similar workflow as families, by basing several objects on the same one (clones), but this doesn't tie the clones to their "master". You can give them another master anytime, or grow something else on top of them, using the "family" only as a base. You can do all that in Revit as well, of course, but I find it already much more flexible in FreeCAD.
  • 2D modeling tools are more powerful: Hard to believe, but it's true. Have a look at what is possible with the Sketcher, there is already much more than what Revit offers.
  • Proper MDI: Working with multiple documents in Revit is still pretty cumberstone, to say the least. Why the hell must a reference be unlinked when you open another document containing it too? FreeCAD has a standard, normal way to work with multiple documents, they can all be openend in parallel, you can display them all together, etc.

So no more shame, let's claim it loud, yes, FreeCAD is as good as Revit! "As good as" doesn't means "the same", though, and their philosophy and workflows are very different. Revit will give you more comfort and speed, FreeCAD will give you more freedom. I don't know if we'll ever reach the comfort level of Revit (I'm not convinced that it wouldn't force us into options that would harm the freedom side), but on the question of speed, there is still a lot to be done, no doubt we'll still see huge improvements in that regard.

I took note of a series of small things I'll try to fix or add in FreeCAD, but also identified these more generic areas that I'll try to improve in FreeCAD:

  • References: At the moment there is no reference system in FreeCAD that allows you to split your work in several files. This is a huge question, that has complex implications in FreeCAD's internals, and that the PartDesign people is already on their way to solve. However, we might start experimenting with something directly usable in BIM workflows.
  • TAB key cycles through snaps: I find that pretty good in Revit. Currently, in FreeCAD, only the "closest" snap location is kept. We need instead to keep all of the snap locations in a certain radius, order them somehow, and allow to hit a key to take the next one on the list.
  • Remember last "hold" snap point: When hovering the mouse without moving for a certain time, that point should be remembered. Then, additional snap locations should become available on horizontal and vertical lines passing through that hold point. This needs a little more thinking to define more exactly what these additional snap location should be.
  • Wall layers: In FreeCAD, wall layers can already be made by basing several walls on a same baseline. but this should be developed further so the handling of these walls becomes more user-friendly. Perhaps a new multi-layer wall object, that would include and manage the individual parts. This needs more thinking as well.
  • Walls joining: Currently there is no automatic wall joining in FreeCAD. You have to join walls manually, by adding one as a sub wall of another. I'm not sure I like Revit's way too much, because you cannot see clearly where one wall ends and the other begins. You cannot see in Revit what will be exported to IFC, for example. But nevertheless, when you have multilayer walls, it becomes very convenient to have proper wall joining based on materials. Here again, we need a better plan to know how to achieve the goal.
  • Hi-res system: The Arch Equipment currently has a system to display a high-resolution mesh instead of its shape. This high-resolution mesh can then be used when exporting to mesh formats such as OBJ. This system should be extended so it supports a higher-resolution shape as well, and applied to all Arch objects (ex: brick wall, or wikihouse panel compounds). There is a basic version working already.
  • Better support of IFC properties: Currently all IFC properties found for an IFC object are stored in a simple dictionary (property sets are discarded), and the contents of that dictionary gets saved to IFC properties when exporting to IFC. We need something more complex, that keeps track of which property belongs to which set, and the ability to modify and save that structure back faithfully when exporting to IFC. I'm already working on this too.
  • New DXF export: The current DXF exporter is still based on the old python library, we need to recode a new, faster one in C++ like we did for the importer.

With OpeningDesign we are also trying to build a "best practices" manual to transfer data between FreeCAD and Revit (and hopefully other software in the future).

PS - Half the stuff on the images in this post was done by Ryan

permalink:  324   posted on 16.03.2017 3:36
From Yorik
Commenting post 321: Sorry, I missed your post somehow. Of course, anything is possible!

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  323   posted on 16.03.2017 3:05
From Yorik

FreeCAD Arch development news - March 2017

I'll start adding a date to these "Arch development news", it will be easy to look back and motivate me to write them more regularly. A monthly report seems good I think, no?

Hi all,

Long time I didn't write, but that doesn't mean things have been quiet down here, it's actually more the contrary. To begin with, I've had the opportunity to do a job with Revit. There was a long time that I didn't really use Revit intensively, so this was a great opportunity to get back on track with it. I gathered a lot of observations, ideas, and things that compare quite favourably to FreeCAD (favourably for FreeCAD of course ). This is too long to put here, but I have written another post specifically about that, that I'll publish later this week.

I also collected a long list of Revit rants, but since a lot of people are doing that all over the net already, my article will rather concentrate on the positive points I found in both apps.

Now the ideal would be to get an ArchiCAD job! Anyone has an ArchiCAD job for me?

I've otherwise been working on a couple of own projects directly in FreeCAD, and implemented a couple of new features o the way:

Add-ons manager

This is not only mine but a real teamwork. Finally we have a simple but functional tool inside FreeCAD to install external workbenches and macros. No more need to go to the web, download and install, all this is done directly from within FreeCAD. Installing workbenches will still require you to restart FreeCAD, and it's currently still not very enjoyable to browse and explore available addons, but we're working on it.

Hi-res mode

In Revit, objects can display 3 levels of complexity: coarse, medium and fine. For each of these levels, you can define geometry that must appear or not. So for example, you can have a sink object that is made of a box and a more detailed curved geometry. Then you set the box to only appear in coarse mode, and the other geometry to appear in medium and fine.

In FreeCAD I now implemented a similar concept. It is still in test, so it might change depending on what people think of it and how it resists day-to-day use. Basically, each Arch object now has a new "Hi Res" property which is a link that can point to another object. They now also have a "Hi Res" display mode. If you set the display mode of the object to "Hi Res", and the object has its Hi Res property set, the geometry of the HiRes object is displayed, instead of its own. This happens entirely at the 3D view level, so the Arch object keeps its own shape. It only displays another. But selection still works, inside the 3D view you don't see that it's not the real shape of the Arch object.

Of course so far other tools and workbenches (TechDraw, etc) are unaware of this, and will continue to look for the objects shape. But if the system works well, it will be easy to simply use the Hi Res shape instead, if present.

So this is not Revit's (or ArchiCAD's) coarse/medium/fine system, but it seems to me that the cases where you really need three different levels are rare... And if three, why not four then. This systems seems much more flexible to me, you can basically use any shape/object (meshes too) as hi-res version of another, with all the possibilities and flexibility that this offers. And, if we need a third mode in the future, most of the work will be done already, it won't be much work to add it.

In the image above, the concrete blocks are the Hi-res version of the walls, and the wooden panels, with all their cuts, too. Check the whole file too (you will need a very recent version of FreeCAD).

There is a discussion thread about this feature on the forum, all ideas are welcome!

External references

This system has another aim too: It paves the road for a pretty powerful external reference system we're currently thinking about (discussion thread here: Everybody used to Autodesk applications knows the X-Ref system: You have a file, and you embed it into another file. However, if you know this, you probably also know the bad side: If you embed a couple of heavy files, your "master" files becomes quickly unbearably slow. People coming from the mech engineering world, and software like Solidworks or Catia know another way: You cannot simply embed any file into any other. You need to prepare the base file somehow, either by organizing your objects inside somehow or by saving it under another file type, the methods differ.

But this could give way to an amazing idea, that Jürgen (FreeCAD's idealist and godfather) emitted several years ago already, and that is not even ours, since it has for example been implemented in Digital Project. Anyway, in the software world, as in all the culture world, nothing is really only your idea. It's always something that travels... Okay okay, the amazing idea: When embedding a file, instead of bringing the whole contents into the host file, you would only bring a lightweight version, or a "ghost" of it. In FreeCAD terms, that would mean only importing the OpenInventor representation of the objects contained in the file, which is what the 3D view of FreeCAD is made of. In other terms, you would bring only the 3D representation, not the BRep geometry.

Without the BRep geometry, you can go very far. The 3D view of FreeCAD can display several millions of polygons without problems on an average system, and keep everything pretty fluid. In the case of BIM, this could probably allow to display huge and complex buildings with all their details. All the heavy calculations would be left in the embedded file, and not be used in the host file.

But the OpenInventor representation is currently not stored in FreeCAD files (it is calculated by the engine on-the-fly). We need to find a way to store it, so another file could just load that representation, and nothing else, without the need to calculate it.

The easiest way seems to be the PartDesign way: You place all your geometry inside a "body" object, which stores a copy of the OpenInventor representation of its contents. When you load the file from somewhere else, you could just load that representation, and you would get a lightweight copy of the body contents.

Of course. that's the plan with PartDesign. But on the Arch side, we have an opportunity to do some testing quicker than there, firstly because Arch is programmed in Python, which makes it much easier to experiment, and secondly because less people are using it, so we need to be less careful, it's not such a big problem if we suddenly break something. And it happens a lot in FreeCAD, that some features are tested and tuned in Python first, and then some day become fast, rock-solid C++ features.

So that's the plan, and the Hi-Res system was a first step in playing with these concepts, now the way is open to try to play with external files too.

SketchFab exporter

Do you know SketchFab? It is a platform where you can upload 3D models and view them inside a web browser, without flash or any other plugin (it uses webGL which is now built in all major browsers). SketchFab has free and paid accounts, and although the platform is not open-source, the team behind it is very friendly to open-source projects (some people behind it actually come from the Blender community). I begin to use SketchFab more and more, because it is very easy to show models and ideas to clients with it, without having to make them install software.

So this week I [coded an exporter] for it, which now lives in the Web workbench of FreeCAD. All it requires is to create an account on SketchFab, select the objects to upload, give a name and a description, and press a button. SketchFab has a pretty good built-in scene and material editor that allows you to fine-tune your model afterwards.

The exporter offers your several formats to export to, the one that works best for BIM models is the OBJ + MTL, because it will carry better materials info, but there is one mode that is particularly interesting which is the .iv (OpenInventor) mode, that literally sends to SketchFab a copy of the 3D view of FreeCAD, which gives very nice results:

So this could become a very good way to showcase your FreeCAD models to people who don't have FreeCAD.

Working Plane and View Style fixes

Recently I had to work with models with a lot of non-orthogonal planes to work in. It is always when you have to eat your own dogfood that you become painfully aware of the shortcomings. Switching workplanes is very quick already, select a face, press "WP" and it's done, but there were two problems: first there is no way to set your view perpendicularly to the current working plane, which is often useful, and, if you choose one of the ortho planes (XY, XZ or YZ) very far from the model origin point, you won't see the grid.

So one thing I added is a checkbox in the "Select Plane" dialog to recenter the grid to the center of the current view. And another little utility is a macro to Align the view to the currnt working plane. If you install that macro (which is now easy with the addons manager!) and give it a keyboard shortcut, the workflow becomes very good: Select a face, press WP, then press the key you used as a shortcut for the macro, and you find yourself looking perpendicularly to your working plane. If you have the Snap to Working plane button on, then you are really working in a perfect 2D environment, like in the Sketcher.

The different Draw Styles of the FreeCAD 3D view have also received keyboard shortcuts, and Werner added two more modes. One of them, named "shadeless", gives actually very nice "hidden lines" aspect, you would almost think you're in Revit!

Don't forget you can help me spending more time working on FreeCAD, by sponsoring me on Patreon. Every dollar is a little more time I can dedicate to it!

As the tradition dictates, I put a couple of images of what I'm working on at the moment:

permalink:  321   posted on 20.02.2017 10:44
From Pierre
Great tutorial thanks! It got me exited about Pyhton. Eventually id like to get to the point where I could run shape finding algorithms in something like blender. Much like grasshopper can do in Rhino. Do you think this is possible?
Thanks again!

permalink:  320   posted on 09.02.2017 24:30
From Michele
Commenting post 67: Awesome!! Thank youuuu!

permalink:  319   posted on 05.02.2017 1:25
From Rafa (bitacovir)
Commenting post 317: Ihope that business will go better this 2017. And thanks or keeping working in this amazing software.

permalink:  318   posted on 30.01.2017 17:05
From João
Commenting post 317: Congratulations, hope things get better there in Brazil, here in Portugal i think everyone also suffers the economics constraints also- its a new year, let us think positive - i do not work with this bench anyway congrats for keeping the good work.

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  317   posted on 26.01.2017 22:15
From Yorik

FreeCAD Arch development news

A long time I didn't post here. Writing regularly on a blog proves more difficult than I thought. I have this blog since a long time, but never really tried tomconstrain myself to write regularly. You look elsewhere a little bit, and when you get back to it, two months have gone by...

Since this post is aimed principally at informing my Patreons of what I am doing with their money, I'll start by saying thank you again, the last year has been a terrible economical crisis here in Brazil, and the last months have been awful, we thought seriously we'd need to close our architecture office. Fortunately things seem to slowly get back on track... Anyway, thanks to your support, even in the direst hours, I could still reserve a little time for FreeCAD, that is really very cool.

So the main happening, on my side, was without a doubt the new Panel tools I've been working on, that now allow to create Wikihouse-like projects fully in FreeCAD.

Arch Panel objects have been enhanced so they can now 1) have a tag, 2) output a 2D view of themselves, in the XY (ground) plane, including the tag, and 3) a panel sheet object can gather and assemble different of those outputs, and 4) you can export these panel sheets to DXF, with a result that is identical to the ones produced by the Wikihouse project.

By the way, the above image is a screenshot from LibreCAD, which started as a fork of QCAD, but now the two projects have evolved in very different ways, QCAD has become quite powerful, while LibreCAD stayed more simple. However, LibreCAD has recently added DWG support, which was entirely coded from scratch by Rallaz, one of their code warriors. This is truly impressive, given that the DWG format is proprietary, undocumented, kept as secret as possible by Autodesk, and even more, it changes radically each year. At FreeCAD we gave up a long time ago... Kudos LibreCAD heroes!

Getting back to wikihouse, once you have a set of profiles for your panels, it is now pretty easy to build complex wikihouse models, then quickly output the cut sheets for everything, no matter how they are assembled in the model.

There is much room for improvement of course, and we didn't even touch the possibilities offered by the Path workbench yet. However, I thought this is a safe and comfortable in-between step, the DXF output allows to check the results before preparing the actual cut, and it mimics the current Wikihouse workflow.

Another small feature, that was in the works since long, is an AutoGroup feature (it only works in Draft and Arch at the moment). With it, you can basically get the kind of workflow you have in your favorite BIM app: Switch to third floor, and begin to work on third floor. In FreeCAD, you would hide all floors except the third, then enable autogroup on the third floor, and there you are.

On other fronts, there is much going on, as always, in FreeCAD. Werner has made a ton of fixes and reinforcements here and there, as usual (for who doesn't know, he is the unsung true hero of FreeCAD, everybody is an amateur compared to him), Ickby is working on several ground improvements to the general document structure, and, last but not least, Abdullah has coded the one feature we were all waiting for but were too afraid to code, B-Spline support in the sketcher.

I also fixed a series of smaller bugs (these little things we never talk about, but that, when accumulated, really build the stability of an application), while working with Ryan on one of our Revit/FreeCAD experiments. I'll finish with a couple of screenshots of the FreeCAD work I've been doing there. All of this now exports perfectly to IFC, and imports (more or less) perfectly in Revit.

permalink:  315   posted on 18.01.2017 19:16
From nick
Commenting post 184: fuck

permalink:  314   posted on 12.01.2017 2:02
From Yorik
Commenting post 313: Bedankt Peter! Ik hoop dat U FreeCAD nuttig vindt en een mooi model produceert!
Beste wensen ook!

permalink:  313   posted on 01.01.2017 11:21
From Peter
Beste Yorik,

Bedankt om tutorials en overzichten voor FreeCAD online te zetten. Ik installeerde FreeCAD 2 dagen geleden en ben vast besloten om mijn huis er mee te tekenen (startend van de papieren plannen). Ik kan dan makkelijk verder voor het plannen van het inrichten van de zolder.

Gezien je een berichtje in het Nederlands wou, bij deze. Mijn beste wensen voor 2017.