This is the 2014 archive of my blog. Click here to go back to the blog's main page.

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permalink:  192   posted on 16.12.2014 2:32
From star
Commenting post 117: Hi Yorik,

check out Kanboard for project management, it can be installed in your own server too

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  191   posted on 26.11.2014 23:18
From Yorik


Images for an interior project by Osmose Architecture.

in categories  works  detail  permalink:  190   posted on 26.11.2014 23:15
From Yorik

Residential project

Extracts from construction documents we did for a project by AKF Arquitetura.

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  189   posted on 26.11.2014 23:11
From Yorik
Misc images...

in categories  works  permalink:  188   posted on 26.11.2014 23:06
From Yorik

Plan rendering with gimp

More and more I use bitmap-based applications such as the gimp to create presentation plans... With a bit of resolution ( > 200dpi) the printed quality is almost identical to a CAD application, so why bother and deny yourself the pleasure and the much more advanced capabilities...

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  187   posted on 26.11.2014 23:03
From Yorik

Urban transformation

Images made for Osmose Architecture.

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  186   posted on 26.11.2014 23:00
From Yorik

Space Planning

Images we have been developing for a space planning project by Exode Architecture.

in categories  works  permalink:  185   posted on 26.11.2014 22:55
From Yorik

4shot logo

A logo for a new project of our friends at 4linux. The images below illustrate all the process of discussion and refinement until arriving at the final version.

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  184   posted on 26.11.2014 22:50
From Yorik

osmose series 4

A series of images made for Osmose Architecture.

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  183   posted on 26.11.2014 22:48
From Yorik

osmose series 3

A series of images made for Osmose Architecture.

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  182   posted on 26.11.2014 22:46
From Yorik

osmose series 2

A series of images made for Osmose Architecture.

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  181   posted on 26.11.2014 22:44
From Yorik

Osmose series 1

A series of images made for Osmose Architecture.

in categories  Works  3d  blender  permalink:  180   posted on 26.11.2014 22:38
From Yorik
A couple of quick images we did for an interior design project...

in categories  linux  opensource  permalink:  179   posted on 26.11.2014 20:30
From Yorik
A very simple email checker (works with imap accounts). Run it by setting it in your crontab to run hourly or something.

passwords are bz2-encrypted (not very good security, but better than nothing. Anyway debian machines are highly secured ). Place the string generated by bz2.compress("password") instead of "encryptedpassword" below.


import imaplib, pynotify, bz2
check1 = False
s1 = i1.status("INBOX","(UNSEEN)")
n1 = s1[1][0].split()[-1].split(")")[0]

s2 = i2.status("INBOX","(UNSEEN)")
n2 = s2[1][0].split()[-1].split(")")[0]

if (n1 != "0") or (n2 != "0"):
    t = "Unread mail"
    m = ""
    if n1 != "0":
        m += n1 + " messages on myserver/n" # change with a backslash
    if n2 != "0":
m += n2 + " messages on gmail/n" # change with a backslash n=pynotify.Notification(t,m) n.show()

permalink:  178   posted on 31.10.2014 12:40
From Yorik
Commenting post 177: Try asking to the IFcOpenShell developers at http://sourceforge.net/p/ifcopenshell/discussion/

permalink:  177   posted on 31.10.2014 12:37
From Lewis Henderson

Thanks for your help so far.

Copying the ifcopenshell files 'as is' does not work. The ifcopenshell.py imports ifc_wrapper.py which in turn imports _ifc_wrapper.pyd. The linker produces an _IfcImport.pyd, hence the rename.

I have since tried this on a 32bit machine with exactly the same outcome.

I will update you as/when I find a solution!


permalink:  176   posted on 31.10.2014 12:07
From Yorik
Commenting post 175: I am not sure that renaming the IfcImport module to ifc_wrapper will work... IfcImport was how the old module was called, but when the IfcOpenShell developer switched it to the new system (ifcopenshell.py + ifc_wrapper, he might have changed more things than just the name... Probably your error comes from there.

I think youu should either get the older, "stable" version of IfcOpenShell from sourceforge, it is still supported by FreeCAD, but doesn't have export capabilities, or take the newest one from github, which, once compiled, should not give you an IfcImport module anymore, but already have ifc_wrapper.

About 32bits FreeCAD on 64bits windows, I think it should normally work, but you are not the only one to experience problems, several people reported problems on the freecad forum. I suggest you have a look there or ask help there if needed,I cannot help much with the windows platform...

permalink:  175   posted on 31.10.2014 11:44
From Lewis Henderson
I have created a directory, IfcImport under ~/Mod and copied the three files in, renaming _IfcImport.pyd to _ifc_wrapper.pyd. I now get as far as :-

>>> import ifcopenshell
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "", line 1, in
File "C:\DATA\Development\FreeCAD 0.14\Mod\IfcImport\ifcopenshell.py", line 3, in
import ifc_wrapper
File "C:\DATA\Development\FreeCAD 0.14\Mod\IfcImport\ifc_wrapper.py", line 28, in
_ifc_wrapper = swig_import_helper()
File "C:\DATA\Development\FreeCAD 0.14\Mod\IfcImport\ifc_wrapper.py", line 24, in swig_import_helper
_mod = imp.load_module('_ifc_wrapper', fp, pathname, description)
ImportError: DLL load failed: The specified procedure could not be found.

...have you any idea what the procedure is? This is everything built/installed 32bit but running on 64bit windows...

The 32bit version of FreeCAD loads under 64bit but the work frame is black and does not show the model. Would you expect it to work in 32bit mode? This is not an issue, just an observation ;-)


permalink:  174   posted on 29.10.2014 17:47
From Yorik
Commenting post 173: Hmm I'm not very familiar with compiling stuff on windows unfortunately. I also don't know if you compile IfcOpenShell in 32bits, if you can use its python module in a 64bits application. If it were a pure python module it would work but in this case, IfcOpenShell being a C++ python module, I'm not sure...

If you open a python window (either in freecad or the one that comes when you install python on windows), try typing "help()" then "modules". This should list all your installed python modules, ifcopenshell should be there. If not, all I can say from here is that it wasn't correctly installed.

One "workaround" you could try, is, instead of installing IfcOpenShell system-wide, is to copy your .py + .so files to a place where freecad can find them, that is, one of the folder of the list you get by typing the following lines in FreeCAD's python window:

import sys
print sys.path

permalink:  173   posted on 29.10.2014 15:29
From Lewis Henderson

I am using windows. I have compiled IfcOpenShell (git) using MS Visual C++ 2010 Express.

I am using :-

OpenCascade 6.7.1
SwigWin 3.0.2
Python 2.7.8
Boost 1.56.0
FreeCAD 0.14 (64bit)

All this is running on a Windows Server 2003 R2 x64.

FreeCAD 32bit does not seem to work on a 64bit machine.
I have compiled everything Win32 but am running FreeCAD 64bit.

Kind regards

permalink:  172   posted on 29.10.2014 2:23
From Yorik
Commenting post 171: Hi,
These .py files are installed system-wide automatically when you do "make install". After that, you should be able to do "import ifcopenshell" without error from any python console, such as the one that is available inside freecad (make sure ifcopenshell was compiled with the correct version of python, that is, the same as freecad uses, because by default if I remember correctly, ifcopenshell will use python3). If "import ifcopenshell" gives no error, then everything is installed correctly.

permalink:  171   posted on 29.10.2014 1:26
From Lewis Henderson

I am new to FreeCAD but from what I have seen so far, it is excellent!

I am trying to get the IfcOpenShell stuff to work but cannot find any documentation on how to install it into FreeCAD. I have built IfcOpenShell successfully and now have _IfcImport.pyd, ifc_wrapper.py, and ifcopenshell.py files available. What do I do with these files? I am also new to Python ;-)

Kind regards

permalink:  170   posted on 27.10.2014 3:30
From Jon
You are awesome!

permalink:  169   posted on 22.10.2014 13:23
From Harry

I am trying to develop 3D printing architectural multicoloured
models but I do not know how to go about this.
I have searched the web but to no avail.
I would like to find examples in order to get me on the
right track.
I cannot find examples of textures used for this method.
Hope you can assist me.


permalink:  167   posted on 21.10.2014 20:23
From Bald Eagle
Nice work on the .pov file export plugin for ngplant!
I was just thinking that from a POV perspective that it's somewhat cumbersome to tweak a file that's several hundred thousand lines long... Perhaps the textures and camera definitions, etc. could be placed at the top as variables (Texture1, texture2, ...) and those variable used in the mesh2 object texture statements instead. That way everything is right there at the top of the file to read and edit. If possible, it's usually customary to generate such files as an .inc include file. I generally bracket the substance of my includes with #ifdef blocks, so that if it's an isolated include file, I can render it as a stand-alone scene. If it's being included (I check for whether the variable SDL = true), then none of the stand-alone scene objects (camera, light source, etc) are defined.
Joining all of the separate mesh2 objects into a union would help in using the ngplant object "out of the box" with a simple #include ngplant_MyPlant.inc and then object {MyPlant rotate translate }
Maybe also include a finish {ambient var} block in the texture definitions so that changing var at the top of the file allows easy changing of the apparent brightness of the plant.
Other than that - super easy to install and use! Thanks very much!
I haven't gotten ngplant to call POV-Ray automatically, but I probably just need to tweak a setting or two - no big deal.

permalink:  166   posted on 16.10.2014 13:36
From Yorik
Commenting post 165: Hi,
Windows are a delicate matter... There is obviously still much to be done with them, and indeed there is the problem that you need to represent things in 2D that don't exist in 3D. But I also don't like much the fact that you have to draw the 2D views yourself... There must exist a better solution. But I haven't found it yet
The furniture object at the moment is basically there for that purpose, so we can experiment and find better ways. Since I implemented it, already a lot of problems appeared (the auto-calculaiton of profiles fails often, etc). Anyway, that's the best part, we can keep experimenting until we reach the perfect solution!

permalink:  165   posted on 16.10.2014 8:28
From Rowan
Commenting post 156: Great work. Are you thinking of adding the 2D views to windows (and therefore doors)? If we could specify which sides open the normal 2D plan views could be generated automatically rather than having to add them afterwards.

permalink:  164   posted on 08.10.2014 20:55
From Michael
Commenting post 156: Great! I really love the idea of adding custom 2d views for 3d objects!

permalink:  163   posted on 08.10.2014 17:06
From domson
Commenting post 54: Well done, Yorik! Great!!! Thx!!

permalink:  162   posted on 30.09.2014 17:05
From Kim D.
I recently visited Libreville,Gabon and had the pleasure of visiting a building you rendered. I am looking for more information about the corporate Gabon Mining Logistics Building you posted on 30.11.2008 10:39. Perhaps the architect's name or a plan? The rendering is lovely!

permalink:  161   posted on 29.09.2014 9:51
From Vitex
Commenting post 15: Thank You! I have the same phone and try to newer system 2.0.
Now i fighting with adb to recognize my device

permalink:  160   posted on 18.09.2014 14:13
From Yorik
Commenting post 159: Yes, but I'm not sure the projections will work... They are huge objects

permalink:  159   posted on 18.09.2014 11:02
From L.G.
does the arch equipment tool works with your blender trees too?

permalink:  158   posted on 17.09.2014 17:32
From Yorik
Commenting post 157: Hi,
Please use the FreeCAD forum at http://forum.freecadweb.org ! Thanks!

permalink:  157   posted on 17.09.2014 17:20
From Dagoberto Sant` Anna
Commenting post 125: Hello i instaled this version for test, and i`m trying import file dwg and i`haven`t sucessfull, could you help me, because dant`t have any answer for software what happened?

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  156   posted on 13.09.2014 17:57
From Yorik

About panels and blocks - new elements for FreeCAD

I've more or less recently been working on two new features for the Architecture workbench of FreeCAD: Panels and furniture. None of these is in what we could call a finished state, but I thought it would be interesting to share some of the process here.

Panels are a new type of object, that inherits all the properties of other architectural objects, such as additions and subtractions or nomenclature (description, tag, etc...). They are based on a 2D profile, which can be made with any of the FreeCAD tools (draft, sketch, etc) or imported from a 2D drawing. They are primarily made for panel constructions such as the wikihouse or pop-up house projects. But like the rest of the Arch workbench tools, the idea is to stay very generic, and to offer a general-purpose tool that can be used in any situation where such a flat object based on a 2D contour might be used.

Currently the tool only offers a simple 3D object, but the complete plan is to offer a full workflow, from design to the output of sheets to be fed to the cutting machine. But I'm still unsure of how all all this must click together. What is the best path to work with these objects? Would you take pre-cut pieces from a base sheet, like plastic airplane models or wooden dinosaurs, then mount them in 3D? Or is it best to draw the pieces directly at their location? But wouldn't that require a way too precise knowledge of your available elements dimensions?

Certainly this will require a bit of practice to sort out. Try to work with the tool the way it currently is, see what are the best paths, experiment. If you are interested in helping with that, there is a dedicated thread on the FreeCAD forum, where you are welcome to propose ideas.

I should also of course contact the wikihouse developers, who might have some more ideas over the question. My first idea had been to try to convert their sketchup models automatically, but this will be harder than it seems, since in sketchup the different parts don't carry enough information to easily determine which faces forms the profile of the object. But that question is not closed yet, we might still figure out an efficient way to achieve that.

On the image above, you can see on the right a model imported directly from one of the wikihouse sketchup models (converted to .dae), and the corresponding cut sheets imported as .dxf. The dxf files made available on the wikihouse site seem to have a weird formatting that FreeCAD doesn't read well, so I opened and resaved it in LibreCAD, then FreeCAD opened it correctly. Then, it's just a matter of selecting all the profiles and pressing the Panel button. The profiles that have holes can be done in two different ways: either making a panel, extruding the hole, then subtracting, or, better, first turning both the profile and the hole into a single sketch with the Draft2Sketch tool, then creating the panel. The thick object on the left is a panel made of several layers, which works the same way as walls: you build several panel objects from the same profile, and give each of them a different offset value.

Currently such multilayer objects have few tools supporting them, but the idea in the future is to make them always behave as one.

Furniture is a trickier subject, although of less importance. The big problem we have here is availability. We all agree that the best would be to have nice, solid-based models like you have in Revit or ArchiCAD, that you can for example find on http://www.bimobject.com. The problem is, both use specific file formats (rfa for revit and gdl for archicad) that are hard or impossible to parse and import in FreeCAD. Some of these sites propose IFC versions, but in 99% of the cases, the IFC version is a degraded faceted version of the model, that lost all its solid information. Creating a model with these objects in Revit or ArchiCAD and exporting it to IFC almost always also results in these pieces of furniture being faceted.

There is one solution for revit families, though, that is not very practical but works: Export them as .sat files, then convert them to a format that FreeCAD likes (.stp or even better, .brep) with the cad exchanger application, which is (currently) free for personal use. That app is developed by Roman Lygin, one of the founding developers of OpenCasCade, FreeCAD's geometry kernel.

Objects obtained from that method are pretty nice and behave perfectly when projected in 2D:

There is another problem, which is that pieces of furniture can be really very complex, if they are modelled faithfully. Which adds a lot of weight to your model, for something that is not essential to the building. So I also looked at another solution: meshes. Meshes are lightweight, you can literally stuff your FreeCAD model with hundreds of them, without caring much about the complexity, and without loosing much performance.

If you look on the web, you will find a lot of 3D models of furniture. A really awful lot. In fact, just looking on the sketchup 3d warehouse, probable the biggest one, you will probably find exactly the piece you want. The problem, of course, is that almost all of these models are meshes, and they vary a lot in terms of quality and complexity. This goes to the point that you will rarely find a furniture model that will convert cleanly to a solid-based object. there is also the problem that curves in meshes are faceted, so their aspect is not very good when projected in 2D.

Finally there is the fact that furniture, as well as other kinds of objects in an architectural document, are often best represented symbolically instead of accurately. For example, when you show the plan view of a washing machine, you won't want to represent all the buttons and controls, otherwise your drawing will become pretty complex to read. Some applications, such as ArchiCAD and many others, solve that problem by allowing the user to define custom 2D representations for a 3D object, for example its top view, or its front view. These representations are then used when creating 2D drawings.

This is an interesting idea, and it would allow the best of both worlds: Being able to pick any mesh you like on the net and use it as a piece of furniture in FreeCAD, and also have these objects coherently represented when creating 2D views of your models.

Of course having to draw 2D views of furniture yourself would be a lot of work, so I also came up with a simple method to create those views automatically from meshes. This method is very brutal and slow, but has the advantage to not depend much on the quality of the mesh: It projects all the facets of the mesh on a plane, remove the facets that point to the wrong side, then unions all these facets into one big flat face. This way you easily - although not quickly nor necessarily beautifully - create contour views of your meshes, with the big advantage that these contours are shapes, so they behave very well when your model is projected on a 2D drawing:

In the arch utilities menu, there is a new command that allows to create these 3 views from a selected mesh.

The new arch furniture object currently implemented in FreeCAD (that is called arch equipment, because it is also aimed at making other kinds of standalone objects such as sinks, light fixtures, etc) is therefore a hybrid. It can be a shape or a mesh, depending on the object you base the furniture object upon, and has 3 slots for 3 additional shapes, for XY, XZ or YZ views. It also has a couple of additional non-geometric properties such as model, url, etc that are convenient for this kind of objects. Currently these 2D views must still be added manually to the furniture object (via python).

Of course nothing would prevent you from furnishing your own 2D views instead of these automatic ones. I'm not sure how far that will prove practical on the long run, but we'll see! If ArchiCAD users do it, why not us!

Anyway, I hope this is a good way to start attacking the problem, leaving the maximum of freedom to the user, which is one of the base concepts of the arch module. Currently mesh-based equipment objects are not treated yet when projected on a Drawing sheet, but that will be taken care of next. Like most of the things we're implementing in FreeCAD, it starts rough, then gets refined along the way, in no small part thanks to the interaction and feedback with users. Check the FreeCAD forum if you are interested in helping!

permalink:  155   posted on 13.09.2014 17:55
From Yorik
Commenting post 154: Thanks!!

permalink:  154   posted on 13.09.2014 6:33
From sergio
Commenting post 116: good luck, that you will have success very much in your proyects, Freecad I liked very much. thanks by make it very good.

permalink:  153   posted on 27.08.2014 15:47
I am looking for (church) projects from mr.Rob Jonker (I know he died) and his father Age Jonker. (also dead)
They are my family (Age Jonker was maried with my fathers sister Riny Bekking) and lived in Pretoria/Windhoek/Capetown.
The only living Jonker is Johanneke the sister of Rob but she don't know how to find the information
I visited Rob Jonker in 1968 (long time ago (+; ) and know he was working or owner of Jonker -Barnes architects in Cape town, he died in ??? in an accident?
I hope you can give me more details or information where I can find the projects from them
Greetings from Holland (the Netherlands)
Bob Bekking

permalink:  152   posted on 26.08.2014 18:00
From L.G.
there is also an interesting dxf export in inkscape. the way to convert is from svg to dxf too, but inkscape can import pdf! so you can convert from pdf to dxf. but letters are explodet to splines. but it works!

permalink:  151   posted on 23.08.2014 20:58
From Willem Basson
Hi York,

RRegarding your picture: interesting effects - I'm a GIMP user myself. If you will allow me, I spot one major shortcoming in your composition: a faulty sense of hierarchy. The veggie 'still life' on the left is competing with the one on the right for the viewer's attention. I suggest you reduce it drastically in size and impact. :-)

in categories  opensource  permalink:  150   posted on 23.08.2014 19:44
From Yorik

Ideal kitchen?

I'm always quite fascinated by medieval-like kitchens, I'd like to have one for myself one day... But until the moment one is rich enough to buy an old medieval farm-castle in France, one must stick with dreaming. I also happened to need a new background for the Inventário de receitas. So (after I saw this amazing composition tutorial actually) I made this one (click for bigger version):

It's basically a collage of many different pictures found on the net, plus a bit of hand-painting, all made with gimp. I didn't want the cheezy warm, yellowish, abundant, feasty look of the usual clichés about middle ages, but rather a more austere, cistertian idea with a lot of white stone and smoke.

I tried to do spend a bit of effort on the composition too, with that "bottom-left to upper-right" movement, made by the smoke, the light, and the green elements of the picture... Maybe not the best possible result, but it's a start... Enjoy!

permalink:  149   posted on 23.08.2014 19:38
From Marcel
Gudden Owen Yorik,

Villmols Merci, daat war et :-)
Ech hat mir et geguescht dat et just eng Dommheet wier. Ech droen d'Leisung vun dem Problem och nach am daitschen FreeCAD-Forum als "resolved" an, esou daat keen emei dat falsch mecht.

Leif Greiss aus Letzebuerg,

L.G.: I would never have written in Luxembourgish or German if I haven't read the second line below "YORIK'S COFFEE CORNER. By the way, I read, speak and write perfectly 5 languages and I am an engineer... :-)

permalink:  148   posted on 23.08.2014 17:11
From Yorik
Commenting post 145: Marcel: Your error comes from the fact that you downloaded the html page that contains the python script, not the python script itself. Do not use the page->save as... function of your browser. Use the "download zip" button on https://github.com/yorikvanhavre/Draft-dxf-importer instead, then unzip and move the four .py files to the correct folder

permalink:  147   posted on 23.08.2014 17:09
From Yorik
Commenting post 146: @L.G. Absolutely not! This is a multi-language blog where all languages are permitted (and encouraged!). Besides, it was the first time someone posted in Letzeburger, it's cool! Although I had some problems understanding the bottom of it... Google translate can't help there

permalink:  146   posted on 23.08.2014 9:42
From L.G.
@Marcel this is a english guestblog and not a german forum! lade dir die "freecad unstable" version und der dxf I/O ist vorinstalliert.

permalink:  145   posted on 22.08.2014 15:34
From Marcel
Hi Yorki,

any idea:


Python 2.7.6 (default, Dec 5 2013, 09:42:25) [MSC v.1500 64 bit (AMD64)] on win32
Type 'help', 'copyright', 'credits' or 'license' for more information.
>>> sys.path.append("C:\\Users\\iannm\\AppData\\Roaming\\FreeCAD")
>>> import dxfLibrary
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "input", line 1, in module
File "C:\dxf\dxfLibrary.py", line 5
SyntaxError: invalid syntax
HTML spricht dafür, dass beim Download etwas schief gegangen ist. Die Links die du gepostet hast (raw.githubusercontent.com) scheinen aber korrekt zu sein.

permalink:  144   posted on 22.08.2014 15:09
From Yorik
Commenting post 142: "Reformatting" FreeCAD to become a Blender plugin is not a realistic solution, for many reasons (it would mean rebuild almost all the UI code, it would make the FreeCAD project dependent on another, etc). Besides, in the open-source world, things don't need to become "all-in-one". Different components can happily coexist and interact gracefully (any linux desktop is made of thousands of small, independent applications).

But, FreeCAD and Blender are definitely usable together, and you're right that there is much power in that. I believe so too. Luckily, this is totally possible, since FreeCAD can also be used as a python module, it can be used inside other applications. You can therefore use FreeCAD inside Blender. There is just one problem at the moment, Blender uses python >= 3 only, and FreeCAD still uses python2, and hasn't been ported to python3 yet.

So at the moment you cannot use FreeCAD inside Blender, but once the porting to python3 is done, anything becomes possible. You might try to pay a visit to the FreeCAD forum at http://forum.freecadweb.org and try to convince the other developers of the need to do that python3 port!

permalink:  143   posted on 22.08.2014 13:30
From Marcel
Salut Yorki,

Ech kreien keng Fehlermeldung an der Python console ugewiesen. Ech hun och een Post am Daitschen Forum gemach. Ech sin emol gespannt op een mir weider helefen kann...

Béscht Greiss,


permalink:  142   posted on 22.08.2014 5:54
From Dorian
Just an added thought to the previous one. By incorporating FreeCAD into Blender 3D, and since there is a physics package on Blender, there now opens up the real possibility, to turn Blender/FreeCAD to a rival competing open source application to CATIA, that is a mechanical engineering, systems engineering and design application. This would attract an industry wide interest and backing, if managed right. I really do believe some serious thought should be given to this.

Feedback on this anyone?

permalink:  141   posted on 22.08.2014 5:44
From Dorian
I am a Blender 3D user, and have just started looking at FreeCAD. I had this thought, since FreeCAD development is limping along, and I do believe a good Open Source CAD application is really required, I say limping along with all due reverence and respect, and because Blender 3D is quite a powerful system and has many features that FreeCAD could use, why not dump the standalone FreeCAD application development, and modify it as a plug-in to Blender 3D? After all, Blender 3D has main features you can use, and since it too is C++ and Python based, it would seriously speed up development after the port has been done. It will also open up Blender to a larger audience and greater support would be forth coming, along with support to FreeCAD.

Any thoughts on this Yorik?

permalink:  140   posted on 20.08.2014 15:02
From Yorik
Commenting post 139: There can be a number of reasons. Are you able to do "import dxfLibrary" from the python console without errors? As a sidenote, it's best to use the FreeCAD forum at http://forum.freecadweb.org for that kind of stuff... More people will be able to help.

permalink:  139   posted on 20.08.2014 12:24
From Marcel
Hi Yorki,

I have some problem to import a DXF file into FREECAD 0.14 3700 on Win 7. I have manually downloaded the 4 *.py files and put them in the macro path. Each time I get an error message: Download of dxf libraies failed. Please download them manually...

Any idea why it doesn't work?

Best regards from Luxembourg!
P.S. I like a lot FreeCAD, it's great!

permalink:  138   posted on 19.08.2014 19:17
From Yorik
Commenting post 136: Indeed, it's easy to do for yourself, it is far less easy to make other people accept new systems... Specially given the fact that open-source solutions often require that you do a bit of work by yourself.

permalink:  137   posted on 19.08.2014 19:10
From Yorik
Commenting post 134: Ah thanks, I updated it now!

permalink:  136   posted on 19.08.2014 17:06
From Jorge
Commenting post 117: Nice! You should definitely show some more of those "little open-source tools", it's great to see how others are implementing them in their workflow. I'm trying to implement similar systems in the office I work for, but as it implies a change of habits, it requires some commitment from all the people involved.

permalink:  135   posted on 19.08.2014 14:52
From Yorik
Commenting post 133: Yes it would, but it would be a huge work to achieve that... LibreCAD is not made to be used as a module. But there have been thought already on how to better use LibreCAD to edit the output of the Drawing module...

permalink:  134   posted on 19.08.2014 11:35
From Andrea
Hi, i've downloaded some tree from your website.
They are really good. Thanks for your job.
Only one thing, the jacaranda tree in the blend file does not have the texture.

permalink:  133   posted on 19.08.2014 8:43
From L.G.
would be nice to change the drawing module of freeCAD with libreCAD as freecad module. just dreaming

permalink:  132   posted on 19.08.2014 4:17
From Yorik
Commenting post 131: Yes, apparently at the moment you cannot do much more with it than store and visualize different revisions... All the interesting stuff (comparing revisions, etc) seems not easily accessible, o maybe not yet usable, I don't know. But I think maybe smarter things can be obtained with revision control systems (after all IFC is text)...

Ah I whitelisted you here too Rafael, so you can post links. Sorry for my very medieval blog system

permalink:  131   posted on 19.08.2014 2:33
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 128: More information: opensourcebim.org

permalink:  130   posted on 19.08.2014 2:30
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 128: What I understand about BIMServer is a platform to store the files and track the tasks done in a project from different BIM programs. This means if a team-work is working with several BIM software (Revit, ArchiCAD, FreeCAD) the outcomes are stored independently in a central place. They can be opened from any program and the changes saved again in the central store. Recently It includes a interface to visualize the project (BIM Surfer). It is useful for people working with several BIM software, but I think it is not really useful for single users.

permalink:  129   posted on 18.08.2014 20:44
From DigiDio
Commenting post 116: Looking perfectly good so far. Speed process is the next step. Both programs has pros and don't elements (Blender & Freecad). For now freecad is professional growing in the right position.

permalink:  128   posted on 18.08.2014 15:21
From Yorik
Commenting post 127: No, I hadn't heard of it (though 'BCF' rings some bell...). Might interesting, although I don't really see what it does, outside adding a wp-based forum to the bimserver interface? I regularly look at bimserver (I have actually one running locally here, we can try to play with it some day), but until now I really don't know much what to do with it...

permalink:  127   posted on 18.08.2014 13:45
From Ryan Schultz

permalink:  126   posted on 18.08.2014 9:42
From L.G.
I like the dxf I/O of freecad 2d and 3d. I use the beta cause it´s preinstalled dxf modul!

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  125   posted on 15.08.2014 23:43
From Yorik

DXF export of FreeCAD Drawing pages

I just upgraded the code that exports Drawing pages in FreeCAD, and it works now much better, and much more the way you would expect: Mount your page fully in FreeCAD, then export it to DXF or DWG with the press of a button.

Before, doing this would export the SVG code from the Drawing page, open it in a new FreeCAD document so it got converted to FreeCAD geometry, then export it back to DXF. It gave a lot of errors and was very slow. Now the whole system is based on templates (you need a DXF template corresponding to the SVG template you use in FreeCAD), and the views that appear on the Drawing pages also output their own DXF code.

Of course things are still far from perfect, there is still no support for paper space and many other features, but it is already handy. The template is exported at 1:1 scale, and each view becomes a block, scaled by the same factor as in the Drawing page. So, scaling everything back to 1:1 is very easy too. In the image below I just scaled everything up, exploded, and modified the Standard dimension and text styles, 5 minutes work:

The two default templates of FreeCAD (A3 and A4) already have a DXF version, so you can test this immediately if you use a development version of FreeCAD. Not all views placed on the page will be guaranteed to work yet, but at least everything that is based on geometry, plus Annotations and a couple of Draft objects such as dimensions works.

The model in the first screenshot is my current IFC test house, I'll blog more about it later...


permalink:  124   posted on 14.08.2014 15:27
From Ryan Schultz
gottcha...makes sense. nice.

permalink:  123   posted on 14.08.2014 14:47
From Yorik
Commenting post 122: Yes but it needs a pretty powerful host, not the basic LAMP setup you get from your average web hosting service. That's what I like about old-style, simple, php web apps, they are very portable, you are completely independent from your hosting, you can easily migrate the whole stuff to another one. Gitlab is also something much bigger than a project manager...

permalink:  122   posted on 14.08.2014 12:40
From Ryan Schultz
you mean self host on your own machine? Because you can self host https://about.gitlab.com/, on a AWS instance, for example.

permalink:  121   posted on 14.08.2014 2:09
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Interesting. I never pay attention to this technologies for office administration. I will add it to my list of freesoftware for architects.

permalink:  120   posted on 13.08.2014 23:03
From Yorik
Commenting post 118: Yes, but none of these allow you to self-host them... If you look for something you can host yourself (you never know how long these online platforms will be free, and above all you can't modify them), the options are pretty restricted. And being something very simple and easy to modify, as PP is, makes the fact that it is rather unmaintained a much smaller problem. The PHP aspect is indeed because it runs on our web host, and it is a language I know...

permalink:  118   posted on 13.08.2014 22:52
From Ryan Schultz
Commenting post 117: cool.

curious why you choose ProjectPier, considering it doesn't seem to have an active development community... and there a so many platforms like this to choose from. gitlab, redmine, etc.

because it's PHP, i assume?

in categories  opensource  permalink:  117   posted on 13.08.2014 22:24
From Yorik


I should really write more about all the little open-source tools we use everyday here in our architecture studio. There are your usual CAD / BIM / 3D applications, of course, that you know a bit of if you follow this blog, but one of the tools that really helps us a lot in our daily work is our beloved task manager.

One of the most interesting things you learn from working on an open-source project is how a very complex project with a lot of tasks and people can be managed in an efficient and easy way, and with no boss to organize all that. One of the prominent tools that all open-source projects use to address that problem, is a bug tracker. The bug tracker is a kind of big multi-users tasks list, where tasks can be attributed to specific users, plus many tools to track the general progress, ability to comment and help on other user's tasks, etc. The working of such a bug tracker depends mainly on two things: users reporting bugs, and developers attributing to themselves bugs they decide to (try to) solve. No boss involved, nobody telling anybody what they should do.

For an architecture studio, of course things are a bit different. Tasks are not simply bugs to solve, and there is often more than one project on the table. But the problem is essentially the same: How to keep track of everything that needs to be done, make sure nothing will pass forgotten, and above all, how to make all that easy to deal with, so you can spend your time doing actual arch work instead of organizing things.

For that, we use an open-source task manager called projectpier. We grew so fond of it and it removes such a huge work from our hands that we use to joke about it that it is actually the real boss of the studio (we sometimes tell that seriously to new clients, which results in quite frightened looks). ProjectPier is a rather old-school project management application, but its strength is exactly because of that: It is simple, easy to adapt and modify, and it runs on our limited web host.

Its working is pretty simple: You can add projects, in these projects you can add milestones (main events and deadlines), task lists (that can be linked to a milestone), then the members of the studio take tasks to do and assign them to themselves, mark them as finished, and usually add new tasks because you always think of something else that needs to be done. The important things is that you know that the project won't be delivered before all tasks are done, and you can always see how far you are in the process.

There are several other useful features, such as an integrated address book. and a calendar that lists all the tasks and deadlines a specific user has, and that can be linked to calendar apps such as google calendar, so you can set alarms and reminders there. (In the image below the orange tasks come from ProjectPier and get updated automatically)

Nowadays, there is better than ProjectPier. Take a look at asana for example. But there are still many big advantages to things like ProjectPier, for example being open-source and installable on your own server or web hosting space, which should give you less people spying on it...

Another advantage of course is that you can modify it. If you know a bit of CSS, you can already change its appearance like we did pretty easily, and with some knowledge of PHP you can do much more, like adding plugins. A couple of modifications I did (such as making the deadlines of individual tasks appear in your google calendar, or exporting contacts to vcard), are on my github's gists (they are too hacky to be submitted for inclusion in the offcial source code).

If you are working in a small structure such as a small architecture office, I recommend you highly to have a look at such tools. If you are working alone, it is not so important (a list manually written on a piece of paper does the same job), but with two people, and much more with three or four people, such tools make a huge difference and litterally remove the hassle of organizing people's work from you.

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  116   posted on 09.08.2014 3:50
From Yorik

A bit of FreeCAD BIM work

This afternoon I did some BIM work in FreeCAD for a house project I'm doing with Ryan. We're using this as a test platform for IFC roundtripping between Revit and FreeCAD. So far the results are mixed, lots of information get lost on the way obviously, but on the other hand I'm secretly pretty happy to see FreeCAD capable of communicating fluently with Revit already.

We already identified many bottlenecks, a major one being how FreeCAD imports IFC files, it basically transforms everything into dumb solids, which, when exported back to IFC, become faceted Breps, which Revit treats as non-editable. FreeCAD's native Arch objects, on the other hand, are in most case built of standard extrusions, and therefore stay editable in Revit. Thomas from ifcopenshell, which is the IFC importer/exporter we use in FreeCAD, is also thinking about the problem, no doubt we'll come with a solution any day soon.

In the meantime, modeling directly in FreeCAD, although slow (way slower than I would do in Blender), is already pretty reliable (not a single crash, everything nicely undoable, modifiable, fixable, etc) and enjoyable (fairly easy to look at your model the way you want to see it). It's not something I do often, I prefer the speed of Blender to raise the geometry, then I use FreeCAD to turn it into serious stuff, but here I specifically wanted to use the native Arch objects.

The speed of the workflow is of course a delicate matter, that can't be solved overnight, but now that we reached a certain maturity and stability with the Arch module, it'll be the time to begin to study more efficient ways to use it.

permalink:  115   posted on 07.08.2014 8:08
From Sprofy
Commenting post 67: Hi don't works on gimp 2.8 in windows 7, Do you can fix it?

permalink:  114   posted on 07.08.2014 1:33
From Yorik
Commenting post 113: Cool, thanks! Going to give it a try...

permalink:  113   posted on 06.08.2014 24:32
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 112: BlendME is not dead... it has a new name: ODS-Studio, and it has a free version available for Linux and Windows. It includes OpenFOAM for windows and Mac.
I use it a lot for CFD analysis, working with Blender, OpenFOAM and Paraview (OpenFOAM for windows and Mac it is included) You just have to open an account and download the free versions to test it. However, follow the video tutorials first to know how to use it. I you have interest I can help you with CFD module.

permalink:  112   posted on 06.08.2014 13:58
From Yorik
Commenting post 111: Thanks Rafael

Oh yes! There is a LOT of stuff to connect to. I regularly keep an eye on openstudio, but until now it seems a bit fuzzy to me... Lots of data and diagrams, but the sketchup implementation seems still very basic (you cannot use much of your existing models, you must draw new "cubes" only for openstudio). But definitely one day we must attack that. There was a similar project for blender called "BlendME" that was a package of several open-source analysis tools (radiance, openfoam, etc) shaped into a blender plugin. But the project appears to be dead now... Anyway, there are a lot of opensource analysis tools useful for architecture.

My own priority, at the moment, is of course IFC compatibility. With that, we can already rely on external tools to do the rest of the job. But besides that, there is one other area that we already began to attack directly in FreeCAD, which is structural engineering. In structural objects in FreeCAD, we already have implemented the concept of structural nodes. The idea is to be able to export a structural analysis-ready model made of bars and nodes. Software such as pybar ( http://pybar.fr/index.php?page=logiciel-pybar ) will easily be able to take that data and perform structural analysis. Who knows, at some point we might be able to integrate some of it into FreeCAD too.

Anyway, lots of stuff for the future!

permalink:  111   posted on 06.08.2014 8:54
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 110: Nice work!
I think that in the future you or someone else could link FreeCAD with simulations software such as OpenStudio. In fact, there is already a plugin for SketchUp. So, someone could create a plugin for FreeCAD and we could used FreeCAD for modeling and analysis. openstudio.nrel.gov/

in categories  freecad  permalink:  110   posted on 05.08.2014 20:36
From Yorik

FreeCAD Spaces

I just finished to give a bit of polish to the Arch Space tool of FreeCAD. Until now it was a barely geometric entity, that represents a closed space. You can define it by building it from an existing solid shape, or from selected boundaries (walls, floors, whatever).

Now I added a bit of visual goodness. The Space object has gained a label, which is nicely configurable. You can make it display arbitrary text, but also automatic things like the object's name, the floor area, or other properties such as tags. You can also tweak all the usual things such as font, size, alignment, etc. The first line can also be displayed in a different font size, and you can place the label anywhere, visually, with the Draft Edit tool. If you show the floor area, the new units system is taken into account and the area is shown in your preferred unit.

On the image above, all the texts with area underneath are automatically generated that way.

Space objects also gained some slots to specify material finishings for floor, walls and ceiling. These are not used for anything else than storing your own text entries at the moment, but no doubt we'll find some better use for them later...

in categories  sketches  bede  permalink:  109   posted on 04.08.2014 2:31
From Yorik

no title

permalink:  107   posted on 29.07.2014 8:20
From Eli
Commenting post 106: Very impressive! Thank you for the condivision of the whole project.

in categories  architecture  projects  works  3d  permalink:  106   posted on 29.07.2014 2:29
From Yorik

Prefeitura de Belo Horizonte

versão em português aqui

This is a project we did for a competition for the new city hall of Belo Horizonte (Brazil). It didn't win (The link shows the winning entries), but we are pretty happy about the project anyway. The full presentation boards are at the bottom of this article, as well as the blender model. Below is the explication text and some of the images from the boards.

A hyphen at city scale

The main idea of this proposal is a project that works like a big hyphen, joining two different urban systems that until now were totally disconnected because of the intense road network that occupies the boundary area: the regular grid of the city centre and the Lagoinha neighbourhood. The connection of these two parts also symbolically reunifies the entire city with its centre.

To function as a hyphen, it is necessary for the project to overflow its boundaries. It needs to invade its direct surroundings to "reach" the parts to be reunited.

This expansion out of the limits of the terrain, this physical movement made by the project to connect the parts of the city, generates a public space that is multiple and complex. When the building physically encompasses the bus terminal, links to the Praça do Peixe with the footbridge, creates an exhibition space on he boundary, and allows the public to circulate on the gardens created by the project, it brings people to gather on the main square, which also offers access to the metro and the future bus terminal.

It is at this confluence of paths, at the intersection between spaces that they also amplify, and create a synergy of different people, and the energy coming from these encounters strengthens these very spaces, and gives them a bigger meaning in the whole city.

Primum non nocere

Or "before anything else, not make things worse", is the first principle of bioethics taught to new physicians, part of the Hippocratic Oath. It is also one of the main concepts of this proposal. The place of the project, in the middle of a high concentration of roads and viaducts, became the centre of a vast area damaged by consecutive operations, each one apparently made with the aim of solving the problem caused by the previous ones.

This proposal breaks this vicious circle and sees its surroundings as a fragile but functional situation. Therefore, it does not modify any vehicle circulation, included inside the project area. It only creates multiple, thin pedestrian links with its immediate surroundings, opening breaches that foment small events around the project, and incentives, like acupuncture, the public to deviates from its path and take possession of the space.

Bioclimatism and sustentability

The main concept behind the constructive system of the administrative centre is to provide an impeccable bioclimatic behaviour, not so much based on high-tech technology, expensive and in many cases origins of new problems, but rather on classical and simple techniques, like double facade, open concrete elements, cross ventilation and the correct positioning of the building itself.

The use of electrical energy is reduced to the minimum, as much for lighting (all facades have complete openings, from floor to ceiling, without the need for reflexive glass), as especially for climate control (natural ventilation possible in the whole building, with ventilated facades and local control by the users (by simply opening or closing parts of the window frames).

The big portion of green space reclaimed by the removal of the parking space and part of its underground, as the many areas covered with green roofs, raise drastically the rainwater absorption capacity of the plot and also help to lower the temperature. The addition of new vegetation, including big sized, reinforces the fragmented vegetation network of the immediate surroundings, and turns what was a concrete slab into a green space.

Complex facades

The facades are built on a double skin system, using techniques that are common in Brazil: the internal skin is made with common framework, from floor to ceiling, and can be partially or totally opened. The external skin is made of hollowed concrete elements of different sizes. These elements also support vegetation ,that hangs to the outside of the building through them.

The external skin filters and prevents sun rays to strike directly inside work spaces, but leaves direct views totally open for who is inside the building. The inner skin gives the users a precise and localised control over natural ventilation, thanks to the different ways to open the windows. It also features a flexible positioning permitting variations on the floor plans, which leaves interesting residual spaces that are used for resting and gathering.

The facades, viewed from the outside, works as a mirror, or a gigantic photography of the urban surrounding as it stands today: the placement of the different types of concrete elements is defined by the silhouette of the surroundings (skyline) projected onto the facades. A mathematical algorithm distributes the elements along this silhouette.

By unique circumstance, this skyline also provides exactly and rigorously the bioclimatic standard suitable for this situation. The facades that are oriented to the South, that receive little direct sunlight, are more open, because in that direction are many high buildings. The north faces, that receive more sun, are more open, with the surroundings in that direction composed almost exclusively of small constructions.

These hollowed elements also have a strong link with the modernist identity of the city of Belo Horizonte, but in this case they are used in a more contemporary and parametric way.

The facades of 1st to 4th floors, in contrast, because they are much better protected from the sun by their elevation and orientation, and also because they are closer to the public, are treated in a very different and resolutely contemporary way, with glass an metal. This also provides more transparency between the street and the interior.

Ecology and education

Finally, the unrestricted access to the gardens for workers and the general public and the transformation of damaged areas into effectively reusable green spaces allows to personally experiment the different techniques used, like the double skin or the green roofs. This gives the project an important educative function, based on the personal experience of the users.

The building and its surroundings

Another main axis of this proposal is the way the building adjusts itself to the city. The new administrative centre is an organ that serves the city, and, because of this, cannot supplant it. The building must bow to it, be included into the city, so it offers to the populations benefits that are not only social and political, but also architectural and urban.

This way, the building does not get higher than any other, opens space for the central square, and pushes itself to one side of the terrain, peering only above Avenida Afonso Pena, to liberate the vision to the neighbouring historical heritage, bends its facade to maintain vision axes from Rua Saturnino de Brito, and stretches in the direction of the Praça do Peixe, creating a new visual mark for who is travelling toward the city centre, coming from the highways. All these movements are the result of the search for integration and magnification of the public space as a whole.

The structure

The general structure of the building, although simple and classical (a grid of concrete columns and an array of beams that can be of concrete or metallic, and concrete slabs), introduces an obvious difficulty, which is the passing of the columns through the existing building of the bus terminal. This difficulty, however, is mostly compensated by the fact that the new metro line below the terrain already forces the use of very deep foundations.

Because of that deepness, the area of influence of these foundations is a lot deeper than the foundations of the bus terminal, which are above the metro tunnel. The columns of the new building have therefore no structural influence on the existing building. Both systems cross each other, each one sitting on its own layer. There are in the world many examples of similar problems solved with success, such as the Hearst Building in New York or the Exchange Building in Vancouver.

The drilling of the roof of the bus terminal, to allow the columns to pass through, is a localised, minimal operation, easy to solve technically.

Because of its simplicity, the proposed structural system of this project also has much flexibility. Instead of the 3-columns grid, a 2-columns solution can be studied, and the spacing adapted to the existing foundations, to avoid interference.

Additional structural reinforcements are possible in different points of the project, for example to allow bigger cantilevers, like at the north extremity of the administrative building.

The bus terminal

The proposed project and the treatment it gives to the existing building of the bus terminal deviate from the classical and rigid attitudes usually taken when dealing with historical heritage buildings. Those are frequently considered sacred and untouchable, even if this causes them to loose all their life. This project favours a more dynamic integration that incorporates it to a system, and gives it a new life.

The building of the bus terminal becomes, in this proposal, integrated to a system formed by the administrative centre, by the large public areas, and by the square that takes the place of the old parking space. The architectural value of the bus terminal, as well as the other heritage buildings around, is gains visibility from the contrast with the other parts, and its impact in the city is raised because of the prominent position it keeps in this proposal.

The necessary physical intervention needed by this proposal, the drilling of some of the elements of the roof to permit the passage of the support columns of the administrative centre, is minimal. It has almost no visual impact and leaves intact the reading and understanding of the architectural system of the bus terminal.

Even with this contrasted juxtaposition, the new administrative building shows a special care for the existing building: it never invades it, it rather integrates it by touching it lightly. It is a translation in architectural language of the word respect.

Extension of the public sphere

One of the main focus points of this proposal is the broad public access to the premises. Even if most of the program is private, this projects tries to widely expand the offer of interesting and quality public space at this point of the city.

Apart from the existing access to the bus terminal, the general public also earns accesses to the main square, on the current parking lot, which provides further access to the rest of the project: the ground floor, which houses the reception and services to the citizen, and the "hanging gardens" formed by the green roofs above the inferior floors (1 to 4). Some specific functions of the building, like the auditorium, can also be accessed directly from the outside, when necessary, using the many stairs and escalators that cross the gardens.

The upper roof deck of the building provides a sky garden, a sightseeing point over the Lagoinha neighbourhood and the northern part of the city. It is also accessible by the public, via a dedicated panoramic elevator.

The footbridge that binds the administrative centre to the Praça do Peixe and the exhibitions space, crossing above the roof of the bus terminal, provides the unique experience to discover an architectural heritage building from an unnatural and impressive point of view.

This proposal also tries to create more links between the city inhabitants and the location of the project, with new pedestrian paths, inserted below the viaducts, connecting islands and blocks in a big network that spreads from the smaller squares and enlargements that already exist in the surroundings of the project.

Also check the blender model or the FreeCAD model if you want a closer look!

permalink:  105   posted on 26.07.2014 20:32
From L.G.
since sketchup 8 there is a diffrence between solid groups and not solid groups. Now you can merge 2 solid groups with the outer shell tool. already under - toolbars - solid groups!
The .IGES plugin works only with solid groups and the export is a little bit buggy with smoth shaded Faces.

permalink:  104   posted on 26.07.2014 17:06
From Yorik
Commenting post 103: Ah I didn't know that, thanks a lot fr the info!

permalink:  103   posted on 26.07.2014 8:40
From L.G.
There is an .IGES export script for sketchup, where is no need for topology of geometry (ploygon,quats etc.) this works very nice with freecad.

permalink:  102   posted on 24.07.2014 14:50
From Yorik
Commenting post 100: Yes, I already had a look, all the 2D linework is encapsulated inside an IfcAnnotation object. Inside, there is a list of lines, polylines and circles. Should be pretty easy to retrieve. Actually I had no idea that IFC could host so much of those "basic" 2D stuff like lines, arrows, dimensions, texts, etc... But apparently it can, and the vector for that is the IfcAnnotation. IFC could also be a pretty decent 2D CAD format, amazing!

I'm currently rewriting the IFC importer/exporter of FreeCAD from scratch, because the latest developements in IfcOpenShell permitted to reduce the code to about 20% of what it was, with make things much clearer and easy to extend. That work is nearly done (I'll write a blog post about it too), then I'llhave a look at supporting such 2D objects.

Anyway, this is pretty interesting, and indeed seems a very good way to have things like details embedded inside the project file... Let's explore further!

permalink:  101   posted on 24.07.2014 14:43
From Yorik
Commenting post 99: It's in the works! Yeah I know, it's taking time... But I didn't forget it!

permalink:  100   posted on 24.07.2014 14:24
From Ryan Schultz
I too, am on the fence between the 2d and 3d detailing.

Ultimately, as you say, the workflow, via IFC, between us will dictate what or what cannot be done. I look forward to sussing that out.

In the regard, do you think you'll be able to accommodate the 2d linework that was started in that IFCopenHouse_Lantern_Hollow_IFC.ifc file?

...or should i just drop to 3D only?

permalink:  99   posted on 24.07.2014 13:14
From Alain
Commenting post 314: Thanks for those Tutorials.
Where is the third part ? ;-)

Kind regards

permalink:  98   posted on 23.07.2014 22:59
From Yorik
Commenting post 95: 谢谢!

permalink:  97   posted on 23.07.2014 22:56
From Yorik
Commenting post 94: Yes. If you have boot.img, system.img and userdata.img, you just do this:
fastboot flash boot boot.img
fastboot flash system system.img
fastboot flash userdata userdata.img
and you r system is restored. But I strongly advise you to install the clockworkmod first, because if you begin to play a lot, you will need to this often, and with different versions (for example if you have 1.1 originally, then a 2.0 that works, then a 2.1 that fails, you will want to restore 2.0, not the original 1.1)

Also, usually the boot partition doesn't change often, so you might be able to restore a failed system with just system and userdata.

permalink:  96   posted on 23.07.2014 19:23
From Niklas
Hi! I did not find any commonly comments page of freecad, so i post it here. I'm soooo happy about the 'make compound' command. And of course 64bit builds. Sorry I did not post any pictures yet, we failed the TÜV test, altough I think the manuals I've made with 'FreeCad GL' are not bad.

permalink:  95   posted on 23.07.2014 16:44
From 吳金明
很高興看到FreeCAD 0.14版本發行,實在等了好久!非常感謝您的付出!!

permalink:  94   posted on 23.07.2014 16:24
From dragon
Commenting post 15: Hi

And If something goes wrong, just simply fastboot the backuped images to the phone?

permalink:  93   posted on 23.07.2014 14:56
From Yorik
Commenting post 90: Thanks Gudeta! No indeed I don't think IfcOpenShell is included in the windows build, you need to install it yourself I believe...

permalink:  92   posted on 23.07.2014 14:55
From Yorik
Commenting post 89: Hi Rafael,

Thanks for the input. Yes, I agree 100% with you. Of course until the moment we have robots to make buildings, we need drawings to communicate with the building team. And I don't realistically believe we can live without 2D either. But I also think that the way we do 2D is changing rapidly. More and more, we draw less 2D from scratch, and more and more we generate 2D from other kind of data. We will progressively need less autocad and more 3D or BIM.

This of course won't suppress the 2D completely. If you look at a building plan, there is actually only about max. 50% geometry, and the rest is other stuff, mainly annotations, dimensions and symbols. All these annotations are in fact as important (or more important) than the linework itself.

But, if you look at it that way, what you need becomes very different: What you need is not so much to draw a lot of linework, but rather to adapt/fix/modify a generated linework, and to put annotations, dimensions and symbols on that linework. This changes considerably the scope you need from your authoring application.

To resume, of course I also want to be able to produce deep, complex technical drawings. And if we can do that right inside FreeCAD, better. But I also don't think the way to go is do that "the old way". Well I'm not totally sure yet of the best path to follow, but that's where the fun lies: We can experiment and build our own workflow!

permalink:  90   posted on 23.07.2014 8:36
From Gudeta
Commenting post 80: Thanks for the updates.
I just downloaded the windows version played with the new version for a couple of minutes. I tried to but was not successful to import an IFC file. I think there does not exist a binary of the ifcopenshell for windows yet (it says so in the manual). Besides that import of an OBJ even complex ones works fine. Generally the current version looks much better. The survey tool is so pretty for quick area/volumes. Keep up the good work

permalink:  89   posted on 23.07.2014 5:58
From Rafael (bitacovir)
The 2D drawing has its scope in areas like builders work. They generally use blueprints and the language is 2D drawings. I have experience with work in a building process with builders and one big issue is when drawings are not well drawn. Confusions and different drawing styles could mean huge delay in a building process and that is a lot of money. Please, consider that from the screen of your computer a project must be moved to reality with people that it is not involved in the new technologies.

permalink:  88   posted on 22.07.2014 15:17
From Yorik
Commenting post 86: Thanks Dalai!

permalink:  87   posted on 22.07.2014 15:15
From Yorik
Commenting post 83: Hi Ryan,

Yes, no doubt. At the moment, I'm still using draftsight more out of laziness than anything else. We still work with many people who use 2D only, and it's an almost 100% dwg-based universe, with all its long-time (bad) habits, such as hundreds of small objects, bad-formatted blocks, redundant entities, hundreds of layers, etc. Dealing with those in FreeCAD is a pain in the ass, because it is not made for that kind of scenario. Having thousands of objects makes FreeCAD very slow to work with, and "packing" imported drawings into fewer objects makes them hard to edit.

Now, when you start new stuff from scratch, then doing it in FreeCAD already works quite well, up to exporting to dxf/dwg. But honestly nowadays I'm spending less time on the 2D tools there, my idea now about a proper architecture workflow is to reduce the 2D work to a minimum, I'm still looking at how to do that best. Of course I'd also like to get free from old-style 2D drafting apps like Draftsight, but on the other hand, I'm not sure how far it is interesting or useful to spend much time recreating or mimicking these tools in FreeCAD, if it is something that will become progressively obsoleted. Maybe it is more intelligent to leave that kind of tasks to such applications, and concentrate on more advanced stuff. I don't have a clear opinion on that yet...

One thing is clear to me, though, is that the more you use open-source tools and try to build your proper workflow out of tools that you adapt yourself, the more you end up using several different tools, a typical unix style, several simple tools that all do one taks well rather than complex all-in-one tools. For example the modeling speed you get with blender is something that you won't get easily with FreeCAD, and it would be silly not to use both applications. In that scope, it also makes sense to leave traditional 2D drafting to apps more suited to that task. The right place to put efforts, then, would be the interfaces between all these, that is, make sure data flows accurately between them.

Do you do 2D drafting in Revit? Is it efficient?

permalink:  86   posted on 22.07.2014 15:10
From Dalai
Commenting post 80: Hey Yorik, superb work
I love following Freecad progress via your page.

permalink:  85   posted on 22.07.2014 14:42
From Yorik
Commenting post 81: Kremer: FreeCAD uses the qt toolkit to build its interface. On Linux, Qt follows your desktop theme, that you can easily switch to anything you like, depending on your linux distribution and desktop environment there are often thousands of themes to choose from (see for example http://www.ubuntuthemes.org/). So, you change your desktop theme, all qt and gtk based applications, such as FreeCAD, automatically use that theme. Now, I'm not sure how that works on windows and mac, I know both support theming, but I don't know how far qt-based apps like FreeCAD will take different themes. I'd be interested to know, actually.

About icons, at the moment it is not possible to change them. Honestly we don't see much why spend time on implementing this, if there is no alternative icon theme around to switch with... But the day someone builds an alternative icon theme, why not! In any case, the icons on the screenshots below are the standard icons from the Arch workbench.

permalink:  83   posted on 22.07.2014 13:35
From Ryan Schultz
Commenting post 80: I ask because, as you can imagine, i'm trying to figure out the workflow for drafting 2d details via IFC, from Revit.

Would be great if you were to pull them in on your side as well--if it makes sense.

permalink:  82   posted on 22.07.2014 13:27
From Ryan Schultz
Commenting post 80: You mentioned once you use Draftsight for 2d drafting of details.

Curious why that makes more sense than using Freecad.

permalink:  81   posted on 22.07.2014 6:34
From Kremer
Commenting post 80: Not to comment on something totally irrelevant to the substance of the article (guess what that means I'm about to do?), but why is your FreeCAD all dark and grey, but mine is all light? Does FreeCAD have themes available? How did you do that? Can the icons be changed from their defaults too?

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  80   posted on 21.07.2014 23:07
From Yorik

FreeCAD release 0.14

This is certainly a bit overdue, since the official launch already happened more than two weeks ago, but at last,here it goes: The 0.14 version of FreeCAD has been released! It happened a long, long time after 0.13, about one year and a half, but we're decided to not let that happen again next time, and will try our best to stick to 3 to 6 month release cycles from now on.

To know what changed in this release, read the full Release notes, which will explain everything in detail. Also have a look at the Arch tutorial if you haven't yet, it explains pretty much how the whole Arch module works.

From my point of view, that is, the point of view of an architect, FreeCAD is slowly becoming a solid, decent BIM authoring tool. We now have solid and trustable IFC import in FreeCAD, if IfcOpenShell is installed. If IfcOpenShell is not present, the old IFC python parser we had in version 0.13 is used, but that parser is now so weak that we'll probably remove it in next versions, because it is not useful anymore.

IfcOpenShell is also preparing a new version, which is already supported in this release, and allows to export FreeCAD models to IFC. Since the beauty of the IFC format is in its concept, that, is, the complex "grammar" by which you describe a building in code, the whole operation to export anything to IFC is a big and delicate work, that involves many conceptual decisions. This is a subject which will certainly span over several releases.

The Architecture workbench of FreeCAD, which is where most of the architecture and BIM-related tools are, is also evolving and maturing slowly. Nobody creates a BIM application from scratch, and these things take time to build, evaluate, and see how it works best. Nevertheless, some of these tools, namely the older ones like wall or structure, are now becoming pretty robust, and using them as building blocks for BIM models is becoming quite enjoyable and efficient.

Nowadays, I use FreeCAD in all of my projects. There are several scenarios for which it already occupies a big place, namely importing and converting blender models to solid geometry, and exporting 2D views (sections, plans and elevations). Blender continues to by my modeler of choice in the first phases of the project. Nothing beats the modelling speed and the freedom you get from it. A bit like sketchup, with the fundamental difference that, apart from blender being open-source and running fully and natively on my Linux machine (sketchup works, but not with all its functionality and plugins), blender offers you a much, much better control over the topology of your geometry than sketchup, which actually tries to hide it from you.

This allows you to build models that are easily "freecad-ready": clean meshes, with no overlapping, no manifold edges, that get converted to solids in FreeCAD without errors. The old dream of turning your sketchy model into a BIM model is becoming very real.

Of course there is fundamentally a difference of philosophy between what you do when you build a sketchy model, when you are trying to compose an architecture project, and when you are building a BIM model, where you know what you are building, and you are mainly adjusting things. No matter how perfectly you build your model in the preliminary phases, there will simply be things you don't pay attention to at that stage. So the process will necessarily involve modifications and "redo it the proper way this time" iterations. This is often where you get your feet trapped in the wheels with parametric modeling. So I'm more and more in favor of a simpler, more clearly-labelled and well constructed approach, where instead of nesting many levels of parametric objects, you prefer a clear human-readable organization, based on grouping objects and labeling them correctly. This will certainly be the main path I'll base my workflow on in the near future.

So, happily we now have this 0.14 release out of the way and can concentrate on new stuff. My main target for next release will of course be IFC export, but there is a lot more on the way. For now, enjoy the new release!


Windows version
Mac version
Ubuntu PPA
Source code

in categories  linux  opensource  permalink:  79   posted on 20.07.2014 2:56
From Yorik

HDR thumbnailer

This is a note to myself in case I need it again in the future...

pcmanfm, my favorite file manager, uses the gnome3 thumbnailing system, which makes it very easy to write thumbnailers for new filetypes. Thumbnailers are small programs that take a file of a certain type, and create a small png image of it. So in this example, I'm using imagemagick, the famous image conversion tool that you'll find on almost any linux distro, to make a thumbnailer for HDR images. The thumbnailer is composed of two files:

hdr.thumbnailer (place it in /usr/share/thumbnailers or ~/.local/share/thumbnailers):
[Thumbnailer Entry]
Exec=imagemagick-thumbnailer %i %o %s

imagemagick-thumbnailer (place it in /usr/bin or any other folder that is in your binary search path):
/usr/bin/convert "$1" -thumbnail 64x64 -gravity center -background white -extent 48x48  png:"$2"

One last thing, I suggest you delete /usr/share/mime/packages/kde.xml (installed by kdelibs5-data) because it horribly messes with several file formats (such as HDR) and the mime system doesn't recognize them anymore.

permalink:  78   posted on 19.07.2014 4:00
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Congratulation for the new version of FreeCAD v0.14

permalink:  77   posted on 15.07.2014 11:14
From Eric Gunstone
Thank you, now (mostly) working I seem to have an end of file error but at least it is exporting to dxf now
dumb of me to miss the zip download button.

permalink:  74   posted on 14.07.2014 24:47
From Eric Gunstone
Thank you, now (mostly) working I seem to have an end of file error but at least it is exporting to dxf now
dumb of me to miss the zip download button.

permalink:  73   posted on 14.07.2014 23:10
From Yorik
Commenting post 72: Hm my blog is not really made to discuss code
I think you didn't download the files correctly, what you downloaded are the HTML pages showing the file contents on github. Try using the "Download ZIP" button on https://github.com/yorikvanhavre/Draft-dxf-importer , then unzip the contents to your .FreeCAD folder...

permalink:  72   posted on 14.07.2014 23:03
From Eric Gunstone
this message looks odd now that I have posted it,
there should not be a place to input anything and the leading less than symbol on the shebang regarding Doctype html is what the uptick is pointing to (I'm using words instead of other characters)

permalink:  71   posted on 14.07.2014 22:56
From Eric Gunstone
Thanks for the feedback Yorick,
my spelling was correct on the PC not in the message, sorry.
I tried the 'import dxfLibrary' and got this error message...
>>> import dxfLibrary
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "input", line 1, in
File "/usr/lib/freecad/Mod/Draft/dxfLibrary.py", line 6
SyntaxError: invalid syntax

do I have the correct files?
any help appreciated

permalink:  70   posted on 14.07.2014 22:13
From Yorik
Commenting post 69: I'm not sure what goes wrong, maybe start with making sure that the downloaded .py files are importable in FreeCAD, for example by typing in the freecad python console (menu View->Views->Python Console):
import dxfLibrary

If no error appears that means the file is found... Make sure you type the names correctly... It's ~/.FreeCAD, not ./FreeCad, and it's /usr/lib/freecad/Mod/Draft not /usr/lib/freecad/Mod/Drafts.

permalink:  69   posted on 13.07.2014 24:43
From Eric Gunstone
Hi, thanks for your github freecad dxf importer site, however I cannot get dxf exporting to work.
I downloaded all the .py files to ~/.FreeCad - did not work, set owner/group to root, did not work, set permissions to rwx - did not work.
did all above in /usr/lib/freecad/Mod/Drafts - did not work
I keep geting the message that the downloads failed and I should get the files manually from your github site
anything I have missed? using ubuntu 14.04 64bit

permalink:  68   posted on 13.07.2014 24:42
From Eric Gunstone
oops, forgot to add my name tolast post.

permalink:  67   posted on 10.07.2014 15:13
From Yorik
Commenting post 66: Yes, you are right. QCad is not a "normal" open-source project. Its aim is to be a valid business model. But there are not many businesses that understand what open-source really is, and I believe they do. The whole issue about not having the qcad3 code open during several months, comes mainly from a misunderstanding between them and librecad IIRC. The nice thing is that it apparently got sorted out, and that they still believe in open-sourcing.

I'm not saying that QCad is the best horse to bet on (that might indeed be LibreCAD, since it is fully open-source in the traditional way), but just that I like what the QCad developers are trying to do, I think it is not very common in the business world, and I hope they succeed...

permalink:  66   posted on 10.07.2014 7:34
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 65: I find that QCAD Open Source it is not very reliable project. The previous version was abandoned for more than 5 years without any improvement (was a very limited and unstable software). QCAD could be the leader in CAD for GNU-Linux platform. But, LibreCAD and Draftsight were who change everything. Now we have a QCAD version 3, but for how long? There is not a community around QCAD OS. It is not sure that QCAD developers will keep sharing new versions OS. I suggest to support LibreCAD to keep active the community around (my opinion).

in categories  linux  opensource  permalink:  65   posted on 09.07.2014 23:21
From Yorik

Invert the colors of qcad3 icons

QCad is an open-source 2D CAD program I've already been kind of fond of. It runs on Windows, Mac and Linux, its version 2 has been the base of LibreCAD, and version 3, which is a couple of months old already, is a huge evolution after version 2. Their developers have always struggled between the open-source and closed source worlds, trying to turn QCad into a business, and at the same time keeping the code open. This is a very hard and subtle fight, and their commitment to open-source is really impressive. They basically make the code available on github, and also sell a Pro version (which costs around 30 euro and has dwg support).

There are only very small annoyances that make me still stick to draftsight, basically the not very customizable dimension styles, and thing of the same level, but most tools in this new version 3 being written in javascript, they are quite easy to tweak, I'll certainly have a look at it at some point.

One small issue that I already found an easy way to solve is this: All icons are drawn in black, which, on my white-on-black desktop theme, made them almost invisible and qcad therefore almost unusable. I then wrote this little script, that crawls through the qcad source code, opens all the svg files it finds, and changes black color with white:


import os

def processdir(path):
    print "entering " + path
    for entry in os.listdir(path):
        if os.path.isdir(path + os.sep + entry):
            processdir(path + os.sep + entry)
        elif entry[-4:] == ".svg":
            print "    processing " + path + os.sep + entry
            f = open(path + os.sep + entry)
            b = f.read()
            b = b.replace( 'stroke="#000"','stroke="#fff"' )
            b = b.replace( '#000000;','#ffffff;' )
            f = open( path + os.sep + entry,'wb' )


To use it, simply paste the above code in a file, save it inside the qcad source folder, make it executable, and run it from there. Not sure if this will work out-of-the-box on Windows, but I believe it should.

permalink:  64   posted on 07.07.2014 22:17
From Yorik
Commenting post 63: Hi Jonathan,
Thanks! Usually the first thing I do is to have a look on http://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/ there are so many models there that you are almost 100% sure to find what you need. A big part of the models are available as collada (.dae) files, which open in many 3D applications, otherwise you need to open them in sketchup and export them to collada (or any other format, if you install the appropriate plugin in sketchup). Models from the 3D warehouse are not always very good. Often they are too badly modeled to be used directly. But it is often not much work to fix them, or, if they are really bad, remodel a new one on top of it.

This is often the case for furniture, like chairs, etc. I usually find the 3D warehouse models too heavy (way too many facets, and too hard to simplify, because not modeled very regularly). Then I rebuild a model from scratch, on top of the imported one. It goes very fast, because you just follow the same dimensions. My model looks almost the same as the imported one, but has only a fraction of the faces. This has big impact on render times, and when you do animations you want to keep precise control over the render time.

If you want to look at the blender model of the Maresia shop, drop me a mail (my email address is under the top right icon on this page) and I send you a link

permalink:  63   posted on 06.07.2014 19:37
From Jonathan Bullard
Love your work! I'm just getting started in 3D modelling, and my first project is to build a model of a clothing shop. Your work on Loja Maresia is awesome, and I was wondering where you got the models you used. Did you create new models for this, or are they available somewhere online?

Thanks for your help,

permalink:  62   posted on 20.06.2014 5:11
From Andres.
Commenting post 60: Si puedes leer espanol, a lo mejor te sirve esta guia: docs.google.com/a/student.rmit.edu.au/file/d/0BwC9xl05D8nBMWQwOTVjYjctMjBhMi00MTM0LTljZGQtNTQ1MTk1YWQ2OTM5/edit?hl=en&pli=1

permalink:  61   posted on 19.06.2014 2:33
From Yorik
Commenting post 60: Hi Daniel,
Great! There is no real NEED to use cycles (actually i don't use it too often myself), the internal renderer still works fine for most arch-related stuff...

permalink:  60   posted on 12.06.2014 22:33
From Daniel Romero
hi friend my name is daniel romero im from colombia and also and architecture student so i would like to talk to you about learning blender for archuitecture and i've seen your work and it's too great i would like learn how to use blender for my projects in archuitecture i've being using blender five years ago but not for architecture and with the recent update to cycles i am some confused thanks

permalink:  59   posted on 09.06.2014 13:47
From Yorik
Commenting post 58: Good idea! Added to my todo list.

permalink:  58   posted on 09.06.2014 4:23
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 56: maybe you can share a tutorial about terrain topology with NASA files. I worked once with topology of Valparaiso cliffs with Google earth but the results are very poor (cliffs look like hills) A method with a better accuracy would be nice.

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  57   posted on 06.06.2014 15:55
From Yorik

Images of an heliport project

Recent 3D images we've been doing. Project by Coltro Ferrari, for Allta.

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  56   posted on 06.06.2014 15:52
From Yorik

Industrial facility images

These are images extracted from a video we have been doing recently, that we cannot share yet. All the modeling is done with blender, rendered with the internal engine on my new favorite renderfarm, Fox renderfarm. I was until now using terrain topology from google earth, since sketchup was able to download it. Now using the latest version of sketchup on wine that functionality doesn't work anymore. So I turned to another, much better solution: Satellite-generated heightmaps. I tried first with landsat imagery, that you can find a bit everywhere (on the IBGE website for Brazil, for example). But my brother showedme something much better: Landsat satellites have only a precision of 90x90m. NASA's new Aster satellite have a precision of 30x30m, and the whole dataset is available for download at http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/ (datasets->elevations->aster). You need a bit of work to convert and make the heightmaps match the imagery, but once that is done, you have you r terrain topology quickly and accurately done.

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  55   posted on 06.06.2014 15:37
From Yorik

Private house renderings

A couple of images from an animation we have been doing this year. Unfortunately we cannot share the final animation yet.

in categories  works  permalink:  54   posted on 06.06.2014 15:28
From Yorik

Pictures our the built Lanxess factory

A couple of pictures of a project we've been doing together with Mario Francisco Arquitetura, which is now fully built.

Pictures by Construtora Manara

in categories  linux  opensource  permalink:  53   posted on 05.06.2014 3:43
From Yorik

Coop fluxbox theme

A new dark & flat theme I've been doing for my desktop, *slightly* inspired by all the new gnome3 stuff... The package includes matching themes for fluxbox, gtk2, gtk3, gimp and blender,and instructions to use them.


permalink:  52   posted on 29.05.2014 21:25
From Ananth
Commenting post 62: Wow...i never knew sketchup and blender are this cool....great time saving for my project, thank you !

permalink:  47   posted on 30.04.2014 20:58
From pete
Commenting post 40: Please do take care of your formatting.
And take care to stick to the standard.

Because it is very bad to get errors, even if the program importing it seems to load it right and complains.
Please do have attention to details. And implement the standard very well.
The vendors don't complain about not well formatted files for nothing.

For the rest, keep up the good work! (With attention to detail.)

permalink:  45   posted on 29.04.2014 24:29
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 40: Excellent progress!
Keep working.

permalink:  44   posted on 29.04.2014 18:58
From Ejnaren
Commenting post 40: Fantastic progress. Very nice work

permalink:  42   posted on 29.04.2014 18:52
From Aline Martins
Olá, sou estudante de arquitetura e urbanismo.

permalink:  41   posted on 29.04.2014 3:28
From Anthony V
Commenting post 40: Thank you! I have read and shall read many of your links as I learn more about CAD.

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  40   posted on 29.04.2014 2:57
From Yorik

FreeCAD and IFC: sticking to standards

After my last post about IFC support in FreeCAD, I worked a bit further in order to make the test house behave better when imported into other IFC-capable applications. This is basically the first steps of FreeCAD into the big boys playground. I already leaned a few tricks on the way, that are worth sharing here.

The first thing to know, is that the IFC format is complex, and there are usually many ways to achieve something, and things can become very, very complicated. So I started with the easiest path (the idea is to go the more complex ways later on), which is exporting all the geometry as faceted objects. This is obviousy not excellent, since the objects are reduced to a bunch of faces, and become very hard or impossible to edit. But, this method has the merit to just export anything, without errors (as long as there are no curves, that's for later).

The first test I did was also reimport the IFC test house in freecad. So far so good, all the objects are recreated correctly. Only problem, as stated above, they became dumb shapes, and lost their parametric behaviour.

A second step I did then, is to use the most basic and most used modeling mechanism of IFC: extrusions. Instead of defining an object by its faces, you define a base loop (polyline), and an extrusion vector (direction and length). Several FreeCAD objects are now exported that way when you do an IFC export. At the moment, though, this mechanism is only used in "clean" cases (objects that have no addition or no subtraction, and where the extrusion is in the Z direction). Of course, later on, we need to dissociate these additions and subtractions, so this extrusion mechanism will catch more and more cases.

A second application that is now my favorite test platform, is ifc++. It is an opensource, multiplatform IFC library and viewer, and it is also, thanks to Bernd, the first good, native IFC viewer we have on the Linux platform.

After IfcOpenShell, FreeCAD's IFC engine, which is really rock-solid and can swallow all kinds of wierdly-formatted IFC files, Ifc++ is the second best IFC engine I used in these tests. It sometimes displays some errors, but rarely refuses to render something and is pretty tolerant of bad formatting. It is interesting to notice that, while commercial IFC vendors try to stick as most as possible to the standards, and will just yell at you when you come with your not-totally-up-to-the-standards IFC file, these two open-source apps are way more tolerant, and try as best as they can to handle your errors.

After that I tried to import our test house in two of the big players, Revit and ArchiCAD. Results were not very good at first, but this made me discover several interesting things:

  • When you define a polyline to be used as the base profile of an extrusion, this polyline must lie on the XY plane. It is the extruded object that you then move to its correct position.
  • Windows can only be children of walls if they are children of an opening object which is in turn child of the wall. No way to make a window a child of a wall without the opening object. So for now, they are exported as "stand-alone" windows, which seems to satisfy everybody so far...
  • Windows, apparenlty, cannot be children of structural objects. Only walls...
  • The primary way to define a relationship between two architectural objects, in IFC, is to make them children of the same "gathering" object, such as a storey. This is enough for most software.
  • One object having different representations is interpreted differently depending on the software, but this is not made to add several shapes to an object, although it seems to work (Revit complains).

After a lot of corrections, our test house now opens correctly in Revit and ArchiCAD:

The roadmap now is to add the following features:

  • Fix extrusion orientations (currently only vertical extrusions (along Z axis) work
  • Extrusions of circles (partially done already)
  • Extrusions of ellipses
  • Extrusions of complex polylines (with arcs inside)
  • Breps solids with curved surfaces
  • Subtractions and openings
  • Boolean additions
  • Axes, and additional properties such as heights and widths
  • Colors

After that I think we can say we'll have decent IFC export from FreeCAD, and probably as good as many others...

permalink:  39   posted on 20.04.2014 20:38
From Bernd Hahnebach
Commenting post 37: Didn't know you made such a nice blog post about the ifc capabilities of FreeCAD. Keep up the very good work. Kind Regards from the swiss mountains Bernd

permalink:  38   posted on 17.04.2014 2:03
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 37: This is amazing! Congrats for so promising work! I am busy now but probably in a couple of months I can check the files with Revit.

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  37   posted on 15.04.2014 17:41
From Yorik

IFC support in FreeCAD

We have recently reached a very important point with the Architecture module of FreeCAD: Import and export of IFC files. The support to IFC is not fully compliant yet, but I believe it is stable enough so I can talk about it here.

The IFC format is a very important foundation of any decent BIM workflow. It is basically the one and only proper exchange format we have between all the BIM-capable applications out there, such as Revit, AllPlan or ArchiCAD. IFC is an extension of the STEP format, which is very widely used in mechanical engineering, and also an ISO standard. It is also not a closed format, owned by a single company, but open, human-readable, and maintained by a consortium. This only is a tremendous change compared to older 2D formats such as DWG, that are closed, encrypted, undocumented and proprietary. As a result, implementing DWG support is an almost impossible task for an open-source project, while the IFC format is well documented, the documentation is publicly available, and there are many examples available to programmers. There is even a huge guidebook that explains in details how things must be implemented. All this makes IFC support much easier to implement.

If you read BIM blogs on the internet, you will notice that many people speak against IFC. It is hard, however, to not see a direct relation between these negative opinions and Revit. Revit has a very "everything into one model, one application" ideology, and many of its users see IFC as "too dumb", unable to carry the complex relationships and parametric tissue present in a Revit model.

This is certainly true, although with each new version of the IFC format, its authors try to address more of these parametric relationships. But fundamentally, the purpose of IFC is to describe a building, not the software tools you used to design it. This is at the same time a weakness and a strength, in my opinion. And you have nowadays many voices raising against relying on too complex parametric chains and going back to more simple, easily understandable model structures.

This also speaks of another important point of a modern BIM workflow: collaboration. IFC is not meant to be a format for archiects, but a format for the whole construction family, including engineers and constructors. They will use your IFC files in a very different way as you. You might want to keep your complex relationships so you can import your IFC back into your application, and everything connects, but they will do very different things with it. Engineers will use it as a guide, and sometimes rebuild some sections of it, and constructors will want to extract quantities from it, and won't be interested in how you designed it. For them, there is even a side-format called COBIE which presents the contents of an IFC model as a big spreadsheet...

So thinking of your model as "easy to exchange" with others is a very good way to look at the problem in my opinion, and in that scope, IFC is much, much more interesting. If you model objects that are easy to identify (correctly named and placed in a coherent hierarchy) and easy to modify (which often means: delete and redo it from scratch) by others, the limitations of IFC become totally supportable. And the advantages are huge.

Implementation in FreeCAD

The IFC import/export mechanism in FreeCAD relies on one amazing piece of software called IfcOpenShell. IfcOpenShell is a reader/writer for IFC files, built upon OpenCasCade, the same geometry kernel as we use in FreeCAD. The consequence of this is that both applications communicate extremely well, and the import and export of geometry is very reliable and relatively fast already.

IfcOpenShell has been supporting reading of IFC files for quite some time, but in its latest development version, it now also allows writing. This is now supported in FreeCAD too, and if you can compile FreeCAD and IfcOpenShell yourself, in order to benefit from the latest developments of both applications, you already have full IFC import and export. If not you'll need a little of patience, until these come to a proper release.

When importing an IFC file into FreeCAD, IfcOpenShell will get all the entities derived from the IfcProduct class. That involves basically all building elements, such as walls, windows, roofs, etc. and extract their shape. When a corresponding Arch object exists, for example a wall, such object is created, and the shape is attributed. If no corresponding Arch object exists, for example a piece of furniture, a standard Part object is created. This ensures you that all building products present in the IFC file are imported, even if there is no corresponding Arch object.

At the moment, the shape of the object comes already fully computed, with its openings, subtractions, etc. In the future, we'll work together with the IfcOpenShell developers to get more interesting behaviour, such as having the openings as separate parameters, or retrieving the baselines of the walls.

When exporting an IFC file from FreeCAD, there are currently still a couple of limitations: only Arch objects can be exported, and they can contain no curves. Other than that, any shape is correctly exported,and it's thrilling to see your wildest FreeCAD designs faithfully exported to such a "serious" format as IFC! It is best to have alreay a building + floor(s) structure in FreeCAD to export, but if none is there a default one is created for you.

The biggest task that awaits us now is complying to standards. IFC specification is very complex, and there are a lot of little particularities that such or such application will read or not read. So this will require heavy testing, and help from everybody who wants to see this going further. Several members of the FreeCAD community are already doing some heavy testing, don't hesitate to join us!

As a starter, I mounted a little test file in FreeCAD. This file also serves to demonstrate other features of FreeCAD and the Arch workbench, such as extracting 2D views and calculating quantities. Consider it as a "FreeCAD BIM test":

Get the FreeCAD file from here, and the exported IFC file here. There is also a list of exported objects for you to compare with. I'll add it to the FreeCAD example files later.

If you want to help with testing, a first thing you might want to do is try the IFC file in your BIM application, and head to the FreeCAD forum to report your results! IfcOpenShell also has a test file here.

permalink:  36   posted on 05.04.2014 13:55
From Ingo
Hi, thanks for the trees, gave me some idea how far I am from creating models. All the best from Germany

permalink:  35   posted on 01.04.2014 2:27
From Yorik
Commenting post 34: Thanks!!

permalink:  34   posted on 01.04.2014 1:32
From Israel Owuogba
Commenting post 66: wonderful sketches

permalink:  33   posted on 01.04.2014 1:07
From Israel Owuogba
Commenting post 16: i love your designs and sketches.

permalink:  32   posted on 29.03.2014 15:58
From Yorik
Commenting post 30: I also never managed to compile the kernel... But normally this is not needed. As far as I can understand, the kernel is almost never recompiled across different versions. Only the boot.img is unpacked/repacked, some config values are changed, but the kernel itself is apparently never touched.

When you compile B2G the first time, it will ask you to connect your phone. It will download the kernel from your phone, and use it in all new builds.

Actually recently I always used @cargabsj175's builds from http://elsimpicuitico.wordpress.com/ He manages to always make better builds than mines There is always a boo.img included, but AFAIK the kernel is the same...

permalink:  31   posted on 29.03.2014 5:37
From gabriel
Commenting post 15: achei algo q ajuda:


permalink:  30   posted on 29.03.2014 5:28
From gcb
Commenting post 15: ha! talked to you a lot in the past when i was trying to help on freecad... didn't know you were brazillian (or lived in brazil...)

well, now i got one alcatel phone, and am having trouble compiling the $)(*)(*!@# kernel that alcatel trhow in the sourceforge repo. the link to the rooted kernel would be just what I need. but the download server is offline.

any chance you have it and can host or upload for me?

permalink:  29   posted on 17.03.2014 8:30
From Laurent
Commenting post 27: Very intresting tutorial. It really help to understand how the arch module works.


permalink:  28   posted on 15.03.2014 3:25
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 27: Thanks so much for this tutorial. I miss instructions like group of commands. But I suppose the links show more instructions.

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  27   posted on 14.03.2014 17:57
From Yorik

FreeCAD Architecture tutorial

This is a copy of this original article I wrote on the FreeCAD wiki, about doing BIM modeling with FreeCAD,that I copied it here for archiving purposes. I advise you to read the original article, the quality is much better.


Arch tutorial 00.jpg

This tutorial aims at giving you the basics to work with the Arch Workbench. I will try to make it simple enough so you don't need any previous experience with FreeCAD, but having some experience with 3D or BIM applications will be useful. In any case, you should be prepared to look for yourself for further information about how FreeCAD works on the FreeCAD documentation wiki. The Getting started page is a must read, if you have no previous experience with FreeCAD. Also check our tutorials section, and on youtube you will also find a lot more of FreeCAD tutorials.

The purpose of the Arch Workbench is to offer a complete BIM workflow inside FreeCAD. As it is still under development, don't expect to find here the same tools and level of completion as grown-up commercial alternatives such as Revit or ArchiCAD, but on the other hand, FreeCAD being used in a much bigger scope than these applications, the Arch Workbench greatly benefits from the other disciplines FreeCAD caters to, and offers some features rarely seen in traditional BIM applications.

Here are, for example, a couple of interesting features of FreeCAD's Arch Workbench that you'll hardly find in other BIM apps:

  • Architectural objects are always solids. From FreeCAD's strong mechanical background, we learned the importance of always working with solid objects. This ensures a much more error-free workflow, and very reliable boolean operations. Since cutting through 3D objects with a 2D plane, in order to extract sections, is also a boolean operation, you can immediately see the importance of this point.
  • Architectural objects can always have any shape. No restrictions. Walls don't need to be vertical, slabs don't need to look like slab. Any solid object can always become any architectural object. Very complex things, usually hard to define in other BIM applications, like a floor slab curving up and becoming a wall (yes Zaha Hadid, it's you we're talking about), present no particular problem at all in FreeCAD.
  • The whole power of FreeCAD is at your fingertips. You can design architectural objects with any other tool of FreeCAD, such as the PartDesign Workbench, and when they are ready, convert them to architectural objects. They will still retain their full modeling history, and continue totally editable. The Arch Workbench also inherits much of the Draft Workbench functionality, such as snapping and working planes.
  • The Arch Workbench is very mesh-friendly. You can easily design an architectural model in a mesh-based application such as Blender or SketchUp and import it in FreeCAD. If you took care of the quality of your model and its objects are non-manifold solid shapes, turning them into architectural objects only requires the press of a button.

At the time I'm writing this, though, the Arch Workbench, as the rest of FreeCAD, suffers some limitations. Most are being worked on, though, and will disappear in the future.

  • FreeCAD is no 2D application. It is made for 3D. There is a reasonable set of tools for drawing and editing 2D objects with the Draft Workbench and Sketcher Workbench, but it is not made for handling very large (and sometimes badly drawn) 2D CAD files. You can usually successfully import 2D files, but don't expect very high performance if you want to keep working on them in 2D. You have been warned.
  • No materials support. FreeCAD will have a complete Material system, able to define very complex materials, with all the goodies you can expect (custom properties, material families, rendering and visual aspect properties, etc), and the Arch Workbench will of course use it when it is ready.
  • Very preliminary IFC support. You can already import IFC files, quite reliably, provided IfcOpenShell is installed on your system, but exporting is still not officially supported. This is worked on both by the FreeCAD and IfcOpenShell developers, and in the future we can expect full-powered IFC support.
  • Most Arch tools are still in development. That means that automatic "wizard" tools that create complex geometry automatically, such as Arch Roof or Arch Stairs can only produce certain types of objects, and other tools that have presets, such as Arch Structure or Arch Window only have a couple of basic presets. This will of course grow over time.
  • Relations between objects in FreeCAD are still not officially available. These, for example the relation between a window and its host wall, are currently implemented in the Arch Workbench with temporary (and therefore somewhat limited) methods. Many new possibilities will arise when this feature will be fully available.
  • Units are being implemented in FreeCAD, which will allow you to work with any unit you wish (even imperial units, you guys from the USA can be eternally grateful for this to Jürgen, FreeCAD's godfather and dictator). But at the moment the implementation is not complete, and the Arch workbench still doesn't support them. You must consider it "unit-less".

FreeCAD version 0.14 required

This tutorial was written using FreeCAD version 0.14. You will need at least this version number in order to follow it. Earlier versions might not contain all the needed tools,or they could lack options presented here.

Typical workflows

The Arch Workbench is mainly made for two kinds of workflows:

  • Build your model with a faster, mesh-based application such as Blender or SketchUp, and import them in FreeCAD in order to extract plans and section views. FreeCAD being made for precision modeling, at a much higher level than what we usually need in architectural modeling, building your models directly in FreeCAD can be heavy and slow. For this reason, such a workflow has big advantages. I described it in this article on my blog. If you care to model correctly and precisely (clean, solid, non-manifold meshes), this workflow gives you the same performance and precision level as the other.
  • Build your model directly in FreeCAD. That is what I will showcase in this tutorial. We will use mostly three workbenches: Arch, of course, but also Draft, whose tools are all included in Arch, so there is no need to switch workbenches, and Sketcher. Conveniently, you can do as I usually so, which is to create a custom toolbar in your Arch workbench, with Tools -> Customize, and add the tools from the sketcher that you use often. This is my "customized" Arch workbench

Arch tutorial 01.jpg

In this tutorial, we will model the house in 3D, based on the 2D drawings we'll download from the net, and extract from it 2D documents, such as plans, elevations and sections.


Instead of creating a project from scratch, Let's take an example project to model, it will save us time. I chose this wonderful house by the famous architect Vilanova Artigas (see a series of pictures by Pedro Kok), because it is close to where I live, it is simple, it's a wonderful example of the amazing modernist architecture of São Paulo (it is even for sale if you have "a few" Reals to spend), and dwg drawings are easily available.

We will use the 2D DWG drawings obtained from the link above (you need to register to download, but it's free) as a base to build our model. So the first thing you'll want to do is to download the file, unzip it, and open the DWG file inside with a dwg application such as DraftSight. Alternatively, you can convert it to DXF with a free autility such as the Teigha File Converter. If you have the Teigha converter installed (and its path set in the Arch preferences settings), FreeCAD is also able to import DWG files directly. But since these files can sometimes being of bad quality and very heavy, it's usually better open it first with a 2D CAD application and do some cleaning.

Here, I removed all the detail drawings, all the titleblocks and page layouts, did a "clean" ("purge" in AutoCAD slang) to remove all unused entities, reorganized the sections at a logical location in relation to the plan view, and moved everything to the (0,0) point. After that, our file can be opened quite efficiently in FreeCAD. Check the different options available in Edit -> Preferences -> Draft -> Import/Export, they can affect how (and how quickly) DXF/DWG files are imported.

This is how the file looks after being opened in FreeCAD. I also changed the thickness of the walls (the contents of the "muros" group), and flipped a couple of doors that were imported with wrong X scale, with the Draft Scale tool:

Arch tutorial 02.jpg

The DXF importer (which also takes care of DWG files, since when importing DWG files, they are simpl converted to DXF first), groups the imported objects by layer. There is no layer in FreeCAD, but there are groups. Groups offer a similar way to organize the objects of your files, but don't have specific properties, like AutoCAD layers, that apply to their contents. But they can be placed inside other groups, which is very handy. The first thing we might want to do here, is to create a new group (in the tree view, right-click on the document icon, add a group, right click on it to rename it as "base 2D plans", and drag and drop all the other objects into it.

Building the walls

Like most Arch objects, walls can be built upon a big variety of other objects: lines, wires (polylines), sketches, faces or solid (or even on nothing at all, in which case they are defined by height, width and length). The resulting geometry of the wall depends on that base geometry, and the properties you fill in, such as width and height. As you might guess, a wall based on a line will use that line as its alignment line, while a wall based on a face will use that face as its base footprint, and a wall based on a solid will simply adopt the shape of that solid. This allows about any shape imaginable to become a wall.

There are different possible strategies to build walls in FreeCAD. One might want to build a complete "floor plan" with the sketcher, and build one, big, wall object from it. This technique works, but you can only give one thickness for all the walls of the project. Or, you can build each piece of wall from separate line segments. Or, this is what we will do here, a mix of both: We will build a couple of wires on top of the imported plan, one for each type of wall:

Arch tutorial 03.jpg

As you see, I've drawn in red the lines that will become concrete walls (a pictures search of the house can help you to see the different wall types), the green ones are the exterior brick walls, and the blue ones will become the inner walls. I passed the lines through the doors, because doors will be inserted in the walls later, and will create their openings automatically. Walls can also be aligned left, right or centrally on their baseline, so it doesn't matter which side you draw the baseline. I also took care on avoiding intersections as much as I could, because our model will be cleaner that way. But we'll take care of intersections later.

When this is done, place all those lines in a new group if you want, select each line one by one, and press the Arch Wall tool to build a wall from each of them. You can also select several lines at once. After doing that, and correcting widths (exterior walls are 25cm wide, inner walls are 15cm wide) and some alignments, we have our walls ready:

Arch tutorial 04.jpg

We could also have built our walls from scratch. If you press the Arch Wall button with no object selected, you will be able to click two points on the screen to draw a wall. But under the hood, the wall tool will actually draw a line and build a wall on it. In this case, I found it more didactic to show you how things work.

Did you notice that I took great care not to cross the walls? this will save us some headache later, for example if we export our work to other applications, that might not like it. I have only one intersection, where I was too lazy to draw two small line segments, and drew one big wire crossing another. This must be fixed. Fortunately, all Arch objects have a great feature: you can add one to another. Doing that will unite their geometries, but they are still editable independently after. To add one of our crossing walls to the other, just select one, CTRL + select the other, and press the Arch Add tool:

Arch tutorial 05.jpg

On the left is are the two intersecting walls, on the right the result after adding one to the other.

An important note about parametric objects

Something is important to consider already. As you can see, in FreeCAD, everything is parametric: Our new "united" wall is made from two walls, each based on a baseline. When you expand them in the tree view, you can see all that chain of dependencies. As you can imagine, this little game can quickly become very complex. Furthermore, if you already know how to work with the sketcher, you might have wanted to draw the baselines with constrained sketches. This whole complexity has a cost: it raises exponentially the number of calculations that FreeCAD has to perform to keep your model geometry up to date. So, think about it, don't add unnecessary complexity when you don't need it. Keep a good balance between simple and complex objects, and keep these for the cases where you really need them.

For example, I could have drawn all my baselines above without caring about what crosses what, and fix things with the Arch Add tool later. But I would have raised much the complexity of my model, for no gain at all. Better make them correct right from the start, and keeping them as very simple pieces of geometry.

Now that our walls are okay, we need to raise their height, until they intersect the roof. Then, since the wall object still cannot be cut automatically by roofs (this will happen some day, though), we will build a "dummy" object, that follows the shape of the roof, to be subtracted from our walls.

First, by looking at our 2D drawings, we can see that the highest point of the roof is 5.6m above the ground. So let's give all our walls a height of 6m, so we make sure they will be cut by our dummy roof volume. Why 6m and not 5.6m? You may ask. Well, if you already worked with boolean operations (additions, subtractions, intersections), you must already know that these operations usually don't like much "face-on-face" situations. They prefer clearly, frankly intersecting objects. So by doing this, we keep on the safe side.

To raise the height of our walls, simply select all of them (don't forget the one we added to the other) in the tree view, and change the value of their "height" property.

Before making our roof and cutting the walls, let's make the remaining objects that will need to be cut: The walls of the above studio, and the columns. The walls of the studio are made the same way as we did, on the superior floor plan, but they will be raised up to level 2.6m. So we will give them the needed height so their top is at 6m too, that is, 3.4m. Once this is done, let's move our walls up by 2.6m: Select them both, put yourself in frontal view (View -> Standard Views -> Front), press the Draft Move button, select a first point, then enter 0, 2.6, 0 as coordinates, and press enter. Your objects now have jumped 2.6m high:

Arch tutorial 06.jpg

About coordinates

The Draft objects, and most Arch objects too, obey to a Draft system called working planes. This system defines a 2D plane where next operations will take place. If you don't specify any, that working plane adapts itself to the current view. This is why we switched to frontal view, and you see that we indicated a movement in X of 0 and in Y of 2.6. We could also have forced the working plane to stay on the ground, by using the Draft SelectPlane tool. Then, we would have entered a movement of X of 0, Y of 0 and Z of 2.6.

Now let's move our walls horizontally, to their correct location. Since we have points to snap to, this is easier: Select both walls, press the Draft Move tool, and move them from one point to the other:

Arch tutorial 07.jpg

Finally, I changed the color of some walls to a brick-like color (so it's easier to differentiate), and made a small correction: Some walls don't go up to the roof, but stop at a height of 2.60m. I corrected the height of those walls.

Raising the structure

Now, since we'll have to cut our walls with a subtraction volume, we might as well see if there aren't other objects that will need to be cut that way. There are, some of the columns. This is a good opportunity to introduce a second arch object: the Arch Structure. Structure objects behave more or less like walls, but they aren't made to follow a baseline. Rather, their prefer to work from a profile, that gets extruded (along a profile line or not). Any flat object can be a profile for a structure, with only one requirement: they must form a closed shape.

For our columns, we will use another strategy than with the walls. Instead of "drawing" on top of the 2D plans, we will directly use objects from it: the circles that represent the columns in the plan view. In theory, we could just select one of them, and press the Arch Structure button. However, if we do that, we produce an "empty" structural object. This is because you can never be too sure at how well objects were drawn in the DWG file, and often they are not closed shapes. So, before turning them into actual columns, let's turn them into faces, by using the Draft Upgrade tool twice on them. The first time to convert them into closed wires (polylines), the second time to convert those wires into faces. That second step is not mandatory, but, if you have a face, you are 100% sure that it is closed (otherwise a face cannot be made).

After we have converted all our columns to faces, we can use the Arch Structure tool on them, and adjust the height (some have 6m, other only 2.25m height):

Arch tutorial 08.jpg

On the image above, you can see two columns that are still as they were in the DWG file, two that were upgraded to faces, and two that were turned into structural objects, and their height set to 6m and 2.25m.

Note that those different Arch objects (walls, structures, and all the others we'll discover) all share a lot of things between them (for example all can be added one to another, like we already saw with walls, and any of them can be converted to another). So it's more a matter of taste, we could have made our columns with the wall tool too, and converted them if needed. In fact, some of our walls are concrete walls, we might want to convert them to structures later.


Now it is time to build our subtraction volume. The easiest way will be to draw its profile on top of the section view. Then, we will rotate it and place it at its correct position. See why I placed the sections and elevations like that before beginning? It will be very handy for drawing stuff there, then moving it to its correct position on the model.

Let's draw a volume, bigger than the roof, that will be subtracted from our walls. To do that, I drew two lines on top of the base of the roof, then extended them a bit further with the Draft Trimex tool. Then, I drew a wire, snapping on these lines, and going well above our 6 meters. I also drew a blue line on the ground level (0.00), that will be or rotation axis.

Arch tutorial 09.jpg

Now is the tricky part: We will use the Draft Rotate tool to rotate our profile 90 degrees up, in the right position to be extruded. To do that, we must first change the working plane to the YZ plane. Once this is done, the rotation will happen in that plane. But if we do like we did a bit earlier, and set our view to side view, it will be hard to see and select our profile, and to know where is the basepoint around which it must rotate, right? Then we must set the working plane manually: Press the Draft SelectPlane button (it is in the "tasks" tab of the tree view), and set it to YZ (which is the "side" plane). Once you set the working plane manually, like that, it won't change depending on your view. You can now rotate your view until you have a good view of all the things you must select. To switch the working plane back to "automatic" mode later, press the Draft SelectPlane button again and set it to "None".

Now the rotation will be easy to do: Select the profile, press the Draft Rotate button, click on a point of the blue line, enter 0 as start angle, and 90 as rotation:

Arch tutorial 10.jpg

Now all we need to do it to move the profile a bit closer to the model (set the working plane to XY if needed), and extrude it. This can be done either with the Part Extrude tool, or Draft Trimex, which also has the special hidden power to extrude faces. Make sure your extrusion is larger than all the walls it will be subtracted from, to avoid face-on-face situations:

Arch tutorial 11.jpg

Now, here comes into action the contrary of the Arch Add tool: Arch Remove. As you might have guessed, it also makes an object a child of another, but its shape is subtracted from the host object, instead of being united. So now things are simple: Select the volume to subtract (I renamed it as "Roof volume to subtract" in the tree view so it is easy to spot), CTRL + select a wall, and press the Arch Remove button. You'll see that, after the subtraction happened, the volume to subtract disappeared from both the 3D view and the tree view. That is because it has been marked as child of the wall, and "swallowed" by that wall. Select the wall, expand it in the tree view, there is our volume.

Now, select the volume in the tree vieew, CTRL + select the next wall, press Arch Remove. Repeat for the next walls until you have everything properly cut:

Arch tutorial 12.jpg

Remember that for both Arch Add and Arch Remove, the order you select the objects is important. The host is always the last one, like in "Remove X from Y" or "Add X to Y"

A note about additions and subtractions

Arch objects that support such additions and subtractions (all of them except the "visual" helper objects such as the axes) keep track of such objects by having two properties, respectively "Additions" and "Subtractions", that contains a list of links to other objects to be subtracted or added. A same object can be in thr lists of several other objects, as it is the case of our subtraction volume here. Each of the fathers will want to swallow it in the tree view, though, so it will usually "live" in the last one. But you can always edit those lists for any object, by double-clicking it in the tree view, which in FreeCAD enters edit mode. Pressing the escape key exits edit mode.

Making the roofs

Now, all we have to do to complete the structure, is to make the roof and the smaller inner slabs. Again, the easiest way is to draw their profiles on top of the section, with the Draft Wire tool. Here I drew 3 profiles on top of each other (I moved them apart in the image below so you see better). The green one will be used for the lateral borders of the roof slab, then the blue one for the side parts, and the red ones for the central part, that sits above the bathroom block:

Arch tutorial 13.jpg

Then, we must repeat the rotation operation above, to rotate the objects in a vertical position, then move them at their correct places, and copy some of them that will need to be extruded twice, with the Draft Move tool, with the ALT key pressed, which creates copies instead of moving the actual object. I also added two more profiles for the side walls of the bathroom opening.

Arch tutorial 14.jpg

When everything is in place, it's just a matter of using the Draft Trimex tool to extrude, then convert them to Arch Structure objects.

Arch tutorial 15.jpg

After that, we can see some problems arising: two of the columns on the right are too short (they should go up to the roof), and there is a gap between the slab and the walls of the studio on the far right (the 2.60 level symbol on the section view was obviously wrong). Thanks to the parametric objects, all this is very easy to solve: For the columns, just change their height to 6m, fish your roof subtraction volume from the tree view, and subtract it to the columns. For the walls, it's even easier: move them a bit down. Since the subtraction volume continues at the same place, the wall geometry will adapt automatically.

Now one last thing must be fixed, there is a small slab in the bathroom, that intersects some walls. Let's fix that by creating a new subtraction volume, and subtract it from those walls. Another feature of the Draft Trimex tool, that we use to extrude stuff, is that it can also extrude one single face of an existing object. This creates a new, separate object, so there is no risk to "harm" the other object. So we can select the base face of the small slab (look at it from beneath the model, you'll see it), then press the Draft Trimex button, and extrude it up to well above the roofs. Then, subtract it from the two inner bathroom walls with the Arch Remove tool:

Arch tutorial 16.jpg

Floors, stairs and chimney

Now, our structure is complete, we just have a couple of smaller objects to do.

The chimney

Let's start with the chimney. Now you already know how it works, right? Draw a couple of closed wires, move them up at their correct height with the Draft Move tool, extrude them with the Draft Trimex tool, turn the bigger one into a structure, and subtract the smaller ones. Notice how the chimney tube wasn't drawn on the plan view, but I found its position by dragging blue lines from the section views.

Arch tutorial 17.jpg

The floors

The floors are not well represented in the base drawings. When looking at the sections, you cannot know where and how thick the floor slabs are. So I will suppose that the walls are sitting on top of foundation blocks, at level 0.00, and that there are floor slabs, also sitting on those blocks, 15cm thick. So the floor slabs don't run under the walls, but around them. We could do that by creating a big rectangular slab then subtracting the walls, but remember, subtraction operations cost us. Better do it in smaller pieces, it will be "cheaper" in terms of calculation, and also if we do it intelligently, room by room, these will also be useful to calculate floor areas later:

Arch tutorial 18.jpg

Once the wires are drawn, just turn them into structures, and give them a height of 0.15:

Arch tutorial 19.jpg

The stairs

Now the stairs. Met the next of the Arch tools, the Arch Stairs. This tool is still in a very early stage of development, at the time I'm writing, so don't expect too much of it. But it is already pretty useful to make simple, straight stairs. One concept is important to know, the stairs tool is thought to build stairs from a flat floor up to a wall. In other words, when viewed from the top, the stairs object occupies exactly the space that it occupies on the plan view, so the last riser is not drawn (but it is of course taken into account when calculating heights).

In this case, I preferred to build the stairs on the section view, because we'll need many measurements that are easier to get from that view. Here, I drew a couple of red guidelines, then two blue lines that will be the base of our two pieces of stairs, and two green closed wires, that will form the missing parts. Now select the first blue line, press the Arch Stairs tool, set the number of steps to 5, the height to 0.875,the width to 1.30, the structure type to "massive" and the structure thickness to 0.12. Repeat for the other piece.

Then, extrude both green wires by 1.30, and rotate and move them to the right position:

Arch tutorial 20.jpg

On the elevation view, draw (then rotate) the border:

Arch tutorial 21.jpg

Then move everything into place:

Arch tutorial 22.jpg

Don't forget also to cut the column that crosses the stairs, because in BIM it's always bad to have intersecting objects. We are building like in the real world, remember, where solid objects cannot intersect. Here, I didn't want to subtract the column directly from the stairs (otherwise the column object would be swallowed by the stairs object in the tree view, and I didn't like that), so I took the face on which the column was built, and extruded it again. This new extrusion was then subtracted from the stairs.

Right! All the hard work is now done, let's go on with the very hard work!

Doors and windows

Arch Windows are pretty complex objects. They are used to make all kinds of "inserted" objects, such as windows or doors. Yes, in FreeCAD, doors are just a special kind of window. In real life too, if you think of it, no? The Arch Window tool can still be a bit hard to use today, but consider this as a tradeoff, as it was built for maximum power. Almost any kind of window your imagination can produce can be done with it. But as the tool will gain more presets, this situation will certainly become better in the future.

The Arch Window object works like this: It is based on a 2D layout (any 2D object, but preferably a sketch, that contains closed wires (polylines). These wires define the different parts of the window: outer frames, inner frames, glass panels, solid panels, etc. The window objects then has a property that stores what to do with each of these wires: extrude it, place it at a certain offset, etc. Finally, a window can be inserted into a host object such as a wall or structure, and it will automatically create a hole in it. That hole will be calculated by extruding the biggest wire found in the 2D layout.

There are two ways to create such objects in FreeCAD: By using a preset, or drawing the window layout from scratch. We'll look at both methods here. But remember that the preset method does nothing else than creating the layout object and defining the necessary extrusions for you.

Using presets

When pressing the Arch Window tool with no object selected, you are invited either to pick a 2D layout, or to use one of the presets. Let's use the "Simple Door" preset to place the main entrance door of our model. Give it a width of 1m, a height of 2.45m, a W1 size of 0.15m, and leave the other parameters to 0.05m. Then click the lower left corner of the wall, and your new door is created:

Arch tutorial 23.jpg

You will notice that your new door won't appear in the tree view. That is because, by snapping to a wall, we indicated that wall as its host object. Consequently, it has been "swallowed" by the wall. But a right click on it -> Go to selection will find it in the tree.

In this case, as our window is not inserted in any wall (the opening was there already), we might as well detach our window from its host wall. This is done by double-clicking the host wall in the tree view to enter its edit mode. There, you will see the window in its "Subtractions" group. Simply select the window there, press the "remove element" button, then "OK". Our window has now been removed from its host wall, and lies at the bottom of the tree view.

We have a second door, exactly the same as this one, a bit on the left. Instead of creating a new door from scratch, we have two ways to make a copy of the previous one: By using the Draft Move tool, with the ALT key pressed, which, as you already know, copies an object instead of moving it. Or, even better, we can use the Draft Clone tool. The clone tool produces a "clone" of a selected object, that you can move around, but that retains the shape of the original object. If the original object changes, the clone changes too.

So all we need to do now is select the door, press the Draft Clone tool, then move the clone to its correct position with the Draft Move tool.

Organizing your model

Arch tutorial 24.jpg

Now would be a good time to do a bit of housecleaning. Since we already have two windows, it is a good moment to do some cleaning in the tree view: Create a new group, rename it to "windows", and drop the 2 windows in it. I also recommend you to separate other elements that way, such as the walls and structures. Since you can also create groups inside groups, you can organize further, for example by placing all elements that form the roof into a separate group, so it is easy to turn on and off (turning a group visible or invisible does the same with all objects inside).

The Arch Workbench has some additional tools to organize your model: the Arch Site, Arch Building and Arch Floor. Those 3 objects are based on the standard FreeCAD group, so they behave exactly like groups, but they have a couple of additional properties. For example, floors have the ability to set and manage the height of the contained walls and structure, and when they are moved, all their contents are moved too.

But here, since we have only one building with only one (and a half) floor, there is no real need to use such objects, so let's stick with simple groups.

Now, let's get back to work. Turn off the roof group, so we can see better inside, and switch the Display Mode of the floor objects to Wireframe (or use the Draft ToggleDisplayMode tool) so we can still snap to them, but we can see the plan view underneath. But you can also turn off the floors completely, then place your doors at level 0, then raise them of 15cm with the Draft Move tool.

Let's place the interior doors. Use the "Simple Door" preset again, make doors of 1.00m and 0.70m wide x 2.10m high, with W1 size of 0.1m. Make sure you snap to the correct wall when you place them, so they automatically create a hole in that wall. If it is hard to place them correctly, you can place them at an easier location (at the corner of the wall, for example, then move them. The "hole" will move together.

If by mistake you hosted a window in the wrong wall, it is easy to fix: Remove the window from the "Subtraction" group of the host wall in edit mode, as we saw above, then add it to the "Subtraction" group of the correct wall, by the same method, or, simply, using the Arch Remove tool.

A little work later, all our doors are there:

Arch tutorial 25.jpg

After a closer look at the elevation view, I now detected another error: The top of the brick walls is not as 2.60m, but 17.5cm lower, that is, 2.425m. Fortunately, windows based on presets have a facility: You can alter their general dimensions (width and height) from their properties. So let's change their height to 2.425 - 0.15, that is, 2.275. The second window, as it is a clone of the first one, will adapt too. This is basically where the true magic of parametric design appears.

Now we can look at the really interesting stuff: How to design your own custom windows.

Creating custom windows

As I explained above, Arch Window objects are created from 2D layouts, made of closed elements (wires (polylines), circles, rectangles, anything). Since Draft objects cannot hold more than one of these elements, the preferred tool to draw window layouts is the Sketcher. Unfortunately, with the sketcher, it is not possible to snap to external objects like with the Draft workbench, which would be useful here, since our elevations are drawn already. Fortunately, a tool exists to convert Draft objects to a sketch: The Draft To Sketch tool.

So, let's start by building our first window layout. I drew it on the elevation, using several rectangles: One for the outer line, and 4 for the inner lines. I stopped before the door, because, remember, our door already has a frame there:

Arch tutorial 26.jpg

Then, select all the rectangles, and press the Draft To Sketch button (and delete the rectangles, because this tool doesn't delete the original objects, in case something goes wrong). Then, with the new sketch selected, press the Arch Window tool:

Arch tutorial 27.jpg

The tool will detect that the layout has one outer wire and several inner wires, and automatically proposes you a default configuration: One frame, made by subtracting the inner wires from the outer one, extruded by 1m. Let's change that, by entering the window's edit mode, by double-clicking on it in the tree view:

You will see a "Default" component, that has been created automatically by the Window tool, that uses the 5 wires (always subtracting the other ones from the biggest one), and has an extrusion value of 1. Let's change its extrusion value to 0.1, to match what we used in the doors.

Then, let's add 4 new glass panels, each using a single wire, and give them an extrusion of 0.01, and an offset of 0.05, so they are placed at the middle of the frame. This will be how your window looks like when you are finished:

Arch tutorial 28.jpg

I suppose now you must have understood the power of this system: Any combination of frames and panels of any shape is possible. If you can draw it in 2D, it can exist as a full valid 3D object.

Now, let's draw the other pieces, then we'll move everything into place together. But first. we'll need to do some corrections to the base 2D drawing, because some lines are clearly missing, where the windows meet the stairs. We can fix that by offsetting the stairs line by 2.5cm with the Draft Offset tool (with ALT pressed of course, to copy our lines instead of moving them). Now we can draw our layout, with wires, then convert them to a sketch, then making a window of it.

After doing that a couple of times (I made it in 4 separate pieces, but it's up to you to decide), we have our facade complete:

Arch tutorial 29.jpg

Now, as before, it's just a matter of rotating the pieces, and moving them to their correct position:

Arch tutorial 30.jpg

Last missing piece, there is a segment of wall that didn't appear on the plan view, that we need to add. We have several options for that, I chose to draw a line on the ground plane, then move it up to the correct height, then create a wall from it. Then, we also need to fish up our roof subtraction volume (it must have stayed in the last column), then subtract it. Now this side of the building is ready:

Arch tutorial 31.jpg

Ready? Not quite. Look at the image above, we did our doors with a 5cm frame, remember (it was the default from the preset). But the other windows have 2.5cm frames. This needs to be fixed.

Editing windows

We already saw how to build and update window components, via the window's edit mode, but we can also edit the underlying sketch. Preset windows are not different than custom windows, the Arch Window tool only created the underlying sketch fo you. Select our door object (the original, not the copy, remember, we made a clone), and expand it in the tree view. There is our sketch. Double-click it to enter edit mode.

the Sketcher Workbench is an extremely powerful tool. It doesn't have some of the Draft conveniences, such as snapping or working planes, but it has many other advantages. In FreeCAD you will frequently use one or another depending on the need. The most important feature of the sketcher is constraints. Constraints allow you to automatically fix the position of some elements relative to others. For example, you can force a segment to always be vertical, or to always be at a certain distance to another.

When we edit our door sketch, we can see that it is made on a fully constrained sketch:

Arch tutorial 32.jpg

Now all we need to do is edit the 5cm distances between the outer line and the inner line, by double-clicking them, and changing their value to 2.5cm (Remember, the units are still not fully functional at the time I'm writing this). After clicking the "OK" button, our door (and its clone) have been updated.

Working without 2D support

Until now our work has been relatively easy, because we had the underlying 2D drawings to base our work upon. But now, we must do the opposite facade and the glass atrium, and things are getting more complicated: The opposite facade drawing has a lot of wrong things, doesn't represent the atrium at all, and we have simply no drawing for the inner walls of the atrium. So we will need to invent a couple of things ourselves. Be sure to have a look at reference pictures to figure out how things are made. Or do it as you wish!

One thing we can already do: duplicate the complicated stairs window with the Draft Move tool, because it is equal on both sides:

Arch tutorial 33.jpg

Note that here, I preferred to duplicate with the Draft Move tool instead of using a clone, because the clone currently doesn't support different colors inside objects. The difference is that the clone is a copy of the final shape of the original object, while if you copy an object, you create a new object and give it all the same properties as the original one (therefore, also its base sketch and its window components definition, which are both stored as properties).

Now we must attack the parts that are not drawn anywhere. Let's start with the glass wall between the sitting room and the atrium. It'll be easier to draw it on the elevation view, because we'll get the correct height of the roof. Once you are in plan view, you can rotate the view from the menu View -> Standard Views -> Rotate left or right, until you get a comfortable view to work, like this:

Arch tutorial 34.jpg

Note how on the image above, I made a line from the model to the left section, to get the exact width of the window. Then, I reproduced that width on the elevation view and divided it into 4 pieces. Then I built one main window piece, plus 4 additional windows for the sliding doors. The sketcher sometimes has difficulties with overlapping wires, that's why I preferred to keep them separated like this:

Arch tutorial 35.jpg

After the necessary rotations, everything clicks perfectly into place:

Arch tutorial 36.jpg

We still need some corner piece there. A little useful trick with the Draft SelectPlane tool, if you have a face selected when you press the button, the working plane matches this face (at least its position, and if the face is rectangular, it also tries to match its axes). This is useful to draw 2D objects directly on the model, such as here, we can draw a rectangle to be extruded directly at its correct position:

Arch tutorial 37.jpg

Then let's do the two remaining pieces. One is easy, it is a copy of what's on the other side, so we can simply use the 2D drawing:

Arch tutorial 38.jpg

The other one is a bit tricky, by looking at the pictures, we see that it has many vertical divisions, like the stairs windows. By chance (or very good design from Vilanova Artigas), the width of our window, of 4.50m, is exactly the same as the stairs window, so we can use the exact same division: 15 pieces of 30cm. Here I used the Draft Array tool to copy over the two lines 15 times,and drew rectangles on top of them:

Arch tutorial 39.jpg

Once this is done, we can create our window with the same method we already know. Another small useful trick, in case you haven't found it yourself already: When editing a window, if you change the name of a component, it actually creates a duplicate of it. So to create the 15 inner glass panels, instead of clicking 15 times the "add" button and fill 15 times the data, you can just keep editing one, and change its name and wire, it will create a copy each time.

After the window is rotated and moved into place, the atrium is complete:

Arch tutorial 40.jpg

Edits and fixes

Now when we look at our back elevation, and compare it with the plan, we see that there are some differences that need to be fixed. Namely, the bedroom windows are smaller than I first thought, and we'll need to add some more walls. In order to do that properly, some floors need to be cut:

Arch tutorial 41.jpg

We have of course several ways to do that, making a subtraction volume would be an easy way, but it would add unnecessary complexity to the model. Better to edit the base wire of each floors. This is where the Draft Edit mode comes into action. By expanding these floors in the tree view, then making their base wire visible, we can then double-click them to enter edit mode. There, we can move their points, or add or remove points. With this,editing our floor plates becomes easy.

Arch tutorial 42.jpg

After some more sweat (the person who made those drawings obviously became pretty lazy when did this last elevation, much is drawn wrong), we finally have our complete house:

Arch tutorial 43.jpg

Note the chimney tube, which is made from a circle I used to make a hole in the chimney block, that I extruded, then converted into a tube with the Part Offset tool.

Problems in objects

Sometimes an object you made can have problems. For example, the object it was based onto has been deleted, and the object can therefore not recalculate its shape. These are usually shown to you by a little red sign on their icon, and/or a warning in the output window. There is no generic recipe to fix these problems, because they can have many origins. But, the easiest way to solve them is often to delete them, and, if you didn't delete their base objects, recreate them.


Now, after all the hard work we passed through to build this model, comes the reward: What can we do with it? Basically, this is the big advantage of working with BIM, all our traditional architectural needs, such as 2d drawings (plans, sections, etc), renderings, and calculations (bills of quantities, etc) can all be extracted from the model. And, even better, regenerated every time the model changes. I'll show you here how to obtain these different documents.


Before starting to export stuff, one consideration is interesting to do: As you saw, our model is becoming increasingly complex, with a lot of relationships between objects. This can make subsequent calculation operations, such as cutting through the model, heavy. One quick way to magically "simplify" drastically your model, is to remove all of this complexity, by exporting it to the STEP format. That format will preserve all your geometry, but will discard all the relationships and parametric constructions, keeping only the final shape. When reimporting that STEP file into FreeCAD, you will get a model that has no relationship, and a much smaller file size. Think of it as an "output" file, that you can regenerate anytime from your "master" file:

Arch tutorial 44.jpg

Exporting to IFC and other applications

Arch tutorial 45.jpg

One of the very fundamental things you need when working with BIM is to be able to import and export IFC files. This is still a work in progress in FreeCAD. IFC format is already supported, and importing IFC files into FreeCAD is already pretty reliable. Exporting is still experimental, though, and has currently many limitations. However, things are bettering and we should get proper IFC export very soon.

IFC export requires very little setup, once the necessary software libraries are installed. You only need to recreate the building structure, which is needed in all IFC files, by adding an Arch Building to your file, then an Arch Floor, then moving all the groups of objects that compose your model in it. Make sure you leave your construction geometry (all the 2D stuff we've been drawing) out of it to avoid making your IFC file unnecessarily heavy.

Another thing to set, is to check the "Role" property of structural elements. Since IFC has no "generic" structural element, like FreeCAD, we need to assign them roles (column, beam, etc...) so the exporter knows what element to create in the IFC file.

In this case, we need our whole architectural system, so the IFC exporter can know if an object must be exported as a wall or a column, so we are using our "master" model, not our "output" model.

Once this is done, simply select your building object, and choose the "Industry Foundation Classes" format. Exporting to non-BIM applications, such as Sketchup is also easy, you have several export formats at your disposal, such as Collada, STEP, IGES ou OBJ.


FreeCAD also features a rendering module, the Raytracing Workbench. That workbench currently supports two render engines, PovRay and LuxRender. Since FreeCAD is not designed for image rendering, the features that the Raytracing workbench offer to you are somewhat limited. The best course of action when you want to do proper rendering, is to export your model to a mesh-based format such as OBJ or STL, and open it in an application more suited to rendering, such as blender. The image below has been rendered with blender's cycles engine:

Arch tutorial 47.jpg

But, for a quick rendering, the Raytracing workbench can already do a good job, with the advantage of being very easy to setup, thanks to its templates system. This is a rendering of our model fully made within FreeCAD, with the Luxrender engine, using the "indoor" template.

Arch tutorial 48.jpg

The Raytracing workbench still offers you very limited control over materials, but lighting and environments are defined in templates, so they can be fully customized.

2D drawings

Certainly the most important use of BIM is to produce 2D drawings automatically. This is done in FreeCAD with the Arch SectionPlane tool. This tool allows you to place a section plane object in the 3D view, that you can orient to produce plans, sections and elevations. Section planes must know what objects they must consider, so once you have created one, you must add objects to it with the Arch Add tool. You can add individual objects, or, more conveniently, a group, a floor or a whole building. This allows you to easily change the scope of a certain section plane later, by adding or removing objects to/from that group. Any change to these objects gets reflected in the views produced by the section plane.

The section plane automatically produces cut views of the objects it intersects. In other words, to produce views instead of sections, you just need to place the section plane outside of your objects.

Arch tutorial 49.jpg

The section planes can produce two different outputs: shape objects, that live in the same document as your 3D model, or drawing views, that are made to use on a drawing sheet produced by the Drawing workbench. Each of these behave differently, and has its own advantages.

Shape views

This output is produced by using the Draft Shape2DView tool with a section plane selected. You produce a 2D view of the model directly in the 3D space, like on the image above. The main advantage here is that you can work on them using the Draft tools (or any other standard tool of FreeCAD), so you can add texts, dimensions, symbols, etc:

Arch tutorial 50.jpg

On the image above, two Shape2D views have been produced for each section, one showing everything, the other showing only the cut lines. This allows us to give it a different line weight, and turn hatching on. Then, dimensions, texts and symbols have been added, and a couple of DXF blocks have been imported to represent the furniture. These views are then easy to export to DXF or DWG, and open in your favorite 2D CAD application, such as LibreCAD or DraftSight, where you can work further on them:

Arch tutorial 51.jpg

Note that some features are still not supported by the DXF/DWG exporter so the result in your 2D application might differ a bit. For example, in the image above, I had to redo the hatching, and correct the position of some dimension texts. If you place your objects in different groups in FreeCAD, these become layers in your 2D CAD application.

Drawing views

The other kind of output that can be produced from section planes is a Drawing view. These are produced by using the Draft Drawing tool with a section plane selected. This method has one big limitation compared to the previous one: you have limited possibilities to edit the results, and at the moment, things like dimensioning or hatching are still not natively supported.

On the other hand, the final output being easier to manipulate, and the graphical possibilities of the SVG format being huge, in the future, undoubtedly this will be the preferred method. At the moment, though, you'll get better results using the previous one.

Arch tutorial 52.jpg

On the image above, the geometry is the direct output of the section plane, but some other Draft objects have been added, such as dimensions and hatched polygons, and another view object with same scale and offset values has been produced from them with the Draft Drawing tool. In the future, such operations will be done directly on the Drawing page, leaving your model totally clean.

Quantities extraction

This is another very important task to be performed on BIM models. In FreeCAD, things look good right from the start, since the OpenCasCade kernel of FreeCAD already takes care of calculating lengths, areas and volumes for all the shapes it produces. Since all Arch objects are solids, you are always guaranteed to be able to obtain a volume from them.

Using spreadsheets

There is a brand-new workbench in FreeCAD, the Spreadsheet Workbench, that is the perfect tool for collecting such information about our model. It can count objects of a certain name or a certain type, or display a specific properties of those objects. The spreadsheet workbench features two objects: The spreadsheet object is a simple spreadsheet container, that you can edit, and place values inside the cells, but has no automation. The cell controller, on the other hand, is an object that you must insert in a spreadsheet, that controls a series of cells of its host spreadsheet, filling them according to what you specify. This, provided that you organized your model well, allows you to easily retrieve individual values:

Arch tutorial 53.jpg

Note that the spreadsheet workbench is still very new, and like everything very new, still contains many bugs and limitations. But for simple summaries like this, it already works well. The resulting spreadsheet can then be exported to a CSV file, which can be imported in any spreadsheet application.

The survey mode

Another way to survey your model and extract values, is to use the Arch Survey mode. In this mode, you can click on points, edges, faces or double-click to select whole objects, and you get altitude, length, area or volume values, shown on the model, printed on the FreeCAD output window, and copied to the clipboard, so you can easily pick and paste values in another opened application

Arch tutorial 54.jpg


I hope this gives you a good overview of the available tools, be sure to refer to the Arch Workbench and Draft Workbench documentation for more (there are more tools that I didn't mention here), and, more generally, to the rest of the FreeCAD documentation. Pay a visit to the forum too, many problems can usually be solved there in no time, and follow my blog for news about he Arch workbench development.

The file created during this tutorial can be found here

permalink:  26   posted on 07.03.2014 3:58
From Rob
I would like to say that your work is impressive and encourages all, who are interested in doing work in FOSS applications like Blender. Not a professional I'm just beginning to teach myself Blender as well as your grand Freecad. Not a professional, these tools bring to mind that ideas need to be put into a drawing and Blender, Freecad (though young) as well as other software are great tools for even me. These have also pushed me to begin learning Python now that I know there is good reason to use it.

In my days as a CAD designer in AutoCAD Autolisp made conversion of architectural drawings to engineering standards quick and accurate. It's clear I hardly scratched the surface.

My first project, a terribly simple one is the design of a tool for plumbers. A machinist friend will produce one from drawings generated. I needed one for my current job as a building maintenance man and the manufacturer does not even make one, so I will.

Thanks again.

permalink:  25   posted on 11.02.2014 24:28
From Dan Falck
Commenting post 24: Great idea for a tool! I could see using this for making quick Bill Of Materials. If a user can attach a particular label/note to an object, that could be picked up by this tool, it would be interesting too.

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  24   posted on 11.02.2014 19:26
From Yorik

Quantity survey in FreeCAD

Today a friend quantity surveyor gave me this idea, that resulted in this quickly made but, I think, fast and useful tool, now available from the Arch workbench:

The idea is simple: you press the tool, then you pick edges, faces or whole objects (by double-clicking them). Each time, a label is added, a line is printed in the output window, and the numeric value is copied to the clipboard, so you can paste it in a spreadsheet. The quantity registered is a length, an area or a volume, depending on what you selected. The value is rounded according to the Draft dimension precision preference.

To finish, double-click on no object or click the toolbar button again. All the labels are then removed.

This does the job that other tools do (info macros, etc...) but I wanted something really fast and simple and adapted for quantity surveying, so you can easily select graphically the measurements you need, and keep your spreadsheet open and quickly fill the values.


in categories  architecture  idsampa  projects  permalink:  23   posted on 11.02.2014 2:12
From Yorik

Reuso dos recuos

Uma dessas coisas péssimas que fazem as construtoras de prédios de alto padrão, quando conseguem juntar vários terrenos, é descartar as frentes de rua que não são a entrada principal. Resultado, como aqui (rua Augusta, a altura do n° 852, fundo de um prédio na rua Bela Cintra n° 201), temos uma fachada de fundos, não usada, sem acesso, com um paredão cego que tentaram "mascarar" com uma pintura bizarra, que abriga 4 ou 5 andares de estacionamento (fazer estacionamento assim é muitíssimo mais barato que enterrado, não preciso explicar mais). Como o código de obras proíbe ter fachadas cegas a rua assim, os autores do projeto provavelmente acharam essa façanha de recuar a fachada para o projeto ser aprovado.

O tipo de solução que adotou este prédio é altamente tóxica para a rua. Ela cria um "buraco negro", um espaço onde ninguém mora, ninguém entra e sai, e na frente do qual, instintivamente, você não gosta de passar a noite. Este pedaço de rua Augusta, literalmente foi morto. Uma rua deve ficar viva, é isso que garante toda a qualidade dela, a segurança, o tecido social, etc. Devem ter pessoas que moram la, e gente que não mora ali mas que vem aproveitar das coisas que tem ali, por exemplo comprar coisas. Isso é basicamente o que ensina Jane Jacobs. Em frente a essa fachada não acontecem nenhuma dessas atividades. É morta.

Pensei que poderíamos facilmente reaproveitar esses espaços. Tem ali 4 ou 5 metros de profundidade, teria como fazer um enorme quantidade de coisas num espaço assim. Os moradores do prédio, que, com certeza, estarão pagando prestações salgadas durante os próximos 20 ou 30 anos, veriam com bons olhos uma possível atividade ali, que daria uma renda ao condomínio sem incomodar eles. Imaginei uma construção, feita de containers metálicos reusados, que poderia abrigar uma loja, ou um café, um restaurante, um espaço cultural, ou outras atividades do mesmo gênero. A construção toda ficaria descolada do chão, de maneira a manter sua permeabilidade.

Esse tipo de solução transformaria facilmente um ato nocivo para a rua em ato favorável, e em vez de ter paredões na rua, teríamos gente que entra e sai, que conversa, que dá uma olhada na calçada a noite, etc. Além disso, os lugares feitos de containers são extremamente legais. Veja por exemplo a famosa loja Freitag em Zürich e vários outros (tem um famoso em São Paulo também).

permalink:  22   posted on 08.02.2014 15:26
From Yorik
Commenting post 21: Normally it should be pretty soon, but there is still some work needed to integrate the new assembly module. But if you use ubuntu, we have a daily build PPA that already allows to test all the brand new features: https://launchpad.net/~freecad-maintainers/+archive/freecad-daily

permalink:  21   posted on 08.02.2014 10:15
From Rafael (bitacovir)
The browser look as small but useful improvements. When is the next version of FreeCAD?

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  20   posted on 07.02.2014 14:10
From Yorik

IFC browser in FreeCAD

A little addition for FreeCAD, is this IFC browser (Find it under the Arch->Utilities menu). It simply allows you to read the contents of an IFC file in an easier way than a text editor. This is above all useful for testing purposes, when you want to chack if some object was imported or exported correctly...

The code doesn't rely on FreeCAD, so it can easily be turned into an external application.

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  19   posted on 06.02.2014 19:01
From Yorik

FreeCAD Parts library

There is a little side-project to FreeCAD, which aims at collecting reusable objects under a creative commons license, that we are currently hosting at https://github.com/yorikvanhavre/FreeCAD-library . It features a small browser integrated into FreeCAD, but can also be used with other applications, since all objects are also stored as STEP files.

It currently doesn't contain a lot of objects, but it grows slowly. If you wish to contribute with some objects, look at the readme file on the repository above for instructions.


permalink:  18   posted on 22.01.2014 7:47
From Jon
Commenting post 180: Thanks for showing what can already been done with the Arch Module, very impressive.

permalink:  17   posted on 16.01.2014 19:32
From Prerana
Commenting post 328: Hi... I am trying to draw a screw conveyor in FreeCAD as well. i have not been able to do it but you can draw a helix.. you have to Select the "Part" workbech and you will find an option for creating geometric primitives. You could create the Helix from that.. If you have found any other way of creating a screw conveyor do let me know..

in categories  bede  sketches  permalink:  16   posted on 10.01.2014 21:47
From Yorik

in categories  firefoxos  opensource  permalink:  15   posted on 10.01.2014 18:42
From Yorik

Hacking FirefoxOS

The following guidelines were made with an Alcatel One Touch Fire from Vivo operator (Brazil) on a debian testing system, you may need to adapt a bit if you use another distribution, and adapt a LOT if you use a non-linux OS... Most of the information presented here was gathered from several sources:

Disclaimer: hacking your FirefoxOS device can easily - it happened several times to me - "brick" your phone (turn it as useful as a brick, meaning it won't start anymore). There is no reason to panic, if you made backups of your system, you can always restore things to their original state (if not, many kind people have copies of the original ROMs laying around on the net). I recommend you to read first through this page, but never do anything that involves flashing (overwriting the phone data) before having installed the clockworkmod recovery (see below) and made a complete backup. After that, you should be safe to play

Adding usb access to sdcard

  1. First check what are the vendor and product numbers of your device. Run the command "lsusb" with your phone plugged to find out (mine are 05c6:9025). Add to /etc/udev/rules.d/51-firefoxos.rules:
    SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="18d1", ATTR{idProduct}=="d00d", MODE="0666"
    The first line allows normal users to mount the phone, the second line does the same when the phone is in fastboot mode (see below), it has then a different vendor number, don't ask me why... the third line creates a symlink, so you can check in /dev if the device was successfully picked (not really useful at this point, but handy anyway), the third line is for me to test, since I noticed that sometimes my phone connects as product id 9026.
  2. restart udev (/etc/init.d/udev restart), or restart your computer
  3. on the phone, enable these 2 settings:
    Settings > Enable USB storage
    Settings > Media storage > Share using USB
  4. Plug the phone, check in /dev if the symlink was created. There should be also (in my case) a sdb entry. The sdb1 entry (the sdcard partition) is created only when you unlock the phone's home screen. Then normally your system creates an entry in /media/youruser, that file managers recognize.
  5. In some cases (still couldn't find out why) the sdb1 entry is not created on unlocking the phone. Issuing this command solves it:
    mkdir tmp && sudo mount -t vfat /dev/sdb tmp

Gaining shell access

  1. Install android-tools-adb
  2. On the phone, activate:
    Settings > Device information > More information > Developer > Remote debugging
  3. As root (doesn't work as normal user):
    adb kill-server
    adb start-server
    adb devices
    the last line should list your device. If says ???????????? something is wrong. If you have an Alcatel One Touch Fire, it says: device: MSM7627A (which is the qualcomm CPU of my device)
  4. Gain shell access:
    adb shell.
    You can now navigate with a minimal shell. Some folders are not readable, because you still have no root access. See below...

Note: adb should also connect to your phone when running as a normal user (needed below for compiling). If it doesn't, try 1) adding OWNER="yourusername to the udev rule above, and restart udev. If you get a message like: cannot bind local:5037 check if there isn't a file names 5037 in your /tmp folder. If yes, deleting it solved the problem for me. After that, adb starts as normal user.

Using the FirefoxOS simulator

The FirefoxOS simulator (also called r2d2b2g) is a very cool addon for your desktop Firefox. It is made primarily for you to test FirefoxOS, but it also has another nice use: it detects when your phone is connected via USB (Remote debugging must be activated, see above), and can install applications on the phone. This allows you, for example, to take the code of an application, tweak something (it is sometimes very easy, it is all html and javascript), and install that new version on your phone. There is another hidden but very useful advantage, it allows you to explore the source code of any application, even those that don't publish their source code. For example, you can do this:

  1. Install an application on the FirefoxOS simulator.
  2. With your file manager, navigate to /home/youruser/.mozilla/firefox/somecode.default/extensions/2d2b2g@mozilla.org/profile/webapps, and explore the different folders, one of them is the application you just installed. Read the manifest.webapp file with a text editor to find out which application it is. Together with the manifest.webapp, is a zip file containing all the application. Unzip that file in another directory
  3. Do all the tweaks you want, something simple is to change the icon of the application.
  4. To install the tweaked app on your phone, connect your phone with the USB cable, and open the simulator. It will show a "device connected" icon. Press the "open directory", browse for your manifest.webapp file. It will open the simulator and install the app there. If all seems ok, you can push the app to your phone too by pressing the "push" button. That's it!
  5. That app can be uninstalled like any other, by long-pressing its icon then pressing the delete button.

Note: From version 1.2, firefoxOS doesn't use this simulator anymore. Instead, there is a way more interesting system called "Apps manager", that allows very cool stuff such as tweaking the css of your phone from your desktop firefox, or issueing javascript commands to the phone... One more reason to upgrade as quick as we can!

Getting root access

FirefoxOS, being based on the Android kernel (yes!) benefits from the same abilities, it can be connected to using the adb tools, like we saw above, but it can also be booted with another kernel than the one installed on the device. This has the extra advantage to be totally safe, since nothing is installed on the device. If something goes wrong, just reboot the phone and everything goes back to normal.

Unless you have a phone geared for developers, such as the geekphones, your kernel doesn't permit root access. That is why we cannot see some of the contents from the adb shell. Luckily, many people have made unlocked kernels. We can use one of them, such as the one provided on http://elsimpicuitico.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/rooteando-el-alcatel-ot-fire-metodo-recovery/ (download the root_alcatel-signed.zip file). Unzip that file, and you will get a nice boot.img file, which is a bootable, rooted kernel for the Alcatel One Touch Fire. Inside the zip file, you will also find other goodies that the author has kindly packed, on the page I linked here there are instructions to install the whole package.

But since the guy is from Venezuela, and my phone is bought in Brazil, I was not sure that his image, being made from a phone from another mobile operator, would not cause problems on my phone. So, instead of installing the whole zip package, I decided to only use his kernel to boot remotely, without acually overwriting my own. This is actually pretty simple:

  1. install android-tools-fastboot
  2. Reboot your phone into fastboot mode: Turn it off, then press the power button to turn it on again, and immediately after pressing that button, keep the "volume down" button pressed for 5 seconds. The phone will stop at the alcatel logo, meaning you are in fastboot mode.
  3. From a terminal, issue as root:
    fastboot devices
    it should give the same answer as adb devices.
  4. Boot your rooted kernel (I assume you are in the same folder as your boot.img file):
    fastboot boot boot.img
    You will see your phone start booting, display the firefox logo, etc. I didn't see any difference between this kernel and my own, even the logo of my operator is still ther (unfortunately ) so I believe my fears were unfounded.
  5. Open the adb shell again, and check that you are indeed root (issue the "id" command, try browsing through the different folders, etc). It can be that your phone is still read-only (the "mount" command will tell you), in this case you usually only need to unplug/replug your phone. If you still have a readonly filesystem, then there is something wrong with your udev rules above.
  6. When you are done playing, simply reboot your phone normally, it will get back to its normal kernel.

Backing up the default system

Before beginning to play with custom kernels and all that bright side of life, it is absolutely necessary to have backups of your current system. I've read many posts on the net where people screwed their entire system. Once you have root and read/write access like we did in the previous step, it is a piece of cake:

  1. In adb shell, copy the 4 components of the FirefoxOS system into separate .img files on the sdcard:
    cat /dev/mtd/mtd0 >/mnt/sdcard/boot.img
    cat /dev/mtd/mtd1 >/mnt/sdcard/system.img
    cat /dev/mtd/mtd5 >/mnt/sdcard/userdata.img
    cat /dev/mtd/mtd7 >/mnt/sdcard/recovery.img
  2. Exit the adb shell, create a backup directory on your computer, then copy these 4 files from the phone's sdcard to your backup directory:
    adb pull /mnt/sdcard/boot.img backup/boot.img
    adb pull /mnt/sdcard/system.img backup/system.img
    adb pull /mnt/sdcard/userdata.img backup/userdata.img
    adb pull /mnt/sdcard/recovery.img backup/recovery.img
    Done, you now have 4 nice images that reflect your whole FirefoxOS system in its current state. Keep these safe for the case something happens...

Installing the ClockworkMod recovery

FirefoxOS, like Android, comes with a recovery mode, which allows you to restore the system to its original factory state. On my phone, you access that mode by turning the phone off, then pressing the volume down button, then the power button, and keep them pressed until you enter the recovery screen. It has only one option, labeled "wipe everything and restore factory settings? y/n"... Amuch more interesting thing to do is to install an alternate recovery mode called clockworkmod. It has many interesting features such as the ability to backup your whole system, like we just did manually, manage backups, and restore from these backups. Installing it is pretty easy:

  1. Download the hamachi-clockworkmod-recovery.img image from http://elsimpicuitico.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/backups-del-sistema-entero-en-firefoxos-alcatel-ot-fire/. (Warning, this image is for Hamachi (Mozilla's codename for the Alcatel One Touch Fire) only!)
  2. Out of security, if you did the previous step, make sure your clockworkmod image has the exact same size as your backed up recovery.img. I read a lot of stories about people trying to flash images too big for the partition.
  3. Boot your phone into fastboot mode (volume down + power up during 5 seconds)
  4. Check that your phone is seen by fastboot (as root):
    fastboot devices
  5. Flash the clockworkmod image to the "recovery" partition of your phone:
    fastboot flash recovery hamachi_clockworkmod_recovery.img
    In a couple of seconds, if all goes well, your new recovery is installed
  6. Remove the battery for 5 seconds, then reboot into recovery mode (volume up + power up until the recovery menu appears). Options are self-explanatory, but on the website here above you have more explanations too. Now is a good time to do a backup, so if something goes wrong later, we have an easy way to restore the system to its current point.

Hacking the kernel

One of the first thing you will want to do is to modify your boot image to give you root access always, so you won't need to use a special boot image like we did above each time you want to do some stuff on your device. This is rather simple, it involves basically unpacking the boot.img, changing a property, repacking it, then flashing it back on your device.

  1. Install abootimg
  2. Unpack your boot.img with the following command:
    abootimg -x boot.img
    This will create 3 files: bootimg.cfg (general configurations), zImage (the kernel) and initrd.img (the ramdisk image, a "virtual disk" image that the kernel creates after booting).
  3. Unpack the ramdisk:
    mkdir ramdisk
    cd ramdisk
    gunzip -c ../initrd.img | cpio -i
  4. Edit default.prop in the ramdisk, and set "ro.secure=1" to "ro.secure=0".
  5. Repack the ramdisk:
    find . | cpio -o -H newc | gzip > ../myramdisk.gz
  6. recreate a new boot image:
    abootimg --create myboot-rooted.img -f bootimg.cfg -k zImage -r myramdisk.gz
  7. First make sure everything works fine: reboot the phone in fastboot mode, and boot your new boot image with the method explained above. If all goes well, you can flash your new image permanently with:
    fastboot flash boot myboot-rooted.img

Installing custom ROMs

The guy who runs http://elsimpicuitico.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/instalado-las-roms-de-firefox-os-en-b2g-vegnux-org-ve/ kindly uploaded many experimental ROMs for the Alcatel One Touch Fire, that you can download and try on your phone. At time of writing, my phone runs the 1.1 version, but 1.3 is already available, although not totally stable. Your mileage might vary, as they say. I had to try several versions before finding a combination that works for me. But this is an easy way to try newer versions without the need to compile stuff yourself. On the page, there are instructions for windows, here go the same for linux:

  1. Make sure you have a backup, the next steps give a high chance to brick your phone
  2. Download an image of your choice from http://b2g.vegnux.org.ve/ and unzip it somewhere
  3. Turn off your phone, remove the battery for 10 seconds, reboot into fastboot mode
  4. Execute the following as root (flashing the recovery is optional):
    fastboot flash boot boot.img
    fastboot flash userdata userdata.img
    fastboot flash system system.img
    fastboot flash recovery recovery.img
    fastboot erase cache
    fastboot reboot
  5. If all goes well, you are now rebooted into your new version. If all goes wrong, you will likely be stuck to the white Alcatel logo screen. Then, you can either redo the same and try to flash another version (some people on the site above successfully tried mixing different versions) or restore one of your backups with the clockworkmod recovery

Until now, the only one that works for me is the 1.2 version from 23/12/2013 with the boot.img from 13/12/2013... Version 1.3 is still too unstable at the time I'm writing this.

Compiling FirefoxOS

The full compilation guide at Mozilla is a bit in-depth and tedious, but it is a good idea to read it, it lists many options and pitfalls. Be sure to read the entire page before following any of the instructions, because they have a bad habit to write things like: "now, do this" and, a few paragraphs later, "instead of having done this, do that"... But I'll resume here the most important steps to give you an overview:

  1. Have all the usual stuff to compile ready, with gcc/g++ 4.6 multiarch installed (b2g wants 4.6, and it's a 32bits app), adb, plus a couple of weird things from https://github.com/andreasgal/B2G/blob/master/INSTALL#L29.
  2. Clone B2G (older name of FirefoxOS, true hackers don't say firefoxOS, they say b2g):
    git clone git clone git://github.com/mozilla-b2g/B2G.git
  3. Configure the build:
    ./config.sh hamachi
  4. The above command will download about 12Gb of data, so be ready to wait a long time. If you need to update at a later time:
    git pull && ./repo sync
  5. set to use gcc4.6 (at time of writing, build will fail with a more recent one)
    export CC=gcc-4.6
    export CXX=g++-4.6
  6. Finallt, compile with:
  7. When everything is done (around 40 minutes here), your new system lies in out/target/product/hamachi/. All that remains is to flash it on your device with a simple:
  8. You device will reboot automatically, and hopefully everything will just work. But expect some bugs, because you are compiling the latest bleeding-edge version, which is not meant for "normal" use. But I found it good enough to use, and if you did your backups you can revert anytime. Other cool thing, this upgrade will keep your user-made settings (homescreen, bookmarks etc)

Reporting bugs

Of course, if you don't use the stable version, you cannot expect your bugs to be solved immediately by the Mozilla people. But if you find bugs, it might be interesting to report them, so they are aware of it and can fix them. The place to report FirefoxOS bugs is https://bugzilla.mozilla.org. I'll remeber some common rules when submitting bugs, in case this is the first time you are doing it:

  1. Make sure what you have is really a bug, and not something you are doing wrong. If you are in doubt, search on the net to see if other people experience the problem, talk about it on the forums, on irc (there is a #b2g channel on freenode), etc. You only waste people's time if they need to reply "this is not a bug, you are doing something wrong".
  2. Make sure your bug hasn't been reported already. Make a very cautious search on the bug tracker, maybe your bug has been reported in another form.
  3. A bug can only be solved if the developer can reproduce it on his machine/device. So yourself must be able to reproduce the bug, and in your bug report you should explain how to make the bug happen
  4. There is never too much information. Include as much information as you can: Your device, the version of your FirefoxOS, any error or strange message that appears, anything.
  5. Be courteous. Not everybody there is Mozilla employee, many are volunteers, and anyway nobody is forced to help you.

Compiling a specific version of FirefoxOS

The latest development version, like we compiled above, is very likely to contain bugs, since it is where developers are currently experimenting new stuff. A better option is to compile the latest "released" version. At the moment, the version compiled by the methos above is 1.4. So we could compile version 1.3, which will probably be more stable. To do that is easy, we just need to compile a branch rather than the master code.

Note: If you are going to do this often, there is a nice way to keep your specific configuration settings, by creating a userconfig file. all the specific settings such as the branch, the GCC version, etc... can go there.

  1. First, if you compiled a previous version, we need to clean it:
    ./build.sh clean
  2. Then we run config.sh, this time specifying a branch number:
    BRANCH=v1.3 ./config.sh hamachi
  3. Finally, we only need to build again, and, if successful, flash the build to the phone:

in categories  firefoxos  opensource  permalink:  14   posted on 09.01.2014 17:13
From Yorik

Sobre o FirefoxOS

Algumas semanas atrás comprei um telefone com FirefoxOS. Tem no momento dois modelos, vendidos pela Vivo. Um "barato", da Alcatel, e um "mais potente", da LG. Comprei o barato, que aliás custou R$ 180, frete incluido, e vem desbloqueado...

O aparelho

Comprei o mais simples principalmente porque queria hackear ele, e, bom, você tem mais coragem de hackear algo que não custou muito caro... Mas na verdade, o FirefoxOS é tão leve que esse telefone aguenta perfeitamente, é rápido, compara bem com qualquer telefone com android novinho, e não tenho muita certeza porque alguém precisaria de um mais potente. Outra vantagem, o Alcatel é vendido em vários outros paises já (Venezuela, Polônia, etc), enquanto o LG só é vendido no Brasil. Resultado, já tem um monte de documentação e tutoriais sobre o Alcatel na net, mas quase nada sobre o LG (pelo menos no momento, confio nos hackers brasileiros para resolver isso já já).

O ponto mais negativo é a câmera, que é razoavel, mas não tão boa assim. A bateria é OK, você precisa recarregar todos os dias se for usar o telefone bastante, mas isso é o lote de todos os smartphones...

O sistema

Na verdade a questão toda está ali. Para situar bem rápido: Tem 3 sistema operacionais comuns nos telefones celulares: Android (feito pela Google, o mais usado), iOS (o sistema da Apple, usado nos iPhones) e o Windows (tem uma versão especial para celulares). Como você pode perceber, os três são "filhos" de megacorporações. O Android é gratuito para os fabricantes de telefones, o que explica o seu enorme sucesso. Ele também é baseado em software livre (o Linux), mas veja bem, o Android em se não é software livre. Ele contém vários pedaços proprietários da Google.

Essa situação toda corresponde à guerra desenfreada que essas empresas fazem para ter o controle sobre o santo graal de hoje em dia: As plataforma de distribuição: Cada vez que você compra um aplicativo em um desses sistema, o dono (Google, Microsoft, Apple) recebe um porcentagem. Dai a tentativa de cercar você: em um telefone Android, você só pode comprar aplicativo no site da Google, mesma coisa para os dois outros.

O FirefoxOS não é feito por nenhuma megacorporação, mas por uma fundação sem fins lucrativos, a Mozilla, que já faz o famoso navegador internet Firefox, e também por dezenas de hackers pelo mundo afora. O código é totalmente aberto, não restringe você à nenhum lugar para comprar aplicativos (apesar de no momento só existir um, o oficial da Mozilla), nem é preciso ter uma "conta" na Mozilla ou em qualquer outro lugar, o seu celular não rastreia ou coleta dados sobre você, etc. Enfim, como você precebe, é uma questão antes de tudo política.

O sistema na verdade nasceu de um grande gambiarra: E se a gente pegava a parte "livre" do Android (o núcleo Linux, basicamente), e, em vez de rodar o Android, a gente tentava, por uma série de gambiarras, iniciar o Firefox diretamente nele? No final, a idéia funcionou muito bem, e acabaram acrescentando no Firefox pedaços necessários para funcionar como telefone (discador, receber/enviar SMS, etc). O legal é que toda a "base" é a mesma do Android, o que faz que em teoria qualquer aparelho que roda um poderia rodar o outro, e que a maior parte das ferramentas de desenvolvimento para Android também serve para o FirefoxOS. Outra curiosidade interessante, visto que todo o sistema do celular funciona dentro de um firefox, todas as coisas que você vê (o discador, os aplicativos, tudo) são na verdade "mini-páginas web". Isso é, escritas em uma linguagem bastante simples, acessível a "wanabee-hackers" como eu...

A usabilidade

Agora o que interessa: O sistema é bom? Bom, ai tem positivo e negativo, que vou descrever abaixo, mas o resumo é sim, é bom. É estável, simples de usar e rápido. O principal ponto negativo é a falta de aplicativos. Como o sistema é bem novo, ainda não tem muita coisa no "marketplace", que é de onde você instala aplicativos. Mas tem contrapartidas: Como todos os aplicativos são na verdade mini-páginas web, qualquer site web, desde que tenha uma versão adaptada a telas pequenas (a maioria dos sites populares tem), pode virar aplicativo, sem nada mais para fazer que apertar um botão "bookmark", que basicamente faz o mesmo que "gravar como aplicativo". Por exemplo, não tem oficialmente um aplicativo para o gmail, mas ao acessar o gmail, você transforma ele em aplicativo com um aperto de botão, depois disso você não vê mais a diferença com um aplicativo "nativo" (na verdade esse conceito não existe mais no FirefoxOS).

Mesmo assim, várias coisas ainda faltam, como aqueles aplicativos para chamar táxis, que todo mundo adora, ou o whatsapp, que tem um aplicativo mas que ainda não funciona muito bem (e bebe toda a sua carga de bateria rapidinho).

Fora isso, o sistema é incrivelmente maduro e estável, para algo tão jovem. Não vejo muita diferença com o Android ou o iPhone. Talvez seja tudo um pouco mais simples.

Na imagem acima, 1. a tela principal, 2. os aplicativos (ou "páginas web") instalados, 3. O FirefoxOS tem uma lista de sites "prontos para instalar como aplicativo", que você pode usar assim, a partir da web, ou instalados. 4. Para transformar um site em aplicativo, basta apertar a estrela.

Para resumir, eu diria: Se você já tem um iPhone ou um Android, você vai sentir falta de muitas coisas num FirefoxOS, eu desaconselharia, a não ser que você queira hackear ele (escrevi sobre isso também). Se você não está "pervertido" por esses sistemas ainda, ou que você não se importa tanto com isso, o que você quer se livrar um pouco das megacorporações, então eu recomendaria altamente. O Alcatel custa R$ 180, o LG mais ou menos o dobro, ambos são preços baratíssimos para um smartphone performante, com garantia e homologado pela Anatel. O LG com certeza tem câmera bem melhor, a bateria provavelmente também, embora não esperaria muito milagre, provavelmente você vai ter que carregar todos os dias do mesmo jeito. Suspeito que esses preços são meio reduzidos porque a Vivo não tem muita certeza ainda se vai pegar... Perguntei numa loja, e além de ali custar 100 Reais amais do que no site, a vendedora fez tudo o que podia para eu NÃO comprar esse telefone (Olha, é novo viu? É complicado! É muito diferente! etc)

Se você está interessado, uma última coisa: Você pode testar antes. Tem um simulador, que é um add-on para o navegador Firefox. Se tiver o Firefox instalado no seu computador, você instala o addon, dai você pode explorar o sistema a vontade, instalar coisas, etc...

permalink:  13   posted on 05.01.2014 3:17
From Yorik
Commenting post 10: Hi nikitron,
Yeah I know, I must really look at sverchok one of these days... Thanks for posting here anyway, I'll be sure to give it a good test!

permalink:  12   posted on 05.01.2014 3:15
From Yorik
Commenting post 11: Wow, now that looks like a fast conversion Thanks for the feedback, I hope you have a nice experience with ubuntu!

permalink:  11   posted on 05.01.2014 2:46
From Last night i poured over your site in WIN7
Now I'm still going through your site in UBUNTU. Thank you so much for the info for us whom have been trying to migrate. It was so easy and simple compared to years back. My office just bought around 5 workstations for the drafting team, so we were asking ourselves of alternatives. Glad its going to be a piece of cake from here on thanks to your introductions. Cant wait to explore further. Keep the posts coming. Have a great day!!

permalink:  10   posted on 04.01.2014 16:07
From nikitron
Commenting post 97: You not mentioned grasshopper analog. Some architects think, that in linux no Grasshopper or something similar.
But there is sverchok

permalink:  9   posted on 04.01.2014 1:47
From Yorik
Commenting post 8: Oops indeed, thanks for notifying!

permalink:  8   posted on 03.01.2014 4:53
From Cameron
Thanks for the info and example code Yorick - it was very useful (only change I needed was Draft.makeDimension(p1,p2,p3) instead). Thanks for all your help on this, it got me out of a fix!

permalink:  7   posted on 03.01.2014 3:22
From Yorik
Commenting post 6: Yes, you can do something like this (I am not testing this, you might need to correct any mistake):
import Draft
myDim = Draft.makeDimension(p1,p2,p3)
myPage = FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.addObject("Drawing::FeaturePage","Page")

permalink:  6   posted on 03.01.2014 2:46
From Cameron
Hi Yorick - thanks for the explanation on how to get this to work. The information on your blog has been very useful in understanding FreeCAD's capabilities - this is definitely a good resource and your architectural projects also make for some very interesting reading. So once again thanks!

Do you know if there are plans to make the functionality to place dimensions on drawing sheets accessible from the python console/API?

permalink:  5   posted on 02.01.2014 14:19
From Yorik
Commenting post 3: Hi Cameron,
Basically the only way, at the moment, is to use the Draft->Drawing tool from the Draft workbench. This allows you to put Draft dimensions to the sheet.

permalink:  4   posted on 02.01.2014 14:17
From Yorik
Commenting post 2: Hi Rafael,
Thanks man, for you too! I hope we can finally shake the architecture world with some open-source power!

permalink:  3   posted on 02.01.2014 10:04
From Cameron
Hi Yorik - this looks great, thanks for all the work on FreeCAD, particularly the very useful documentation you have taken the time to write. One question for you about this post - how can I get the dimensions into a drawing sheet? I've been scratching my head about this most of the day and can't seem to find a good way to do it - any pointers?

permalink:  2   posted on 02.01.2014 3:36
From Rafael
Happy new year to you, colleague. I hope that your 2014 will be a great year, full of opportunities and projects.

permalink:  1   posted on 01.01.2014 24:13
From Yorik
Happy new year, you lost soul who happens to wander on this blog... I just made my annual housecleaning by moving the 2013 contents to its archive, so we can start over with fresh and clean thoughts. Be the first to comment!