This is the 2015 archive of my blog. Click here for the current year.

permalink:  169   posted on 21.12.2015 2:03
From Yorik
Commenting post 167: fixed, thanks!

permalink:  168   posted on 20.12.2015 18:39
From Smithd166
Commenting post 159: This kind of game gives a real experience of building a farm and planting trees. dfaeebkekddbdede

permalink:  167   posted on 18.12.2015 17:12
From Ross Reedstrom
Commenting post 164: correct tracker is to tracker not tacker www.freecadweb.org/tracker

permalink:  166   posted on 14.12.2015 24:44
From Yorik
Commenting post 165: Very interesting read... He is very right actually, submitting bugs is tedious. But this doesn't solve the basic equation: The software gets more stable, more mature, more reliable, along with bugs fixed. As a developer, you only have a limited scope on the project (your own point of view, and the way you use it yourself, basically). So it really depends on people taking their time to do that process...

I could add a bit of that to the article, though.

permalink:  165   posted on 14.12.2015 20:09
From Not Bruce Byfield
Commenting post 164: I'm not Bruce Byfield but he explained well why many of us no longer bother reporting bugs:

Why I rarely file bug reports

in categories  opensource  permalink:  164   posted on 12.12.2015 20:12
From Yorik

How to report a bug

One of the coolest thing you get when working with open-source software, is the possibility to report bugs to the developers, and follow the progresses until it gets fixed. Most, if not all open-source software has, somewhere, a bug tracker, which is an online application where you open such a bug report (sometimes called "issue" or "ticket"). FreeCAD's bug tracker is at http://www.freecadweb.org/tracker . A developer of the project will then usually look at your report, and then do something with it, that hopefully would be fix the bug, but, depending on your report can also be reject it, in case it is actually not a bug, or ask you for further information in case you didn't explain well enough or didn't do all that was required.

The vast majority of bug reports fall in this last category. If you think that most open-source developers have a limited amount of time to dedicate to the project, wasting that time on having them correct bad bug reports until they can do something with it can do more harm than good to the project.

Also, an open-source project is not a company, and developers are not good Samaritans. Nobody is forced to fix other people's problems. Usually, on a bug tracker, developers pick bugs they are interested in fixing. So you'd better help as much as you can and make a bug report that is clear and easy to handle, in other words, make the developer actually want to fix your bug. Otherwise, it might stay at the bottom of the basket for a very long time with nobody interested in looking at it.

So here go a couple of simple rules to make a nice, clear and attractive bug report:

1. Be friendly. Remember, nobody is forced to handle your report. You might as well not ditch your chances right from the start... My favorite method, write it just like if you were writing an email (provided you write friendly emails of course

2. Search the bug tracker to make sure that your bug hasn't already been reported before opening a new one. All trackers have a "search" button.

3. In order to fix a problem, a developer must be able to reproduce it. This is an absolute rule. If the developer cannot see the problem, he cannot fix it. So explain, as clearly, simply as possible, as if you were explaining to any other person, what to do to see the bug happening, for example: 1) open the application 2) press the button "start a fireworks" 3) expected result: the fireworks starts 4) What happens instead: no fireworks has started. This is a clear description, and the developer can easily verify that the fireworks indeed didn't start.

4. It is sometimes hard to know if something is a bug or not. Basically a bug is "something that should work, but is not working". Are you sure that it should work the way you think it should? For example, if it did work like that before, then it is clearly a bug. If not, there might be a reason why it doesn't work as you think it should. Or maybe it simply wasn't implemented yet. It might be best to discuss the matter before (see point 6 below).

5. Give as much information as possible about the environment where the project is running. Many bug trackers will ask for specific items such as your operating system, its version, and the version of the project you are using. Any detail that might help identifying the cause of the problem. In other words, help as much as you can!

6. All projects also have other ways to discuss with developers and other users: forums, mailing lists, IRC channels, etc. If you are not sure of how to proceed, discuss you issue there first. Others will surely indicate you what to do.

7. Be prepared to help further. Sometimes a bug affects only you, you might be asked for more information, or to test something. Don't abandon your bug report, help people to get it fixed!

If you do all this, your bug reports will be well received anywhere, and you give them the best chances to be considered an interesting task to take by a developer, and to be fixed quickly.

Finally, as someone reminded me in a comment, it is true that filing bug reports can sometimes be tedious and bureaucratic, and more often than not, you feel discouraged because nobody on the other side seems to give much attention to the problem. I have honestly not much idea to circumvent this, but remember the idea behind the whole thing, which is not as much to fix your particular problem immediately, rather to leave it registered to make sure it won't go forever unnoticed. Every user has his particular way of working, and you will see things that others don't see. At the end, it is the crossing of the different paths of each user that end up traversing the project from end to end in different ways, that allow a project to mature and gain stability. Bug reports are essential to achieve that.

So please bear with the bureaucracy and the laziness of developers, don't place your hopes too high in a quick fix, and submit more bug reports!

permalink:  163   posted on 03.12.2015 13:23
From Brunno Wallace
Commenting post 37: Thanks so much for ur work on freecad and for the posts

permalink:  162   posted on 02.12.2015 14:08
From Yorik
Commenting post 158: Hi,
Indeed in current versions you now need IfcOpenshell. But you can install it easily from the IfcOpenShell website: http://ifcopenshell.org/python.html Make sure you choose the correct version (32 or 64bits, and with the same python version as FreeCAD, that you can find in FreeCAD's menu view -> python console

permalink:  161   posted on 26.11.2015 13:00
From Yorik
Commenting post 160: I agree with you... But this presentation was for students... I think it was way too technical already

permalink:  160   posted on 26.11.2015 9:36
From Rafael
Commenting post 159: Very interesting your presentation about Architecture Libre 2015 (I just saw the pictures, I do not understand French). But in your presentation you are too focus on digital design. There are other open source software for other areas of the architecture that you could make mention. For instance, building energy modeling with openstudio, BIM with opensourcebim.org or Domotica with openhab.org or pidome.org

in categories  freecad  opensurce  talks  permalink:  159   posted on 22.11.2015 14:43
From Yorik

Conférences #FreeCAD à Toulouse

Voici les slides de mes deux présentations de FreeCAD à Toulouse ce weekend:

- "Architecture et logiciels libres" à l'école d'architecture de Toulouse, vendredi: http://yorik.uncreated.net/archive/talks/architecture-libre-2015.pdf

- "FreeCAD: Une plateformededesign hackable" au Bazar du libre, samedi: http://yorik.uncreated.net/archive/talks/freecad-capitoledulibre-2015.pdf

permalink:  158   posted on 20.11.2015 11:11
From Hervé Menga
Commenting post 37: I am working currently on a project where we generate an IFC file to represent the infrastructure of railways - not only the rails, of course - Although i know that IFC cannot precisely describe railway objects as it could, we would like to use the IFC generic structuring capacities above STEP-21 geometry to perform some tests. I have downloaded FreeCAD on my PC (Windows 7 64 bits), but it seems that IfcOpenShell is a mandatory part to import an IFC file into FreeCAD. I do not have the capability and the knowledge to "compute" things, as you write, to update my environment. Is there a solution to get a "beta" release of FreeCAD + IfcOpenShell that could be installed (easily) on a Windows 7 PC ? Thanks.

permalink:  157   posted on 06.11.2015 24:08
From Brunno...
Commenting post 114: Congratulations... what a great blog...

permalink:  156   posted on 06.11.2015 23:51
From Brunno...
Commenting post 37: Thanks for a great job...

in categories  opensource  linux  permalink:  155   posted on 27.10.2015 2:14
From Yorik

Dynamic menu for fluxbox

A little note to self inspired by this article. A quick way to add dynamic menus in fluxbox, for example to emulate that openbox pipe menus thingy that shows all your directories tree inside a menu...

First you have a script like this, that creates/updates a text file containing a fluxbox submenu:

echo "[submenu] (Works) {} " > 
find / -maxdepth 1 -mindepth 1 -type d -exec basename {} \; | awk '{ printf "[exec] ("$0") {pcmanfm 
    \"/home/yorik/"$0"\"} \n"}' >> /home/yorik/.fluxbox/works
echo "[end]" >> /home/yorik/.fluxbox/works

Then in your fluxbox menu:

[include] (/home/yorik/.fluxbox/works)

Then you need to run the first script from time to time, for example adding it to your crontab. The apps are filled by the excellent xdgmenumaker...

permalink:  154   posted on 24.10.2015 15:02
From Boumerzoug
Commenting post 180: Excellente work !! (y) thanks

in categories  freecad  talks  opensource  permalink:  153   posted on 22.10.2015 15:57
From Yorik

Palestra e oficina sobre o FreeCAD no SEMCITEC Guarulhos

Aqui estão os slides da palestra de hoje: http://yorik.uncreated.net/archive/talks/freecad-semcitec-2015.pdf (pdf) e http://yorik.uncreated.net/archive/talks/freecad-semcitec-2015.odp (odp), e o arquivo do FreeCAD usado durante a oficina (peça de lego): http://yorik.uncreated.net/scripts/lego.fcstd

permalink:  152   posted on 22.10.2015 1:07
From Brett
Ah, good point. I hadn't thought to ask for help fixing it. I just assumed that'd be one of those "figure it out yourself, noob" type questions.

I'll head on over. Thanks!

permalink:  151   posted on 21.10.2015 22:35
From Yorik
Commenting post 150: Many folks might help you with repairing shapes on the forum, if you ask there...

permalink:  150   posted on 21.10.2015 22:03
From Brett

Thanks for the news. I'm beginning to think I should just scrap the project and start it from scratch again
I can't get the stupid thing repaired.

Yeah, I could imagine that going from Python 2.x to Python 3.x would be a bit painful. I've started to learn on Python 3.x and trying to keep track of the differences is hard enough for a small script, haha.


permalink:  149   posted on 21.10.2015 14:33
From Yorik
Commenting post 148: Hi,

Not yet... FreeCAD needs to be ported to python3 first, which is no small work. But it's in progress. Follow here if you want to keep updated: http://forum.freecadweb.org/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=12534

That said, exporting from FreeCAD to Blender is not hard (simply export as .obj). But since Blender is mesh-only, it won't help you much with solid shapes...

permalink:  148   posted on 21.10.2015 12:02
From Brett
Have you updated your FreeCAD import script for Blender?

I'm stuck and I think that having FreeCAD exchange between the two would get me out of the bind I'm in, trying to repair the shape I've made.


permalink:  147   posted on 19.10.2015 15:41
From Yorik
Commenting post 145: No, just by hand... You just place your picture as background, then first try to match the Blender grid (with no object) with the perspective lines of your photo, then add a big cube to match heights, then usually it's enough.

But usually they are not photo-match, the background is full 3D, reconstructed from pieces of photos.

permalink:  146   posted on 17.10.2015 2:18
From sham

permalink:  145   posted on 08.10.2015 9:27
From the one from Germany
How do you do those Photo-Match Renderings? With the Blam addon for Blender?

permalink:  144   posted on 03.10.2015 17:03
From Yorik
Commenting post 141: Obrigadão Renato!

permalink:  141   posted on 02.10.2015 24:10
From Renato Rebelo
Tenho de concordar, os vossos renders são realmente muito bons, e então estas panorâmicas estão impressionantes.
parabéns continuem com este magnifico trabalho.
Renato Rebelo

permalink:  140   posted on 02.10.2015 3:06
From Yorik
Commenting post 138: Gracias!!

permalink:  139   posted on 02.10.2015 1:06
From Rafael
Commenting post 138: In English: These are really spectacular. I do not remember have seen panoramic renders, so good.

permalink:  138   posted on 02.10.2015 1:04
From Rafael
Commenting post 132: Estos estan realmente espectaculares. No recuerdo haber visto renders panoramicos tan buenos.

in categories  works  detail  permalink:  137   posted on 01.10.2015 21:50
From Yorik
More construction drawings for a low-income residential project

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  136   posted on 01.10.2015 21:48
From Yorik
3D image we did for an industrial project...

in categories  works  detail  permalink:  135   posted on 01.10.2015 21:47
From Yorik
More construction documents for low-income projects in Brazil. Again, not much to be done in terms of architectural quality, but we always try nevertheless to deliver the best documents as we can, not simply in terms of graphical quality, but to provide solid and reliable material.

in categories  works  sketches  animations  permalink:  134   posted on 01.10.2015 21:43
From Yorik

RankDone animations

Two hand-drawn animations we did for rankdone. All made with Pencil2D.

in categories  works  permalink:  133   posted on 01.10.2015 21:38
From Yorik
Design work for our friends at rankdone. We've done the logo, marketing material, style guides, printed material, and icons...

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  132   posted on 01.10.2015 21:31
From Yorik
3D images for an expo center project...

For who is interested in the details, the vegetation on the terrain itself is placed manually, tree by tree, the vegetation around the terrain is made with particles, and the buildings are made by isolating a couple of colors from the base map, vectorizing them in inkscape, and importing them as curves in blender.

in categories  works  permalink:  131   posted on 01.10.2015 21:29
From Yorik
A new logo for a friend!

in categories  works  3d  blender  permalink:  130   posted on 01.10.2015 21:26
From Yorik
A quick setup of an alternative version for an older project of last year. We tried to give it that 60's airline feel...

in categories  works  detail  permalink:  129   posted on 01.10.2015 21:23
From Yorik
More construction documents for a low-income residential project. Obviously not much to be done in such projects in term of architecture, but we try at least to put as much quality as we can in the drawings...

in categories  works  detail  permalink:  128   posted on 01.10.2015 21:21
From Yorik
Posting a couple of works we've been doing this year...

This is part of a larger job we've been doing for one of the major projects being built now in Brazil. Unfortunately our job was not very glorious since it consisted mainly in detailing the restrooms, but it's pretty interesting to see how these huge international projects work internally...

permalink:  127   posted on 30.09.2015 21:12
From Yorik
Commenting post 125: Olá Augusto,
Uau, obrigadão!!!

permalink:  125   posted on 30.09.2015 16:01
From Augusto Almeida
Bom dia Yorik e Maira,
Entrei no seu site e no da Maira, e assisti uma palestra de vocês sobre softwares livres,... uma lição de vida.
Parabéns pela visão de mundo que vocês transmitiram.
Parabéns pela liberdade e leveza de espírito com que vocês realizam os seus trabalhos, mesmo quando ele é pesado. Parabéns pela missão que assumiram que beneficia o coletivo. Parabéns por fazer isso tudo, e ainda assim,não abandonar os sonhos pessoais e profissionais.
Vou pedir a minha filha estudante de arquitetura e minha mulher arquiteta que assistam a palestra de vcs. Que essas energias positivas sejam sempre renovadas para sustentar os seus sonhos,propósito e valores.
Arq. Augusto Almeida

permalink:  124   posted on 29.09.2015 17:14
From Yorik
Commenting post 123: You could use FreeCADto model trusses, but at the moment FreeCAD won't be able to show deformations. There is a FEM workbench that can already do a lot, though. Have a look on the FreeCAD forum at http://forum.freecadweb.org in the FEM section to have an idea of what people there are currently doing.

Frame3DD could be made to work with/inside FreeCAD at some point... We wouldneed to extend/finish the analytic stuff in Arch structural objects, then find soem people who know Frame3DD well to work on a plugin to interact with it...

Another app I was looking at is PyBar, which is more simple (2D only) but is easy to connect to FreeCAD...

permalink:  123   posted on 29.09.2015 16:09
From Acrophobic
Can I use FreeCAD for creating and testing roof truss ? If not, are there any software in Linux that I can use to do so ?

In Windows, I've use SAP2000 for testing and analyzing the truss that I've created, but in Linux I haven't found software that can do the same. There is Frame3DD, but it's too hard for me to use, especially because the lack of GUI.

permalink:  122   posted on 24.09.2015 17:02
From Yorik
Commenting post 121: There are many pieces, or frameworks, or calculations systems already. Some actually pretty good. But so far nothing with a complete interface, or easy to use. Those I know of are these:


But have also a look at the FEM workbench of FreeCAD too ( http://forum.freecadweb.org/viewforum.php?f=18 ), things are evolving fast and well there...

permalink:  121   posted on 24.09.2015 16:15
From hc
Commenting post 157: Is there any opensource software for structural calculation?

in categories  architecture  projects  blender  works  permalink:  120   posted on 22.09.2015 23:20
From Yorik

Pirituba services center

This is a project we did for a small services center in São Paulo. The ground floor hosts three big stores, with different ceiling heights depending on their position on the site and their entrance level, and two upper floors of offices space, with open plan, dividable according to future necessities.

This project is based on several concepts that are precious to us, that all aim at reinforcing the interdependence between the different systems, like between the people of the city and the project, or between the users of the project and the vegetation.

The project is intentionally simple in its form and functioning. A simple concrete structure, without finishing, supports two slabs. On these two slabs, light metallic boxes host the offices, with open spaces left between them, that become terraces. Everything is protected from the sun by green roofs and curtains.

A fundamental point of the project is that it enlarges the public space. Instead of showing a simple facade along the sidewalk, it brings people inside the terrain, and creates a series of small additional differentiated spaces, that bet on diversity instead of area, like a parklet.

The central space, although occupied by parking, offers other interesting features: Its size and the fact that it is in direct contact with the ground allows to plant large trees, that protect the whole public space beneath from
sun and rain, and bring to the offices the marvellous quality of being "inside the trees".

The setbacks at the sides and bottom of the terrain are obviously left free and planted, which, we think, is the true meaning of these setbacks, to permit natural ecosystems to connect with each other and flow around buildings.

The vertical circulation, between the parking level, the ground floor and the office levels, is open, and made with industrial equipment (stairs, bridges and elevator), that can be fully mounted in factory and installed on site in one effort.

The whole project is more designed to be a system, configurable and reprogrammable, than a finished, static and immutable building.

Chech the blend file here

permalink:  119   posted on 17.09.2015 15:07
From Yorik
I use blender with almost no addon... I prefer to leave the parametric stuff to FreeCAD, and keep what I do in Blender as simple and generic as possible. The only really useful addon I have installed is "Render Wireframe" which allows you to select some faces (your glass panels) and instantly create a frame object around them... Super fast to create quick-and-dirty windows...

permalink:  118   posted on 16.09.2015 23:28
From Rafael
Commenting post 117: here there are some Blender's scripts for architecture

permalink:  117   posted on 16.09.2015 9:02
From Nicolas
Commenting post 114: Really nice project!
I have to ask : did you model everything in Blender?
I've downloaded the blend file, and it seems to well organized to be a imported project....I'm even more impressed!
Since your last post was about the Blender+FreeCAD WorkFlow, I was wondering which addons in Blender for your modeling. I've found a few addons dedicated to architecture, but I've got the time to try them out. (My 2years old and 2months old sons take a lot of time!)

permalink:  116   posted on 15.09.2015 17:25
From Yorik
Commenting post 115: Yes. FreeCAD is a slow application, made for precise detailing. When you start a project with no idea, and need to go fast (you don't know if the project will succeed, you need to watch how much time you spend on it), you better stick with something that allows you to quickly explore many iterations (start from idea 1, try a bit further, becomes 1a, 1b, then you see it doesn't go anywhere, go back and start idea 2, etc...)

This would be highly unefficient in FreeCAD. But Blender is perfect for that kind of task, and allows you to go very fast between these different versions, keeping what's good in one, testing additional ideas, etc.

Basically Blender and FreeCAD represent two different, opposite but both indispensable sides of architecture work... For me you cannot work without one of these sides, and often, trying to do both in one process (like most BIM apps try to do), is loosing some of your freedom. Nowhere else you'll have the freedom and power that a simple mesh modeler like Blender or Sketchup can offer. The whole issue, is how to transfer things from one side to the other, during the project development.

But that is the whole difficulty of doing architecture: How to transform your genial but abstract primary idea into a final concrete, limited, buildable result...

permalink:  115   posted on 15.09.2015 16:47
From JuhaW
Commenting post 114: Nice use of arrays and linked duplicates. So you modeled all from the start with Blender, no Freecad first and export ?

in categories  architecture  projects  works  permalink:  114   posted on 14.09.2015 23:34
From Yorik

Mixed use, Itu, Brazil

This project gathers in a same site three different uses: a residential building, a hotel, and a convention center.

The client being a real-estate investor, it was required, as usual in that context, to build as much as possible, in other words, to use the maximal construction area permitted by law. This produces a project with a lot of construction.

This high density becomes even more problematic with the approximation of very different and somewhat incompatible functions.

We choose to articulate these three uses around a strong, complex and catalyst public space: A succession of squares and ramps, that travel the distance and the difference of height between inferior corner (the main access) of the terrain and the higher level, where the project connects to the shopping center on the neighbouring terrain.

This way, the whole project does not bet anymore on a low density character, that would be expected for this scarcely built part of the city, but assumes a frank, higher-density urban character. The proximity of functions that seem at first sight discording, like a residencial building and a convention center, ends up giving additional qualities to the whole project, like an urban center.

The project recreates, therefore, some of the conditions that make people look for housing in animated urban centers, to benefit from the cultural, commercial and leisure options around.

To reach that objective, the projects bets mainly on its central public space. It serves as a glue between the different parts of the compound, permits the installation of commerce, restaurants, bars or coffee shops in the inferior levels of the hotel and the convention centre, and also directly on the public squares, all accessible to everybody. It also fosters interactions between the different functions, parts of the hotel can be used by the convention center and vice-versa.

Inspired by Amanda Burden (head of urban development of New York under Bloomberg), the project also tries to create, within this connection, a public space that people want to use: with a lot of vegetation, somewhere to sit and something to do...

Although the high density of the project and the subterranean parking do not permit very tall trees in the central part of the terrain, we tried to use as much as possible the variation of levels, building heights, voids, volumes, openings present in the project to achieve similar qualities: Many different places and spots, with different lighting and sun exposure, different
views, different uses, different orientations, to recreate the conditions of a complex and variate life.

Finally, this central space creates a new pedestrian connection between the shopping mall next and the lower side of the site, increasing the flow of people not only to the mall, but to the site itself. Both flows enhance each other, bringing life to the whole area, ensuring safety and recreation for the residential building, and consumers and general public for
the hotel, convention center and shopping mall.

This shared connection serves as common access to all the buildings, even though each of them has separate entrances, located on the ground level and on the underground parking.

blend Download blend file here

permalink:  113   posted on 10.09.2015 16:24
From Yorik
Commenting post 112: Yes, absolutely. All the data and slots system is there already. One would just need a graphical interface to represent and manipulate that data. This could be done almost completely independent of FreeCAD (as a plugin or something). Someone recently mentioned this which might be very interesting:


permalink:  112   posted on 10.09.2015 10:18
From Rafael
Commenting post 109: I agree that node system has a large field of application that are beyond the architecture. I've recently seen engineers working with grasshopper to develop systems of data analysis or a platform of control for arduino devices. However, it is clear that to develop something like that in FreeCAD would require much work and the current FreeCAD team cannot afford it. I just wanted to know if to develop a independent plugin of visual scripting for FreeCAD by other team of developers could be possible.

permalink:  111   posted on 10.09.2015 3:10
From Yorik
Commenting post 110: Of course, nobody wishes for FreeCAD to remain hard to learn forever! The interesting thing, though, is that it's not just a question of programming time. Building a good interface that provides a nice workflow to the user is actually a very difficult task. And in the case of BIM, where you really have very few examples available, you must basically invent everything. This goes through a lot of experimentation and trial and error.

That's where more users entering the game is precious...

permalink:  110   posted on 09.09.2015 23:37
From Xen Wildman
Commenting post 107: Becoming productive in an application like Blender presents its own set of hurdles for many people, especially architects that just want to focus on the design itself. The prospect of switching applications and switching mindsets to get the job may be a little much to ask the user.
Personally, I prefer the small utility style of accomplishing tasks, however, Blender itself is alien enough to the other 3d applications that it does take some time to become proficient at it.
I guess the hope is that FreeCAD will become that "small utility" style tool for architecture and all the complexity can be buried a little deeper in the application and smooth out the learning curve.

permalink:  109   posted on 09.09.2015 18:33
From Jon Nordby
Commenting post 107: A node-system could be beneficial for other things way outside architecture. It opens up scripting to many more people when things can be visually programmed. As an example, a collaborator of mine (who considers himself a designer) made his own 3d+ CAM solution in some evenings:
He now uses this instead of RhinoCAM always for 3d milling...

Fundamentally, I do agree that we need a suite of tools (each with their own particular strengths) and then combine them in interesting ways to form complex workflows when that is needed.

permalink:  108   posted on 09.09.2015 16:56
From Carlos Cámara
Commenting post 107: Thanks for sharing this interesting point of view, Yorik (as well as sharing all these knowledge and developing a great tool)

in categories  blender  opensource  freecad  permalink:  107   posted on 09.09.2015 15:37
From Yorik

About FreeCAD, Svertchok and Blender

Commenting post 106: Yes, nikitron is the Svertchok master

I think I can reply here too... This would be very hard... Although the geometry algorithms of Svertchok probably could be adapted to work in FreeCAD, the problem is the nodes system. There is no such system in FreeCAD at the moment (some people are interested in creating one, though, but so far nobody came up with actual coding).

Personally, I think it would be a lot of work to do that, and even more work to maintain two different versions in sync after that, for not much advantage. In FreeCAD, it would benefit almost only architecture. The other engineering disciplines would have little use for something like that. While in Blender, it benefits other peopleinterested in generating algorithm-based geometry too.

Also, Blender is based on a very flexible, free-form mesh system, while FreeCAD uses much more rigid brep solid geometry. You would cut some freedom of Svertchok if it had to be adapted to work with solids only.

The key of working with architecture in FreeCAD (I need to write more about that), I think, is to not consider solely FreeCAD as your modeling/authoring tool. We take always great care of that with the Arch workbench, that you are able to work with mesh data imported from other apps like Blender or Sketchup, which are fast, free-form mesh modelers, where you are not bound to physical limitations, and your creativity is not limited by stupid BIM tools... It is the work of the BIM tool to bow to your creativity, not the contrary.

I don't think any BIM app out there has the same capability as FreeCAD to bring mesh data all the way up to valid BIM objects. Think of a mix between Revit and Rhino (which has excellent mesh-to-solid converison tools). You can really take the Blender monkey head mesh, and turn it into a valid wall object in FreeCAD, if your meshes are clean solids (no face superposition, no manifold edges), no further work is needed.

So for me, the real powerful place to have Svertchok is in Blender, where you can make it do almost anything, and explore forms without constraints. Then you have a little work, which is unavoidable when you have that freedom, to rationalize those forms, extrude faces into solid stuff, etc. Then, you import it into FreeCAD, convert everything to BIM objects, and that's it. This would of course be more comfortable with a tool like Svertchok directly inside FreeCAD, but at the cost of a portion of your freedom.

This focus we put on keeping FreeCAD and specially the Arch workbench as open as possible to all kinds of data input, explains partly why its own creation tools (wall, window, etc) have a lower priority (at least for me), and therefore are not as developed as one would wish yet. But I think this is the correct order: First we must make sure the model is open to maximum freedom. This is something very precious, and very opposite to more capable BIM apps like Revit. Then we think to the ease of use of the creation tools. If we were to do the contrary, the decisions we would take with the creation tools would sooner or later shave off some of that freedom.

Of course that doesn't mean we cannot have powerful creation tools like Revit! Certainly we'll get there at some point in time. But since our resources are limited (very few people working on the Arch workbench), it inevitably goes slow and one has to carefully think of priorities.

If you think of the Unix philosophy of "instead of one all-in-one app, rather many simple tools, each doing one task well", this Blender->FreeCAD scheme fits in pretty well. Never we'll have in FreeCAD mesh modeling tools of the quality of Blender. And it would be very hard for Blender to gain the technical and precision tools that FreeCAD now has. For me the path is clear: We need both.

permalink:  106   posted on 09.09.2015 10:56
From Rafael
Commenting post 99: Hi nikitron. Are you one of the developers of Sverchok? Is there chance to create a version of Sverchok for FreeCAD?

permalink:  105   posted on 08.09.2015 19:55
From Jhon
Commenting post 67: Hi.
Using Kubuntu Linux 14.04 64bits, djvu package instaled. Geting this error in Gimp 2.8.14:
When I try to open EXR in GIMP, djv-info RAM usage increase untill fill all my 12GB RAM and hangs all the system.

permalink:  104   posted on 07.09.2015 23:39
From Viktor
Commenting post 102: Thanks!

permalink:  103   posted on 06.09.2015 21:36
From Yorik
Commenting post 100: Very inspiring comment... I have so much to respond that I'll actually write another article But to resume I agree 100%. Freedom to design is the whole point. FreeCAD however is not there to be one more tool of that nature, its purpose is different. But it is meant to achieve the same goal.

permalink:  102   posted on 06.09.2015 21:33
From Yorik
Commenting post 101: Hi Viktor,
They are indeed outdated, I think they were never adapted for blender post-2.49... Also checkintegrity.py I do today simply with Ctrl+Alt+Shift+M (checks for manifold edges in meshes). Here they are anyway:

permalink:  101   posted on 06.09.2015 14:26
From Viktor
Hi Yorik,

are there somewhere available your blender scripts "quantitiesbill.py" and "checkintegrity.py" (Mesh integrity check)? I understand they might be outdated, but their description looks interesting to me, I could use them at least as an inspiration. I came across them at an old site blender-archi.tuxfamily.org/Scripts but there are non working links.

btw I noticed the sourceforge misbehaving, good you are leaving them

permalink:  100   posted on 06.09.2015 8:07
From 1D_Inc
Commenting post 96: Whoa, it is becoming just more interesting^^
I'm AutoCAD and Blender user, and also, a bit a AutoLISP developer.
(I did wrote Autocad OBJ exporter-importer, to make possible conversion of autocad primitives to Blender geometry to work with them more comfortably)

Well, yeah, AutoCAD is pretty much popular platform, and one of the issues why it is so popular -
easy sketching.
You cad draw easily everything you want to sketch, turn this into drawing. Yep, it is basically wrong workflow for architecture, but it is awesome and this makes market. (!)
This made Sketchup, and it's community!
Unfortunately, BIM of today isn't good enough to describe everything you may need, especially in same time,
as simple drafting. Most of people are sketching all the time!
I looking back to Blender, Inkscape, GIMP, other opensource, and I understand, that they are a part of common technology, of technology, that is just at my service at any time. Tody their files are overflowing my hard disc, I trust them, and they are part of my life. How it became?


Each of them started as my personal notepad, where I can doodle and draft in appropriable data format, something may be unimportant, but daily useful. So, I can't to say the same about FreeCAD.
It is awesome software with opensource (!) engine, with ability to create solids (!!), but it is incredibly hard to sketch in it on the fly.

So, please, don't ignore power of primitives, annotations and sketching, it is still a brute force of software promotion.

permalink:  99   posted on 05.09.2015 22:04
From nikitron
Commenting post 96: Impressed and knowing of blender development problems it seems like opensource has limitations in human hours as well.
Thanks for this notes. Make sense to write such things regularly.

permalink:  98   posted on 04.09.2015 3:37
From Rafael
Commenting post 96: Interesting news! Just now I saw the LibreCAD blog and they have realeased the 2.0.8 version of this CAD software with DWG support

permalink:  97   posted on 03.09.2015 23:19
From K9fbZuM2rqgH
Commenting post 96: Very, very fine work! I hope, one day, if i understood C++ better, i can help you.

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  96   posted on 03.09.2015 17:51
From Yorik

About FreeCAD, architecture and workflows

Quite some time I didn't post about FreeCAD, but it doesn't mean things have been dead there. One of the important things we've been busy with in the past weeks is the transfer of the FreeCAD code and release files to GitHub. Sourceforge, where all this was hosted before, is unfortunately giving worrying signs of deprecation, many projects are fleeing like rats, and so did we...

The move to github

It's sad because SourceForge, in its glorious days, has been an amazing incubator for open-source projects, it gave a very powerful platform where you could host not only your code, but everything that goes around (website, user forums, anything) with a very liberal "we provide the space, do what you want with it" philosophy. Over the years, the platform has been sold and re-sold from one company to another, each one cutting further into that spirit and adding more aggressive marketing and advertising, until we came to the bloat it is today, with adware bundled into downloadable files, the whole platform minimally maintained and prone to huge failures, etc.

Of course nothing guarantees that the same thing won't happen with github. But at least our whole stuff is now more portable, and we can hop again much more easily if needed. Until we get a proper structure ourselves, obviously.

So from now on, watch this space, this is where you can download new releases of FreeCAD from. Specially the Windows pre-release is now updated pretty often thanks to sgrogan who does all the work.

Architecture workflow and 2D

Another thing I've started to work on, is to recode the DXF importer. Until now, we were using a DXF import structure inherited from Blender, which is coded in python, and another, different one, for export. Although it works pretty reliably, there are annoying problems, namely the different license, that forced us to not bundle the code with FreeCAD anymore, but to offer it through a separate, complicated additional download, and the fact that it is very slow, which makes the import of big files almost impossible.

This lead me to a reflection about the paper of 2D workflows in a modern BIM-based workflow. Altough we all wish that everything would be done with BIM, the reality around us is that BIM workflows are only used until a certain point of the project, and then the development invariably switches to 2D, for several reasons, the most common being that if one of the actors of the project still works in 2D, it basically forces all the others to switch to it too.

There are other reasons, some actually good ones, for example the fact that drawing details is actually less work in 2D than 3D, for the same result, or that construction drawings are usually made of much more symbols and indications than geometry itself.

This is a typical architecture construction document (the very final one, that goes to the construction site and is used by builders):

This is the part of it that is actual geometry (walls, columns, slabs, etc), that is, what is going to be built. Such data is easy to extract from a BIM model:

This is the part of it that is made of symbols, annotations, indications, etc, that is, things that won't be built themselves, but indicate how to build. Such information can be stored into a BIM model, and be extracted, but usually, in order to compose a nice, readable drawing, and not an unreadable mess, you'll still need to do a lot of 2D work manually:

So if we agree that we will still need to do 2D for some time, be it only to be able to process and incorporate the huge DWG files that your HVAC engineer sends you, I decided to try to make things a bit better in FreeCAD.

A first step is to redo a proper DXF importer. If you read this blog already, you probably know my position about DWG (basically that it is way too much work to support to be realistic, it would take ALL our time and resource, for a more than feeble result that would never be good enough, and, besides, that a DXF file is a reliable, 1 to 1 mirror of a same DWG file), so I'll concentrate on DXF and leave the conversion to/from DWG aside. FreeCAD does it automatically, if a conversion utility is installed.

I started using the dxf import/export structure from HeeksCAD whih is very simple, very fast and easy to use and extend. This is already working in the current development code (only accessible from python at the moment), and gives very promising results (30Mb files swallowed in a couple of seconds, instead of 20 minutes with the old importer).

The main problem with these 2D CAD files is what will need to be addressed next: They are made of thousands of little, dumb entities (lines, arcs, etc). FreeCAD objects are complex, intelligent structures, and it is simply not realistic to create one of these objects for each DXF entity. It would clog FreeCAD completely ater a couple of hundreds. If we group them together, however, FreeCAD can manage huge sets without problems.

Grouping geometry into compound objects is already possible. What is still needed is the ability to do so for non-geometric objects (texts, dimensions, etc), and extend the current 2D tools so they are able to work on these compound objects too. This will also make working with the Draft module a bit more like the Sketcher.

This will not turn FreeCAD into an AutoCAD clone, if that's what you are thinking. Nobody here is interested in spending all his time in doing that, besides, the world is already full of AutoCAD clones. What I'm looking for is the point that lies in the middle of the distance between full BIM workflow (the ideal) and full-2D workflow (often the sad reality). Will this be enough? I don't know, we'll see when we get there, but I think it's doable, which is far more important.

The future might bring some good things too on the LibreCAD side, if this matter interests you, I suggest you keep an eye on this, and encourage them to go further in this direction.


In the Arch workbench itself, things have improved too. There is now proper Materials suppport, which makes use of the generic Materials structure of FreeCAD, so Arch materials can be shared with the other Materials-aware workbenches (currently only FEM). Materials are stored in a separate structure in a FreeCAD document, and are then referenced by the different objects. Colors specified in materials will override object colors.

These materials are also already imported and exported to IFC, but still not with all their properties. The way IFC defines materials is a bit weird, and we must still experiment more there.

I also recently added a couple of enhancements to the IFC importer, which is now able to correctly import and export cloned Arch objects, which, in IFC, are objects that share a same geometry. In Revit, they come up as many objects using a same family.

Finally, a new Schedule tool has been added, that allows to automatically generate quantities lists and, in the future, other kinds of schedules, such as areas lists, doors schedules, etc. It is still very preliminar, but the foundations are there.

I also started experimenting with tools to support file versioning systems, such as Git or Bimserver. I'm not sure yet where this will go, but the whole idea is to experiment to find good solutions.


The FEM boys have also been very busy recently, have a look at the FEM section of the forum, if interested. The time is close when this can begin to connect to BIM.

That's it for now, keep an eye on the forum if you want to know more...

in categories  freecad  opensource  architecture  permalink:  95   posted on 16.08.2015 23:43
From Yorik

Preço de software BIM no Brasil

Abaixo está uma tabela com preços de software BIM para arquitetura. Incluí aqui somente software que tem suporte ao formato IFC (tanto leitura como gravação). Sem isso, acho que concordamos que não podemos chamar algo de BIM. Também retirei as soluções restritas a um certo tipo de construção (como DDS-CAD). As aplicações abaixo são as que sobraram, que permitem modelar a principio qualquer tipo de projeto, com qualquer técnica constutiva, gerar desenhos 2D, e importar/exportar modelos com outro software BIM usando o formato IFC.

Note que a maioria das empresas que desenvolvem esses softwares não divulgam os preços, o que está indicado abaixo, quando não informado no site, foi conseguido com usuários, em forums, e pode estar um pouco aproximativo.

Também tem algumas diferenças entre o que está vendido para o preço indicado, mas normalmente significa: o preço de uma primeira instalação, sem limite de uso, mas sem atualizações incluídas.

Não farei aqui comparativo qualitativo entre todos eles (num outro post talvez?), mas tem diferenças muito grandes. Aconselho analisar bem…

Software Preço Observações
Revit R$ 20 853,27 Vende direto no site da Autodesk. Existe uma versão LT mas que não vendem no Brasil.
ArchiCAD R$ 24 951,90 Não vende diretamente no Brasil. Este é o preço na Europa. Tem uma versão “solo” para metade do preço.
AllPlan R$ 23 195,70 Não vende diretamente no Brasil, este é o preço na Europa.
Digital project R$ 30 000,00+ Não vende diretamente no Brasil nem online. Preço não divulgado, mas bem acima dos R$ 30 000.
Vectorworks R$ 9 037,35 Não vende diretamente no Brasil, este é o preço nos USA.
Microstation Architecture R$ 24 273,70 Não vende diretamente no Brasil. Preço do antigo microstation + triforma, agora vendido como um software só (Bentley architecture)
4M IDEA PRO R$ 1 044,65 Vende direto do site da 4MSA.
Softtech Spirit R$ 21 667,30 Não vende diretamente no Brasil nem online.
RhinoBIM R$ 6 582,11 Vende direto do site. Preço do Rhino + RhinoBIM.
Sketchup PRO R$ 2 437,82 Vende direto no site.
FreeCAD Gratuito Software livre.
ProgeCAD Architecture R$ 6 149,00 Vende direto no site.
VisualARQ R$ 5 189,07 Vende direito no site. Preço do Rhino + VisualARQ.

permalink:  94   posted on 31.07.2015 15:53
From Yorik
Commenting post 93: kendini evinde hisset

permalink:  93   posted on 30.07.2015 15:20
From selçuk

permalink:  92   posted on 24.07.2015 15:01
From Yorik
Commenting post 91: Hi,
That's not in the plans, would probably be quite some work, as the .blend format is pretty complex... And the .obj format does the job pretty well...

permalink:  91   posted on 23.07.2015 20:18
From from Germany
will this be a .blend file export option for FreeCad? From open Source to open Source without DXF needed?

permalink:  90   posted on 18.07.2015 17:34
From Yorik
Commenting post 88: It is written in python already. The code is here: https://github.com/yorikvanhavre/FreeCAD/blob/master/src/Mod/Arch/ArchEquipment.py (the createMeshView function). It would actually be pretty easy to adapt to Blender, one would just need to adapt a bit the input (Blender meshes are written a little bit differently than FreeCAD meshes), and change the output to produce a mesh instead of a FreeCAD Shape.

permalink:  89   posted on 18.07.2015 15:29
From Kees
Commenting post 76: Yet another really interesting BLOG, thanks!

permalink:  88   posted on 17.07.2015 24:37
From JuhaW
Your Arch tool: 3 Views from mesh, is it hard to convert to Python ? It would be nice script for Blender.

permalink:  86   posted on 17.07.2015 16:36
From Jim Canale
I tried to contact you from your github page but the contact link crashes Firefox.

I was under the impression that installing DXF-Importer would give FreeCAD the capability to export 3D objects as *.DWG's. Is that true? We are having some problems with that. I downloaded the zipped files. I don't have installation privileges, so our IT manager placed the unzipped files in my c:usersjimcappdata oamingfreecad folder. (We're running Windows 7 Pro. ) FreeCAD then asked us to download and install Teigha. Did that too.

Now we can do the export, but each one is going to a different subdirectory under c:usersjimcappdatalocal emp. And the files are all *.DXF's even if I ask for a *.DWG.

Finally, I see that the exports contain no 3D information. They are 2D views.

I opened the Teigha application on its own, and found that it can convert Autocad DWG's and DXF's to earlier versions of DXF's and DWG's. If the file was 3D to begin with, it remains 3D.

Can you tell me how this is supposed to work, and how to fix it?

Thanks for your time.

permalink:  85   posted on 11.07.2015 7:43
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 82: Very interesting presentations. Very impressive the work of your architectural office using open source software. I prepared a list with more programs for architecture some time ago. You can use it and share it in your conferences: http://i.imgur.com/K9D31zd.png


permalink:  84   posted on 10.07.2015 8:08
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 82: Very interesting presentations. Very impressive the work of your architectural office using open source software. I prepared a list with more programs for architecture some time ago. You can use it and share it in your conferences: http://i.imgur.com/K9D31zd.png


permalink:  83   posted on 09.07.2015 5:22
From cchfyhjuhiuk
Commenting post 110: gyjgiuhk uyoijl, you0p

in categories  talks  opensource  freecad  permalink:  82   posted on 07.07.2015 15:33
From Yorik

Palestras no FISL

Temos duas palestras no FISL este ano! Ambas sbado, dia 11/07, na sala 41A:

FreeCAD - Uma plataforma de design hackevel as 11h, essa ser feita s por mim

link da palestra: http://schedule.fisl16.softwarelivre.org/#/talk/220
link dos slides: http://yorik.uncreated.net/archive/talks/freecad-fisl16.pdf

O dia-a-dia de um estdio de arquitetura livre as 16h, por Mara e eu.

link da palestra: http://schedule.fisl16.softwarelivre.org/#/talk/239
link dos slides: http://yorik.uncreated.net/archive/talks/uncreated-fisl16.pdf

Nos vemos la!

permalink:  81   posted on 06.07.2015 16:31
From Yorik
Commenting post 80: Hi,
Right click on that code -> Save page as... , make sure the saved file has the .py extension, then place the saved file in your gimp plugin directory.

permalink:  80   posted on 06.07.2015 11:24
From erreci
Commenting post 67: sorry I'm a beginner, the link sends me to a page with code, what am I doing .... sorry again and thanks

permalink:  79   posted on 30.06.2015 5:59
From Jonathan
Commenting post 76: Very nice !

Pour les lecteurs francophone, voici la traduction en franais : freecad-france.com/post/freecad-et-bim-faq

permalink:  78   posted on 29.06.2015 21:07
From sweetsnake
I hope FreeCad and Programms like Revit will sometime be simile like Blender and 3d Studio Max. I like Inovations like the drawing dimensioning workbench 0.5 in FreeCad. But the Drawing Workbench need to be easyer to use. The scaling and moving of 3d projections, texting, dimensioning in the Drawing Workbench and the page you set up (the only place you can see something!!) should work easier.

permalink:  77   posted on 28.06.2015 22:41
From Nicolas
Commenting post 76: I really admire what the developers and the community have contributed to create, but as an average user or ArchiCAD, and the Mac, I can't help to point out that polishing, agreement and comfort for the end-user ARE keys to efficiency. (I mean work efficiency, not software efficiency)
Most architects are not very tech-savvy, or curious about open source softwares. A lot of them are "trapped" with Adobe Creative Suite, AutoCAD/Revit/ArchiCAD....I was surprised to see that most of my colleagues didn't know about GIMP, Inkscape or Blender. And they never modified their ArchiCAD tools layout, or template...
All that to say that, IMO, FreeCAD for Architecture needs to be more "tailored" to the habits of the Architects, and that there are A LOT of ideas to be taken from both Revit and ArchiCAD to match their comfort of use.
I think it's important, and I feel like FreeCAD should be forked and stripped down of some unnecessary tools to created a version dedicated to Architecture, with a dedicated UI. and that it could be called Arch.FreeCAD

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  76   posted on 28.06.2015 19:34
From Yorik


A couple of FreeCAD architecture/BIM related questions that I get often:

Is FreeCAD ready enough to do serious BIM work?

This is a very complex question, and the answer could be yes or no, depending on what's important to you.

It of course also depends on what is BIM for you, because clearly enough, there isn't a universal consensus about this. I'll explain it in my own terms: BIM is above anything else, the "meaning" that you give to a 3D model.

That is an architect's point of view of course, other areas will have other opinions and needs. What differentiates a BIM model from any "agnostic" 3D model, is that elements are not bare geometrical elements, but they carry a whole layer of meaning. For example, a wall is not just a rectangular shape, it is a wall, which means, for example, that it has a material, and it separates two different spaces, and many more implications. Same for all other elements of a BIM model. They all carry a layer of "meaning".

You often hear saying that "Only Revit or ArchiCAD are true BIM applications". If you believe that, of course, FreeCAD will never be ready to do serious BIM work for you. But if you consider BIM as I explained above, a large quantity of applications could do BIM. If you were able to add that layer of information on top of SketchUp models, for example, you would be able to do BIM in SketchUp (there are many plugins trying at that, by the way). As many say, in BIM, the "I" (information) is the key.

The people behind the IFC format spent a great deal of effort in trying to organize these meanings, and to catalog the different components of a building. You quickly find flaws and things that don't work perfectly, but it has the great merit to exist, and we certainly must not consider it as a finished format, but as a constant work-in-progress. Defining a building in a text-based computer format is no simple task.

What the Arch module of FreeCAD does, actually, is to allow you to add this layer of meaning to your models. It is not fundamentally made to offer you modeling tools (although they already work more or less well), rather to allow you to model with other FreeCAD tools, or even with other applications such as Blender or SketchUp, and add BIM meaning on top of it. It generally follows IFC definitions, while trying to stay as broad as possible too. For example, all structural objects in FreeCAD are gathered under a generic structural element. That you can further define as a beam, a column, a slab, if you want to, but you can also keep generic. The idea is to allow you to define your own meaning. You could have a project with a structural element that is not a beam nor a column (yes, that's you, Zaha Hadid, you avid reader of this blog). In FreeCAD we want to allow that as much as possible.

This actually gives you powers unavailable in other BIM apps, any object can become a valid, meaningful BIM object. You can take the Blender monkeyhead object, import it to FreeCAD, and turn it into a wall. It will behave exactly like any other wall, with the same properties.

However, many people already use commercial BIM software, like Revit or ArchiCAD. They will often compare FreeCAD to their usual software, and in 99% of the cases, find that FreeCAD doesn't offer the same level of comfort, and therefore deem FreeCAD unfit for the job.

This is a recurrent issue with all open-source tools, when they get compared to similar commercial solutions, not only FreeCAD.

Open-source software doesn't have the same goals as commercial software, and they don't fight in the same category either. Commercial software is expensive, and counts on hundreds of full-time developers. Open-source software counts on a handful of part-time voluntary developers. Obviously, there are things in terms of polishing, of agreement and comfort for the end-user, that take an absurd amount of work to achieve, and that are not a priority for open-source developers, that prefer to spend their available time on things like efficiency and stability.

On a more general level, extracting yourself from your comfort zone will always require a somewhat painful effort, being for an open-source solution or not.

But you must also consider the other side: Open-source software like FreeCAD also gives you advantages unavailable with commercial solutions: The file format of FreeCAD is open (it is actually a zip file), your data is never lost or prisonner. If someday you don't use FreeCAD anymore, it will always be possible to extract all the data from the files and convert it to something else. The development of the application is also something you can have a say in. If you find a bug, and can narrow it down to the exact steps that make it happen, chances are very high to see it fixed in no time. Try that with Revit There is also the fact that it doesn't cost you anything, I probably don't need to remind you how much costs a Revit license... And finally, as explained above, the most important point for me, in FreeCAD we have a space to define our tools, our workflow, the way we want it. Not the way a billionaire multinational firm tells us...

If you reformulate the question in: Is FreeCAD capable of delivering valid BIM models, openable in other IFC-aware applications, the answer is definitely yes.

Be prepared to a bit of effort, though, and to have to find workarounds for the features still missing in FreeCAD. But the community is there to help...

How to start with FreeCAD?

If you are ready to try, you will quickly find that FreeCAD has a rather steep learning curve. There are two big reasons to this: The complexity of the tasks it can perform, and the lack of tutorials and documentation oriented to beginners.

FreeCAD is nowadays catering for a very wide range of users: mechanical engineers, architects, home-3D-manufacturers, civil engineers, electronic engineers, and many more. Each of these specialities require specific tools. So the application has become huge and complex. We recently counted that the FreeCAD source code contains almost 500 icons. Not each icons is a tool, of course, but nevertheless that tells you something about the complexity. Another problem is that each of these specialities has its own jargon, its own terms to designate stuff, so FreeCAD is full of unusual wording and concepts.

So one of the biggest difficulty you'll meet when discovering FreeCAD, is to understand what are the tools you need, where they are, and how they work.

The main concept you need to cope with is how the FreeCAD interface is divided in workbenches. Workbenches are collections of tools aimed at a specific task or family of tasks. For example, there is a "Ship" workbench that contains tools to work on ship hulls, an "Arch" module to work on architectural models, etc.

When changing of workbench, you are just changing the tools displayed to you in the FreeCAD interface. The 3D document and the objects you're working on, stay the same. You can do an operation on one object with one workbench, then another operation with another workbench.

There are more generic workbenches (Part, that contains generic 3D tools such as boolean unions and subtractions, or Draft, which contains basic 2D tools such as line or circle), and more specific ones. Usually, you will never have enough with just one workbench. You will need tools from different workbenches.

The FreeCAD wiki has a pretty complete documentation about all those workbenches, what they do, what tools they contain:


There is also a page that shows (almost) all the tools at once:


A first thing you might want to do, is to browse through that documentation, and see what does what, and what is located where. Specially, find the most generic ones, that everyone needs, for exampe basic 2D tools like Line, Rectangle, or common operations like Move or Rotate, or 3D operations like Extrude, Union or Subtract. Once you have a good picture in mind of where are the tools you need, you will find that a very big part of the difficulty has been overcome.

Once you know your tools, FreeCAD offers you many way to change the contents of your workbenches and add tools from other workbenches, so your speed and efficiency will better over time.

The second problem, the lack of tutorials for beginners, is only apparent. Certainly you will not find many on the FreeCAD official website, or on the forum. The place you need to look to is youtube.

Many members of the FreeCAD community are prolific video publishers, and a simple search for "FreeCAD" on youtube will give you many hours of learning material, some of very high quality:


Some users even started to build collections:


You will notice, however, that very few of those videos are generic introductions, most are about a specific tool, subject or workbench. But this one, made by Bejant, a long-time FreeCAD veteran, is a very good overview of how FreeCAD works:


You might e saddened by the fact that most videos are dealing with FreeCAD in a generic way, and not centered on architectural work. At the moment this is true, unfortunately, but it might also be an opportunity to rethink your approach to BIM modelling, and consider it in a more generic way...

We also have an in-depth, written tutorial about the Arch module. However it is more made to walk you through all the functionality of the workbench, rather than actually teach you stuff step-by-step. Consider reading it rather than trying to reproduce it closely:


Once you begin to put your hands in FreeCAD, you'll certainly meet specific problems: How do I do this, how do I do that. That is when you'll discover the true power of the FreeCAD community. Most of these questions, if precisely formulated, will receive numerous, fast and deep answers on the forum (make sure you do some search to see if your question hasn't been answered before):


permalink:  75   posted on 19.06.2015 9:45
From baptiste
Commenting post 36: love it

permalink:  74   posted on 14.06.2015 18:54
From arekkusa
Commenting post 97: AMAZING
i will be back for more after exams
thank you

permalink:  73   posted on 13.06.2015 8:02
From peppino
Commenting post 110: yorik,grazie di cuore,per quello che fai per tutto il mondo.
Ti ho gi scritto,ti seguo su questo sito,sono ignorante sul cad,non completamente sulla grafica in genere.
Vorrei darti alcune idee mie,come gi ti dato,mi piace partecipare allo sviluppo di FreeCad,anche se
non sono un programmatore,ti descrivo una mia,qui,avrei piacere se la sviluppassi e l'attuassi:
modulo a modo mio(vedrai semplice da fare):prendi calc,(es:per uno schermo 600x800,ma vale per tutte le risoluzioni)ritaglia calc per 48000 celle,incolla ora ogni cella, tramite software a ogni pixel del monitor,ora attiva la funzione 3d in calc.
Ora tu sai che calc include 150 funzioni matematiche per ogni cella,dovresti trasformarle da dormienti in
attive,forse con uno script apposito, ora moltiplica in ogni cella 150x3,per i tre colori,ogni colore ha i
suoi 150 funzioni matematiche.
Ora in ogni cella,crea un collegamento a kernel grafico di FreeCad + un collegamento a MESA(vecchio
pacchetto linux 3d)(controllane licenza,in passato in linux si conosceva,forse l'autore ti autorizza nel suo
Guarda che se attuato,sono convinto ti sbalordir,anche se sono convinto lo sviluppi in poco tempo,nota
sarebbe un ottimo modulo base.
Saluti da peppino.

permalink:  72   posted on 04.06.2015 9:54
From Mike
I recently downloaded freecad software, and I have run into a snag that I cannot seem to find an answer to. I need more work space than the default work areas. I am designing an amusement ride and need to be able to draw and even animate it. It is 48 x 32 ft. I also need to be able to do renderings of the seats as they will be seen on the ride. Is there any way of changing the screen settings to accommodate the large sizes I need to draw out? If so please send me detailed directions so that I can get back to work, calculating pixs in windows paint in order to keep scale consistent is a royal pain for 2D drawings.
Thank You,
Mike Lane
P.S.: Please send me an email to my personal email address xxx@gmail.com. I normally don't give this out but I am desperate for some help, thank you again!

permalink:  71   posted on 02.06.2015 22:00
From Aglef
Commenting post 156: Do you know Sweet Home 3D (www.sweethome3d.com). There are also many furniture objects for download and may links. This furniture objects are meshs.

permalink:  70   posted on 01.06.2015 14:54
From Yorik
Commenting post 67: Hi Ken,

Yes, you can use FreeCAD in closed and commercial applications. FreeCAD uses a LGPL2+ license, which basically allows you about anything, even to sell it, or to use parts of it in a proprietary application (of course, we would appreciate alittle credit or mention if you use FreeCAD in any way, but it's not mandatory).


permalink:  69   posted on 01.06.2015 14:51
From Yorik
Commenting post 68: Ciao Giuseppe,

Io non sono in realt responsabile per il modulo nave, quindi non posso rispondere alla tua domanda. Vi consiglio caldamente di utilizzare il forum FreeCAD per discutere le proprie idee, si otterr una migliore feedback da persone che lavorano in quel modulo.

Per quanto riguarda un modulo di matematica, credo che il linguaggio python contiene gi tutto che necessario... Vi suggerisco di guardare al suo modulo "math".


permalink:  68   posted on 30.05.2015 20:24
From Battagliese Giuseppe
Commenting post 110: Yorik,guarda sul cad,sono ignorante completamente,ma per quel poco che conosco,ogni volta mi meravigli,ti seguo,bravissimo,che dirti,grazie,grazie,grazie.
Sei un genio,non ti conoscevo,se mi puoi aiutare ti vorrei inviare pochi file,mi dici dove scriverti,li vorrei sottoporre alla tua attenzione,sono una raccolta di idee,mie,sai proprio particolari.
Mi perdonerai,non sono un programmatore,ma un apprezzamento te lo vorrei dare sui moduli,vedi questa scelta
e stata non buona ma ottima.
Le ragioni,semplici ma dal forte impatto sociale,le categorie professionali , artigianali e industriali sono tante,tutte con esigenze grafiche diverse,questa e la ragione forte che ti dicevo.
Ora un paio di osservazioni su FreeCad,il modulo navi,mi sembra adatto anche per progetti di aerei ad ala fissa
con poche variabili,tra cui i materiali,ma la progettazione e già buona.
Ora,mi scuserai,un concetto culturale importante,tu sai benissimo che la matematica e stata e resterà la regina
delle scienze,partendo da questo concetto.
Ti chiedo con forza di creare un modulo matematico,complesso contenente(aritmetica,geometria,trigonometria),da legare fortemente al kernel grafico,che sia di
base per tutti gli altri moduli,casomai nascosto nel kernel grafico,vedi tu.
Mi scuserai,ma non averlo ancora fatto lo ritengo un gravissimo errore di tutto il progetto FreeCad.
Saluti da un amico,(anche se non ci conosciamo).

permalink:  67   posted on 29.05.2015 21:02
From Ken Smith
Hello Yorik;

I'm starting a web site to train machinists. I came across your CAD program.

Can I discuss using it on my for-profit site to train machinists?

permalink:  66   posted on 29.05.2015 16:08
From Dmytro
Commenting post 321: Hi, I realy love this produnk also, on my thoughts its more familiar with a Solidworks rather than Autocad. But "why not?".

permalink:  65   posted on 26.05.2015 11:25
From Aylum
Thanks a lot!

permalink:  64   posted on 07.05.2015 20:35
From Christopher Morris
I am looking for a decent easy to use but not limited 3D Mod program that can program to move.. i.e. moving conveyor parts w/ shaker screens, that material moving into a pile and say a loader piking up said material.. If you or anyone else has any ideas on what I might be liiking for please email me a cmorris@horsehead.net Thank you for your time..

permalink:  63   posted on 04.05.2015 16:47
From Yorik
Commenting post 62: Hi,
Actually I stopped working on those blender plants a while ago, because it is now much easier and faster to leave them directly in ngplant format. I have much more here:
So I'll not likely port them to cycles, but it should be pretty easy, since the materials are basically only a texture.

permalink:  62   posted on 30.04.2015 11:09
From PramodAce
Hello Mr. Yorik!

First of all thank you very much for all the resources you have made available to us. I am using Blender (No brainer there :P) and I downladed one of your NGPLANTS for blender files and i noticed that it was configured for Blender Internal render and Not cycles. Im still getting around the cycles nodes and switching the textures to work in cycles render. I was wondering if there are going to be any updates to these blend file to work with cycles.

neverthless thanks for all your hard work! The trees look and work really well!

permalink:  60   posted on 22.04.2015 15:45
From Yorik
Commenting post 59: Cool! I remembered you posted that image on the forum and said you always lost your key... Glad you liked the talk, the path module is for very soon!

permalink:  59   posted on 22.04.2015 15:30
From Johannesov
Very interesting to see your latest Freecad presentation on video/vimeo, thanks!. I am the guy that always loose the water tap key. Looking forward to the next feature for tool path planning!

Keep up the good work!

permalink:  58   posted on 11.04.2015 18:17
From Yorik
Commenting post 56: Hoi marco,

Dit is te weinig info om te kunnen weten wat het probleem is, maar Arch elementen op een, grote, complete schets bouwen is niet gemakkelijk en gaat vaak verkeerde resultaten geven. Een beter methode is verschillende schetsen te maken voor verschillenden typen elementen: buiten muren, binnen muren, kolommen, enz...

Het is beter de FreeCAD forum op http://forum.freecadweb.org te gebruiken, je gaat meer en betere antwoorden krijgen...

permalink:  57   posted on 11.04.2015 18:11
From Yorik
Commenting post 55: The FreeCAD wiki is your friend: http://www.freecadweb.org/wiki/index.php?title=FreeCAD_and_DWG_Import

permalink:  56   posted on 11.04.2015 9:00
From marco
Hoi David, zo exotisch is Nederlands toch ook weer niet? Hoe dan ook: ik ben een echte beginner met FreeCad. Ik heb net een huis gekocht, en probeer het huis te modelleren in freecad. Ik heb een redelijke constrained schets gemaakt, maar als ik de arch workbench wil gebruiken, dan lukt het niet: de elementen uit de workbench bijven grijs.

permalink:  55   posted on 11.04.2015 6:17
From David McDougal
Can .dwg files be imported into freecad?

permalink:  54   posted on 09.04.2015 15:20
From Yorik
Commenting post 53: You'd better head for the forum at http://forum.freecadweb.org , you'll get much better and much more replies there. But yes, it's possible, try the Draft Dimension tool, it should be able to detect arcs inside imported shapes. Otherwise, with a bit of python scripting it is possible to retrieve all that kind of data too.

permalink:  53   posted on 09.04.2015 15:16
From Chris Singleton
Commenting post 37: I wish that they had a tubing module toolbar for this FreeCAD system.

When I import step files into the FreeCAD, I need to find the radius and other geometrical structures.

Is there an easier way? I can draw in a sketch, but I cannot project details into the sketch from the solid. (there are no tools to project in freecad that I could find). I am a CATIA user also and I can do such in CATIA, but not in FreeCAD. To make this functionality would be a great breakthrough in engineering design for FreeCAD, if at all possible.

Thank you for your help on this.

permalink:  52   posted on 09.04.2015 4:30
From David McDougal
Thank you very much for all your help Yorik, I'll be up and running by the weekend and looking forward to getting started...

permalink:  51   posted on 07.04.2015 14:54
From Yorik
Commenting post 50: Cool, FreeCAD could indeed be useful to you, as it uses solid shapes a lot...

permalink:  50   posted on 07.04.2015 4:49
From David McDougal
Thank you very much Yorik, I really appreciate this. I have to say, I've been looking around your blog pages and what I've seen is absolutely amazing. I just have a low end qualification in CAD but for me it has grown into a hobby. I use AutoCAD and I mainly draw aeroplanes and ships, but autoCAD has it's limitations and the polygon count can get out of control. I have two 3D projects on a site called GrabCAD, one is RMS Titanic and the other is the ww2 bomber the Avro Lancaster. I'm currenly working on the Spitfire, Hurricane and Messerschmit 109, all in early stages with the Spit being the most advanced of the three but I am getting frustrated by having to use 3D meshes to achieve the shape as AutoCAD cannot generate these shapes as solids. I'm hoping to find a program which that can do this in a similar way to solidworks or 3DSMax.

permalink:  49   posted on 06.04.2015 14:31
From Yorik
Commenting post 48: This is strange! I can try to create a user for you if you want... Just send me your email address and the username you wish to use at yorik (at) uncreated (dot) net...

permalink:  48   posted on 06.04.2015 4:27
From David McDougal
Hi Yorik,
thanks for your reply, unfortunately nothing seems to be working even though I'm copying and pasting the answers that you have given. All are still invalid. Still, thanks for your help and it's just a pity I can't seem to get access to your forum.

permalink:  47   posted on 05.04.2015 18:16
From Yorik
Commenting post 46: Hi David,
Yeah the spambot questions are a bit tricky, sorry about that, but it is only when we added them that we finally don't have spam on the forum anymore Unfortunately I apparently cannot create a new user for you, but basically all the answers are on the "about freecad" dialog from the help menu in freecad. On the linked page you also find screenshots of that dialog (basically it says: FreeCAD Juergen Riegel, Werner Mayer, Yorik van Havre 2001-2015) I think that line contains the answer to most of the antispam questions.
Hope this helps!

permalink:  46   posted on 05.04.2015 8:14
From David McDougal
Commenting post 37: Hi Yoric,
I am trying to register on the freecad forum but I am having extreme difficulty answering the anti spambot questions. I am going to the pages to find the answers but when I submit them they are all being deemed invalid. Am I doing something wrong?

permalink:  45   posted on 04.04.2015 17:44
From Yorik
@Rentlau_64 Thanks!! You have your part of responsibility there too now

@safetysafer In what application? If it is FreeCAD, please use the FreeCAD forum at http://forum.freecadweb.org for that kind of question, thankks!!

permalink:  44   posted on 04.04.2015 17:41
From safetysafer@nospam
Hello Yorik,

you have great work here

i want to know whether it si possible to change paper format in the drawing panel: i need A0 but i do have only A4 and A3.

How to proceed?

thanks in advance

permalink:  43   posted on 29.03.2015 20:48
From Rentlau_64
One sentence only to summarize: Merci for your work and your presentation!

It is only because FreeCAD is "Free" that every one can use it, custom it, enrich it and like it !
This is really the spirit of open mind...let's continue

permalink:  42   posted on 23.03.2015 18:49
From Yorik
Commenting post 41: Thanks Jelle!

permalink:  41   posted on 23.03.2015 18:39
From jelle feringa
Commenting post 37: excellent project, excellent presentation!
actually, it cannot be underestimated how relevant these presentations are, it really gives an excellent overview of FreeCAD ( and OpenCASCADE ). btw, thanks for the kind PythonOCC plug

permalink:  40   posted on 23.03.2015 11:50
From M.Drobisch
Commenting post 37: Very nice overview to freecad.
Thank you alot.

permalink:  39   posted on 22.03.2015 21:23
From Kees
Commenting post 37: Nice talk, very informative!

permalink:  38   posted on 22.03.2015 19:12
From Cesar Mello
Commenting post 157: Thank you very much for the information. Best regards! Cesar

in categories  talks  freecad  opensource  blender  permalink:  37   posted on 21.03.2015 23:46
From Yorik

My FreeCAD talk at FOSDEM 2015

This is a video recording of the talk I did at FOSDEM this year. The pdf slides are here. Enjoy!

FreeCAD talk at FOSDEM 2015 from Yorik van Havre on Vimeo

in categories  architecture  projects  permalink:  36   posted on 13.03.2015 2:26
From Yorik


This is a reposting of a 2008 project, because its original home at
http://www.openarchitecturenetwork.org/node/687 is threatened with extinction...

This project for a new space created to shelter the activities of the P de Arte, Cultura e Educao (PACE) NGO, made little after the birth of the NGO, has a very simple fundamental idea. A single, polyvalent, extensible open space.

It is designed to shelter a single group of 15 to 30 children, and offer to both the children and the adults, e different and constantly renovated experience, a large vision of the universe, and a strong connection with nature.

The very restricted budget of a newborn NGO, instead of harming the project, reinforced its simplicity and flexibility: It is thought to evolve along the development of the NGO, growing together, and gaining diversification.

At the end of its use, when the NGO grows and doesn't fit the place anymore, the project becomes a house, and starts a new life.

See also:

technical assessment


preliminary project

final project

in categories  architecture  projects  permalink:  35   posted on 13.03.2015 2:10
From Yorik

Kallari Chocolate Factory

This is a reposting of a 2008 project, because its original home on http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/node/1486 is threatened by extinction...


The new Kallari chocolate factory not only is a new turn in the life of the Kallari community, but also represents a very significant fact for all Latin America. For centuries, coffee and cacao industry has meant prosperity for a small group of investors and poverty for the vast majority of the continent.

This new factory represents a new turn in this industry. Not only this is a cacao industry owned and made by the people, but it is also managed and run as a community, not as a firm.

Our proposal for the new factory is, before anything else, a shelter for community activity. Being a chocolate factory, a crafts market, new activities we don't know about yet, this is the place where all this must happen: under one big roof.

Under that roof, the spaces are designed like a space station: independent modules, connected by bridges, doors, ramps or tubes. There is plenty of space left. New modules can be added later. But the objective is also to offer vast, covered open areas. Cacao processing and chocolate making is an activity that has traditionally a large open-air part, like stocking and drying, while the main factory module provides the conditions needed for finer chocolate manufacturing.

People here don't work like in a traditional factory, where there are bosses and workers, it is more something at the crossing between a highly trained space station crew and a community market. The factory is owned by everyone, and everyone must learn and know how it works, how to behave, how are the procedures. There is no special visitors area. When you visit the factory, you must adopt the same rules as everyone else.

Finally, the projects also adopts a passive attitude, trying to minimize its presence on this magnificent site, and provide a structure for more advanced experiments, like solar energy generation, recycling, researching or computer teaching. The last module of the project is the life-support module, which provides accommodation for resident factory workers as well as prestigious guests like students, scientists or chocolate experts.

permalink:  33   posted on 26.02.2015 23:08
From kartik
Commenting post 314: hello, this blog is extremely useful,,, ! thanx for sharing info. it would be great to see more of architects stuff in blender by python .. like use of for loop etc

permalink:  32   posted on 23.02.2015 24:58
From Yorik
Commenting post 31: Thanks!
No, these are pretty old projects... All made on blender, though.

permalink:  31   posted on 23.02.2015 23:42
From Jairo
Commenting post 26: what a great job!!
it was made on Freecad?

permalink:  30   posted on 18.02.2015 15:39
From Yorik
Commenting post 29: Hi Duane,
I'm not sure I understood completely what you are referring to, but in any case you'd better discuss this on the forum at http://forum.freecadweb.org . This is only my blog and not the place where the FreeCAD community meets. You'll get much more feedback there. It is also the place to suggest and discuss new features.

permalink:  29   posted on 17.02.2015 20:06
From Duane Kalman
Commenting post 22: Hello Yorik, and community,
First, thank you and the other developers for the open and free nature of these products!
I am a very new user experimenting with FreeCad 0.14. I have a frustrated history with TurboCad, going back several versions, more than a decade. Doing your initial tutorials as found under the help menu, I am beginning to become hopeful that I can use the program, and that the output will be useful. I am encouraged by the system of depiction being linked to CAM languages and dialects, as my needs are for very specific shapes with high fidelity to dimension. I will be attempting to describe profiles, on precise workplanes, and loft to solids. In TurboCad, the process was simple, if tedious, but the lofted ACIS objects had shrunken some fraction of a milimeter, and were worthless for looking for interferences with other interacting solids, not to mention being far from CAM worthy. Many carefully wrought profile produced solids with "slippage" in their dimensions. Your program has been very illuminating of the understanding of constraints, I am now curious as to how much this understanding may improve my performance on all platforms.

I have found that the wording of some of your instructions leave me a bit baffled, and that there are assumptions the the user is perhaps better informed than I am. I would like to make some editorial suggestions for some of the manual entries and tutorials. (The Golden Rectangle example left me bewildered, until I solved for it with a much simpler approach. I suspect the wikipedia recipe it refers to is now edited.) I fear that I am not a programmer, and have no power to assist with compiling and such. Where is the best address for suggestions? Thanks again for this fascinating program. I look forward to the 0.15 edition.
Thanks again, Duane

permalink:  28   posted on 17.02.2015 19:07
From Yorik
Commenting post 27: Thanks! Yes, all blender + cycles, with a very simple setup, just a sunlight. About the plans, no, they are pretty old (2007). They were done manually with traditional 2D CAD. I don't remember exactly what we used at that time, but it was probably autocad.

permalink:  27   posted on 17.02.2015 17:40
From Nicolas
Commenting post 26: Really nice! Are the rende rings done with Blender+Cycles? And the plans, with FreeCAD?

in categories  architecture  3d  blender  works  permalink:  26   posted on 16.02.2015 22:35
From Yorik

Old projects, new images

We use to make 3D images of old projects of some of our clients, to give their websites a bit of a refresh, and we don't do it for ourselves? No sir, no more! Here is a bit of revamp on two oldies but goodies of our projects, Casa GL and the PACE ONG.

Casa GL:


And the plans, that I think I actually never published here... Justice be done:

permalink:  25   posted on 13.02.2015 1:08
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 24: For much people, to make these questions is just an exercise of speculation about intangible things. We do not see a practical effect from our ideas. But, really, I feel you are in a place where this kind of discussion is not speculative. You need to think about the possible further directions of our profession, to translate those ideas into functions in a real and practical tool. That is a privilege, and I think it is a recompense from your work in FreeCAD.

permalink:  24   posted on 12.02.2015 13:18
From Yorik
Commenting post 23: Exactly!!!

Unfortunately there aren't too many people interested in that kind of discussion, but I also find all this fascinating. At the time where you really begin to think: "Is there really a need for architects anymore?", opportunities appear, that allow us to rethink the whole model, and reinvent what we are doing and the way we are doing it.

I see this very connected with other things that happen in the society today, like the growing distrust in the old capitalist models and search for more sustainable alternatives... Sooner or later we'll face the same problem in the architecture field (you can see LEED as an "ecologically correct" way to make people consume even more, a bit like Coca-Cola saying: Our product causes diabetes? Here, take this diet version instead, but by all means don't stop consuming), and then it will be urgent for us to rethink what we are doing, and to regain control on the products we use, and even design them, which, after all, is how architects worked before the industrial revolution.

I would very much like to see this discussion extended too. We should talk about that some day, how we could push that further.

permalink:  23   posted on 12.02.2015 7:26
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 22: it is very impressive how FreeCAD, a tool, moves you to think about the current conditions of the architecture and its future. To think on the next potential features to deal with further requirements in the profession is amassing. In this sense FreeCAD is a platform to base an interesting discussion. It could be wonderful to see FreeCAD supported with some kind of institution and pushing public activities and exchange of ideas (such as conference) where through a tool architects and designers can share thought and ideas about the future. Even I see FreeCAD like a bridge to link two world: engineering and architecture. maybe some day we can see something like a foundation where all we can sit and discuses about Design.

in categories  freecad  opensource  permalink:  22   posted on 10.02.2015 15:15
From Yorik

FreeCAD, Architecture and future

There is quite some time I didn't write here about FreeCAD and the development of the Architecture module. This doesn't mean it has stopped, but rather that I have temporarily been busy with another project: The Path module, plus there has been my FOSDEM talk, and finally we're on the verge of releasing version 0.15 of FreeCAD (scheduled for end of february). Now all these things are more or less behind my back, and I'll be able to get back to Arch development.

The Path module

Just a word about this new module, that is still under heavy development, but that is already stable enough for you to test (currently you still need to compile it yourself). This module is aimed mainly at producing GCode, which is a common language used by professional-grade cutting machines. Unlike 3D printers, these machines can produce objects from a wide variety of materials, such as wood, metal, etc.

These machines work mainly by moving a rotating tool, that looks a bit like a drill, around a piece of material, which carves the material and produces the final piece. The path that the tool must follow, along with other settings such as speed, must be furnished to the machine, through GCode language.

The module in its current state provides a solid base to import, display, handle and export these toolpaths to GCode. On top of this, several scripts are being developed to automate the generation of toolpath from FreeCAD objects, or convert the output/input to/from different dialects of GCode.

There is still a lot of work to do on the Path module, but we prepared all the terrain for that work to be easy, as it can be done almost fully in python.

The importance of this module for architectural work might not be obvious at first sight, but I believe it might become fundamental in the future. There are more and more experiments around the world which begin more and more to rely on machining (for ex the wikihouse, popup house, or Greg Lynn's robotic experiments). All other engineering specialties are or already have shifted from drawing to direct design-to-machine processes. Only us from the construction field are still busy with paper drawings.

There are of course a lot of spectacular predictments such as gigantic construction robots (check the cool models) or more recently 3D-printed buildings, but these are still very heavy and inflexible ideas. It is far more probable that the real revolution won't come from these but from much easier and already existing workflows such as having all the pieces of a building prefabricated and in-factory partial assemblies. This will require from architects a much higher level of control over fabrication processes, and possibly a drift from pure design to also the design of the manufacturing process.

Of course, probably some new in-between industry could appear and take place there, that would take the architect's design and generate the manufacturing processes from it. But is that a good thing? Is it really the way we want the profession to evolve, do we want to be pushed still more out of the game, to just do a job that is everyday more futile and useless?

These are very theoretical questions of course, but probably you begin to see where this whole area of machining, and the unique opportunity that FreeCAD offers to mix it with architectural work could be interesting and beneficial to architecture.

In the current Arch module, as I wrote in an earlier post, we already started implementing some tools that might in the future bridge the gap and permit architects to fully control the manufacturing process of the pieces they design. This is a fascinating new area, and I certainly plan to work a lot more on it in the future.

The development of this module was also a first experiment of sponsored development (members of the CAM community gathered to sponsor the development), and I believe it was pretty satisfactory for everybody involved. The development went very fast, and, although it didn't result in a "finished work" (that concept doesn't really exist in open-source software anyway), it provided a strong base to further development.

This module will be merged into the official FreeCAD source code after the 0.15 release, which should happen by the end of this month.


I was also invited to the FOSDEM this year, to give a talk about FreeCAD. The whole event was extremely cool, I'd highly recommend you to try to go to it one day if you are interested in open-source software. It was literally packed with people, talks, events and of course, waffles and beer!

I enjoyed a lot talking about FreeCAD, and apparently people liked the talk. The slides are available here, the video recording will be made available later by the FOSDEM people, I'll post it here when it is online.

The Arch workbench

In the coming weeks we'll release the version 0.15 of FreeCAD, and the first thing that will be merged immediately after, is a modified IFC exporter, based on the reunified version of IfcOpenShell that is being prepared right now. During the last year, IfcOpenShell development has been split into two branches, one "stable" and the other where we experimented with advanced python interface and export capabilities. These two branches are finally being merged into one single powerful version that combines the strengths of both. With this done, we will have a solid base to develop further a couple of concepts that we've been discussing with the IfcOpenShell people, basically recreate "intelligence" from IFC contents.

There is currently (as ever, actually) a lot of discussion on the net about the IFC format, and the high level of dissatisfaction that architects experience when dealing with it. The main cause for that sentiment is that IFC is a "dumb" format, that represents static objects, and discards all the higher-level "intelligence" that modern BIM software such as Revit and ArchiCAD give to users.

Our idea is that 95% of that "intelligence" is made of very simple concepts (for example, a wall "knows" its baseline, it is not only a cubic shape, so with that baseline and a couple of parameters such as width and height, you can recreate the wall), and these can very well, in a way or another, be saved in IFC files.

The main problem is that IFC files must be produced with great care, and read back into BIM applications with the same care. This is not often found among commercial BIM solutions, as their vendors have more advantage in trying to make their users stick to their own proprietary formats.

In the open-source world, however, we don't have that necessity, and IFC seems therefore absolutely interesting to us. It is open, doesn't follow what a specific vendor wants, and being able to use these 95% seems already a pretty good goal to me. We can care about the remaining 5% at another time.

Concretely, this involves being able to extract all the geometrical construction of an object from an IFC file, as to reconstruct it in FreeCAD the way it has been encoded, and also export all this construction back when exporting files.

The latter step is already implemented pretty far, and if you export a FreeCAD file where you modelled all the objects yourself with FreeCAD tools to IFC, most of it wil open in Revit as editable families. However, reimporting back in FreeCAD will currently loose modelling history, and therefore on a new export the IFC file will contain only uneditable objects. This is the main problem I'll attack.

Visual experiments

I've also been experimenting with a couple of visual goodies. One is a way to display sections in the 3D views. Coin3D, the library we use to manage the FreeCAD 3D views, already offers a simple mechanism to hide a part of the scene, but there was the problem that you can see the inner faces of objects (since in the 3D view all objects are represented as meshes). This is not very realistic for architectural objects, which are always solid.

A sketchup method gave me a good idea: combine Coin3D's clipping with a single-face lighting, so the inner faces of objects receive no light, and appear therefore as pure black. This gives pretty good results:

I'll try to add this system to Arch section plane objects, so with the switch of a button you can turn that kind of display on/off.

Another test I did recently was with shadows. To my big surprise, I discovered that Coin3D supports bitmap shadows. You need decent 3D hardware, but it works very well. In the next weeks/months I'll try to integrate this further in FreeCAD.

The 0.15 release

FreeCAD is now in "feature freeze" mode, where nothing new is added, only bugs fixed. There is no exact release date, but we plan to do it before the end of the month. The release notes are not complete yet, but will give you a rough idea of what to expect in thisnew version, in case oyu didn't try it yet. Don't forget that if you are using Ubuntu, the FreeCAD community maintains a PPA that updates automatically everyday, so you can enjoy a bleeding edge version fresh with the latest developments.

There is still some work to do on the translations, so if you want to give us a little help there, this will be much appreciated!

permalink:  21   posted on 09.02.2015 23:38
From Yorik
Commenting post 20: It's normal, all comments appear here... Thanks!

permalink:  20   posted on 09.02.2015 23:37
From Mark Westbrook
Oops I meant to post that at the Green Roof section of the site.

permalink:  19   posted on 09.02.2015 23:36
From Mark Westbrook
Commenting post 130: Just wanted to say this looks like a very cool idea.

permalink:  18   posted on 03.02.2015 9:52
From Yorik
Commenting post 17: Hi Rafael,
Actually the feedback was very good... Lots of questions, Lots of people from different areas were interested, specially from the electronics and CNC fields. But there were a couple of architects at the talk too, some annoyed that I didn't talk more about IFC and BIM ( we'll need another talk I guess ). But I think the talk managed to throw some light on how easy and cool it is to begin to write code for FreeCAD... The blender community also tweeted a lot about the talk... I'm curious to see the evolution of this!

permalink:  17   posted on 03.02.2015 2:58
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 14: I saw your PDF. You could talk about the comments and opinions about FreeCAD from community. Many questions? Interest in collaboration?

permalink:  16   posted on 02.02.2015 3:00
From david
Commenting post 110: archspacetooloffreecad

in categories  talks  opensource  inthepress  freecad  permalink:  14   posted on 01.02.2015 10:36
From Yorik
This is the pdf file of my FreeCAD talk of yesterday at the FOSDEM in Brussels. As soon as I get my hands on the video, I'll share it here too. Enjoy!

permalink:  13   posted on 27.01.2015 24:41
From Yorik
Commenting post 12: Hi Andy,
Unfortunately I didn't do that shuttle... I took the image from the blender site I think (don't remember exactly). But searching around on the net, you can surely find the model, Blender users usually like to share their work...
Regarding my own stuff, I generally post everything here on this blog...

permalink:  12   posted on 27.01.2015 24:22
From Andy
Hi Yorik,
Thanks for your tutorials and your linux scripts.
The interior of the space shuttle in Blender is amazing.
It would be fantastic if we could download your artwork and view it on
Blender. However this is probably weeks of work for such complex
sketches, so if not no problem.
Dank u wel en hou je haks !

permalink:  11   posted on 25.01.2015 23:44
From martin
Thanks for your Tree tutorial and also the blends

permalink:  10   posted on 21.01.2015 22:44
From Yorik
Commenting post 9: Can you please use the forum at http://forum.freecadweb.org for that kind of issue? Thanks.

In this case I believe you are using the wrong version offered by the PPA. There is a specific version corresponding to each ubuntu version. You must make sure you are using the correct one for your system.

permalink:  9   posted on 21.01.2015 18:39
From Laurie Hurman
You are listed as the team leader for the latest Freecad release.
I am trying to download Freecad 14 from my Ubuntu software centre having enabled the PPA;
The message I get is

freecad liboce-foundation8 liboce-modeling8 liboce-ocaf-lite8 liboce-ocaf8 liboce-visualization8

The following packages have unmet dependencies:

freecad: Depends: libboost-filesystem1.46.1 (>= 1.46.1-1) but 1.46.1-7ubuntu3 is to be installed
Depends: libboost-program-options1.46.1 (>= 1.46.1-1) but 1.46.1-7ubuntu3 is to be installed
Depends: libboost-regex1.46.1 (>= 1.46.1-1) but 1.46.1-7ubuntu3 is to be installed
Depends: libboost-signals1.46.1 (>= 1.46.1-1) but 1.46.1-7ubuntu3 is to be installed
Depends: libboost-system1.46.1 (>= 1.46.1-1) but 1.46.1-7ubuntu3 is to be installed
Depends: libc6 (>= 2.4) but 2.15-0ubuntu10.9 is to be installed
Depends: libgcc1 (>= 1:4.1.1) but 1:4.6.3-1ubuntu5 is to be installed
Depends: libgfortran3 (>= 4.6) but 4.6.3-1ubuntu5 is to be installed
Depends: libpython2.7 (>= 2.7) but 2.7.3-0ubuntu3.5 is to be installed
Depends: libqt4-network (>= 4:4.5.3) but 4:4.8.1-0ubuntu4.8 is to be installed
Depends: libqt4-opengl (>= 4:4.5.3) but 4:4.8.1-0ubuntu4.8 is to be installed
Depends: libqt4-svg (>= 4:4.5.3) but 4:4.8.1-0ubuntu4.8 is to be installed
Depends: libqt4-xml (>= 4:4.5.3) but 4:4.8.1-0ubuntu4.8 is to be installed
Depends: libqtcore4 (>= 4:4.8.0) but 4:4.8.1-0ubuntu4.8 is to be installed
Depends: libqtgui4 (>= 4:4.8.0) but 4:4.8.1-0ubuntu4.8 is to be installed
Depends: libsoqt4-20 (>= 1.4.2~svn20090224) but 1.5.0-2 is to be installed
Depends: libstdc++6 (>= 4.6) but 4.6.3-1ubuntu5 is to be installed
Depends: zlib1g (>= 1:1.1.4) but 1: is to be installed
Depends: python-support (>= 0.90.0) but 1.0.14ubuntu2 is to be installed

permalink:  8   posted on 21.01.2015 16:26
From dendenis
Commenting post 40: Thank you for sharing!
I`ve been trying to build workflow on Linux, but found very few of the open source software really usable on intense tasks. Blender & Inkscape i think are best of them, still using it under Windows.

permalink:  7   posted on 15.01.2015 19:51
From l.g.
thx, will try it!

permalink:  6   posted on 15.01.2015 6:16
From Rafael (bitacovir)
Commenting post 4: To visualise DWG: Teigha Viewer. See www.opendesign.com (for Win-Linux-Mac)

see you

permalink:  5   posted on 14.01.2015 16:16
From Eli Bauer
Commenting post 97: Awesome thanks for the overview!

permalink:  4   posted on 13.01.2015 16:22
From L.G.
LibreCAD is already on my private PC. But on work I use Allplan and to know how exported dwg/dxf files look like, is a viewer necessary. Interesting was open office Draw, but only dxf support and not as light as sumatra.

permalink:  3   posted on 13.01.2015 15:33
From Yorik
Commenting post 2: An open-source DWG viewer doesn't exist at the moment. The closest thing we have to an open-source DWG library is LibreDWG, but AFAIK there is no application using it. For a DXF viewer, however, there is LibreCAD that is very good.

permalink:  2   posted on 13.01.2015 14:01
From L.G.
do you know a easy and light dxf/dwg viewer that is open source and for commercial use (GNU Licensed). Best would be a pdf viewer like "Sumatra PDF" with dxf/dwg support.

permalink:  1   posted on 02.01.2015 22:05
From Yorik

Happy new year!

As usual, I did a bit of new year cleaning, and the posts from last year have been moved to the 2014 archive page. Aah, how it feels empty now!