Finally it's there! The version 0.19 of FreeCAD has been released! It took quite some time (version 0.18 was released in 2019), but it's out!
Sorry too about the lack of updates here these last months, I've been doing mostly boring admin things. During the last almost two months, FreeCAD has also been put into "feature freeze" mode, which means no new feature were added, only bug fixing was allowed. But this also means there is a huge pile of new features, both from me and others, waiting to be merged, so expect active development to resume soon and will full speed.
I also have a load of ideas to apply, both for BIM and for FreeCAD more generally, some half-researched, some already prototyped, and others almost ready to go. More about all this soon
So here is a quick overview of what you can expect if you haven't looked at FreeCAD 0.19 yet. Be sure to read the full release notes too!
- Python 3 compatibility: FreeCAD 0.19 now fully supports Python3, which is becoming the standard on all platforms. Python2 is still supported too, but that will begin to be deprecated in next version. We don't plan to remove anything, though, just stop updating Python2 structures. So anyone interested can still contribute to maintain it. Most other interesting Python-enabled applications such as Blender beings also based on Python3, this eases compatibility a lot.
- AppLinks: AppLinks are a new kind of FreeCAD object, that basically links to another FreeCAD object, and copies its properties and geometry. Differently than similar objects that were existing before, like Draft Clones, AppLinks don't recreate the 3D representation of their shape. They just copy the representation of the source object. Therefore, they are extremely lightweight and raise a lot the limits of how heavy your FreeCAD models can be. The source object can also be in another document. There are several ways to use AppLinks, as it begins to be used in all workbenches, and you can also create an AppLink of a group.
- Expression engine extension: The expression engine is what allows you to use the value of a property of an object as the value of another property of another object. For example, the position of a floor slab might be made dependant of the height of a wall underneath, or vice-versa. The expression engine used to only support FreeCAD quantities (numbers with a unit, such as 5 milimeters or 1 feet), it has now been extended to most of the property types, such as other kinds of numbers or texts.
- Custom properties: Any FreeCAD object can now get additional custom properties. This, together with the above feature, enhances the parametric possibilities to your wildest dreams. Any object can now drive almost anything.
- Enhanced addons manager: The addons manager can now display much more information and help you choose much better which addons are right for you. It will also notify you if updates are available.
- Several new Arch objects are now available, such as fences, curtain walls and trusses.
- The IFC importer has been fully rewritten to use multithreading and is now about 300% faster than the old one. There is also a new ShapeFile importer.
- The Draft edit tools have been rewritten and extended greatly, you can now do several operations such as Draft Move or Rotate on subcomponents of an object.
- Annotaiton styles now allow you to define styles used for texts and dimensions, and apply these styles to objects.
- A new Layers system has been designed in Draft to replace the old VisGroup system. FreeCAD now has a decent layers system similar to most 2D CAD applications.
- Vast improvements to the TechDraw workbench: Hatch patterns, annotations, many different kinds of symbols are now available.
- The rendering of Draft and Arch objects on Techdraw pages has also been enhanced greatly. New properties give you more control over the display of those elements, and the Arch view gained a new mode that uses the 3D view directly, without the need to perform heavy boolean operations.
- Specific routines for concrete calculation have been added to the FEM workbench. A new solver and new meshing algorithms are there too, andthe workbench has received a lot of cleaning, example files and unit tests so its robustness has been enhanced greatly.
- Skether, Part and PartDesign have also received a load of improvements and bugfixing. The sketcher has several new tools and options to play with NURBS curves.
- The Path workbench is maybe the workbench that has received the biggest part of the work done in two years. The improvements, bugfixes and new features are everywhere, and FreeCAD is slowly becoming a very solid CAM/CNC platform.
- The Render Workbench now supports the Cylcles renderer, that is the main renderer used in Blender.
- Two new Assembly addon workbenches, namely Assembly3 and Assembly4, are now available (Assembly3 must be compiled separately) to perform assembles. With the existing A2Plus, we have now 3 good solutions to create assemblies.
- A new Arch Textures addon workbench allows to put image textures on objects
- The Flamingo workbench, very useful to design metallic structures and piping, now has a new version named Dodo.
That's the most important stuff, but there is much, much more, check the release notes!
If you haven't yet, grab your copy of FreeCAD 0.19 from the Downloads page! Version 0.19 is compatible with 0.18, that is, 0.18 files will open with 0.19 and 0.19 files will open with 0.18. However, objects and geometry created with new 0.19 features might break or stop working when opened on 0.18 (Geometry will still be salvable/duplicatable as "simple copy", though). But we're totally confident nobody will ever want to come back