Monday, January 24, 2011

CAD on linux, is it still hell³?

A few years ago, I was just new to linux stuff, I searched for a CAD suite on linux. And although there were programs that had CAD functionalities or even real CAD suites it was one way journey to hell.

The three main reasons that made it hell³ were the fact that 1) It was hell to find CAD programs. 2) Finding a decent one, trust me the synaptics package manager (software center didn't exist back then) wwasn't the way to go. 3) Getting it up and running.

Actually you may turn the last two around because I never really got any further then getting it up and running! Okay, I'm not fair here, there were a few programs that were up and running.

In general I supose you could say my adventures was doomed from the first second I started it. I used Xubuntu back then which was still developing to become a user friendly distro, my expectations from it were way to high.

I was expecting something similar as ACAD! Naive, I admit. I shouldn't have hoped to find something that has more then the standard draw tools.

Anyways we moved on from the 7.04 version. More precise we're at 10.10 right now. The fact that I'm using Ubuntu instead of Xubuntu now doesn't change anything (atleast not really significantly). Moreover in general any program running on any linux distro should work on any other distro.

So far for the history, lets go ahead and start our search!

The first and most logical place to start is the Software Center. Chances that there's an Autodesk program in there are slim so I'm not even hoping for it. But I go ahead and type CAD in the searchbar. 9 matching items and 35 technical items.

Appart from a CAD program for model trains named xtrkcad there isn't any benefit in viewing the technical items. Oh hell, why should I care, I've got 9 other programs listed! Hooray?

The first one is QCad. The info sentence tells me it's a professional CAD system. Hell yeah! just what I was looking for from the first second?
Pressing the more info button shows us even more pleasable news:
"QCAD is an application for computer aided drafting (CAD) in two dimensions (2D). With QCAD you can create technical drawings such as plans for buildings, interiors, mechanical parts or schemas and diagrams."

Okay 2D, but we can live with that.. I press install and can't wait for it to be installed.

Oh hell why not look at all of the apps now were here anyway!

Next in line is FreeCAD, it states that it's a feature based parametric modeler.. Not fully certain what that sentence means I go ahead and press install allready. I think it's going to be a CAD app that allows you to change the dimensions of a feature and then redrawes it. What else can a Parametric Modeler be? More info tells me:
"FreeCAD is an Open Source CAx RAD based on OpenCasCade, Qt and Python. It features some key concepts like macro recording, workbenches, ability to run as a server and dynamically loadable application extensions and it is designed to be platform independent."
WHOOT.. macro recording? Allright, these guys are way beyond their first test versions.. I know Qt and Python allready but I'm not sure what OpenCasCade is so I open up my browser and search for it.

OpenCasCade seems to be an open-source engine that's free to use and implement in your system. I want to see the screenshots because reading things like the last info thing isn't helping me much. The screenshots look stunishing! And although all those apps are made for a specific reason (in house devopement for certain companies, so not available for me). Others are commercial applications that look an awefull lot like SolidEdge from Siemens.

I've allways hated SolidEdge but that's a personal thing. We had to work with it at GroupT (my previous school) but we didn't really had any help regarding the use of the program. I was allready able to work with autocad, solidworks, sketchup and inventor so it wasn't to hard for me to learn. And to be honest, appart from some unlogical things I'm sure my other problems could have been fixed with a proper education of the program.

An other thing to mention about SolidEdge is that is really is fast to develop prototypes with it. They claim that they can make you save more then 50% of your time and I honestly believe them. Programs like Autocad are awesome but way to slow to develop prototypes.

Anyways, back to FreeCAD. The more info menu also gives me this:
"Currently, FreeCAD can import and display CAD models in IGES, STEP, and BRep formats and meshes in STL, BMS, AST and Wavefront OBJ formats. Editing and modeling features are currently somewhat limited."
BUB? what? Looking down to the version number I see they are only in 0.10.3247. Oh god, so they aren't out of development yet.. I keep that in mind but because I know sometimes dev work can go fast when a good team is behind it I give it a shot anyways.

The next app in the list is electric, an electrical CAD System. I don't go deeper in this as it isn't what I'm looking for.

SagCAD, Draw and create is no.4 of the list and although the sentence isn't really revieling much it certainly seems to know what the objective of a CAD program is.
"Easy to use 2D Computer Aided Drafting and Modeling application with the following features:
Opening/Saving/Creating of files
Font use Qcad cxf Font
SGY/DXF/NC input
ps(PostScrip) file output
Ellipse and polyline

Wow, that isn't much.. :O but the fact that it states CAM intriges me, I'll install it anyway. (Currently in the "gain-info"-fase of converting an old A4 or A3 plotter into a Laser cutter.. Might be usefull afterall ;-)

next up: PyCAD states as info line PythonCAD.. WOW! allmost helpfull.. Hopefully more info is mure usable. "PythonCAD is a scriptable (with the Python language) and easy to use drafting program.
Please note that this version still doesn't support DWG and DXF file formats.
You guessed it: version Oh boy.. It's going to be a long journey again.. Because you never know I'll install it anyways.

I continue reading the list and end up with Gmsh Mesh Generator.. Whaat?
States: 3-D finite element mesh generator. Ow that? (not really). The fact that it says it's 3D makes me press the install button anyways (if I'm allready this far I might aswell to it good and take them all..) More info doesn't clear it out either: "Gmsh is an automatic 3D finite element mesh generator (primarily Delaunay) with build-in CAD and post-processing facilities. Its design goal is to provide a simple meshing tool for academic test cases with parametric input and up to date visualization capabilities.." (there's even more but I'll spear you that..).

Okay.. Lets hope some other program ARE what I'm looking for.

Next in line is OpenCasCade.. WHOOT! like the one from the awesome apps? Lets install.. Apperantly it's only a test harness so I don't get my hopes up for it to be a real CAD suite that's focussing on the end user.

There are only 2 others in the list. Cadabra and Mu-cade.. Both seem to be educational things but hey, you never know..

So those were the 9 from CAD.. I'm not willing to give up on this.. There has to be something.. it can't be that this is all!! So I continue my journey in my search. I'll enter other search tags and I'm taking a look on the infinite space of the internet.. Let's hope that they'll provide the information I need!

Keep checking as I'll be reviewing all of these ;-)
Have a good time drawing ;-)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

manneke manneke schrijffouten!!


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