FreeCAD learning curve

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tonydiethelm2
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Re: FreeCAD learning curve

Postby tonydiethelm2 » Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:00 am

If I may chip in...

I'm learning FreeCAD. I've been using it for simple 2.5D CNC projects, now starting to do more 3D stuff. I'm not deep into stuff.

Some of the GUI is not very clear....

An example... I wish to model a guitar neck along the Y axis. I choose to use a loft between two sketches. Easy peasy! I make a sketch in the XZ plane. I make another sketch in the XZ plane, and I change the offset attachment on one of my sketches to move it along the Y axis..... and that's not what happens. It moves along the Z axis. Huh? I search the forums. It seems that the offset is relative to the plane I made the sketch on. Ok, fine, but that's not intuitive, and not in the documentation.

I can use the Sketch -> Reorient sketch, and that IS intuitive. It presents the offset as a simple number and it works on the Y axis for my sketch in the XZ plane. It changes the attachment offset. Same thing, way more intuitive.

The learning curve is .... steep. The documentation is excellent for basic stuff, but once you stray off that path.... It gets hairy fast.

The biggest problem I'm finding myself having is not knowing what methodology to use on stuff. I'm fine reading up. It's gotten me this far! Often now though... I just want to know what the Best Known Method is. And that's hard to find.
chrisb
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Re: FreeCAD learning curve

Postby chrisb » Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:05 am

tonydiethelm2 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:00 am
It seems that the offset is relative to the plane I made the sketch on.
That's what the documentation says, but I admit, that I understood it was there only after I knew the behaviour. I have extended the docs, and would appreciate it, if you can have a look and add further improvements. https://www.freecadweb.org/wiki/Part_At ... ent_Offset
The docs got a bit out of balance, because I added not only an annotation to the general part of the subsection, but also to only the Z-value. I hope it's ok, because this is the most frequently changed value, as far as forum questions are taken into account.
I can use the Sketch -> Reorient sketch, and that IS intuitive.
For simple cases yes, but in fact the advantege of the attachment behaviour becomes clear, when you think about a skewed plane, to which the sketch is attached. Swapping Y and Z is very easy opposed to calculating the offset in 3D space for a sketch at a certain distance from a plane which is turned 20° around X, 30° around Y and 2° around Z axis.

Perhaps it is worth a feature request to combine the attachment dialog with the transformation tool.
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HarryGeier
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Re: FreeCAD learning curve

Postby HarryGeier » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:08 am

chrisb wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:05 am

Perhaps it is worth a feature request to combine the attachment dialog with the transformation tool.
++1
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NormandC
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Re: FreeCAD learning curve

Postby NormandC » Fri Mar 15, 2019 3:20 am

tonydiethelm2 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:00 am
I can use the Sketch -> Reorient sketch, and that IS intuitive. It presents the offset as a simple number and it works on the Y axis for my sketch in the XZ plane. It changes the attachment offset. Same thing, way more intuitive.
No, it's not the same thing. Reorient sketch will detach the sketch if it's actually attached, and place it floating in space. The Attachment utility actually attaches the sketch to a reference inside the Body. You may think the reference positioning is unintuitive, but it has to be that way, because the Body itself can be translated/rotated in reference to the global coordinates.

Granted, the attachment UI is not the easiest to grasp, with its 23 different modes of attachment, many of which will never be used by the majority of end users (the commercial software I use at work as 6 or 7 at the most).

tonydiethelm2 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:00 am
The learning curve is .... steep. The documentation is excellent for basic stuff, but once you stray off that path.... It gets hairy fast.
Welcome to parametric modelling. It's a complex subject. When companies purchase licenses for commercial software (which can cost easily upward to $4,000-15,000/license only for mid-range programs), they send their CAD operators to a 5-day 32-hour introductory course. In such a course you only learn the basics to get you going, the rest of the way you need to learn on your own. The documentation for these programs is not more detailed than FreeCAD's.

At some point, only experience can teach you what you need.

tonydiethelm2 wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 6:00 am
I just want to know what the Best Known Method is. And that's hard to find.
More often than not there is no single "Best Known Method". In any case, it always depends on what type of modelling you want to do. Best practices for architecture work are totally different from mechanical design work. And I've not mentioned the intended manufacturing processes that can affect how you'll model and organize your stuff.
oldcoder
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Re: FreeCAD learning curve

Postby oldcoder » Mon May 06, 2019 9:58 pm

Gentlemen,

I have over 30 years exp with various cad systems.
I have built 3 companies and managed more than 1 multi million line code software team.
I have tried freecad at least 3 times in the past 2 years hoping it would be a usable piece of software. I can't tell you how disapointed I am...

I agree about the learning curve, it is uterly ridiculous. If I can't draw a simple 2d part to my dimensions in 1 hr, then you have failed to address your audience.

IMHO, the problem is 3 fold.
1. you do not have a firm spec or goal.. devs just contribute what they want.
2. You spend too much time adding 'neat and cool' features that no one can use yet because they can't get the basics to work.
3. all your extra time is spent chasing bugs and patching things.

You won't get there with this approach, trust me...

I offer a few suggestions based on my experience.
First, STOP all new feature additions, I don't care who is screaming in your ear.
2nd, fix all the basics like coordinate display?? WTF? I can't see where my mouse is pointing? that may be fine for parametrics but crap for 2D.
I know it's boring and not cool to fix old bugs, but you are just making things worse right now.

I have a fair amount of QT experience, this was a good choice you made..however you are placing far too much reliance on python to do the work..this is a big mistake, one that Autocad learned the hard way relying on lisp for too much.

Take everything that has to do with the screen display and menus and code this ONLY in c++ and QT, no python. Use any python code to only feed in parameters when needed, do all sorting in straight c. By doing this you will eventually freeze the gui developement and the bugs will dissipate.
All basic drawing primatives should not be done in python code.

I like the flexibility freecad offers, it show vision at the outset, but as most great projects go most fail at the implementation..you are on this train track.

Just my 2C

Ken
chrisb
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Re: FreeCAD learning curve

Postby chrisb » Tue May 07, 2019 12:00 am

Hi Ken, welcome to the forum.
Perhaps your experience was not helpful at all when you started learning FreeCAD. Perhaps this means that FreeCAD is not like other CAD systems, which some may dislike and some may appreciate.

If you need more than one hour for a simple part to dimension I would like to recommend to sit down, relax, free your mind, and restart.

For me FreeCAD was a revelation. I had never before modeled in 3D, I knew only Inkscape and Gimp in 2D. But after one week I had modeled a Knight four stroke engine including animation (right now I'm not sure if it was the 1 or the 6 cylinder version). It was by far not as brilliant as ppemawm's models, as it was only a functional model, but it worked.

3D modeling in general is inherently difficult, much more than 2D. Some people say that the FreeCAD learning curve is steep, and they mean it is hard to get there. After my experience I always thought of a steep learning curve as something where I had to go only a few steps and I had already reached a higher level.
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apeltauer
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Re: FreeCAD learning curve

Postby apeltauer » Tue May 07, 2019 5:34 am

oldcoder wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 9:58 pm
Gentlemen,

I have over 30 years exp with various cad systems.
I have built 3 companies and managed more than 1 multi million line code software team.
I have tried freecad at least 3 times in the past 2 years hoping it would be a usable piece of software. I can't tell you how disapointed I am...

I agree about the learning curve, it is uterly ridiculous. If I can't draw a simple 2d part to my dimensions in 1 hr, then you have failed to address your audience.

IMHO, the problem is 3 fold.
1. you do not have a firm spec or goal.. devs just contribute what they want.
2. You spend too much time adding 'neat and cool' features that no one can use yet because they can't get the basics to work.
3. all your extra time is spent chasing bugs and patching things.

You won't get there with this approach, trust me...

I offer a few suggestions based on my experience.
First, STOP all new feature additions, I don't care who is screaming in your ear.
2nd, fix all the basics like coordinate display?? WTF? I can't see where my mouse is pointing? that may be fine for parametrics but crap for 2D.
I know it's boring and not cool to fix old bugs, but you are just making things worse right now.

I have a fair amount of QT experience, this was a good choice you made..however you are placing far too much reliance on python to do the work..this is a big mistake, one that Autocad learned the hard way relying on lisp for too much.

Take everything that has to do with the screen display and menus and code this ONLY in c++ and QT, no python. Use any python code to only feed in parameters when needed, do all sorting in straight c. By doing this you will eventually freeze the gui developement and the bugs will dissipate.
All basic drawing primatives should not be done in python code.

I like the flexibility freecad offers, it show vision at the outset, but as most great projects go most fail at the implementation..you are on this train track.

Just my 2C

Ken
Dear Ken,
thanks for your post and your explanation.
If you have the experience and maybe also the man power, please start to contribute to the project. Start with the old bugs and go on.
Thanks in advance
Manuel
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easyw-fc
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Re: FreeCAD learning curve

Postby easyw-fc » Tue May 07, 2019 5:38 pm

oldcoder wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 9:58 pm
Gentlemen,
....

IMHO, the problem is 3 fold.
1. you do not have a firm spec or goal.. devs just contribute what they want.
2. You spend too much time adding 'neat and cool' features that no one can use yet because they can't get the basics to work.
3. all your extra time is spent chasing bugs and patching things.

You won't get there with this approach, trust me...
That doesn't seem true compared to how many active users are here at the forum.
oldcoder wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 9:58 pm
I offer a few suggestions based on my experience.
First, STOP all new feature additions, I don't care who is screaming in your ear.
2nd, fix all the basics like coordinate display?? WTF? I can't see where my mouse is pointing? that may be fine for parametrics but crap for 2D.
I know it's boring and not cool to fix old bugs, but you are just making things worse right now.

I have a fair amount of QT experience, this was a good choice you made..however you are placing far too much reliance on python to do the work..this is a big mistake, one that Autocad learned the hard way relying on lisp for too much.

Take everything that has to do with the screen display and menus and code this ONLY in c++ and QT, no python. Use any python code to only feed in parameters when needed, do all sorting in straight c. By doing this you will eventually freeze the gui developement and the bugs will dissipate.
All basic drawing primatives should not be done in python code.

I like the flexibility freecad offers, it show vision at the outset, but as most great projects go most fail at the implementation..you are on this train track.

Just my 2C

Ken
Changing the approach to coding in python would lead to lose many contributions... having to build and compile in C to get new features implemented would increase the difficulty for users to contribute to the project...
Moreover when you state that none can use the extra features because the basics are failing, it seems to me you spent too little time in testing the sw, compared to the time you spent for your kind review.
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Kunda1
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Re: FreeCAD learning curve

Postby Kunda1 » Tue May 07, 2019 6:16 pm

Thanks to GSOC and a lot more organization, we will have more testing framework capabilities. Of course we always could use the help of more hands in this regard. 'Cheap seats' are cheap for a reason. If you want to see some changes roll up your sleeves and lets see your experience and expertise put in to action. If not, feel free to stay in the 'cheap seat' section.
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HarryGeier
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Re: FreeCAD learning curve

Postby HarryGeier » Wed May 08, 2019 5:48 am

oldcoder wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 9:58 pm
Gentlemen,

1. you do not have a firm spec or goal.. devs just contribute what they want.
This is an opensource system, where everyone who wants to add just adds. There is no team or leadership that rules or regulates anything ( except code checks ). I know about many other opensource efforts that are stuck or even died or desintegrated into several forks..just because the volunteers did not like the regulations etc.
As soon as someone brings up an idea here, which is possible to create , mostly someone jumps in and realizes it.

2. You spend too much time adding 'neat and cool' features that no one can use yet because they can't get the basics to work.
I create lot´s of small projects with FreeCAD , and others do quite complex projects.Thus this can´t be true. Many users who ask for help, beeing stuck on "basic" problems , just never looked into the WIKI, never watched tutorials ( or unfortunately, the wrong ones ). This simply cannot work. Freecad is somewhat more complex and powerful than most other REAL FREE cad tools around.
3. all your extra time is spent chasing bugs and patching things.
Where do you get this from ? How many patches or fixes have been released for 0.17 ? Who claimed he has no time for new developments due to fixing ?

You mention coordinate display missing in draft as a BUG. There is ONE single occurance of a sort of request findable via google on that matter. It´s a neat feature for a few users to could be added, not a bug . If you like to have it, request it and probably someone takes it up.

We had a similar discussion a while ago, where someone came in and tried to suggest he would be the one and only team manager to bring FreeCAD up to speed. This is , as i assume, not even the goal of the most developers here. FreeCAD grows by contributions of skilled programmers who also use and want to improve freecad . Nothing is more boring than someone telling you WHAT to do in your LEISURE time, and i also assume that i would not contribute anything anywhere that is not of some sort of fun to me. I do, as i must for living, create programs and similar things for my employers, but i get a lot of money for that. When is spend my time in contributing help, wiki and tutorial stuff , i get no money but i get fun time. I would not do that if i would be told by someone what to do.

Harry
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