Philosophical thoughts (?) About FreeCAD.

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jpg87
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Philosophical thoughts (?) About FreeCAD.

Postby jpg87 » Sun May 09, 2021 8:15 am

Hello all,
this post is in no way a criticism of the work carried out by the various players in FreeCAD.

First of all, I note that overall, we do not know much about each other, about our respective training, which led us to discover FreeCAD, our expectations on the evolution of it, etc. .

Accordingly, here are a few words as far as I'm concerned:
I am French, and like many of my fellow citizens, I am not an expert in the use of English. So I use automatic translation tools, which despite their prowess can sometimes cause surprises ...
I am retired (67 years old). I taught "mechanical construction", that is to say initially technical drawing, technology, mechanics ..., then with the advent of computer science I discovered Computer Aided Drawing . I then taught for several decades "Engineering Sciences" and the use of computer tools (CAD, simulation and calculations of statics, kinematics, dynamics, resistance of materials).

How did I find out about FreeCAD?
After having used software like SolidWorks and Catia for many years, while for the rest I was a follower of free software like Open Office, Libre Office, but blocked by the French education system which like elsewhere swears by Microsoft, I periodically did research on the web to see if free CAD software appeared. My first steps with FreeCad (versions 0.13, 0.14) were disappointing because they did not correspond to my construction approach. Then one day, a miracle! PartDesign was born! And I was approaching retirement.

What have I done for FreeCAD?
I have no programming knowledge, so how do I participate?
As I was translating the wiki pages I needed for my own use, I realized that this could be my way of helping others. So I translated Yorik's book into French, then participated in the translation of many wiki pages, and finally built my website to try to respond to user requests. Why not develop the wiki? Because I had experience in building html pages based on superimposed layers that I do not know how to reproduce in the wiki and which are essential for me to express what I want to contribute.

Let's get to the point.
The many posts that I regularly consult on the forum show that a majority of participants know programming, if only in Python language. Me nothing. Not a scrap, except a few attempts by comparison and multiple tests for very few results.
I am therefore an ordinary user, a simple tool manipulator. But suddenly I ask myself a few questions.
Should a tool user understand the structure and internal organization of his tool in order to use it better? I readily admit that this can be a plus in some cases.
But let's take an example: a woodcarver uses a wood chisel. The designer of the wood chisel will strive to give it an ergonomic handle and a cutting edge adapted to the material to be worked to make it as sharp and as durable as possible. Will knowing the chemical composition of the blade material make the sculptor more skillful or more creative?
Another example: an excavator. The driver must be able to maneuver the machine by manipulating levers which are the interface (quickly forgotten) between his brain and the active part of his machine. Will he be more skilled at handling his machine because he will know the relationship between the pressure of the fluid and the force developed? or the internal organization of his machine?

What about FreeCAD in all of this?
I think the problem is the same when it comes to a CAD tool.
The average user must have in his hands a tool that allows him to represent his project as well as possible, according to the most concrete and instinctive reasoning possible.
For me, a mechanical designer who has worked with many novice learners, the workbench that comes closest to this point of view, at least as soon as the topological naming problem is solved, is PartDesign WB. Direct application of functionalities from faces, edges, reference geometries ... Any beginner who is not tense on his mouse and not wanting to try or experiment will be able to get started quickly. Of course, learning to analyze his needs and organize his approach will allow him to progress faster, but let's not forget that it is the first step that costs.
But does he have to know the architecture of the program that allowed him to reach his goal?

Concerning the assembly workbench.
The assembly WB responds to a similar approach: for a beginner, assembling objects in a virtual project is a building game. Bring two objects into contact on a flat face, align two bores to insert a hinge pin or a screw, prohibit movement by a stop, allow an object to rotate around an axis or a point ...
We must bear in mind that the goal is to make something concrete, therefore to start from real shapes, even if at the beginning these shapes are modeled by "exact" geometric shapes.
The assembly tool, like the design tool, must therefore remain as transparent as possible for the user in order to allow him to think "concrete" and to be as close as possible to the material on which he is working, even if it is virtual in the software.

Once the CAD "virus" has triggered the user's passion, there will always be time for them to dig deeper and seek to understand.

My conclusion: Does FreeCAD want to address only specialists or does it want to excite the greatest number?
My website : http://help-freecad-jpg87.fr updated 2021/05/27
chrisb
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Re: Philosophical thoughts (?) About FreeCAD.

Postby chrisb » Sun May 09, 2021 8:45 am

A post to be remembered when the next guy comes around the corner from some other CAD system. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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paullee
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Re: Philosophical thoughts (?) About FreeCAD.

Postby paullee » Sun May 09, 2021 11:04 am

jpg87 wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 8:15 am What have I done for FreeCAD?
I have no programming knowledge, so how do I participate?
As I was translating the wiki pages I needed for my own use, I realized that this could be my way of helping others. So I translated Yorik's book into French, then participated in the translation of many wiki pages, and finally built my website to try to respond to user requests.
I think this is already a great contribution :) Personally I have not done something on wiki (yet ?)
LHC
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Re: Philosophical thoughts (?) About FreeCAD.

Postby LHC » Sun May 09, 2021 12:35 pm

This is an excellent post. I've benefited greatly from jpg87s website and check back there regularly. The fact that he's translating everything from his native language to English is even more impressive.

There seems to be a lot of us pensioners on the forums in FreeCad - perhaps that's why it's such a great place. Along with years, we tend to have a lot of patience - whether it's spending days to figure out something that in the end we discover is a "known bug", or dealing with the ranting and raving of a young newcomer that' has not "seen it all" yet .....

Thanks to all who are plugging away to make the software better.
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onekk
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Re: Philosophical thoughts (?) About FreeCAD.

Postby onekk » Sun May 09, 2021 5:10 pm

Great post.

If there were more users like you, maybe able to do some decent documentation, and that will make the decision to give a little help on FreeCAD project, maybe FreeCAD will advance more quickly.

Documentation is one of the "weak point" of FreeCAD, or to better say, one of the point on which each efforts done will made FreeCAD more useful.

Your site is very impressive, very good work.

Regards

Carlo D.
Il mio Blog: https://onekk-maker.blogspot.com/

Introduzione a FreeCAD in Italiano: https://github.com/onekk/freecad-doc
freedman
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Re: Philosophical thoughts (?) About FreeCAD.

Postby freedman » Tue May 11, 2021 6:14 am

Does FreeCAD want to address only specialists or does it want to excite the greatest number?
I'm no expert here but I think the answer is both. The open source software allows a programmer to do almost anything and if you were a really motivated user and had no programming skills you could hire a programmer to build it for you.
I feel like PartDesign and the current GUI will get the job done for most new users. It's not perfect but all the tools are there so it's just a matter of training, there are some important features that are in the pull downs and special keystrokes and those take a while to find.

Once the topo-naming problem is fixed then we can remove alot of pressure from the forum customer service. Hopefully that energy can be diverted to advanced modeling and adding tools to help the work flow.
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Zolko
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Re: Philosophical thoughts (?) About FreeCAD.

Postby Zolko » Tue May 11, 2021 6:47 am

jpg87 wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 8:15 am My conclusion: Does FreeCAD want to address only specialists or does it want to excite the greatest number?
"FreeCAD" as a such doesn't "want" anything. As for FreeCAD developers, what benefit is there for them in a lot of users ? The benefit can come either from paying customers or from contributing users. But the stream of ex-fusion users who can't pay for their software and come here with requests that FreeCAD devs should work for them for free is something I can easily do without.

I think it should not be forgotten that this is free/open-source software, and that this has some philosophical meanings beyond the sheer numbers.
try the Assembly4 workbench for FreCAD v0.19
install with Tools > Addon Manager > Assembly4 — tutorials here and here
chrisb
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Re: Philosophical thoughts (?) About FreeCAD.

Postby chrisb » Tue May 11, 2021 7:10 am

Does FreeCAD want to address only specialists or does it want to excite the greatest number?
I don't think it is one of them and not both either. What it needs are enthusiasts. People being delighted by what they get, or at least happy. That's one of the important rewards the developers and helpers get for their important investment of time and brains.

Trying to reach the greatest number leads to a consumer approach where everything should like in a top level pay software, possibly even better, but at no cost. And please faster.
All those people coming whith requests that FreeCAD should behave like software X, Y, or Z have probably never tried to go to one of those companies and request something that FreeCAD can do better (I'm thinking e.g. of some sketcher functions - of course :) ).

I would like to ban the notion of a "feature request" completely from the tracker and every discussion. There is nothing to request! A far better notion would be "feature proposal", which means "I have an idea how to improve FreeCAD, and I hope others think the same, and hopefully there is a developer who can and will implement it".
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Zolko
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Re: Philosophical thoughts (?) About FreeCAD.

Postby Zolko » Tue May 11, 2021 1:25 pm

jpg87 wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 8:15 am My conclusion: Does FreeCAD want to address only specialists or does it want to excite the greatest number?
an interresting read on this subject:

https://www.theregister.com/2021/05/10/ ... y_problem/

Funding for OSS projects is typically dire. In 2019, developer André Staltz collected data from Open Collective and GitHub to assess project revenues. Over 50 per cent of projects couldn't sustain their maintainers above the poverty line, while 31 per cent generated enough for a salary considered unacceptable in the industry

So I would answer your question in a Darwinian style: FreeCAD, as any ecosystem, wants to survive.
try the Assembly4 workbench for FreCAD v0.19
install with Tools > Addon Manager > Assembly4 — tutorials here and here
freedman
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Re: Philosophical thoughts (?) About FreeCAD.

Postby freedman » Tue May 11, 2021 5:15 pm

Since we are being philosophical; One test of FreeCADs open-source is coming up. When topo-naming is fixed there will be an opportunity for all the users with some programming skills to make a decision, do I continue on with FreeCAD and support the current GUI (and do feature requests that go unheard) or do I invent my own. I read the forum most all the time and I would say that 50% of the post are users wanting to change the way the GUI works. I think it's human nature because we all think we have a better way to do things, especially engineers. :)

Currently only realthunder has ventured out, but after topo-renaming is fixed there could be a dozen or more completely usable applications of the program. The core will be solid so the user can build a solid modeling system and make it work their way. I know I would like things set up differently like many others so maybe in the future we will be discussing the new/best GUI.

Let me think, do I call mine FreedmanCAD. :) Hmmm...
Last edited by freedman on Tue May 11, 2021 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.