[Discussion] Defining core workbenches

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yorik
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Re: [Discussion] Defining core workbenches

Postby yorik » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:46 pm

My 2 cents on this discussion:

Indeed FreeCAD is hard to learn for newcomers. We all know that. I think the base of vocx's proposal, to separate things that a newcomer needs to learn, from the things one could go after later, is a very good idea. But I would maybe even remove Draft from the core workbenches, I think. I gave a lot of FreeCAD courses and workshops already, and if it's a short one, I go basically over PartDesign, and that's it. MANY people out there only use PartDesign.

Now I'm not sure this requires big changes and big heated discussions. It's basically a couple of lines to reorder in the list of workbenches. BTW, I think I would also list all the addons there... Kunda1 and me, who are basically the two people who manage addons, can take care of maintaining the list updated...

Other point: in matter of documentation, I have read many times people saying how much it is important to have docs and tutorials written by people who are new to the application. The "fresh" look that someone new can have is crucially necessary in order to achieve better user-friendliness. We long-time users are all somehow "corrupted" by the deeper knowledge that we have of FreeCAD. That doesn't mean someone new is always right, of course, but I don't think the short experience of someone with FreeCAD is something that should invalidate his/her opinions.

To resume, I think this is a good idea, that has no impact on existing users, but that might ease things a bit for newcomers. I didn't like much the separation inside the WB selector inside FreeCAD itself, though, because that menu is already very long if you have a couple of addons installed, this would make it even bigger. We'd need to think of something better there..
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Re: [Discussion] Defining core workbenches

Postby jpg87 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:57 pm

yorik wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:46 pm
Indeed FreeCAD is hard to learn for newcomers. We all know that. I think the base of vocx's proposal, to separate things that a newcomer needs to learn, from the things one could go after later, is a very good idea. But I would maybe even remove Draft from the core workbenches, I think. I gave a lot of FreeCAD courses and workshops already, and if it's a short one, I go basically over PartDesign, and that's it. MANY people out there only use PartDesign.
Now I'm not sure this requires big changes and big heated discussions.
Phew! I am happy to finally see some wise words.

yorik wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:46 pm
That doesn't mean someone new is always right, of course, but I don't think the short experience of someone with FreeCAD is something that should invalidate his/her opinions.
+1
yorik wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:46 pm
I think this is a good idea, that has no impact on existing users, but that might ease things a bit for newcomers.
I share this point of view that it is necessary as much as possible to facilitate the task of newcomers, especially those who have no or little experience in CAD. I think it's good to graduate the FreeCAD discovery by allowing them to get results quickly, but also from hindsight, so tools to understand the possible workflows.
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vocx
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Re: [Discussion] Defining core workbenches

Postby vocx » Sun Nov 04, 2018 10:04 pm

yorik wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:46 pm
...
WB selector inside FreeCAD ...that menu is already very long if you have a couple of addons installed, this would make it even bigger. We'd need to think of something better there..
You can have not one, but two workbench selectors. One for the core workbenches, plus auxiliary, and another one for the specialist workbenches and addons. At this point it becomes better to select the workbench from a menu next to Macro, that you can open and expand, instead of using the current selector thingy. The current workbench selector could be used only for displaying purposes, that is, to indicate which workbench is active.
FreeCad_menu_workbench_selector.png
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Re: [Discussion] Defining core workbenches

Postby jpg87 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 10:14 pm

vocx wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:07 pm
That website is beautiful. The way it describes the PartDesign workbench is amazing. It must have been a lot of work to set up all the graphics nicely, well done!
I don't know why it couldn't be done in the wiki. It seems to rely on simple links, going forward and backwards in a sequential fashion. The wiki could do that with appropriate navigation boxes. In any case, is your website already mentioned in the wiki? It should be.
I like that my presentation corresponds to screen pages and that the layout is not bothered by the size of the screen (I am a bit rigid for that!).
On the other hand I rely on a structure that I had developed years ago to produce training materials. I did not have the courage to learn new rules.
But if someone can help me create my presentation template in the wiki I am not opposed to transferring it, if other potential users think that it can be useful.
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Re: [Discussion] Defining core workbenches

Postby triplus » Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:25 am

vocx wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:20 am
triplus wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:12 am
As for my own preference. Alphabetically sorted list of modules/workbenches works for me (for now).
What would take you to decide using a different organization? Like, if the number of workbenches grew to 30 or so? That "for now" tells me you would consider some other type of organization.
Likely there are 30 modules/workbenches available for FreeCAD already. From my point of view ideally all of them would be listed on a single page (alphabetically sorted by default). I likely wouldn't introduce categories. As they are rather meaningless in the end? And can add to complexity and confusion and not to reduce it? Something like this for example should work:

https://apps.nextcloud.com/

To get alphabetically sorted list by default. And there are some sorting filters like "popular" and "recent". BUT there are other issues involved. Like such solution would need to be made and maintained. Most of FreeCAD end users don't want to use features that are not available by default. In the past couple of years little was done to encourage quality upstream (feature) contributions. If the overall number of features is growing. Having 10 workbenches instead of 30 comes down to 10 workbenches being much more feature packed. And at some point you end up having too much features per workbench. You need to start mixing FEM and Path oriented features as you need to put them somewhere. Such organization can quickly become a problem leading to discussions such as are features (now workbenches) the problem? And we shouldn't be making more of them? For "making FreeCAD more new user friendly"? Well that just doesn't add up, does it? How can a missing feature for some use case be a new user friendly approach?

Bottom line. FreeCAD end users will likely need to cope with the "workbench concept" in the foreseeable future. And will have to determine their own point of interest. Changing default workbench from Start to PartDesign likely wouldn't make much difference. As for workbench management. End user can already customize the default workbench selector or to use more specialized solutions such as:

Image

Selector toolbar

Image

TabBar
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Re: [Discussion] Defining core workbenches

Postby kkremitzki » Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:42 am

The Nextcloud example you linked has categories, though. What makes you say they would be 'rather meaningless in the end'? I believe they would be rather meanginful in the present term. Sure, they could, in general, perhaps add complexity and confusion, but will this particular proposed categorization? I don't think so. Also, I don't think anybody is talking about combining workbenches...
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Re: [Discussion] Defining core workbenches

Postby triplus » Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:48 am

kkremitzki wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:42 am
The Nextcloud example you linked has categories, though.
More general approach is used and for different purposes. From FreeCAD point of view therefore under for example "user interface" category/tag modules such as selector toolbar and TabBar would be listed. Assembly category/tag would list different workbenches for assembly purposes. Likely there would be a category/tag named "featured" or "available by default". To quickly list modules and their corresponding workbenches available by default. This is rather normal and common sense approach in the end. Grouping similar (area) functionality under the same category/tag in some "software store". After install procedure such categories/tags are not reflected anymore on the NextCloud navigation bar.

What is proposed above with the "core" approach is to gear (new) end users towards some workflow. Like gearing new users towards PartDesign workbench. Advertising it as a "core" workbench. That is what i find rather meaningless. As if that is the goal. Much more effective way would be to set PartDesign workbench as default workbench. Instead of making up some artificial categories and criteria that in the end leave much room for interpretation and ambiguity. On the Wiki PartDesign workbench could be promoted to the top.
Also, I don't think anybody is talking about combining workbenches...
I wanted to give some perspective. On why there are that many workbenches in FreeCAD. And what potential problems would likely be discussed if we would have less of them. I am actually not against combining workbenches. But i feel that is more suitable task for the end user. Customization. What i know likely won't happen anytime soon is combining FEM, Path, Transportation, Arch, PartDesign... related features under one workbench and to provide that by default. If you don't want to do that and you still want all the functionality. You need current 30 workbenches. Each i guess being a category of its own. And specialized features grouped underneath it. From new user point of view therefore there is no way around that. You need to understand it. As this is how FreeCAD is currently made.
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Re: [Discussion] Defining core workbenches

Postby kkremitzki » Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:17 am

I think there's a good compromise available here which IIRC was sort of proposed earlier by vocx.

Just to the left of the current workbench dropdown, we could add another dropdown menu. This dropdown menu would act as a filter for workbenches. The first, default option, would be "Filter: Alphabetical". This would mean the current workbench dropdown, by default, would act the same as it does now. Then, we could have the option "Filter: Core". This should, IMO, include workbenches like Draft, but not Arch, because Arch builds on Draft, and Sketcher, but not Part Design, for the same reason. If this option is selected, the workbench dropdown is reduced to a more manageable amount, which would be helpful to direct beginners on which workbenches to explore first. Then, we could have "Filter: Specialist" (or use another term, that's a separate debate.) This would exclude the core workbenches and only show the workbenches for special interests like architecture (Arch), engineering (FEM), or manufacturing (Path). The same goes for "Filter: Auxiliary", and we should also include "Filter: Extensions", which would be a nice way to show which 3rd party workbenches you have installed--we can't do that in an easy way currently.

The matter of which workbenches should show with each selection of the workbench filter dropdown is separate from the matter of whether or not such a filter dropdown should exist. Given that we could add new, useful features with it, and it would, by default, behave the same as it does now, makes this proposition hard to argue against, IMO.
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Re: [Discussion] Defining core workbenches

Postby furti » Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:14 am

I like the filter approach. But i dont think a "Filter: Core" makes much sense here. What is the point of having "Sketcher" in the list but not "Part" or "PartDesign"? I think this will confuse newcomers even more. Now you can draw 2D geometry but no way to create 3D geometry out of it.

Maybe "Filter: Mechanical engeneering", "Filter: 2D Construction", "Filter: Architecture" would be better. This will make it possible to also show external workbenches like for example flamingo tools for the Architecture filter.
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Re: [Discussion] Defining core workbenches

Postby triplus » Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:29 pm

furti wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:14 am
I like the filter approach. But i dont think a "Filter: Core" makes much sense here. What is the point of having "Sketcher" in the list but not "Part" or "PartDesign"? I think this will confuse newcomers even more. Now you can draw 2D geometry but no way to create 3D geometry out of it.
Exactly. Intentions behind the proposal are likely good. Lets make new user experience better. But the solutions (as proposed) could be introducing more and not less confusion.
Maybe "Filter: Mechanical engeneering", "Filter: 2D Construction", "Filter: Architecture" would be better. This will make it possible to also show external workbenches like for example flamingo tools for the Architecture filter.
Note that currently we don't have more (except for drawing purposes) modules tackling the same area available by default. And on the Wiki (the discussed workbenches page) we currently only list modules, that are available by default in FreeCAD. Therefore before we start listing all available modules it is rather pointless to try to categorize them. As we would likely end up needing the same amount of categories/tags as workbenches. In addition modules/workbenches are usually named appropriately already. Such as Arch, Draft, Ship, Sketcher, Surface, FEM ... Creating category Architecture and adding Arch workbench in it would therefore likely just add a bit of weight.

I have seen in another thread some are trying to remove Ship module from default set of modules. Therefore i guess best to wait and see, if and when that will happen, if the documentation for Ship module will be removed after. Or if it will stay and that will give a clear signal it's time to start and list all modules on that Wiki page. Not just default ones. If we would list all of them, introducing category such as Assembly, could start to make sense. As you could list Assembly 2, A2plus, Assembly 3, Manipulator ... workbenches underneath it. But this things usually take (much) time to mature and to happen.