I really like the idea of the Thingtracker Network
. I think it is a good idea to decentralize the publication and hosting of CAD models, in order to avoid walled gardens
I therefore started to write some Software to support this movement. Although still in an early stage, I now have a everything that is necessary to be useful and useable.
The Thingtracker network is built upon the concept of Trackers, which are JSON documents that contain metadata about models, like URLs, a description, tags, license information and so on. Trackers can also reference other Trackers.
is a web app whose job it is to know as many trackers as possible, and which provides full text search for all parts contained in these trackers. One can submit URLs of trackers to the collector to tell it about them. An instance of a thingcollector is running here
. It currently knows about four trackers, currently containing only a few dozen models and "things".
is a web app whose job it is to showcase models. The name is a portmanteau of Cabinet and CAD. One can publish models on a CADinet, at the moment only via a REST API. So a instance of a CADinet is a bit like a small Thingiverse. But in contrast to Thingiverse, a CADinet publishes a Tracker, which can be submitted to a thingcollector to make all models on the CADinet available in the ThingTrackerNetwork. An instance of a CADinet is running here
Both the thingcollector and the CADinet are easily deployable in the OpenShift PaaS
, i.e. it is very easy to run your own instances of these apps. It should also be rather easy to run them on your own server.
The last puzzle piece is CADinet-FreeCAD
, a FreeCAD macro that uses the API provided by CADinet to easily publish models there. Parts of it are strongly inspired by the WebGL exporter of FreeCAD written by Yorik.
At the moment this is very much an experiment and has many rough edges, but I invite you to test it and give me feedback. Please don't trust it too much and don't use it on models that you don't want to be publicly available.
To get started, just follow the instructions given here from here
. You can use the test instance of CADinet
I believe this could be a very useful addition to the FreeCAD ecosystem. For example, it makes it very easy to share models, either for support purposes in the forum or for the user showcases. Or one could think about a distributed version of the FreeCAD starting parts library, where one can easily insert models from the Thingtracker Network.