2014 Google Summer of Code

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brlcad
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2014 Google Summer of Code

Postby brlcad » Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:11 am

I know most everyone here is probably at least peripherally familiar with BRL-CAD, so I'll skip an elaborate introduction. I'm the project lead and I'm hoping to collaborate more than we've done in the past. Towards that end I'm wondering if there's any interest amongst FreeCAD core developers to participate in GSoC this year? What I'd like to propose, assuming we get accepted, is participation through BRL-CAD.

Essentially, we've participated in the Google Summer of Code since 2008 and more recently have started serving as an umbrella organization to other active open source CAx efforts. We set up a similar arrangement last year with the STEPcode project and the logistics worked out well (the student is now a community manager). This year, I'm looking to expand the collaboration with other notable efforts.

This is not entirely altruistic. The idea would be to encourage development that is either immediately or might someday lead to better collaboration. The downside is obviously not having your name directly listed on the Google Melange site, but the upside is almost certain participation. You'd at least get code out of it, maybe a new long-term developer.

I know the topic of GSoC has come up in the past here, and there's been resistance. The program's merits and costs are, of course, yours to navigate -- whether you consider participation a worthwhile activity. If this notion of participation through BRL-CAD sounds interesting, there would necessarily be more logistics and understandings to establish so we're all on the same page.

Please discuss amongst yourselves with/without me and let me know if whomever you consider your core developers are unanimously interested (we don't want to cause problems), and we can go further. Hope we can make this happen!

Cheers!
Sean
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jriegel
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Re: 2014 Google Summer of Code

Postby jriegel » Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:07 pm

Hi Sean,
thanks for the offer!

Actually I'm personally relative critical with GSoC. Setting up a student on the relative complex matter of CAD programming take some time, and this time I use better coding. Also the paper work eat some time. And the question is how many of the hired guns stay in the project after the summer is gone? But if one of my fellows in FreeCAD want to participate, I have nothing against it! Maybe in Arch or Drawing?

I'm always open to collaboration in FOSS. In our case it's a bit tricky, since we basically do the same thing (CAD-modeler) but with very different approaches and different history. There are obvious things, like STEPcode, where it make sense to collaborate. But other then this? What do you have in mind?

This thought of an "Umbrella project" is very interesting. I think such a bundling and coordinating the CAx efforts in FOSS is a worthwhile task on its own. But it would need a different name. I don't think I want to see FreeCAD subsumed under BRL-CAD ;). To be honest, excuse my bluntness, I don't see BRL-CAD going anywhere. Script based CSG modeling was abandoned by the industry 20 years ago, and trying to teach a 30 year old code base new tricks is a hopeless task. Your supported system list reads like a museum inventory and I'm sure the US military complex have abandoned BRL-CAD a long time ago.

Actually I hope FreeCAD becomes that umbrella project. We already incorporate and use a lot of FOSS CAx libs (OCE, StepCode, NumPy,mathplotlib,CalculiX, SalomeMesh, NetGen, Povray, Luxrender, IFCOpenShell, and many more) and we have modules in a lot of engineering fields (FEM, Architecture, CAM, Drawings, Meshes, point-clouds, ....).

So again, excuse my bluntness, I know BRL-CAD is your baby now, but thats my opinion.... :oops:

But maybe some of our community have a different opinion!?

Cheers
Jürgen
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mrlukeparry
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Re: 2014 Google Summer of Code

Postby mrlukeparry » Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:27 pm

I think this year I'd be in the position to be a mentor having stability as a PhD student (i.e. no insane summer holidays anymore) and have previously suggested that we should try and get more people involved in smaller tasks. Also I think it would help me personally to help supervise someone career-wise.

At the same time I wonder if FreeCAD is ready... One of the problems I've seen with GSOC in the past I've seen from other projects is in-completion and sometimes code never sees the light of the day - tasks should be manageable and feasible. In the past there has been propositions for coding bounties in the FreeCAD project but financially what other incentive does being in this programme offer? I think I'd sooner contribute bounty with beer money :)

Wrt. BRL CAD I'd only think there would be something to gain if there was a shared library. For example, for our Drawing Module we need a LGPL .dwg exporter ideally.

I agree with what Juergen said, I would sooner have someone contribute little-by-little over the long term land help them out through the forum than try and squeeze something out of them in over summer and not have the code maintained in the long run. I also think someone who has a genuine interest in CAD/CAx or engineering would be better so that they discover FreeCAD out of their own interest.

Luke
keithsloan52
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Re: 2014 Google Summer of Code - STEP export

Postby keithsloan52 » Sat Jan 25, 2014 11:37 am

Had never heard of BRL-CAD so I downloaded and installed it.

First impressions was that it did not look easy to use and would probably have a step learning curve. To me it looked very dated, but of course I could be wrong on all these initial reactions.

My next reaction was if I had done some interesting stuff in BRL-CAD could I transfer it to FreeCAD, because it looks like some people at least have done some interesting stuff.

In my research I found this which includes a big initiative for STEP export see http://brlcad.org/wiki/Google_Summer_of ... Conversion

I think it would be good if somebody in the FreeCAD community would act as tester of FreeCAD imports of their STEP exports and either raise issues with them or somebody in FreeCAD who maintains STEP import.

I would volunteer myself, but I have Open University commitments from basically now till July 2015
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Re: 2014 Google Summer of Code

Postby jriegel » Sat Jan 25, 2014 12:03 pm

I think it would be good if somebody in the FreeCAD community would act as tester of FreeCAD imports of their STEP exports and either raise issues with them or somebody in FreeCAD who maintains STEP import.
No, not really. BRL-CAD uses the StepCode project:

http://stepcode.org/mw/index.php?title=STEPcode

BRL-CAD itself is a CSG modeler, which has the very special problem to support STEP. Cause STEP is BRep driven - as all modern modelers. So BRL-CAD has a very special problem there.

Im already in the process of incorporating portions of STEPcode into the Import module.
My next reaction was if I had done some interesting stuff in BRL-CAD could I transfer it to FreeCAD, because it looks like some people at least have done some interesting stuff.
I tried to find some models done in BRL-CAD, with very little luck. There are pictures of tanks and deep space probes, some STEP imported stuff, but not much else. Also tried to find tutorial in YouTube, again no luck. Only a nice promotion video.....

Did you model something?
Stop whining - start coding!
keithsloan52
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Re: 2014 Google Summer of Code

Postby keithsloan52 » Sat Jan 25, 2014 12:35 pm

jriegel wrote:
I think it would be good if somebody in the FreeCAD community would act as tester of FreeCAD imports of their STEP exports and either raise issues with them or somebody in FreeCAD who maintains STEP import.
No, not really. BRL-CAD uses the StepCode project:

http://stepcode.org/mw/index.php?title=STEPcode
True but their Summer of Code project if I understand it correctly is to develop code to export from BRL-CAD using the StepCode library,

My point and experience from developing a number of graphics import/export programs including ImportCSG for FreeCAD, is that it all very well writing the code. Its another big thing testing it. Okay they write an export program that uses StepCode and you modify the FreeCAD importer to also use StepCode. Does not mean that the two are going to work successfully together. Needs a lot of testing and in my opinion needs a tester/coordinator rather than a coder. Better to have coders sticking to coding.

Is there some compliance test STEP files anywhere?
I tried to find some models done in BRL-CAD, with very little luck. There are pictures of tanks and deep space probes, some STEP imported stuff, but not much else. Also tried to find tutorial in YouTube, again no luck. Only a nice promotion video.....
Did you model something?
Was just going by the pictures on their website. Did I modei something? No looked like too much effort to learn for me personally.
jmaustpc
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Re: 2014 Google Summer of Code

Postby jmaustpc » Sat Jan 25, 2014 3:20 pm

I learnt how to do some very simple stuff with BRL-CAD a few years ago, when FreeCAD was, I think, about 0.8 or 0.9.

At that time, with FreeCAD being very useless ... :oops: ... I spent some time with BRL. It was very difficult to learn to use, nothing like as easy as FreeCAD. They had a new GUI called Archer that was going to make it a lot easier, but at that time Archer did almost nothing, and even after all this time it seems to have advance very little. During the same period FreeCAD has gone from well ...remember 0.9? It did almost nothing with the GUI...to 0.14dev with a staggering array of features that rivals some commercial CAD software and in some areas exceeds them.

At that same time I tried to learn GCAD3D which had a steep learning curve, the other FreeCAD, and there was another one that refused to work and kept giving me Japanese error messages in its English version..so I couldn't even get it to start. I had a quick look at what is now LibreCAD but that's just a 2d drafting application not a 3d modeller.

After wasting time doing other things, and getting frustrated with the other applications, one day I came back and had another look at this FreeCAD which was then able to do do CSG in Part workbench with the GUI. I then started designing various things easily with basically no learning curve.

Then one day I saw some idiot post a highly inaccurate and derogatory post here telling the guys that FreeCAD was crap and you couldn't design anything with it. So I joined the forum and posted a messaging saying I liked it and had made heaps of things.......
kwahoo
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Re: 2014 Google Summer of Code

Postby kwahoo » Sat Jan 25, 2014 4:54 pm

jmaustpc wrote:I learnt how to do some very simple stuff with BRL-CAD a few years ago, when FreeCAD was, I think, about 0.8 or 0.9.

At that time, with FreeCAD being very useless ... :oops: ... I spent some time with BRL. It was very difficult to learn to use, nothing like as easy as FreeCAD. They had a new GUI called Archer that was going to make it a lot easier, but at that time Archer did almost nothing, and even after all this time it seems to have advance very little. During the same period FreeCAD has gone from well ...remember 0.9? It did almost nothing with the GUI...to 0.14dev with a staggering array of features that rivals some commercial CAD software and in some areas exceeds them.
I made simple conrod in BRL-CAD (in 2009, few monts before first FreeCAD attempts) and, man, that was hard. I would call BRL-CAD almost unusable.

I'm harsh but BRL-CAD goes nowhere, really. Students time on GSoC is wasted on BRL-CAD.
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jriegel
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Re: 2014 Google Summer of Code

Postby jriegel » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:32 pm

I discussed the STEP issue with the STEPcode guys here:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic ... 9wBOxGT5wc

They give me some pointer on free validation stuff! will be very useful later!
Stop whining - start coding!
jreinhardt
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Re: 2014 Google Summer of Code

Postby jreinhardt » Sat Jan 25, 2014 9:11 pm

This went slightly off topic. :) This thread is not about the question if BRL-CAD is useful or not, but about participation in the Google summer of code with a slot from BRL-CAD.

I guess BOLTS could be a thing that would make sense in this setting. Writing a backend for BRL-CAD might be a nice and doable project for a student. Also a larger userbase could lead to a more and better parts definitions, which is beneficial for all supported CAD tools (i.e. also FreeCAD).

However, I see a number of problems/difficulties/uncertainties:
1) I do not know whether I can allocate the resources necessary to mentor a student properly. Does anybody know how much time mentoring takes?
2) I do not know anything about BRL-CAD. So probably it would be good to have someone from BRL-CAD who is able to answer BRL-CAD questions.
BOLTS, standard parts library for FreeCAD Thread, Help with Translation