Switching between workbenches using Part

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Philip Rayment
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:11 am

Re: Switching between workbenches using Part

Post by Philip Rayment » Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:22 pm

Following my previous post above, I'd suggest a wizard asking the (new) user a series of questions about what they want to do. The following is just to give you an idea:
  • What type of object would you like to draw or design?
    • A house or other building
    • A machine built of numerous parts
    • A single component
    • A piece of furniture
    • A vehicle
    • etc.
  • What sort of design would you like?
    • A two-dimensional drawing
    • A three-dimensional model
    • etc.
  • What would you like to do with this design?
    • Create an image to publish or show others
    • Create a detailed design to get manufactured
    • Print a 3D model
    • etc.
  • Do you want to...
    • Start from scratch
    • Import an existing 3D design
    • Start with a floor plan?
    • etc.
  • etc.
Which questions are asked would depend on previous answers, so the user would not be asked about printing a 3D model if all they wanted was a 2D drawing, for example. But not just omit irrelevant questions, but if, for example, they want to design a house, then ask questions relevant only to designing a house, i.e. a branching tree of questions.

When sufficient questions have been asked, the wizard would then advise (for example):
"Start with drawing the parts in the Sketcher workbench then complete the parts in the Part Design workbench, then use the A2plus workbench to put it all together (you'll need to install that workbench first)." That answer could be quite a bit more detailed, including linking to one or more tutorials relevant to what they want to do.

The wizard could even then hide all the workbenches and perhaps some tools that are not needed (hide them for that project, that is), to reduce confusion.

Yeah, I know, this takes effort and the programmers are volunteers and already busy fixing bugs or adding long-awaited featured, etc. etc., all of which are completely valid concerns, but it's just a suggestion if someone feels that it's a good enough idea for them to put the effort into.
openBrain
Posts: 3406
Joined: Fri Nov 09, 2018 5:38 pm

Re: Switching between workbenches using Part

Post by openBrain » Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:02 pm

Philip Rayment wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:22 pm
Following my previous post above, I'd suggest a wizard asking the (new) user a series of questions about what they want to do.
Why not but shall IMHO be done on webpages:
  • Accessible without having FC installed
  • Easy to create, improve, link to tutos & examples
  • No FC installer overhead
  • More people can contribute, developers don't need to bother with that
  • Easy to display in FC with embedded HTML viewer
fmluizao
Posts: 63
Joined: Tue Nov 19, 2019 7:16 pm

Re: Switching between workbenches using Part

Post by fmluizao » Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:08 pm

openBrain wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:02 pm
Why not but shall IMHO be done on webpages:
I thought the same. Maybe some recomendation in the docs of which workbenches are more suited to different kinds of jobs
vocx
Posts: 3338
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:18 pm

Re: Switching between workbenches using Part

Post by vocx » Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:26 pm

Philip Rayment wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:32 am
... I would help with documentation. That's something that I don't mind doing a bit of. However, as a beginner, I'm not in a position to know what to write!
This is exactly what a project like FreeCAD needs. You are the beginner who can document things that beginners need. Developers and experienced users don't have this point of view. They have long forgotten what it feels to be a beginner because they think it's very obvious. Seriously, you can read some replies from experienced users and they will tell you, "in my opinion, the FreeCAD documentation is pretty good", but they don't realize they are completely biased with their experience.
I'll grant that such a table needn't cover any but the "main" ones (whatever that might be). ...
There is no consensus about what is a "main" workbench and what is not. I tried. [Discussion] Defining core workbenches

People get heated up when you tell them we shouldn't have many workbenches by default, or that a workbench is not part of the core system. This discussion needs to be revisited.

You can create a floor plan with Arch and TechDraw. Arch SectionPlane creates the sectional view, and TechDraw displays it. Once you understand this, it's pretty simple.
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vocx
Posts: 3338
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:18 pm

Re: Switching between workbenches using Part

Post by vocx » Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:33 pm

Philip Rayment wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:22 pm
Following my previous post above, I'd suggest a wizard asking the (new) user a series of questions about what they want to do. ...
That's a great idea. Please get to it.
Feature request: "Engineer UX Mode"

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triplus
Posts: 9278
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2011 4:45 pm

Re: Switching between workbenches using Part

Post by triplus » Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:59 pm

We get this question from time to time, on how to organize things better. There is always room left for improvements and new things can for sure be tried out. Usually somebody has to do them, though. Some common things to take into consideration:
  • FreeCAD by now has a 1000+ commands.
  • Most people don't want to use commands, that are not a part of FreeCAD upstream.
  • Python modules and functionality can be developed outside of FreeCAD upstream, C++ functionality more or less has to be upstreamed to be used and usefull.
  • If you ask a 100 people, on how FreeCAD should be composed by default, you usually get a 100 variants listed.
Currently FreeCAD is a modular CAD framework, a developer usually creates a module, with some scope set and creates some commands and functionality for it. People gain access to such (organized) functionality through a concept of workbenches. Therefore yes, users are expected to do some workbench switching. Being confronted with 1000+ commands in a single scope, that would quickly become a bit overwhelming.

P.S. Introducing "modes", FreeCAD purposes, ... that in my opinion doesn't make it easier for new users, as the choice is still there. And to switch to desired functionality, well that is much more involved action, compared to switching workbench.
Philip Rayment
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:11 am

Re: Switching between workbenches using Part

Post by Philip Rayment » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:39 am

openBrain wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:02 pm
Why not but shall IMHO be done on webpages:
I thought of that, and yes, that does have the advantages that you list. The down side is that it (presumably) can't interact with the software and hide the parts that the new user doesn't need to worry about yet. I think that aspect could be very useful.
On the other hand, perhaps the idea could be tried in a web page, and once it's proved its worth and refined, it could be made into a built-in wizard.

vocx wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:26 pm
Philip Rayment wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:32 am
... I would help with documentation. That's something that I don't mind doing a bit of. However, as a beginner, I'm not in a position to know what to write!
This is exactly what a project like FreeCAD needs. You are the beginner who can document things that beginners need. Developers and experienced users don't have this point of view. They have long forgotten what it feels to be a beginner because they think it's very obvious. Seriously, you can read some replies from experienced users and they will tell you, "in my opinion, the FreeCAD documentation is pretty good", but they don't realize they are completely biased with their experience.
That is a very valid point. However, it doesn't get around the problem I stated. There is no way that I have enough knowledge of the software to produce such documentation.
I have created manuals and guides to software that I know intimately, but I'm helped by the fact that I'm talking about a work environment where the users come to me for advice and help, so I know what their needs are.
So an experienced user can do it, if they can put themselves into the mind of a new user (but granted, many do find that difficult).
Also, this forum could be much of the source of that feedback from new users.
But perhaps the best solution to draw from all that is that what it might need is a collaboration between a new user and an experienced user. A new user could not do it by himself.
Philip Rayment
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:11 am

Re: Switching between workbenches using Part

Post by Philip Rayment » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:55 am

openBrain wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:02 pm
Philip Rayment wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:22 pm
Following my previous post above, I'd suggest a wizard asking the (new) user a series of questions about what they want to do.
Why not but shall IMHO be done on webpages:
  • Accessible without having FC installed
  • Easy to create, improve, link to tutos & examples
  • No FC installer overhead
  • More people can contribute, developers don't need to bother with that
  • Easy to display in FC with embedded HTML viewer
Further thoughts on this:
  • This wizard would be intended for someone to use after they have FreeCAD installed, so they can get straight into it after running the wizard.
    Otherwise you'll be telling them things that they can't yet look at to understand. I'd suggest that a wizard that someone runs before installing the software should only focus on whether FreeCAD meets their needs, not how to use it.
    • For example, one question that I thought of could be "Do you want animated people in your design?", which if a user said they wanted, the wizard would say "FreeCAD is not the software for that. Please consider [a list of other applications]".
  • Although a web-page could be created by people unfamiliar with Python and the internals of FreeCAD, the decision-making part of the wizard (i.e. what questions to ask based on previous answers, and what final advice to give) requires programming. Yes, that could probably be (and would probably have to be) Javascript, but that still puts some limitations on how many people would be capable of creating this.
drmacro
Posts: 465
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2014 4:35 pm

Re: Switching between workbenches using Part

Post by drmacro » Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:36 pm

Unless these tools had a "I know I'm a beginner, but, I don't care, give me all of it" button, I would find this "newby" tool most annoying. Being able to toggle newby and expert mode would be essential.

As mentioned in other posts, this creates a hidden needle in the haystack situation, not just a needle in the haystack. It also makes it very hard to help any one because the helper has no idea what is turned off or what the users GUI looks like, etc. (This is already the case with lots of the tutorials on line where the presenter has customized the GUI of the presenting installation.) So, a selection that puts things in a "default" state would be desirable.

Much of the noob confusion is caused because there are lots of "click here, there, over here, then this and LOOK! there's my thing". With no why behind the thought process of why the presenter used Part WB, Part Design WB (or why they used both...), or even why the part is designed that way (i.e. I did this first because I need to do this other later. And I did that because that is common design practice, and this because it is the work flow that produces the best results in FreeCAD.).

And, as mentioned earlier, with, commercial packages, the end users are typically sent to a week/s long class where the user is started off with baby steps and guided past the "oooooh, so many buttons" stage. (I did this when I was a CAD trainer/consultant in my past life and have dealt with it while teaching people to use 32/64/128 channel audio mixers and audio DAW software.) Yep, some hand holding is nice at that stage of a new users experience. You'll also note that those classes don't expect the user attending the "Introductory Class" to jump in and design complete designs early on. Typically, a small uncomplicated piece is used to instruct the software use cases so the steps of modeling the piece don't cloud the "here's how to use the software" part.

Yes, there are some things that FreeCAD could make more inviting for the new user. And, explanations of why there is a Part WB and a Part Design WB would be good (and do exist in various threads on this forum). But, even with things hidden by "design intent" criteria specified by the new user, the new user is not going be any better off. The "oooooh, so many buttons" stage is still there and now the user gets very quickly to a point of "how do I do x" and they need to go searching, only to discover they can't find it because it was turned off by the "design intent" criteria they specified.

Ok, so this turned in to a long ramble...and may actually be incoherent. :oops: But, I'll leave it here for others to eviscerate. :lol:
PiotrG
Posts: 30
Joined: Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:57 am

Re: Switching between workbenches using Part

Post by PiotrG » Sat Jan 25, 2020 1:51 pm

drmacro wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:36 pm
And, explanations of why there is a Part WB and a Part Design WB would be good
As a new (even not yet) user (with no 3D CAD experience) I think the only confusion is probably between Part and PartDesign. I think it would be helpful if in both WB documentation there would be a link to separate page discussing deeply the differences between them (from the user point of view and not from the internal working point of view).
When I have read at:
https://www.freecadweb.org/wiki/Part_Module
that "the PartDesign Workbench provides a more modern workflow to constructing shapes" I just decided I wont to be more modern so I will be using only PartDesign (skipping Part will reduce needed time to learn FC). I spend only few hours only at Saturdays for learning FC so after month or two I get into my first tries and fast got into a problem I have to asked at forum:
https://forum.freecadweb.org/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=42260
My conclusion from that is: What I need can't be done with PartDesign (at least in 0.18) so I have to learn Part (and Draft as a kind of completion).
That completely differs from what I thought just reading the WB descriptions.
Today is the next Saturday I can have some time so I am continuing making my crib of Part and Draft (I will be using FC very rarely so I have to have a crib to be able to fast remind after a year or two the important things). I like to have a full overview so I am making notes of all functions even I will never use them. When I will finish I will try again to do a 2 colored model :)
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