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There's ZenCad: https://mirmik.github.io/zencad/en/

I'm extremely impressed by what it tries to be, although I found it to be rather hit-and-miss stability-wise. Seems to be the work of a single gifted developer. I would love to see this tool mature because it's pretty much exactly what I want.

For programmatic mesh-based modeling - which is popular in the 3d-printing world but basically a non-starter for "real" CAD - Blender is starting to look quite promising. Blender's Python API is actually very nice for dealing with different coordinate systems (albeit a bit baroque when it comes to interacting with blender's knobs and buttons - although it's very discoverable thanks to the helpful API reference in the tooltips).

ZenCad seems to wrap OpenCASCADE [0], which is also used by e.g. FreeCAD. I can't help think FreeCAD could be awesome if it tried to do less. I wonder if you forked it, ripped out stuff for e.g. architecture/finite element analysis/CAM/CNC/etc, then you could spend time on the GUI experience, and end up with a nice CAD tool that works better for fewer use-cases.

[0] https://dev.opencascade.org/

I am incredibly glad someone not-me is wrapping OpenCASCADE. It's an incredibly powerful tool, but it's also kind of a beast of an ancient C++ library with all of the trappings that comes with, like its own version of smart pointers and years of accumulated presumably-unused cruft. You know you're in for a bad time when in 2020-something you have to explain to your bindgen what this is;

  #if defined (__alpha) || defined(DECOSF1)

For sure. I'm not trying to bash ZenCAD or FreeCAD or OpenCASCADE.

What I mean is there's clearly a want or need for open-source CAD packages; and it feels like it's holding the "makersphere" back. A lot of people still use Fusion360, because it works. The open-source options are OpenSCAD and FreeCAD. I doubt the amount of work and investment needed to replace OpenCASCADE would happen; at the same time OpenSCAD's engine clearly has some major limitations. So it's no wonder OpenCASCADE is used.

I want to like FreeCAD, but it's an insanely complicated piece of software. That leaves OpenSCAD for now. With ZenCAD, maybe rewriting stuff FreeCAD already does is worth it, but you have to worry about a small number of maintainers and adoption.

You might be interested in SALOME, which presents as a CFD pre/post-processor but - like most such software - has CAD functions as well. It also uses OpenCASCADE and actually shares a lot of code with FreeCAD. I found it to be rather more stable.


Thanks for sharing this, seems worth a try at least.

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