NEW TO FREECAD? - START HERE

Have some feature requests, feedback, cool stuff to share, or want to know where FreeCAD is going? This is the place.
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obelisk79
Posts: 308
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 9:01 pm

NEW TO FREECAD? - START HERE

Post by obelisk79 »

Opening Statement
We (the FreeCAD community) understand that many hobbyists, freelance designers and small businesses often seek refuge from the high costs and licensing restrictions of commercial software, or perhaps you merely chose FreeCAD because you believe in the philosophy behind FOSS. In either case, WELCOME! This write-up is designed to help set you on the path of success and establish some realistic expectations while diving into the FreeCAD Way™, which is most likely quite a bit different than what you may have grown accustomed to with other popular CAD software.

Disclaimer:
While we welcome and encourage community growth and participation, demands, emotional rants and wild claims are generally poorly received as our community is made up of many experienced and passionate supporters of FreeCAD who have heard similar statements many times over. If you find a feature lacking, or something which is an annoying bug for you, we highly encourage you to consider getting engaged with the code itself. FreeCAD is largely developed by a relatively small group of talented people who all have day jobs, families and other interests beyond just programming on-demand. If you have the skills (Python/C++) and motivation to participate, your contributions can help make FreeCAD even better than it is today. You can find tracked bugs/feature requests here.

Learning Resources:
Official:
Un-Official:
The following YouTube Channels have reasonably good quality content focused around FreeCAD
MangoJelly Solutions (several beginner, intermediate and advanced video playlists)
Joko EngineeringHelp (intermediate/advanced videos)
Brodie Fairhall (A couple of videos helping Fusion 360 users transition to FreeCAD)
and more... it is recommended to ignore any tutorials not based on version 0.18 or newer.

Before you post with feedback we (the FreeCAD community) would like to address some common items:

1. "Can FreeCAD do XYZ?"
FreeCAD already has the ability to do the following type of work:
-Spline-based parametric modeling using Part, Part Design and Sketcher workbenches
-Surface/Curves modeling
-Mesh import/modifications
-Assembly simulation (3 approaches, A2+, ASM3, and ASM4 are all actively developed)
-Architectural/BIM design
-Mechanical Stress Analysis (FEM/FEA)
-Computational Fluid Dynamic Analysis (CFD)
-Technical Drawings / Drafting
-and more core and external workbenches...

2. "User Interface (UI/UX) is ugly, odd, confusing or not like XYZ Software!"
FreeCAD allows for extensive customization of the user interface, while we realize the default colors or arrangement of elements may not be pleasing to everyone, we encourage you to tailor it to your own specific needs and work-flows. If you feel you've come up with what could be a popular arrangement/theme/customized toolbars etc. please feel free to look into leveraging the recently added "Preference Pack" feature and share it with the community. Perhaps your efforts will help ease someone less experienced/patient in their transition into FreeCAD. FOSS software thrives on all sorts of community contributions and this is a common topic of discussion.

3. "Why doesn't this feature work like in XYZ software?"
FreeCAD has a development pedigree spanning over 20 years of development. Functions and behaviors are heavily reviewed, debated and assessed before they are added or changed. Have an open mind, while it may not be apparent there is likely a very good rationale behind such things. This isn't to say that FreeCAD is perfect, but please consider that what you've grown used to may not be the only or best way to get something done.

4. "I can't figure out the workflow of FreeCAD"
FreeCAD has a philosophy to not dictate 'how' you use it. Rather it provides tools and a wide array of options under which you can use them. This means two things. First, the software isn't going to necessarily 'guide' or 'steer' you in a certain style of workflow. Second, this means you can experiment with the tools and find what works best for you. This doesn't mean there aren't general 'best practices' to keep in mind while using FreeCAD, but those best practices generally apply to ANY professional design software when creating stable models.

5. "What the heck is with all these workbenches?"
One of the powerful features of FreeCAD is it's modularity. This is done by compartmentalizing tool development into workbenches. Once you are familiar with the tools provided they can often work synergistically to create highly complex and advanced models. A great analogy is that FreeCAD is structured similar to a mechanics rolling tool-chest, and each workbench is a drawer of specific tools. You can use these tools to build a car, but it is up to the mechanic to understand how to use them to accomplish their goal.
6. "FreeCAD is fundamentally broken, my models blow-up!"
FreeCAD is build around an open-source Geometric Modeling Kernel called "Open CASCADE Technology" (or OCCT). It is the most feature rich and mature open source modeling kernel available. However it does have bugs, quirks and limitations. One of these is referred to as the "Topological Naming Problem" (or TNP). What happens whenever a model is changed, the internal names of faces or edges get renamed by the kernel and any model features which referenced them causes undesirable behavior. The current development cycle is focused around implementing a naming algorithm which is designed to mitigate this effect under most circumstances. However, be aware that TNP mitigation is not a replacement for good modeling practice and techniques.
freedman
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Posts: 2607
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:02 am
Location: Washington State, USA

Re: NEW TO FREECAD? - START HERE

Post by freedman »

Is this going to be a sticky here, where do I leave comments about the text? It looks good!

I can delete my post after I get an answer if we are trying to keep this clean:
obelisk79
Posts: 308
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 9:01 pm

Re: NEW TO FREECAD? - START HERE

Post by obelisk79 »

freedman wrote: Tue Jul 05, 2022 4:48 pm Is this going to be a sticky here, where do I leave comments about the text? It looks good!

I can delete my post after I get an answer if we are trying to keep this clean:
I suppose this is as good a place as any. It is currently a sticky. I've also incorporated most of the text into this wiki page:
https://wiki.freecadweb.org/FreeCAD_Man ... pectations
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