[ILUG-BOM] Brl-Cad Initial Impressions

Sachin G Nambiar bomlug@[EMAIL-PROTECTED]
Tue Jan 16 05:10:35 IST 2007

Initial impressions:
The interface lacks polish. Digging deeper, i found that you require to  
actually remember loads of small commands to do anything. So many  
commands. Almost everything is done from the command line. That being said  
it's not really hard. Infact the pdf documentation makes things pretty  
easy. It uses vi and gives you the option for emacs. It stores all files  
ina databse which has to be defined in advance. Everthing else(shapes  
textures etc.) goes directly in real time into this file.

And with my limited(read zero) knowledge of any CAD software, i'll say  
this thing works really well. Based on the documentation and a few  
instances of "modern art" by yours truly using the documentation; i'll say  
this thing can really do stuff. You can create your own custom primitive  
shapes. Using the documentation i could build a radio, cone and wrap it  
with shiny stuff etc. But everything through the command line.

Not much of a ram hogger .. i installed qcad with opera open with  
multpiple tabs, a pdf open and two tabs on a terminal without any problems  
all this while using brlcad.  Primitive shapes is the application specific  
phrase for any kind of wireframe shapes. It did get sluggish later but was  
ok once i closed opera. (i use wmaker)

Can have multiple views of the same object using a four pane option kinda  
like Maya3d. But is not switched on by default.

like any tool this application would require us to negotiate a learning  
curve. If the person is used to a mouse i think adopting this would be a  
problem. Though the mouse has some functionality (zooming), it's very  

You can specify units to work in mm,cm,yd,ft,mt,km and um.

It crashed on me once.

once you get used to the command line it's not very hard and pretty  
powerful. Can create just about anything based on my first impression. I  
have not used any other tool to compare it to or i would have said  
"negotiating the learning curve is worth it". Uses vi/emacs and should be  
a piece of cake for people with unix background.

Needs the command line for any advanced operation..difficult for windows  
users. No inbuilt help file/reference material so would need to look up on  
the internet time and again or use the pdf file side by side. Many  
commands to learn but i reckon it's something which you just pickup as you  
gain experience with the tool. Initially will need the help file to even  
create a tiny object with a surface as the interface is rudimentry. No  
dimensioning as mentioned earlier. For a newbie even deleting might be a  
problem.for example there is a function called ZAP(command: Z) which will  
remove your workspace of everything and one called erase which is used to  
remove specific objects.

l gives out items in the databse and ls gives out the dimensions of the  
currently specified object. Many commands have to be learnt.

No undo but

Very military, has "Dismiss" for cancel.

Just for the record, am going to check out  
qcad(http://www.ribbonsoft.com/qcad.html) along with  
gnuplot(http://www.gnuplot.info/) next so that i can give him a choice.


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