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The OpenSource Solutions for Computer Aided Engineering Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about OpenSource Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) resources available for modern personal computers. There are a myriad of solutions available in the marketplace for a number of different engineering and scientific applications, but it is not always easy to find the most appropriate solution for a particular circumstance, because many of the packages emanate from University research departments or Government development projects that do not have access to sufficient resources to publicize their products adequately. While the primary focus will be on numerical analysis solutions (FEA, CFD, Signal Processing, SPICE electronic simulation, etc.), we will occasional touch on other aspects of CAE such as Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD), 3D modeling, data acquisition (Test and Measurement, etc.), and other such technologies that can add value to the engineering process.

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What is OpenSource Software?

Posted October 18, 2010 9:00 AM by cwarner7_11

If you were to go out on the street and ask ten different people what OpenSource software is, you would most likely get ten different answers. So, let us begin this blog with just exactly what we mean by OpenSource software. The official definition, from The Open Source Initiative, can be found on Wikipedia. We won't go into all the details here, but rather highlight the most important aspect, from an engineer's standpoint: "Open-source software ... is computer software that is ... provided under a software license that permits users to study, change, and improve the software."

If an engineer is going to rely on a software package for making design decisions that can have significant safety or cost impacts, our engineer needs a mechanism whereby the validity of the algorithms and their implementation can be verified easily. Granted, not all of us are going to go digging around in the code to determine that a particular piece of software actually cranks out viable results; however, the fact that there are a large number of other users who ARE validating and improving the code provides us with a greater sense of confidence than taking some commercial entity's word for it.

There is another peripheral benefit that is often overlooked: the user community can be quite diverse. Through forums and mailing lists, a good deal of support and assistance can be accessed without having to navigate through some corporate "Help" desk.

Cost and Licensing Considerations

Note that there's nothing in the definition of OpenSource software about its cost. Fortunately, many of the OpenSource solutions now available for engineering applications also happen to be free of any licensing fees (although this is not always the case). Some of the OpenSource software that is available for free is restricted to personal-use; you are not allowed to use it in your commercial engineering practice. Yet many of the best tools we have encountered are not hindered by restrictive licenses. Still, one must be aware of such restrictions to avoid ethical violations or possible legal problems.

Although our focus will naturally be upon Free and Open software, this particular category may not provide a viable solution for every circumstance. Therefore, we will occasionally swerve off the path to explore some possibilities that are not free, or that may involve restrictive licenses. The goal is to identify the most cost-effective tools for engineering applications. And, of course, part of the cost that must be considered is the time one must invest in learning how to use the software. Sometimes, it may be more cost-effective to bite the bullet and splurge on that fancy commercial package.

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#1

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/18/2010 11:06 PM

There is a range of other needs to have your computer be the most usable tool possible, I hope to be able to help a bit

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#2

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/18/2010 11:20 PM

What is Open source software is clear now.

But please let us know how to use those, get downloaded...?

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/18/2010 11:29 PM

http://caelinux.com/CMS/index.php

I am also completely new to this but nothing a bit of study can't help. A bit more time would help, Ky.

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#4

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/18/2010 11:49 PM

Actually, my "first" blog entry got split in to three, so hopefully, if you chose to follow me, we will be getting down to the nitty-gritty. We will address what tools are available (CAELinux is a core for me, but others may have other favorites. Although we will discuss many of the packages that are bundled with CAELinux, we will not limit ourselves to this). I am also looking for inputs from others that have a favorite package. Hopefully, we will wind up with a reference point where you can find what you need, from FEA and Fluid Dynamics to data analysis to pure mathematics to SPICE electronics simulation to whatever application will interest anyone. The primary focus is Engineering tools, and we will discuss the warts as well as the benefits. And, hopefully, someday, someone will point me to a decent CAD package that runs under Linux!

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#13
In reply to #4

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 6:34 AM

As a user of licensed software, your "OpenSource Software" forum will be very interesting to follow, since the threat to genuine operators of licensed software is becoming a major problem for freelance design engineers who have to (by choice, ethics or moral judgement) stay within the legal boundaries in order to maintain a living; yet it is understood that 1 in 3 bidding for work in the open market do not actually operate fully licensed software. It is understandable that the merits of non-licensed software is attractive to those who do not which to invest the capital necessary to acquire the software to compete within industry; however, one must balance this against the need to train people in the art of digital CAD systems, so that the impending shortage of experienced and professional designers within not only the UK and the USA but also Europe do not fall below a level where economically these centres of excellence are not compromised by (for example) China, India, etc.. leading to a similar situation in lets argue the automotive industry or steel industry, where the USA and the UK have suffered badly because the UK and USA invested to create the technology adding cost to output, while other countries simply copied the technology or acquired it unlawfully, and simply undercut the very ground that the USA and the UK stood on.

In the end, I would hope that your forum advocates the regulations and needs to be fully licensed once you carry out contract work, and use OpenSource Software within the perameters of their domain, which is training and not for commercial application.

I would add, that I am not opposed to OpenSource Software, indeed it retains a place in the market to attract and allow people to develop their skills in their own time, and perhaps then consider moving on to work within a company or become a freelance engineer (but using legally registered software); however, the forum may strike a balance too far in the direction of using OpenSource Software for commercial applications, which will have serious consequences to those who choose to make an honest living, with all the added expenses attached.

I wish you luck with your forum, and as previously mentioned, I will follow it with great interest to see where it goes and what it offers.

Respectfully,

ARJ

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#18
In reply to #13

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 12:32 PM

You don't sound clear on the idea of OpenSource software. It is "registered" and "licensed". We're not discussing pirated software. Open-source is "genuine" and licensed. OpenSource is indeed within the legal boundaries to imply otherwise is not being genuine.

Prohibitive costs are one of the major items that keep talented newcomers out of the market. You only need to look at the medical field to see the trend in a more mature state. I am not an engineer but I have friends that are and I know some talented cad users. I see how expensive and cumbersome some cad packs are while others, just as powerful and more intuitive to use, are slighted because they are not "the way we do things here. The OS programs are the way to fight that strangle hold on tools to do a job. They are equal to and can be much better than the branded giants. You only need to look at titles like Gimp, Blender, Open Office to realize this.

Software does need to meet a certain level of accuracy, that is a certification not a license. The ownership of code by a single entity does not guarantee accuracy. Remember the Pentium 1?

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#28
In reply to #18

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 2:10 PM

OpenSource is most definitely a licensing arrangement, and there are a variety of licenses out there to chose from. Very seldom does one encounter a requirement to "register" OpenSource sortware, although it is often a valuable option that can keep you posted on current updates of many packages. I am adamantly opposed to "pirated" software, and will discourage anyone who asks to avoid that route.

Prohibitive cost of commercial software can keep newcomers out of the market, and that is, hopefully, one of the issues we will be assuaging somewhat with our efforts here. For me, a more important aspect of OpenSource is Choice. One does not always need the "everything for everybody" one-price solution, and there are many applications with a more limited scope that may be more suitable (faster running, shorter learning curve, less resources required) for a specific need. For instance, I do not need WYSWIG formatting for a good 60% of the typing I do- a simple text editor is more than adequate, and a whole lot easier and faster to work with than a conventional Word Processor (of any flavor). Another very important aspect of OpenSource (for me, at least) is that the license allows me to access, verify, and modify the code to suit my own needs. I am not held hostage by some giant corporation that I can only contact through a help desk located in some obscure part of the world and staffed by non-technicians who obviously do not speak my native tongue.

As to OpenOffice, I find that as frustrating to use as MS Office (the wife leave the premises when I am putting the finishing touches on a final document- I tend to throw fits when a minor spelling correction results in all my illustrations being randomly moved about the document!). gIMP gives me heartburn, but so do most such programs- probably because I don't use them that often. I have just started using Blender (as a front end to OpenFOAM), and find it is very, very easy to get lost in Blender. Fortunately, there is a very extensive support community, some of whom are using Blender exactly as I want to use it. The support community for OpenSource is generally much more helpful than one encounters with a lot of commercial packages (has ANYONE ever gotten a useful answer from the MS help desk?).

As with all software, commercial or OpenSource, "accuracy" is of tremendous concern, and I can only say, buyer, be ware) no matter what package you decide to use. Every software license I have ever read disclaims any responsibility on the part of the developer for any failure of the software to meet a particular need. No difference here between OpenSource and Commercial- although OpenSource does seem to be quicker at catching and fixing bugs...

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#20
In reply to #13

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 12:59 PM

Apexmaster- you raise some very good points, and some misconceptions about OpenSource. First of all, I am adamantly opposed to pirating commercial software, more because of the ethical reasons than the legal issues. I am also not opposed to recommending a commercial solution when the OpenSource alternatives do not meet the user's needs. OpenSource only "competes" with commercial software when the commercial developers fail to meet the needs of the customer base, or ignores the needs of a small market segment...

The situation with CAD is a very good example. One will not find an OpenSource solution that can hold a candle to AutoCAD, Pro/E, Inventor, Catia, SolidWorks, or several other commercial packages. However, not everyone is in a position to license one of the major packages. For example, in my small engineering consulting business, the actual CAD work is such a small part of my pricing structure, that it would take several years for me to amortize an AutoCAD license. I do not need all of the full capabilities of these sophisticated packages, and I do not have enough CAD work to keep a highly trained CAD specialist busy. There have been situations where I have had a need for more sophisticated CAD capabilities than I can support financially, and I will contract such work out to an independent contractor (who WILL have a valid software license, or I won't give him the work). Years ago, I found a low-end package that suited my style and needs completely (including the reasonable cost), called TurboCAD- unfortunately, that package disappeared when IMSI was bought up by AutoCAD. Recently, I have found that IMSI is now marketing a similar solution called DoubleCAD XT (http://www.doublecad.com/), which is available as either a free version or a reasonably-priced solution. If you are a Boeing or General Motors or a major architectural firm, this is likely not to be the solution for you. In fact, if you spend most of your day doing CAD, you may not find this the appropriate solution. But if you are a small, start-up engineering consulting firm or a hobbyist in need of CAD capabilities, here is a solution that can be had for free or at a reasonable price (depending on how important the extra features of the paid version are to you), without having to pirate a commercial application. By the way, DoubleCAD XT is not OpenSource, but it is still on my list of LEGAL recommends for those with a need and limited resources...

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#52
In reply to #20

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 10:07 PM

cwarner7,

Thanks for your comments in response to my posting on your forum.

I was not attempting to deride your forum, on the contrary, much of what you and others have said since makes sense, my point is centred around the responsibility needed in controlling the use of "pirated" or "non-commercial products" in a comercial environment.

You mentioned your own situation, and it is very admirable, however, as a freelance design engineer, even as far back as the 1980's when CAD was far more expensive in real terms than it is today, I invested in my first CAD package, which was at the lower end of the market admittedly; however it was an entry into the field. It was not long however before I then up-graded to AutoCad 12, then moved on over the years through the progression to where I am today operating AutoCad 2011 Mechanical and AutoDesk Inventor Pro 2011 suite, and Pro-Engineer (all systems had full licenses and support - particularly earlier versions because you needed a "dongle" before the system would work on any workstation). Now my point is, and please do not take this out of context, having done what I have done by investing huge sums of money as a freelance design engineer, it is noticable that in certain areas of the world, much of the traditional "bread-and-butter" work we used to get is all but evaporating because it as been founded that users of "pirated" or "OpenSource Software" is being used commercially, not only by individuals but organisations and taking away the livelihood of those that have chosen to stay within the law to operate legimately. Now having stated that, this is where I agree with you and many of your contributors, the OpenSource Software is useful to private individuals that need either to learn CAD/3D modelling or want to do a simple job for themselves without needing the services of a professional CAD service. Now that is where the rub comes, using such software and then claiming it is legal to trade with, this creates a genuine problem, because people choose not to expend in as you quite rightly say is "large sums of money" to buy over-the-top CAD packages, with all singing, all dancing features, use these lesser products to vastly undercut those who wish stay within the law.

Six months to the day today, I set up my third business, and my first with more than myself to cater for, and it was after investing in three new fully licensed workstations with AutoCad, Inventor Pro suite and Pro-E, that for the first three months we encountered problems sourcing work because evidence was being found that our "competitors" were either unlicensed users using pirated software and in some case OpenSource Software, however, after that almost disastrous three months, my company suddenly became indundated with work - and guess what - yes you guessed it, the very people who were undercutting us were soon found out, and the customers that they snatched from under legitimate licensed users eventually came to those like us. In a matter of three months my company acquired more than £250,000 of work, and continues to grow with each passing week.

I have no reason to malign the OpenSource Software, indeed in a way it did me personally a favour by exposing the very weaknesses you mentioned, but OpenSource Software should be controlled. AutoDesk and other suppliers of key software produce lower grade versions of their full packages, for example AutoCad LT instead of the full version, its cheaper by some degree, and in the past I have used one of their LT packages, and they are okay for what they can do, but sadly not enough. But is within reach of even private individuals today, the price of computers for example are so low by previous standards, I for example can upgrade two or three times a year because I outgrow their capacity, and I never choose anything less than the top available specs. Now again, the private individual may only want to setout a garden plan, or design a shed, or even design an extension, so why pay huge sums of money for possibly a one-off use scenario, but it is possible to determine, that unlike many on this forum, some don't select the "free" option because it is for small private projects, it is so that they can compete against established professionals (or so they believe).

I had to start somewhere, and I did it from scratch and invested in licensed software, and I sadly have to say, as an engineer, if I can do it, so can any "engineer worth his salt". This afterall is an engineering forum.

Once again, please DO NOT MISUNERSTAND ME, I am not against OpenSource Software, it very much as its place in the chain of life when it comes to engineering, but that is where it must stay. And looking at almost all the comments on the forum you have clearly done a good thing in making people aware of the OpenSource Software, and in many cases the interest is clearly "non-commercial", which is a credit to you, but going back to my original posting, I was not attempting to undermine your forum, merely highlight the possibility that "some" may get the idea that this type of software is their opportunity to vast wealth by undercutting genuine operators, when the truth is, it is not - not only is it hard work, but hard work does not come cheap!!!!!

I again commend you on your forum, and I for one will look closely at some of the programmes suggested purely out of interest to know more about these OpenSource Software solutions, and compare them accordingly, and see which one's have a more realistic chance of being used in the commercial market (thus we can look out for their users by their signature capability).

Hope your forum continues to gain more interest, and maybe can encourage engineers to come forward and join the fight in bringing industry and innovation back to the home whence it was invented.

Yours respectfully,

Apexmaster

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#53
In reply to #52

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 10:33 PM

ApexMaster,

I think your points are valid regarding the application of professionally engineered software cad applications, and the necessity to not use pirated software, especially in commercial ventures.

However I think you overstate your case with regards to the development of OpenSource software in the world in general, and where it is going. One fundamental idea that you appear to miss with OpenSource, according to my limited understanding, is that software should be opensource by its parallel to human memes, ideas, and knowledge in general.

In reality, all humans learn the best by example. This is how we gather our own 'software' from birth. We simply copy, generally without fee, those who demonstrate and exemplify for us, how to speak, walk, think, and create. This is the point of opensource. It shares savoir-faire freely amongst intelligent beings, and fosters creativity and growth in doing so, without the otherwise inherent limitations of means.

Conversely, there is no substitute for intelligence and integrity, especially in the professional arena. This is truly what gathers customers. The fact that a customer can rely fully on the vendor to deliver what was specified, without compromise.

respectfully,

Chris

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#54
In reply to #53

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 10:47 PM

Chris,

Your comments are appreciated, and thank you for pointing out my misconceptions in regard to the OpenSource arena. I for one would agree that without open, free co-operation the world would cease to function, and all credit to those who do exactly that. I for one would willingly participate in such endeavours if only to contribute to the knowledge base for which development of such software could be made - this without prejudicing my position as a professional engineer.

I openly agree with you, we as professionals are responsible for widening knowledge as long as we do it without breaching the bounds of rules and regulations that govern our lives. We do not make these rules and regulations of course, that is the domain of lawyers and politicians, but that does not mean we cannot help develop new technology to help others.

Many thanks again Chris,

Apexmaster

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#56
In reply to #52

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/20/2010 12:12 AM

Interesting few posts

1st let's use proper terminology

CR4 is a forum

This is a blog on CR4

your argument is much like insisting that the auto mechanic with the snap on tools is a better diagnostician, by virtue of the superior quality of his screw drivers

the work shows

things change, software like hardware continues to improve, the price & capabilities continue to improve

open source is not just about the price

it's about creating in a collaborative environment

are your customers coming back because because you paid more for licensed software or because you do higher quality work?

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#61
In reply to #52

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/20/2010 6:38 PM

ApexMaster,

Sounds like you are making a common confusion... OpenSource is about 'Free' as in 'Freedom' (not 'Free' as in 'Free Beer'). Am truly sorry to hear about your unethical low-cost competitors... however that has nothing to do with what OpenSource is or is not... and even less to do with how good open source is or isn't…

Open Source Software (OSS), like traditional proprietary closed software, has a full spectrum of capabilities & quality levels... it all depends on architecture and maturity (and the talent of the developers and contributors)...

For what it's worth, you are already using open source software or software that runs on open source everyday… you just don't know it… high quality, large scale, full featured (Google, Amazon, Android, The New York Times, etc, etc, etc). In many cases, open source is SUPERIOR to the licensed software you can get from BIG companies... in other cases it is not. Open source is just a new way to do software. The open approach is about collaborative development... and it's the format of the future IMHO (I'm clearly biased though... and opinionated :-)

For more on the background & history of open source, here's a link to a nice Video overview by Francois Marier http://vospe.com/2010/09/22/a-brief-history-35-years-of-open-source-software-a/

Hope this helps.

MarcL

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#14
In reply to #4

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 7:07 AM

someone will point me to a decent CAD package that runs under Linux!

FreeCAD may not be there yet but they look as though they have the capability and will to succeed.

http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/free-cad/index.php?title=Main_Page

They do Windows, Linux (Ubuntu) and MacOS versions.

Written in Python.

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#15
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Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 9:10 AM

NX5 I think and unigraphics Catia

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#24
In reply to #15

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 1:44 PM

NX5- I assume you are talking of the NX from Siemens, originally developed for Ford Motor Company by Structural Dynamics Rearch Corporation, available for Windows and "Unix-like" systems. This appears to be a part of the Unigraphics I-DEAS CAE suite, and apparently not OpenSource, which does not necessarily mean it is not a viable solution...

Catia was originally developed by Dassault (a name that comes up frequently in my researches, but probably not all that familiar to the non-French world) and originally marketed by IBM. Apparently, Catia is very, very popular in Europe, but I have no first-hand experience or information to substantiate this opinion. From the Catia Wiki page:

"CATIA competes in the CAD/CAM/CAE market with Siemens NX, Pro/ENGINEER, Autodesk Inventor , Solidworks and SolidEdge."

And, of course, we have my favorite OpenSource CAE solution (light on the CAD aspects, though), CAELinux...

As I have noted time and time again, the commercial packages may be more appropriate for certain people, but are unlikely to meet the needs of us that are "financially challenged".

One of the issues that I have with CAD packages is file format. Virtually all of the CAD files I receive from others are in *.dwg or *.dxf format. It seems that most of the commercial packages tend toward proprietary formats (including Autodesk with *.dwg and *.dxf), and translating from one application to another can be troublesome. If one is part of a large organization where most of the CAD product is developed for in-house consumption, this is likely not an issue. It is for me.

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#26
In reply to #24

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 2:06 PM

The Question was I recall a cad system that operates on linux.. that was the substance of my reply...

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#34
In reply to #26

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 2:35 PM

Are you using these on Linux? The NX site says "Unix-like", but not Linux specifically. I would expect Catia to run on Linux, because it originates in Europe, but I have not verified this. Do you have specific experiences with these that you would like to share?

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#37
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Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 2:55 PM

Only that I have from time to time been in drawing offices that ran them on linux.. I am a big fan of both SolidWorks and Rhino that is a fully functioned drawing package that runs on linux..Wine is it? anyway you might want to check it out..@

http://www.rhino3d.com/ they have a trial version that is downloadable.

If you need help when you get it loaded, manual etc.. give me a shout I have it in PDF..

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#40
In reply to #37

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 3:06 PM

Rhino looks very interesting- sounds a lot like Blender. The free download is a time-limited version, but the posted price for the full version appears quite reasonable. As I noted, I am not fanatical about OpenÇSource, and if there is a commercial version of a solution that offers distinct advantages cost-effectively, it goes on the list. I need some time to do a little research on this one- unless you happen to be interested in sending me by PM your own assessment that I could incorporate into a future blog post (with appropriate accreditation, of course!)...

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#43
In reply to #40

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 3:26 PM

No need for that .. I like the shadows.. Rhino is a history based system that is also a thin wall nurbs drawing package.. It has the ability to import every file type known to man with varying degrees of success, I use it for fluid shapes that are hard to draw in Solidworks then export them to my other package. If you have windows you might want to look on you-tube to see the stuff others have drawn. Will give you a good idea if it will do what you need it to I think, also if you enter Linux Cad Systems , or Linux cad into the search box .. you get a suprising number of options some of them open source and fre...

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#27
In reply to #24

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 2:07 PM

Can you explain better your last sentence for me please:-

One of the issues that I have with CAD packages is file format. Virtually all of the CAD files I receive from others are in *.dwg or *.dxf format. It seems that most of the commercial packages tend toward proprietary formats (including Autodesk with *.dwg and *.dxf), and translating from one application to another can be troublesome. If one is part of a large organization where most of the CAD product is developed for in-house consumption, this is likely not an issue. It is for me.

Do you mean you want the dwg and dxf formats in the CAD program of your choice, or that you don't? Or do you mean that they are not compatible between different CAD offerings?

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#35
In reply to #27

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 2:42 PM

What I want is a CAD package that can read *.dwg and *.dxf files that I receive from others. So far, DoubleCAD XT does fairly well, at least for older versions of these formats. Reason being, when I am looking at a new job, most potential clients provide me drawings in one of these two formats. I have seen other formats, and have some capability to translate a few of them, but the vast majority come in *.dxf or *.dwg. That may be different in other parts of the world. Most of what I deliver to clients, when electronic versions are required, is *.dxf, so that is generally my preferred output format. However, one must be careful- there are four or five different versions of *.dxf out there, and they are not all fully interchangeable.

One situation I have run in to- I use a 3D program called BrlCAD which has the capability of importing Pro/E drawings- IF you have Pro/E installed. Not very helpful for me, since I don't have Pro/E...

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#29
In reply to #24

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 2:12 PM

There are a number of translators that will do the windows/mac/linux conversion for DXF DWG prt and Step depends if you have the files in binary or not..

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#36
In reply to #29

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 2:49 PM

Yeah, binary/ASCII format is a whole other issue...*.stp is another format I use internally for some analysis applications, as is *.iges (which generally results in very, very big files). BrlCAD actually includes a number of conversion apps, and I have tried a few on-line conversion solutions (not always successfully, which is pretty frustrating when you have to pay for it whether you get what you want or not).

I have also encountered (and used) CAD drawing converted to *.pdf- but that is only good for sharing or printing- not easy to edit a *.pdf CAD drawing!

Apparently, *.prt is used by NX, Pro/E and CADKEY. Are the *.prt files interchangeable independent of the package that produced them? Or are different people using the same extension for different formats?

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#59
In reply to #24

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/20/2010 6:12 PM

cwarner7_11 - might want to take a look at DraftSight for working with Autodesk .dwg files, it's free but not OpenSource (also Mac & Win only, no Linux... yet)

http://www.3ds.com/products/draftsight/draftsight-overview/

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#60
In reply to #59

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/20/2010 6:38 PM

MarcL-

Thank you- looks promising. Dassault is a company name that keeps coming up in the engineering software environment- I have used some of their work. According to the Wine database, it is supposed to work well under Wine. We'll give it a try and report back...

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#81
In reply to #24

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 9:07 PM

A matter of clarification only, please.

What is proprietary about the ACAD .dxf format?

In my experience it has always been well documented and easily transportable, especially by those of the "OpenSource" realm who are quite capable of managing a rather simple and well-defined database.

Again, clarification only, please: What are your concerns that '*.dxf' doesn't fit in with, or allow manipulation by, the "OpenSource" community?

Thanks in advance; otherwise, I'm in there with Apex. I would have voted myself OT on this post, but I believe it has direct bearing on the PRACTICE (moreso maybe than the CONCEPT) of "OpenSource."

Regards,

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#82
In reply to #81

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 9:42 PM

I refer you to the Wiki on the *.dxf format. This format was originally developed by AutoCAD as a proprietary format, and, although they now publish the specification (i.e., it is openly available), they maintain control of it, and change it at will. The format comes in either ASCII or binary forms, and not all *.dxf readers can recognize various versions of it. Opening a *.dxf file in a program that did not create it can be a hit and miss proposition. Different implementations of the "standard" can result in some pretty strange transpositions sometimes- text resized, lines don't meet, curves are interpreted differently, etc. Older implementations get lost when trying to open newer versions.

All that being said, it is still about the only format that is reasonably transportable between applications. There does seem to be a tendency to share drawings in *.pdf format, but that generally works only if the recipient has no need to modify the drawing...

With the *.dwg format, there are again two options- either license from Autodesk, or the Open Design Alliance. I generally get better reults when I am using a package that can work with the *.dwg format, although I usually have no way of knowing whether the original was created under an Autodesk license or an Open Design Alliance license (although the vast majority of the *.dwg files I receive I can be pretty sure have been created with AutoCAD, which simplifies the issues).

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#22
In reply to #14

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 1:17 PM

Randall-

I use FreeCAD- yes, it looks promising, but it is not there yet. Probably more than adequate for the hobbyist or casual user. I especially have problems bringing external file formats (even *.dxf- but I have a full-length rant for a later date on the non-standardized *.dxf "Standard") into FreeCAD, and current versions of FreeCAD seem a bit light on 3D capabilities. I think FreeCAD has focused too heavily on a fancy GUI and less on the mechanics of a good drawing package. I actually find QCAD more adaptable to my needs, but it, too, is a bit limited. More focused on Drawing than eye candy, although still limited to 2D...So, I use the free version of DoubleCAD XT a lot (even though I have to switch down to my Windows XP machine to use it- don't have it running yet in Wine or VirtualBox). Again, I am not happy with the 3D capabilities of DoubleCAD XT, but supposedly the paid version is better in this realm...Soon as I get it working in Wine or VirtualBox, I will probably spurge for the paid version...

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#91
In reply to #14

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/27/2010 9:02 AM

I've been looking at VariCAD for the past few days. It's, it's, it's... well it's busy, very busy. I've been using SolidWorks for 5+ years now, so the thought of the learning curve is a bit off-putting.

Perhaps it's the fear of going from "expert to noob" that is the real source of the trauma... Perhaps if you look at it too we can have a discussion...

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#92
In reply to #91

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/27/2010 10:06 AM

For my limited use of CAD $560 is outside my price range, and, it doesn't seem worth putting in the effort to evaluate something (30 day trial) that I'm not ultimately going to buy.

I don't know if they still do the same evaluation package, but, one that I have used a bit is Rhino: it's certainly the most intuitive 3D package I've seen (but I haven't tried many). The trial version is limited to a certain number of saves (50 I think), and the times I've used it I've just done a screen capture, and then, not saved. It's more expensive than Varicad (about 2½ times), but at-least you know that your trial version won't run out before you find the time to evaluate it properly. Oh it's windows only.

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#94
In reply to #92

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/27/2010 11:06 AM

Randall-

In the 3D rendering space, a couple of alternatives to Rhino to consider:

BrlCAD

Blender

BrlCAD may be a bit less intuitive than some of the others you have worked with, but it comes with extensive and comprehensive documentation (something one might anticipate for a package originally developed under US Military auspices for studying ballistics impacts on military equipment). Blender has pretty good documentation and support as well- although some of it reads as though it was written by some alien species (original targeted market was the animation market, not the engineering market). Some interesting Blender tutorials can be found here, and here and here.

Both BrlCAd and Blender are available for free, in either Linux or Windows versions. Personally, for my applications, I have a preference for BrlCAD, mostly because Blender includes a whole lot of capabilities (i.e., is a whole lot more complicated) than what I require...

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#93
In reply to #91

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/27/2010 10:43 AM

VariCAD does sound interesting, especially the native Linux version, but I, too, am somewhat put off by the $560.00 price tag- especially since there are functional solutions that will run in Wine or a Virtual Windows machine in the $100-$200 price range. I am also rather put off by short "trial" freebies for the most part- all too often, I have found the trial period too short to suitably work through the learning curve...

On the other hand, the description of VariCAD available on their web site almost reads like my private wish list for a decent CAD package, from the targeted market "mechanical engineers", to the promise of extensive parts libraries and the list of supported file formats...

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#5

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 12:25 AM

I Welcome this. A few years ago, I looked at free software to model the sun's path across the sky. (This was an attempt to compare different solar cooking reflectors without building them). I eventually found Art of Illusion and used it. (Semi successfully) to do that. In Art of illusion, A user can make a "scene file" which contains your models and your sun and just let it run for the time period that you have in mind.

But I realized that a scene file could do a whole lot more. A relatively smart computer geek (definitely not me) could make a super seasonal scene file!

You input your location and time of year and it gives you the sun traveling over for that day. And then you copy and paste in your house or garden design. Straight into your scene file! And it shows the shadow patterns for that day. And you get to see if your raspberrys get sun at flowering or if your rhubarb will be shaded in june, july, etc. Because the sun's path goes up and down by 46 degrees during the year and buildings have completely different shading depending on the time of year. After 7 years in this north sloping lot, I totally know what a difference a month makes to different parts of my garden! And some plants do great in one part but badly in another. If I had that software visualization at the start, some things would have been planted in different places!

I told the art of illusion community (some said that it was a great idea). I thought they would just do it to evangalize their software but nobody bothered as far as I know. Something like this would be a Godsend to landscape specialists and to gardeners generally. Even people deciding where to site their pv panels might be dead keen on it.

I do not understand why they did not put that functionality in. Scene files are downloadable. But they are not part of the program itself. Kind of like downloading a word or exel file. What in human nature stopped the computer whiz kids from making this file? Is something like that available in other modeling software?

I chose art of illusion because it is free and because it is a java program (not applet) that works on any computer with java runtime.

But I do not think any free or cheap program has it. And after about 3 years of my amateur solar stuff, I realize that modeling the sun is really easy. I am sure that any half decent programmer could do it in an evening in art of illusion. and maybe a little longer in one of the competitor programmes.

Brian

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 12:38 AM

Brian-

Have a look at Blender (http://www.blender.org/). I have just started using it as a graphical front end to one of the CFD packages, and I am not all that familiar with it and its capabilities, but it looks like it might be exactly what you are looking for. It is intended more for the artistic crowd than the engineering crowd, I believe, and it has complete animation capabilities. Uses Python scripting, not Java (may be a good thing, considering Oracle's new attitude toward Java). It seems very sophisticated, yet intuitive. It also can work with a variety of file formats (something that is critical for my applications), so you should be able to corroborate with others working in other formats.

This is the sort of response I am looking for in this blog- what are people using for what, and what do they like/dislike about it? I need to check out your Illusion software...

Did I mention Blender is free as well as OpenSource?

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 2:40 AM

Thanks very much for the quick reply. I went into the software thing to the depth I could handle a couple of years ago. (just above the ankles) and went back to physical models. I actually made several videos of the Art of Illusion experience and some at their forums gave them the thumbs up.

I chose it because (compared with blender, truespace, etc) it had by far the easiest learning curve (for me). I do know that at the time, about 2 years ago, the blender people were working on making their gui easier. I just couldn't get it. Maybe it is better now? (it was not just me who was having problems)

AoI is at http://aoi.sourceforge.net/index and my results video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIRhNRk_0js The video compares different dish shapes (parabolic, hemisphere, etc when they are not exactly pointed at the sun. (Which is most of the time)

I have to say that the results were unexpected and were an important step towards the clam shaped solar cooker reflector (which unfortunately nobody has independently tested). The results also helps show why Papillon solar cookers were preferred to sk14 solar cookers by people who have the choice. (Sk14 is the commonest type in the world) but obviously not user friendly. But who cares?

I also have to say that the clam shaped reflector is my contribution to Haiti aid or Dafur aid and it disturbs me that charity and aid and development agencys never even bothered to test it. Makes me think that they are more concerned with flying back and forth than with real development. I had discussions with engineers without borders, and other similar organizations and the patronising talking down to me (from adult kids!) made me sick. The spirit of science and engineering is experimentation and they dismissed it without ever entering into the spirit of the thing.

(Sorry for the rant)

Brian

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#16
In reply to #8

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 12:06 PM

I have had a quick look at Art of Illusion, and on the surface, it does appear to be a bit more "user friendly" than Blender, although it apparently does not have the capabilities I am looking for as an engineer- again, my look at it was rather cursory, so I may be worng. Also, if one is in to Java scripting, it may be relatively easy to add the features that I need for my front end to OpenFOAM- but, then, I have to worry about output file formats.

One of the advantages to OpenSource is that one need not "accept" the over-priced, one-package-does-everything approach of a lot of commercial offerings- you can select applications designed specifically to address the task at hand, which can also really shorten the learning curve.

I will try having a look at your video later today- I am especially interested in what you have done with the solar cooker thing. As to the rant about what is going on with the rebuilding of Haiti, don't get me started again. I have been ranting and raving about what a rip-off the disaster relief industry has become to anyone who will listen...it is scandalous, how little of the aid actually reaches those in need, while they move the tent cities to exposed hilltops in anticipation of hurricane season...

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#19
In reply to #5

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 12:38 PM

Try google's SketchUp. I have seen some neat animations using it. The basic package is free to download.

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#21
In reply to #19

Re: What is Open Source Software?

10/19/2010 1:12 PM

Sketchup 8.0 seems to be a good package provided you don't want to use either DWG or DXF files.

The previous version 7.1 (not available anymore from Google direct, but still available on the web in several places) did have an "add on" that is still available from Google that would allow import and export of those file types.....it works fine on all the DXF files that I have, but they are not particularly difficult and only 2D.

As to which AutoCAD versions of those file types are actually compatible to Sketchup 7.1 I cannot say as I have never used AutoCAD.(at least not since it was sold on 5 1/4" Floppies - 1986???!!!)

I can send anyone copies of both 7.1 and the file addon if needed provided they send me their private email address via CR4 email.)

No email addresses on CR4 blogs please!!!

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#23
In reply to #21

Re: What is Open Source Software?

10/19/2010 1:35 PM

I forgot to mention that I was talking about the free version.

The $455 version does support these file types if I remember correctly.

My bad.....

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#30
In reply to #19

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 2:14 PM

David-

Google SketchUp is a good addition to the list. I haven't had much opportunity to use it myself, but have seen some pretty sophisticated results, and read some good reviews. If you have some experience with it, PM me, and I will consider incorporating a review in future posts based on your input (with appropriate accreditation for your contributions).

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#48
In reply to #30

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 5:42 PM

sketch up is problematic to run in linux [wine]

Picasa runs fine [through wine] & does basic photo organization, editing. The editing functions are far easier to use than gimp. the incremental back up function [to hdd, usb or dvd/cd] is great. it will search your entire system or only specific folders depending on the set up. the ability to automatically sync with a sharing site [webalbum], makes it easy to keep customers up to date with the progress of a project.

apps from google aren't open source [source code], but are compatible with the major linux distro's.

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#7

Can you recommend a code for this platform?

10/19/2010 2:34 AM

Hello,

This is going a bit off track but I wonder if you wouldn't mind having a look at this package and then if you could recommend what type of code would be most suitable to accommodate the product.

I know absolutely zero about software, but I want to have a website built that will accommodate this program so I need to hire a programmer but I have no idea what skill to ask for. Can you advise me on what to use with the $99 p/m model please? http://www.sorensonmedia.com/360-pricing/

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#10
In reply to #7

Re: Can you recommend a code for this platform?

10/19/2010 3:26 AM

You may be putting the cart before the horse :D

it would be easier to give recommendations if we had a better idea of what you really want to do?

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Can you recommend a code for this platform?

10/19/2010 3:57 AM

Thanks Garthh, I want to make a user generated content video site and that $99pm program from Sorenson Media is the one that seems (to a novice here) to be the most suitable as it's a starter program and it can be built on if the thing works out.

http://www.sorensonmedia.com/360-pricing/

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#17
In reply to #11

Re: Can you recommend a code for this platform?

10/19/2010 12:30 PM

The "user generated content video site" is a little outside my normal range of experience, so we will have to leave it to others to comment. I do believe the most active web page generation environment in the true OpenSource community is Drupal, and you may want to have a look at that before spending your money, but, never having built a web site and having a strong aversion to video presentations, I probably don't have much else to contribute here.

http://drupal.org/

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#9

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 2:48 AM

Will be interesting though how much I will be able to understand is doubtful!

Well done - though being referred to as a 'good guy' is a bit of an insult is it not?

Russ

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#12

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 6:06 AM

Charlie,

This blog is a great idea and will be a wonderful resource. Kudos and thanks!

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#25

Re: What is Open Source Software?

10/19/2010 2:03 PM

Is there an Open Source Program for drawing electrical And electronic schematics? I looked at the SPICE program you recommended but it seems to be more for simulation rather than drawing. If there is not an Open Source program what commercial program do you recommend?

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#31
In reply to #25

Re: What is Open Source Software?

10/19/2010 2:28 PM

Have you looked at KiCAD? Autotrax DOS?

The free downloadable version of Eagle allows quite large drawings.....

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#38
In reply to #31

Re: What is Open Source Software?

10/19/2010 3:00 PM

Note to self-

KiCAD is a "project manager, schematic editor, netlist converter, pcb designer and a gerber viewer".

Autotrax- Windows based electronics design suite- DEX version downloadable- trial or free)

Eagle- cross platform, free version only for non-commercial applications.

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#32
In reply to #25

Re: What is Open Source Software?

10/19/2010 2:30 PM

There are a number of electric schematic solutions out there, and it depends on what your final application is, as to what would best suit your need. I personally have focused on SPICE simulation applications because that is where my interests lie. Many CAD packages include symbols libraries (have a look at the libraries available with QCAD, or DoubleCAD XT, for example). Included in the CAELinux is a program called "electric", a VSLI design package originally from Sun, but I haven't played with that one yet. CAELinux also includes a PCB design package. The Ubuntu Software Center for 10.04 lists 17 different packages for electronics applications (probably more in the repositories).

Maybe not very helpful, but if you could be more specific about what you are generating the schematics for, I could be a bit more specific.

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#33
In reply to #25

Re: What is Open Source Software?

10/19/2010 2:32 PM

I just noticed your handle- I suspect you are a HAM. The Ubuntu packages repositories include an entire section dedicated to HAM operators, that you may find interesting...

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#39
In reply to #33

Re: What is Open Source Software?

10/19/2010 3:03 PM

Thank you all for your help! I am a HAM but I don't do much with my licence; but I thought I would use my call-sign for my handle anyway. This request is actually for improving documentation of an industrial assembly machine I helped design and build for work. We have CAD stations in-house, but so far I have been intimidated by the software which I thought was primarily for mechanical drawings. I also wanted my drawing to be easily read by DWG TrueView 2007 or another common software. DWG TrueView 2007 is what we use to view drawings in-house. Some of the CAD drawings I have seen don't display correctly with this software however.

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#41
In reply to #39

Re: What is Open Source Software?

10/19/2010 3:18 PM

For this application, I would most definitely look at DoubleCAD XT (for Windows) or qCAD (probably easier to use, but limited to *.dxf 2000 or R12 formats). DoubleCAD XT supports *.dwg and *.dxf- several versions of both. I don't know for sure what parts libraries are available in DoubleCAD- I have to switch to the Windows box to have a look a that. qCAD has a pretty extensive list of electronics symbols. Both of these solutions would give you schematics only, no simulation. Both would let you output your drawings to *.png or other image format for incorporating into documentation. If you are working in Windows primarily, then it would most likely be DoubleCAD...

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#44
In reply to #39

Re: What is Open Source Software?

10/19/2010 3:32 PM

Try E- Drawings from solidworks.. it is a free dowload..

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#42

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 3:24 PM

Hi CW,

this blog is getting bigger (and very interesting too) faster than you ever dreamed.....

I am very grateful that you took the time to do it.

Thanks from me and many others (I am sure all would like to be included!).

Andy G.

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#45
In reply to #42

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 3:44 PM

Actually, this blog is your fault. I refresh your memory:

http://cr4.globalspec.com/comment/637589/Re-Future-of-OpenSource-Under-Attack

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#46
In reply to #45

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 3:47 PM

Andy is 100% correct that we all appreciate your effort - you really kicked the hornets nest - in a positive way!

Thanks,

Russ

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#47
In reply to #46

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 4:18 PM

Thanks- but Andy gets part of the blame (see my response to him).

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#49
In reply to #45

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 6:08 PM

Same here Charlie. I just hope I can keep up with the flow. A bit of a novice to all this and need simulation processes more than graphics. I will be following this blog and thanks for keeping Andy happy. It will help a lot of us, I am sure.

How do you guys make the time available?

Thanks, Ky.

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#55
In reply to #45

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 11:07 PM

I know, but its surely worth it still.......

Or do you have more blame to lay on me?

We(?) appear to have a very lively discussion on your hands!!!

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#50

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 7:20 PM

Hi Charlie

I found this http://www.thefreecountry.com/compilers/fortran.shtml a few months ago but never got into it in detail. I am not even sure if it is relevant but it was suggested by a friend back then.

As I said my difficulties are in the simulation of chemical reactions in combustion's of different fuels. It can be very frustrating to read and download and try out and then to find that the software can't handle the challenge. Not that I will not have learned a bit but at the same time a lot of time has gone to waste.

Do you think further studies of fortran compiler will help?

Thanks to all in advance, Ky.

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#51
In reply to #50

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/19/2010 7:55 PM

To be honest, I will avoid writing my own program if I can find something that already exists that meets my needs. Well, maybe occasionally I will write some code just to see if I still can...

With regards to combustion processes, the CAELinux package contains a number of combustion process simulation capabilities, but whether these would address your specific requirements would take some research- and then setting up the model to give you the results you are after (that also happen to reflect some semblance of reality) can require a great deal of study.

I have done a quick search of my own documentation, without coming up with an appropriate suggestion, but you may want to have a look at the following:

http://www.fileguru.com/apps/combustion_tutorials

There is also this page, which gives some of the basic science needed to develop your own fortran (or c) solution:

http://www.cfd-online.com/Wiki/Combustion

Also, Ubuntu (and other Linux distros) generally comes with fortran and c compilers, so you don't need to add these...

Somewhere in my personal collection of documentation, I have some tutorial documentation on simple combustion modeling, but it is going to take me a while to find it...

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#57
In reply to #50

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/20/2010 12:40 AM

KY-

OK. I have made a cursory pass at my library, and I am not sure we are going to come up with exactly what you are looking for- specifically, the "simulation of chemical reactions in combustion of different fuels". Most of what I have found relates to the thermal characteristics of the flame, not specifically the chemical reactions. If you are interested in the chemical reactions on the molecular level, gdpc

may be of interest to you. I have never used this, so I am totally in the dark as to the capabilities of the program.
If you are interested in the actual thermal characteristics of the combustion process, I would say that, among the OpenSource resources with which I am familiar, OpenFOAM may provide the most promising potential, although OpenFOAM is not the most user-friendly package I have used, and the documentation can be a bit obscure. OpenFOAM does offer a commercial license and some rather expensive training options, if this project can justify the expense. My understanding is that the documentation available with the commercial license is much more complete, but I do not know this for sure. From their web site, we see that they offer the following "solvers" as part of the basic package:

Combustion

coldEngineFoam Solver for cold-flow in internal combustion engines
dieselEngineFoam Solver for diesel engine spray and combustion
dieselFoam Solver for diesel spray and combustion
engineFoam Solver for internal combustion engines
fireFoam Transient Solver for Fires and turbulent diffusion flames
PDRFoam Solver for compressible premixed/partially-premixed combustion with turbulence modelling
reactingFoam Solver for combustion with chemical reactions
rhoReactingFoam Solver for combustion with chemical reactions using density based thermodynamics package
XiFoam Solver for compressible premixed/partially-premixed combustion with turbulence modelling

I have not used any of these particular solvers, and OpenFOAM is not as well-documented as some of the packages I work with, so the learning curve can be significant. OpenFOAM is written in c++, and you can modify existing solvers, or develop your own specialized packages, if you are fluent in c++, and if you understand the physics involved. c++ is not one of my favorite programming languages- I prefer the original c.

To understand the physics, one should start with http://www.cfd-online.com/Wiki/Combustion as previously suggested- this will give you not only an understanding of the physics, but a feel for where the community focuses its interests and whether this is a good place to look for solutions...

Code_Saturne is another possibility- there is a tutorial available here that gives a rather simple example that can demonstrate the capabilities. This tutorial is (in my opinion) pretty well documented.

For more in-depth studies, Fluent (not an OpenSource solution- but the first personal FEA package I ever purchased was a precursor to the Fluent package- they have been around for a LONG time) offers some pretty good tutorials that should be easy to adapt to other packages (should be- I haven't tried this yet). I have some of the more pertinent tutorials in my files, but they are too big to attach here. If you would like to have a look at them, send me a PM and I will e-mail them to you. Apparently, they also have a pretty extensive training program available.

Both OpenFOAM and Code_Saturne are part of the CAELinux package. My personal preference is Code_Saturne, although the latest version of OpenFOAM claims some capabilities that are of interest to me (so much so that I did one of my rare system updates to be able to access the latest version).

I hope we are getting you closer to where you want to be...

By the way, time spent studying and developing new capabilities is never wasted- even at my advanced age...

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#58
In reply to #57

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/20/2010 1:24 AM

Thank you

That will keep me busy for a while. I will keep you posted on what it will result in. I'll PM you once I have a few other things out of the way. This blog and the responses are something I will be looking forward to in the future.

Other responses will have to wait until tomorrow.

Good to be here, Ky.

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#75
In reply to #57

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 5:45 PM

I hope we are getting you closer to where you want to be...

Hi Charlie

Please have a look at the link below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvmBLqjaZxY&feature=related

This is were I want to be. There are several other real or animated scenarios from just this position. But....... that is not really what I am after. It is more the chemical simulation than impressive mechanical displays. These 3D animated parts I already have Thanks to some selfless individual who shall not be named here.

Here are some abstract examples:

How would the content of atmospheric air mix at the point of the injection change performance?

What would change during internal combustion if I added Bourbon instead of Diesel.

What happens if NOX is added

What would happen if Ozone, hydrogen peroxide would be added to the mix? (multiple fuel)

What would happen if the tdc pressure would be (?) psi.

What would happen if the injector pressure is (?) psi.

What and how would the flame front (signature?) change considering these variables,

and so on.

I am aware that there are many variables but could these be simulated without blowing engines to bits?

This blog has now made it clear that I will never have the time to master these programs but I still need to know if it can be done by the professionals. Thanks to all for the links supplied. I am sure it is done on a daily basis by the 'big boys' but I want/need to change the parameters.

What I am developing in theory is not only mechanical but has chemical properties that need to be considered. These have been researched and data is available, just not in/for my application. It is a combination of well known principles and functions, reactions.

What I would like to avoid is asking for programs, simulation processes that are not used or available to the experts. I just know too little about this subject and even this question here could be embarrassing. I feel like a child in a lolly shop with not much money and no idea how the wrapping of the sweets is influencing my decision making.

Well, bottom line is that I suppose the simulation could be more expensive than just setting up the real thing and to just blast away. Or can something like the above be simulated with out sparks coming out of my computer or that gray matter which is supposedly hidden between my ears?

Sorry to slow down the class with such questions but I need some guidance. I could have PM'd you but am willing to take suggestions, advice from any one contributing to this blog.

This project is slowly getting to the next stage of metamorphosis and it could be that it never gets to the next stage. This will greatly depend on the time I invest and on the feedback I get.

Me hopeless? One a scale from 1 to 10? The dial has not enough digits to show.

Again, it's great to be here, Ky.

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#78
In reply to #75

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 8:01 PM

The video reminds me of some work that was going on at Southwest Research Institute back in the 1980's when I was there- I wasn't involved in it, but would drop in on the lab when I had a few spare moments because it interested me...They had quite a few engines set up (gasoline and diesel) and had a multi-million dollar research project going on- I'm not sure who the sponsor was, although I suspect it may have been the US Department of Energy. Very extensive test instrumentation, including video of the combustion chamber...

But, that was back then, before we had all the simulation capabilities...

Regarding your specific questions, one needs some pretty extensive background in combustion processes just to set the simulation up. "Pretty Graphics" are what you do after you figure out the science...

One of the issues with software in general is that, if you don't have a good foundation in the physics, no software package is going to be able to produce reliable simulation results. As to finding the appropriate "expert" to explore this with you, I have some ideas, but we should take that off line (and good results are likely not to be cheap). I am not the expert you need for this project (although it does sound like fun!). Have you investigated the possibility of working with a local university? Sometimes, you find graduate students with a lot of time on their hands that would like to tackle this sort of thing...

You should not be hopeless.
There are possibilities...Maybe we have someone else here that would like to chase this one down?

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#62

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/20/2010 8:48 PM

I just stumbled across a website I haven't seen before.
http://www.brighthub.com/

it has 792 articles on Linux... and at other parts of the site, reviews of cad software.. I don't know if there are articles on cad that runs on linux.. didn't go that deep into it.

http://www.brighthub.com/computing/linux/articles.aspx
http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/mechanical/articles/15341.aspx

The site itself appears to be 'open source' in that the mission is to share knowledge, including a ton of engineering knowledge. I like it. (I was looking first at an article on conveyor idlers)

engineering related...
http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/mechanical.aspx
http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/mechanical/articles/41376.aspx
http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/mechanical/topics/hvac.aspx
http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/mechanical/topics/machines-mechanisms.aspx
http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/mechanical/topics/manufacturing-technology.aspx

http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/civil.aspx
http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/marine.aspx
http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/electrical.aspx

Chris

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#63
In reply to #62

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/20/2010 11:22 PM

Excellent, Chris- the sort of information we would like to gather here!

Charlie

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#64
In reply to #62

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/20/2010 11:37 PM

I also see that I have been mis-informed about one of my old favorites- I was under the impression that TurboCAD had disappeared from the marketplace. I see from your references, Chris, that it is still available. I haven't tried the newer versions, and it is not OpenSource or Free (but the price is quite reasonable for the quality- under $100.00), nor does it run natively in Linux. What I liked about the older version that I used under Windows 98SE (and earlier) was the intuitive interface and a very extensive library of international graphics symbols. And, very, very good documentation. Well worth consideration:

http://www.imsidesign.com/

These are the same people bringing us DoubleCAD XT, which does come in a free version with no use restrictions, although some functionality restrictions. Based on our experiences with DoubleCAD XT, it is probably a pretty safe bet that TurboCAD is still a quality product.

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#65
In reply to #64

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 6:10 AM

I'm not really a CAD user but I've got TurboCAD 15 (it's now at 17) and it seems to work very well (especially compared to AutoCAD which I have to use occasionally for work).

My understanding of DoubleCAD is that it is designed to have the look and feel of AutoCAD light (2D only).

For anyone just looking for fairly simple 2D CAD the Learning edition of TurboCAD 4 is still available FREE here- http://selectfreeware.com/node/269

It doesn't use nearly so much space or power on your PC and comes with a couple of good books for learning CAD.

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#66
In reply to #65

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 8:24 AM

Don't download TurboCAD LE from that site, its infected with a virus.

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#67
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Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 10:10 AM

Oh dear! Sorry.

Do you know which part of the download is infected?

If anyone wants to send me a private message I will send the file which I used to install on my PC. I also have the two books in pdf format which I extracted from the download from the site I pointed to.

completeguidetoturbocadv4.pdf AND turbocadv4forautocadr14users.pdf

I would guess that only the first of those two books is likely to be of any use to anyone.

Randall

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#69
In reply to #66

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 1:46 PM

Andy- the site offers an alternative download site- are both infected?

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#71
In reply to #69

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 4:06 PM

I have not tried the other part. Once I see an infection I just leave that complete site alone....

By the way, my software has saved me many times over the years:-

1.Good antivrus - up to date each day. €15 per year

2.Software firewall. Part of the above.

3.Rootkit scanner. Part of the above.

4.Malware scanner. Part of the above.

5.Hardware Firewall. Part of WLAN Router.

6.German magazine software to make me aware if I am not on the original site (spoofing)....also if something tries to download malware.

Such safety does not even have to be expensive either.....

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#73
In reply to #71

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 4:16 PM

"Safety" was one of the primary motivators for my switch to Linux...a lot less software to keep updated.

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#70
In reply to #66

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 1:59 PM

Here is another possible download site for TurboCAD LE, with some additional assessment (especially, it seems unreliable on Windows XP...).

Here is another site that might be of interest: http://freecad.com/

I personally am not averse to actually paying a reasonable price for a decent CAD package that I can use on my Linux systems- but to me, several thousand dollars for a license is not justifiable, considering what I use it for.

I keep hoping for a decent OpenSource solution, but this is one area that OpenSource is lagging at present...

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#72
In reply to #70

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 4:14 PM

I wonder why these professional software vendors can't create a standalone cad package that can be 'rented', that the user downloads, the software tracks usage internally, and then is 'returned' to the vendor, and an invoice issued for the usage?? If the system would use IP addresses as the basis for the transaction, then even passwords would not be needed. (just the IP)

I surmise the answer is... any (windows) application can be hacked... but for the average user, that isn't a possibility.

what do you think? just another crazy idea.

chris

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#74
In reply to #72

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 4:23 PM

Chris-

This is actually part of what people are talking about with the "cloud" hoopla, and has some potential (I don't know of any particular major CAD house actively pursuing this, although I do believe both Autodesk and Pro/E mention such an approach on their websites). A major issue I see with this for graphics applications, however, is that there is such a tremendous learning curve, and, if you aren't using the software on a regular basis, 1) you have to refresh your skills each time you want to use it; and 2) what do you do when the vendor "updates" the cloud application, and you have to go through a whole new learning curve to come up to productive speed with the new version? At least if you own the software, you have some control over when it gets updated, and you are more likely to maintain your user skills between sessions...

It would still be better than multi-thousand dollar investments...

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#77
In reply to #74

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 6:59 PM

The learning curve

for cad packages that is one of the most difficult parts

I'm no expert by any means, I've tried a few, I don't find them to be at all intuitive.

full of arbitrary procedures, which is probably a hold over from the time when cpu speed & memory were at a premium .

CAD software vendors have done a good job keeping the proprietary aspects, to protect their income, much like the purveyors of automotive information like all data

the lack of a consistent backwards compatible file format helps perpetuate the present situation

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#79
In reply to #77

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 8:05 PM

Garthh-

"The learning curve...for cad packages that is one of the most difficult parts"

I agree with you 100%- and the frustration over the proprietary and constantly changing file formats...

That is one of the reasons I am looking for an alternative (it doesn't necessarily have to be free, but it should be open!).

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#83
In reply to #79

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/22/2010 5:27 AM

Not free but open? Am I missing something?

I feel that "not open but free" may be a better option??

Please explain......I am all ears....

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#84
In reply to #83

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/22/2010 6:01 AM

Linus Torvalds is famous for saying that you should think of the "Free" in FOSS as in "free speech" not as in "free beer".

See MarcL's post:- post #61

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#85
In reply to #83

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/22/2010 11:34 AM

This is one of the major obfucations that we need to clear up. My personal usage is that "free" refers to what I have to pay for it. "Open" means I have full ownership of the code, that I can actually examine it, modify it, repackage it within my own development, or do with it however I see fit. Now, just as there are different sets of restrictions imposed by "free" software (some are totally free and unencumbered, Like DobleDAD XT, some are free for personal use only- you are legally required to pay a licensing fee if you use the software for generating income, some have limited capabilities in the free version, requiring one to purchase the full version for a complete set of functionality, etc.), there are different degrees of "open". Richard Stallman is an advocate of the absolute, no-restriction interpretation of "open", while Microsoft represents the opposite end of the spectrum. It is very important that you are aware of the legal limitations imposed by the developer- usually included in the license agreement most of us "accept" without reading when installing the software. I personally am caught somewhere in the middle. What I want is the most appropriate solution that addresses my requirements.

I am not a a professional software developer, but I do occasionally have need to explore how a particular package functions to understand why I am not getting the results I expect (the most common area for me where this is important is certain data acquisition software, getting the computer to talk to external equipment). For me, this is one of the most important aspects of OpenSource. It is much easier to modify someone else's existing code than it is to build my own code from scratch.

I am also willing to pay a reasonable price for software, if it is the most cost-effective way to accomplish the task at hand, but I get heartburn when a software developer thinks I should pay outrageous prices for features I will most likely never use (i.e., your typical word processing application- I might use maybe 10% of all the "features" the developer has included). Those extra features cost me money, because they interfere with my use of the software (wading through all the features I have no use for to find the function that I want, slower performance due to software bloat, etc.). OpenSource theoretically gives me the option to tailor a package to suit my particular needs.

Another advantage I see to OpenSource is that there is a tremendously broad user community that provides real help with issues one encounters. Software doesn't work right? Submit a bug, and in some cases, the solution is posted within minutes (in a lot of other cases, it takes a whole lot longer- not all communities are created equal). The Orca project (an OpenSource accessibilty solution for the visually impaired) is a very good example of an active and vibrant help community. When was the last time you got a useful response from a commercial help desk? My personal experience has also been that the documentation available for many OpenSource solutions is much better than what a lot of commercial houses provide.

With regards to "standards" like *.dxf, the "standard" is absolutely controlled by Autodesk, although they make it freely available. They change it at will, and don't always have adequate documentation of all the included features. So, although I can freely use it if I am developing my own application, it is not "open" in the sense that I do not have access to all of the information needed to take full advantage of the capabilities. This is a personal assessment, and others may have different impressions.

As to "not open but free"- it all depends on what you are trying to accomplish, and what constraints you are dealing with. Sometimes, under certain circumstances, a high-priced commercial application may be the most cost-effective solution...

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#86
In reply to #85

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/25/2010 11:13 PM

Hi all

I just received this http://www.retscreen.net/ang/arenas_supermarkets.php and thought I should put the link here. Maybe it is of some use to some one. I'll find out once I get to the details my self, Ky.

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#87
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Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/25/2010 11:26 PM

Thank you for mentioning this site- www.retscreen.net has a wealth of resources available. Excellent site. One should look at other training courses and software they offer as well...

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#88
In reply to #86

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/26/2010 1:15 AM

I knew about retscreen... (my son told me) but I didn't know about that application. (I think he had some training with retscreen)

good eye matey

Chris

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#95
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Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/29/2010 11:03 AM

SolidWorks are going to use the cloud system for the next release.. or so I am told problems would seem to be giving all your data to the cloud and my snail mail BT internet speed ..I work on commercially sensitive stuff and don't want to share it with the masses and as soon as you get a cloud some hackers will want to rampage it sure as eggs is eggs..Then you have to pay a maintenance subscription to use the cloud.. IF you don't pay you don't get updates(bug fixes) so I will stay with 2010 and not update to the next release.. Why do they SW expect me to pay for updates that are fixes in the code they wrote wrongly in the first place the price of the software in the first place made my eyes water..Beats me but then ..

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#96
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Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/29/2010 11:44 AM

I personally see all this talk of Cloud Computing as spacious- it seems like a move "forward to the past". Isn't this how we used to do things, when you sent everything off to the super computer half way across the country? Back in those days, having the computing power local was considered a major advance...

In addition to your concerns over security, I would add the fact that when one is relying on a provider to maintain the basic software, one has no control over when a software package is updated, or whether you want to use the updated version or not. If you have been working with SolidWorks long enough, you have probably encountered "upgrades" that included major changes to the interface, requiring a new learning curve just to get back to your original productivity level. Then there is the issue of changing file formats...One has more control over the work environment when the software is maintained locally. This is especially crucial for highly technical software that requires significant time to develop skills. And yes, some of the prices some of these developers want for their packages seem outrageous, but there are circumstances where such prices can be justified (i.e., if you happen to work for, or deal with as a primary customer, a major corporation with deep pockets that needs a consistent environment across an international community). Unfortunately, that tends to leave those of us a bit financially challenged out in the cold.

I have been using the "Cloud" for years- all my e-mail is stored in the cloud rather than locally, for example, and I have a couple of repositories for files and pictures that I want to share with others (something I just started experimenting with- perhaps better than e-mailing copies, I just send a link to the repository), but I would not do this with anything I consider critical or proprietary.

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#97
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Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/29/2010 12:28 PM

Oh and I might add ...IF you do not keep up the payments .. you cant have access.. to the old program or the files you have on the cloud.. at least that was how it was explained to me.. so if they put the charges up.. corporates will just tax deduct it from the bottom line, but if I am not having a good year or not earning .. pop no software no files no bussines

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#98
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Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/29/2010 1:42 PM

that is scary.

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#100
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Re: What is OpenSource Software?

11/03/2010 5:30 AM

And another small bright GEM of information.. SW 2010 and 2011 and FUTURE updates are NOT ever going to be backward compatible with previous versions so anything after 2009 .. how about that. I now discover that when you save an old file it converts it to the new standard. Word to any SW2010 users out there when you open a file save it as another name and DO NOT save the original or you are stuffed, all my old work that I have used this year is now locked to this version I cant use 2008 to work on it and sometimes I like to use the old stuff..so they lock you in and throw away the key..If you don't like it you cant then copy all your stuff and go back to your old system the .prt .asm .drw files wont load.. have yet to try it with .step or .iges or binary but got a feeling I am getting s*****d here...

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#101
In reply to #100

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

11/03/2010 9:31 AM

I just ran in to this myself, having received a newer format SLDASM file from a client that I could not read. This is most likely a sneaky way of dealing with pirated software, and seems a bit underhanded to me.

There are some tools for viewing various Solidworks formats, but I don't know for sure how one would go about "reverting" to older formats:

AutoVue from Oracle

eDrawings (read only in the free version- the "publisher" or ther "professional" versions may give you the option to convert back to earlier formats)

There are others that show up on a Google search, but be careful of those coming from off-the-wall companies- this apparently is a popular way to spread malware.

Do you have, in the newer versions, a "Save as..." option in your file menu? This may give you the option of saving in older formats.

It appears that Solidworks isn't the only one playing this game- Autodesk also changes their file formats at will...

You may have better luck with *.stl. *.stp or *.iges formats, since these are targeted at sharing files, but you will likely lose some of the newer "features" of the original software, and the export machines don't always give you "clean" versions- lines don't meet, parts are relocated, etc...

Another reason for migrating towards OpenSource standards...

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#103
In reply to #101

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

11/03/2010 1:49 PM

E drawings viewer is available from SW web site you can view and measure rotate zoom etc..

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#106
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Re: What is OpenSource Software?

11/03/2010 3:37 PM

The latest free version of eDrawings that I have downloaded does not permit measuring, at least on newer Solidworks assembly drawings...

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#76
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Re: What is OpenSource Software?

10/21/2010 6:15 PM

I think that is a great idea.

For a person of your ability it would be feasible to only have the program for a certain period. Just like a phone card which has an expiry date. Recharge at will sort of situation. I wonder why it is not available already.

Maybe one of the companies will pick up on your suggestion and pay you nothing for it. How hard could it be for them to put such a service into place?

Keep on keeping on Chris. One never knows what is around the next corner, good or bad.

Good luck, Ky.

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#102
In reply to #76

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

11/03/2010 1:40 PM

Ky.....That is not the score .. you still have to buy the program and the updates or no deal they do it all on subscription so when mine runs out I HAVE to renew it...or no updates and no support....

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#104
In reply to #102

Re: What is OpenSource Software?

11/03/2010 2:54 PM

It looks like they have learned from the drug (not only illicit) trade?

What a wonderful world, Ky.

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