FreeCAD Scripting Basics

FreeCAD Scripting Basics
Online Help Startpage
Welcome to the FreeCAD on-line help
This document has been automatically created from the contents of the official FreeCAD wiki documentation, which can be read online at . Since the wiki is actively maintained and continuously developed by the
FreeCAD community of developers and users, you may find that the online version contains more or newer information than this document. There you will also
find in-progress translations of this documentation in several languages. But neverthless, we hope you will find here all information you need. In case you have
questions you can't find answers for in this document, have a look on the FreeCAD forum, where you can maybe find your question answered, or someone
able to help you.
How to use
This document is divided into several sections: introduction, usage, scripting and development, the last three address specifically the three broad categories of
users of FreeCAD: end-users, who simply want to use the program, power-users, who are interested by the scripting capabilities of FreeCAD and would like to
customize some of its aspects, and developers, who consider FreeCAD as a base for developing their own applications. If you are comletely new to FreeCAD,
we suggest you to start simply from the introduction.
As you may have experienced sometimes, programmers are really bad help writers! For them it is all completely clear because they made it that way.
Therefore it's vital that experienced users help us to write and revise the documentation. Yes, we mean you! How, you might ask? Just go to the Wiki at in the User section. You will need a sourceforge account to log in, then you can start editing!
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Online_Help_Startpage"
Online Help Toc
Here is the table of Content for the On-line Help system in FreeCAD. The articles referenced here are automatically included in the FreeCAD.chm file by the tool. You find that tool under src/Tools/ A printable version of this manual is also available.
About FreeCAD
Installing on Windows
Installing on Linux/Unix
Installing on Mac
Working with FreeCAD
Getting started
Navigating in the 3D space
The FreeCAD Document
Setting user preferences
Customizing the interface
Object properties
Working with workbenches
The Mesh workbench
The Part workbench
The Drawing workbench
The Raytracing workbench
The Image workbench
The 2D drafting workbench
The Robot workbench
List of all FreeCAD commands
Scripting and Macros
Working with macros
Introduction to python
FreeCAD Scripting Basics
Mesh Scripting
Part Scripting
Converting between Meshes and Parts
The Coin Scenegraph
Working with Pivy
Working with PyQt
Creating parametric objects
Embedding FreeCAD
API documentation
Scripting Examples
Code snippets
Line drawing function
Dialog creation
Developing applications for FreeCAD
Compiling FreeCAD
Finding assistance
Compiling on Windows
Compiling on Unix
Compiling on Mac
Third Party Libraries
Third Party Tools
Start up and Configuration
Build Support Tools
The FreeCAD build tool
Adding an application module
Debugging FreeCAD
Testing FreeCAD
Modifying FreeCAD
Translating FreeCAD
Installing extra python modules
Source documentation
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Online_Help_Toc"
About FreeCAD
the FreeCAD interface
FreeCAD is a general purpose 3D CAD modeler. The development is completely Open Source (GPL & LGPL License). FreeCAD is aimed directly at
mechanical engineering and product design but also fits in a wider range of uses around engineering, such as architecture or other engineering specialties.
FreeCAD features tools similar to Catia, SolidWorks or Solid Edge, and therefore also falls into the category of MCAD, PLM, CAx and CAE. It will be a
feature based parametric modeler with a modular software architecture which makes it easy to provide additional functionality without modifying the core
As with many modern 3D CAD modelers it will have a 2D component in order to extract design detail from the 3D model to create 2D production drawings, but
direct 2D drawing (like AutoCAD LT) is not the focus, neither are animation or organic shapes (like Maya, 3ds Max or Cinema 4D), although, thanks to its
wide adaptability, FreeCAD might become useful in a much broader area than its current focus.
Another major concern of FreeCAD is to make heavy use of all the great open-source libraries that exist out there in the field of Scientific Computing. Among
them are OpenCascade, a powerful CAD kernel, Coin3D, an incarnation of OpenInventor, Qt, the world-famous UI framework, and Python, one of the best
scripting languages available. FreeCAD itself can also be used as a library by other programs.
FreeCAD is also fully multi-platform, and currently runs flawlessly on Windows and Linux/Unix and Mac OSX systems, with the exact same look and
functionality on all platforms.
Got curious? Take a look at the Feature list or the Getting started articles, or head directly to the User hub!
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=About_FreeCAD"
Feature list
This is an extensive, hence not complete, list of features FreeCAD implements. If you want to look into the future see the Development roadmap for a quick
overview the Screenshots are a nice place to go.
General features
Base application
FreeCAD is multi-platform. It runs and behaves exactly the same way on Windows Linux and Mac OSX platforms.
FreeCAD is a full GUI application. FreeCAD has a complete Graphical User Interface based on the famous Qt framework, with a 3D viewer based on
Open Inventor, allowing fast rendering of 3D scenes and a very accessible scene graph representation.
FreeCAD also runs as a command line application, with low memory footprint. In command line mode, FreeCAD runs without its interface, but with
all its geometry tools. It can be, for example, used as server to produce content for other applications.
FreeCAD can be imported as a Python module, inside other applications that can run python scripts, or in a python console. Like in console mode,
the interface part of FreeCAD is unavailable, but all geometry tools are accessible.
Plugin/Module framework for late loading of features/data-types. FreeCAD is divided into a core application and modules, that are loaded only
when needed. Almost all the tools and geometry types are stored in modules. Modules behave like plugins, and can be added or removed to an existing
installation of FreeCAD.
Built-in scripting framework: FreeCAD features a built-in Python interpreter, and an API that covers almost any part of the application, the interface,
the geometry and the representation of this geometry in the 3D viewer. The interpreter can run single commands up to complex scripts, in fact entire
modules can even be programmed completely in Python.
a modular MSI installer allows flexible installations on Windows systems. Packages for Ubuntu systems are also maintained.
Document structure
Undo/Redo framework: Everything is undo/redoable, with access to the undo stack, so multiple steps can be undone at a time.
Transaction management: The undo/redo stack stores document transactions and not single actions, allowing each tool to define exactly what must
be undone or redone.
Parametric associative document objects: All objects in a FreeCAD document can be defined by parameters. Those parameters can be modified on
the fly, and recomputed anytime. The relationship between objects is also stored, so modifying one object also modifies its dependent objects.
Compound (ZIP based) document save format: FreeCAD documents saved with .fcstd extension can contain many different types of information,
such as geometry, scripts or thumbnail icons.
User Interface
Fully customizable/scriptable Graphical User Interface. The Qt-based interface of FreeCAD is entirely accessible via the python interpreter. Aside
from the simple functions that FreeCAD itself provides to workbenches, the whole Qt framework is accessible too, allowing any operation on the GUI,
such as creating, adding, docking, modifying or removing widgets and toolbars.
Workbench concept: In the FreeCAD interface, tools are grouped by workbenches. This allows to display only the tools used to accomplish a certain
task, keeping the workspace uncluttered and responsive, and the application fast to load.
Built-in Python console with syntax highlighting, autocomplete and class browser: Python commands can be issued directly in FreeCAD and
immediately return results, permitting scriptwriters to test functionality on the fly, explore the contents of the modules and easily learn about FreeCAD
User interaction mirroring on the console: Everything the user does in the FreeCAD interface executes python code, which can be printed on the
console and recorded in macros.
Full macro recording & editing: The python commands issued when the user manipulates the interface can then be recorded, edited if needed, and
saved to be reproduced later.
Thumbnailer (Linux systems only at the moment): The FreeCAD document icons show the contents of the file in most file manager applications such
as gnome's nautilus.
Application specific features
The functionality of FreeCAD is separated in modules, each one dealing with special data types and applications:
The Mesh Module deals with 3D meshes. It is intented primarily for import, healing and conversion of third-party generated mesh geometry into
FreeCAD, and export of FreeCAD geometry into mesh formats. But FreeCAD itself also features much more advanced geometry types than meshes.
Primitive creation (box, sphere, cylinder, etc), offset (trivial or after Jung/Shin/Choi) or boolean operations (add, cut, intersect)
Import of the following formats: ASCII or binary STL (Stereo lithography format) (*.stl, *.ast), the OBJ format (*.obj), limited NASTRAN support
(*.nas), Open Inventor meshes (*.iv), and FreeCAD native mesh kernel (*.bms)
Export of the following formats: ASCII or binary STL (Stereo lithography format) (*.stl, *.ast), the OBJ format (*.obj), limited NASTRAN support
(*.nas, *.brl), VRML meshes (*.wrl), FreeCAD native mesh kernel (*.bms), mesh as Python module (*.py)
Testing and repairing tools for meshes: solid test, non-two-manifolds test, self-intersection test, hole filling and uniform orientation.
Extensive Python scripting API.
2D Drafting
Graphical creation of simple planar geometry like lines, wires, rectangles, arcs or circles in any plane of the 3D space
Annotations like texts or dimensions
Graphical modification operations like translation, rotation, scaling, mirroring, offset or shape conversion, in any plane of the 3D space
Import and Export of the following formats: Autodesk's Drawing Exchange Format ( *.dxf), Open Cad Format (*.oca, *.gcad) e SVG (*.svg)
The Part Module deals with everything around CAD modeling and the CAD data structures. The CAD functionality is under heavy development (see the
PartDesign_project and Assembly_project in the Development_roadmap). The Part Module works with high-level Open CASCADE geometry.
Parametric primitive shapes like box, sphere, cylinder, cone or torus.
Topological components like vertices, edges, wires and planes (via python scripting).
Modeling with straight or revolution extrusions, sections and fillets.
Boolean operations like union, difference and intersection.
Extensive Python scripting API.
Import and Export of the following formats: STEP parts and assemblies (*.stp,*.step), IGES models (*.igs, *.iges) and BRep (*.brp), the native format
of our Open CASCADE CAD kernel.
The Raytracing Module permits the export of FreeCAD geometry to external renderers for generation of high-quality images. Currently, the only
supported render engine is POV-Ray. The module currently permits the creation of a render sheet, and adding geometry to that render sheet for export
to a POV-Ray file.
The Drawing Module allows to export projected views of your 3D geometry to a 2D SVG document. It allows the creation of a 2D sheet with an
existing svg template, and the insertion of projected views of your geometry in that sheet. Then the sheet can be saved as a SVG file.
The Cam Module is dedicated to mechanical machining like milling. This module is at the very beginning and at the moment mostly dedicated to
Incremental Sheet Forming. Although there are some algorithms for toolpath planing they are not usable for the end-user at the moment.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Feature_list"
Install on Windows
The easiest way to install FreeCAD on Windows is by using the installer. This page describes the usage and the features of the Microsoft Installer for more
installation options.
Simple Installation
FreeCAD installer is delivered in .msi (Windows Installer) format.
You can download the latest .msi file from the official FreeCAD Download page. After downloading the file, just double-click on it to start the installation
Command Line Installation
With the msiexec.exe command line utility, additional features are available, like non-interactive installation and administrative installation.
Non-interactive Installation
With the command line
msiexec /i FreeCAD<version>.msi
installation can be initiated programmatically. Additional parameters can be passed at the end of this command line, like
msiexec /i FreeCAD-2.5.msi TARGETDIR=r:\FreeCAD25
Limited user interface
The amount of user interface that installer displays can be controlled with /q options, in particular:
/qn - No interface
/qb - Basic interface - just a small progress dialog
/qb! - Like /qb, but hide the Cancel button
/qr - Reduced interface - display all dialogs that don't require user interaction (skip all modal dialogs)
/qn+ - Like /qn, but display "Completed" dialog at the end
/qb+ - Like /qb, but display "Completed" dialog at the end
Target directory
The property TARGETDIR determines the root directory of the FreeCAD installation. For example, a different installation drive can be specified with
The default TARGETDIR is [WindowsVolume\Programm Files\]FreeCAD<version>.
Installation for All Users
causes an installation for all users. By default, the non-interactive installation install the package just for the current user, and the interactive installation offers a
dialog which defaults to "all users" if the user is sufficiently privileged.
Feature Selection
A number of properties allow selection of features to be installed, reinstalled, or removed. The set of features for the FreeCAD installer is
DefaultFeature - install the software proper, plus the core libraries
Documentation - install documentation
Source code - install the sources
... ToDo
In addition, ALL specifies all features. All features depend on DefaultFeature, so installing any feature automatically installs the default feature as well. The
following properties control features to be installed or removed
ADDLOCAL - list of feature to be installed on the local machine
REMOVE - list of features to be removed
ADDDEFAULT - list of features added in their default configuration (which is local for all FreeCAD features)
REINSTALL - list of features to be reinstalled/repaired
ADVERTISE - list of feature for which to perform an advertise installation
There are a few additional properties available; see the MSDN documentation for details.
With these options, adding
installs the interpreter itself and registers the extensions, but does not install anything else.
msiexec /x FreeCAD<version>.msi
FreeCAD can be uninstalled. It is not necessary to have the MSI file available for uninstallation; alternatively, the package or product code can also be
specified. You can find the product code by looking at the properties of the Uninstall shortcut that FreeCAD installs in the start menu.
Administrative installation
msiexec /a FreeCAD<version>.msi
an "administrative" (network) installation can be initiated. The files get unpacked into the target directory (which should be a network directory), but no other
modification is made to the local system. In addition, another (smaller) msi file is generated in the target directory, which clients can then use to perform a local
installation (future versions may also offer to keep some features on the network drive altogether).
Currently, there is no user interface for administrative installations, so the target directory must be passed on the command line.
There is no specific uninstall procedure for an administrative install - just delete the target directory if no client uses it anymore.
msiexec /jm FreeCAD<version>.msi
it would be possible, in principle, to "advertise" FreeCAD to a machine (with /ju to a user). This would cause the icons to appear in the start menu, and the
extensions to become registered, without the software actually being installed. The first usage of a feature would cause that feature to be installed.
The FreeCAD installer currently supports just advertisement of start menu entries, but no advertisement of shortcuts.
Automatic Installation on a Group of Machines
With Windows Group Policy, it is possible to automatically install FreeCAD an a group of machines. To do so, perform the following steps:
Log on to the domain controller
Copy the MSI file into a folder that is shared with access granted to all target machines.
Open the MMC snapin "Active Directory users and computers"
Navigate to the group of computers that need FreeCAD
Open Properties
Open Group Policies
Add a new policy, and edit it
In Computer Configuration/Software Installation, choose New/Package
Select the MSI file through the network path
Optionally, select that you want the FreeCAD to be deinstalled if the computer leaves the scope of the policy.
Group policy propagation typically takes some time - to reliably deploy the package, all machines should be rebooted.
Installation on Linux using Crossover Office
You can install the windows version of FreeCAD on a Linux system using CXOffice 5.0.1. Run msiexec from the CXOffice command line, assuming that the
install package is placed in the "software" directory which is mapped to the drive letter "Y:":
msiexec /i Y:\\software\\FreeCAD<version>.msi
FreeCAD is running, but it has been reported that the OpenGL display does not work, like with other programms running under Wine i.e. Google SketchUp.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Install_on_Window s"
Install on Unix
At the moment, the FreeCAD team only provides installers for 32bit Debian and Ubuntu systems, but some members of the FreeCAD users community also
provide custom installers for other Linux flavors. Please have a look at the Download page to see what is currently availible.
Installing on Debian/Ubuntu systems
Once you downloaded the .deb corresponding to your system version, if you have the Gdebi package installed (usually it is), you just need to navigate to
where you downloaded the file, and double-click on it. The necessary dependencies will be taken care of automatically by your system package manager.
Alternatively you can also install it from the terminal, navigating to where you downloaded the file, and type:
sudo dpkg -i Name_of_your_FreeCAD_package.deb
changing Name_of_your_FreeCAD_package.deb by the name of the file you downloaded.
After you installed FreeCAD, a startup icon will be added in the "Graphic" section of your Start Menu.
Installing on other Linux/Unix systems
Unfortnately, at the moment, no precompiled package is availible for other Linux/Unix systems,so you will need to compile FreeCAD yourself.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Install_on_Unix"
Install on Mac
FreeCAD can be installed on Mac OS X in one step using the Installer. This page describes the usage and features of the FreeCAD installer. It also includes
uninstallation instructions.
Simple Installation
The FreeCAD installer is provided as a Installer package (.mpkg) enclosed in a disk image file.
You can download the latest installer from the Download page. After downloading the file, just mount the disk image, then run the Install FreeCAD package.
The installer will present you with a Customize Installation screen that lists the packages that will be installed. If you know that you already have any of
these packages, you can deselect them using the checkboxes. If you're not sure, just leave all items checked.
There currently isn't an uninstaller for FreeCAD. To completely remove FreeCAD and all installed components, drag the following files and folders to the Trash:
In /Applications:
in /Library/Frameworks/
Then, from the terminal, run:
sudo /Developer/Tools/
sudo rm -R /usr/local/lib/OCC
sudo rm -R /usr/local/include/OCC
That's it. Eventually, FreeCAD will be available as a self-contained application bundle so all this hassle will go away.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Install_on_Mac"
Getting started
FreeCAD is a CAD/CAE parametric modeling application. It is still in early stage of development, so don't expect to be able to use it to produce work already.
But, if you are curious about what FreeCAD looks like and what features are being developed, you are welcome to download it and give it a try. At the moment,
much functionality is already present, but not much user interface has been created for it. This means that if you know a bit of python, you will already be able
to produce and modify complex geometry relatively easily. If not, you will probably find that FreeCAD still has few to offer to you. But, be patient, this is
expected to change soon.
And if after testing you have feedback, ideas or opinions, please share it with us on the FreeCAD discussion forum!
First of all (if not done already) download and install FreeCAD. See the Download page for information about current versions and updates. There are install
packages ready for Windows (.msi), Ubuntu & Debian (.deb) openSUSE (.rpm) and Mac OSX.
Exploring FreeCAD
The FreeCAD interface when you start it for the first time. See more screenshots here.
FreeCAD is a general all-purpose 3D modeling application, focused on mechanical engineering and related areas, such as other engineering specialties or
architecture. It is conceived as a platform for developing any kind of 3D application, but also for doing very specific tasks. For that purpose, its interface is
divided into a serie of Workbenches. Workbenches allow to change the interface contents to display all and only the tools necessary for a specific task, or
group of tasks.
The FreeCAD interface can therefore be described as a very simple container, with a menu bar, a 3D view area, and a couple of side panels for displaying the
scene contents or object properties. All the contents of these panels can be changes depending on the workbench.
When you start FreeCAD for the first time, you will be presented a "general" workbench, that we call "complete workbench". This workbench simply gathers
the most mature tools from other workbenches. Since FreeCAD is pretty young and not yet used for very specialized work, this workbench is very handy for
discovering FreeCAD more easily. Basically, all the tools that are good enough for producing geometry are here.
Navigating in the 3D space
FreeCAD has two different navigation modes availables, that can be set in the preferences settings dialog. In the default mode, zooming is made with the
Mouse wheel , panning with the Middle mouse button , and rotating with the Left mouse button and Middle mouse button simultaneously. Selecting an
object is made simply by clicking on it with the Left mouse button , with CTRL pressed if you want to select several objects.
You also have several view presets (top view, front view, etc) available in the View menu and on the View toolbar, and by numeric shortcuts ( 1 , 2 , etc...)
2D Drafting
Drawing objects
These are tools for creating objects.
2-point Line: Draws a line segment from 2 points
Wire (multiple-point line): Draws a line made of multiple line segments
Circle: Draws a circle from center and radius
Arc: Draws an arc segment from center, radius, start angle and end angle
Rectangle: Draws a rectangle from 2 opposite points
Polygon: Draws a regular polygon from a center and a radius
BSpline: Draws a B-Spline from a serie of points
Text: Draws a multi-line text annotation
Dimension: Draws a dimension annotation
Modifying objects
These are tools for modifying existing objects. They work on selected objects, but if no object is selected, you will be invited to select one.
Move: Moves object(s) from one location to another
Rotate: Rotates object(s) from a start angle to an end angle
Offset: Moves segments of an object about a certain distance
Upgrade: Joins objects into a higher-level object
Downgrade: Explodes objects into lower-level objects
Trim/Extend (Trimex): Trims or extends an object
Scale: Scales selected object(s) around a base point
Edit: Edits a selected object
Drawing: Writes selected objects to a Drawing sheet
Creating 3D Parts
These are tools for creating primitive objects.
Box: Draws a box by specifying its dimensions
Cone: Draws a cone by specifying its dimensions
Cylinder: Draws a cylinder by specifying its dimensions
Sphere: Draws a sphere by specifying its dimensions
Torus: Draws a torus (ring) by specifying its dimensions
Modifying objects
These are tools for modifying existing objects. They will allow you to choose which object to modify.
Booleans: Performs boolean operations on objects
Fuse: Fuses (unions) two objects
Common: Extracts the common (intersection) part of two objects
Cut: Cuts (subtracts) one object from another
Extrude: Extrudes planar faces of an object
Fillet: Fillets (rounds) edges of an object
Revolve: Creates an object by revolving another object around an axis
Section: Creates a section by intersecting an object with a section plane
Chamfer: Chamfers edges of an object
Mirror: Mirrors the selected object around a given axis
Exporting to 2D Drawings
These are tools for creating, configuring and exporting 2D drawing sheets
New drawing sheet: Creates a new drawing sheet from an existing SVG file
New A3 landscape drawing: Creates a new drawing sheet from FreeCAD's default A3 template
Insert a view: Inserts a view of the selected object in the active drawing sheet
Save sheet: Saves the current sheet as a SVG file
Exporting to external renderers
These are tools for exporting your 3D work to external renderers
Create a Povray project: Creates a new POV-Ray project
Insert view info: Inserts the view info (camera position, etc) to the current POV-Ray project
Insert part info:Inserts the selected object to the current POV-Ray project
And finally, one of the most powerful features of FreeCAD is the scripting environment. From the integrated python console (or from any other external python
script), you can gain access to almost any part of FreeCAD, create or modify geometry, modify the representation of those objects in the 3D scene or access
and modify the FreeCAD interface. Python scripting can also be used in macros, which provide an easy method to create custom commands.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Getting_started"
Mouse Model
The mouse model of FreeCAD is very flexible and intuitive and with a few hints you can use it after only a minute of practice.
Selecting objects
Objects can be selected by a click with the left mouse button either by clicking on the object in the 3D-view or by selecting it in the tree view. There is also a
Preselection mechanism that highlights objects and displays information about them before selection just by hovering the mouse over it. If you don't like that
behaviour or you have a slow machine, you can switch preselection off in the preferences.
Handling Objects
The object handling is common to all workbenches. The following mouse gestures can be used to control the object position and view.
Press the left mouse button over an object you want to select.
Use the + or - keys or the mouse wheel to zoom in and out.
Click the middle mouse button and move the object around.
Click first with the middle mouse button, hold it and the click the left mouse button on any visible part of an object and drag it in the desired direction.
This works like spinning a ball that rotates around its center. If you release the buttons before you stop your motion, the object continues spinning, if
this is enabled.
Setting Center of Rotation
A double click with the middle mouse button on any part of an object sets the new center of rotation and zooms in on this point.
Manipulating Objects
FreeCAD offers manipulators that can be used to modify an object or its visual appearance. A simple example is the clipping plane wich can be activated
with the View→Clipping Plane menu. After activation the clipping plane object appears and shows seven obvious manipulators as little boxes: One on each end
of its three coordinate axes and one on the center of the plane normal axis. There are four more that are not as obvious: The plane itself and the thin part of the
three axis objects.
To scale the object click with the left mouse button on the box manipulators at the end of the axes and pull them back and forth. Depending on the
object the manipulators work independently or synchronously.
Out of plane shifting
To shift the object along its normal vector, pull the long box on the center of an axis with the left mouse button. For the clipping plane there is only one
manipulator along the normal vector.
In plane shifting
To move the center of the clipping plane, click on the plane object and pull it to the desired location.
Clicking on the thin part of the axes puts the manipulator in rotation mode.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Mouse_Model"
Document structure
A FreeCAD document contains all the objects of your scene. It can contain groups, and objects made with any workbench. You can therefore switch between
workbenches, and still work on the same document. The document is what gets saved to disk when you save your work. You can also open several documents
at the same time in FreeCAD, and open several views of the same document.
Inside the document, the objects can be moved into and groups, and have a unique name. Managing groups, objects and object names is done mainly from the
Tree view. It can also be done, of course, like everything in FreeCAD, from the python interpretor. In the Tree view, you can create groups, move objects to
groups, delete objects or groups, by right-clicking in the tree view or on an object, rename objects by double-clicking on their names, or possibly other
operations, depending on the current workbench.
The objects inside a FreeCAD document can be of different types. Each workbench can create its own types of objects, for example the Mesh Workbench
creates mesh objects, the Part Workbench create Part objects, the Draft Workbench also creates Part objects, etc.
If there is at least one document open in FreeCAD, there is always one and only one active document. That's the document that appears in the current 3D view,
the document you are currently working on.
Application and User Interface
Like almost everything else in FreeCAD, the user interface part (Gui) is separated from the base application part (App). This is also valid for documents. The
documents are also made of two parts: the Application document, which contains our objects, and the View document, which contains the representation on
screen of our objects.
Think of it as two spaces, where the objects are defined. Their constructive parameters (is it a cube? a cone? which size?) are stored in the Application
document, while their graphical representation (is it drawn with black lines? with blue faces?) are stored in the View document. Why is that? Because FreeCAD
can also be used WITHOUT graphical interface, for example inside other programs, and we must still be able to manipulate our objects, even if nothing is
drawn on the screen.
Another thing that is contained inside the View document are 3D views. One document can have several views opened, so you can inspect your document from
several points of view at the same time. Maybe you would want to see a top view and a front view of your work at the same time? Then, you will have two views
of the same document, both stored in the View document. Create new views or close views can be done from the View menu or by right-clicking on a view tab.
Documents can be easily created, accessed and modified from the python interpreter. For example:
Will return the current (active) document
Would access an object called "Blob" inside your document
Will return the view document associated to the current document
Would access the graphical representation (view) part of our Blob object
Will return the current view
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Document_structure"
Preferences Editor
The preferences system of FreeCAD is located in the Edit menu -> Preferences.
FreeCAD functionality is divided into different modules, each module being responsible for the working of a specific workbench. FreeCAD also uses a concept
called late loading, which means that components are loaded only when they are needed. You may have noticed that when you select a workbench on the
FreeCAD toolbar, that workbench and all its components get loaded at that moment. This includes its preferences settings.
The general preferences settings
When you start FreeCAD with no workbench loaded, you will then have a minimal preferences window. As you load additional modules, new sections will
appear in the preferences window, allowing you to configure the details of each workbench.
Without any module loaded, you will have access to two configuration sections, responsibles for the general application settings and for the display settings.
The display settings
FreeCAD is always in constant evolution, so the contents of those screens might differ from the above screenshots. The settings are usually self-explanatory,
so you shouldn't meet any difficulty configuring FreeCAD to your needs.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Preferences_Editor"
Interface Customization
Since FreeCAD interface is based on the modern Qt toolkit, it has a state-of-the-art organization. Widgets, menus, toolbars and other tools can be modified,
moved, shared between workbenches, keyboard shortcuts can be set, modified, and macros can be recorded and played. The customization window is
accessed from the Tools -> Customize menu:
The Commands tab lets you browse all available FreeCAD commands, organized by their category.
I n Keyboard, you can see the keyboard shortcuts associated with every FreeCAD command, and if you want, modify or assign new shortcut to any
command. This is where to come if you use a particular workbench often, and would like to speed up its use by using the keyboard.
The Toolbars and Toolbox bars tabs let you modify existing toolbars, or create your own custom toolbars.
The Macros tab lets you manage your saved Macros.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Interface_Customization"
A property is a piece of information like a number or a text string that is attached to a FreeCAD document or an object in a document. Properties can be
viewed and - if allowed - modified with the property editor.
Properties play a very important part in FreeCAD, since it is from the beginning made to work with parametric objects, which are objects defined only by their
Custom scripted objects in FreeCAD can have properties of the following types:
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Property"
FreeCAD, like many modern design applications such as Revit or Catia, is based on the concept of Workbench. A workbench can be considered as a set of
tools specially grouped for a certain task. In a traditional furniture workshop, you would have a work table for the person who works with wood, another one for
the one who works with metal pieces, and maybe a third one for the guy who mounts all the pieces together.
In FreeCAD, the same concept applies. Tools are grouped into workbenches according to the tasks they are related to.
Currently we have the following workbenches available:
Built-in workbenches
The Mesh Workbench for working with triangulated meshes.
The Part Workbench for working with CAD parts.
The Image Workbench for working with bitmap images.
The Raytracing Workbench for working with ray-tracing (rendering).
The Draft Workbench for doing basic 2D CAD drafting.
The Drawing workbench for displaying your 3D work on a 2D sheet.
The Robot Workbench for studying robot movements.
The Sketcher Workbench for working with geometry-constrained sketches
The Part Design Workbench for building Part shapes from sketches
Several testing workbenches. You'll find in the workbenches list several workbenches for testing different areas and functionalities since FreeCAD is still
in an early phase of development.
New workbenches are in development, stay tuned!
When you switch from one workbench to another, the tools available on the interface change. Toolbars, command bars and eventually other parts of the
interface switch to the new workbench, but the contents of your scene doesn't change. You could, for example, start drawing 2D shapes with the Draft
Workbench, then work further on them with the Part Workbench.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Workbenches"
Mesh Workbench
(Redirected from Mesh Module)
The Mesh Workbench handles triangle meshes. Meshes are a special type of 3D objects, composed of triangles conected by their edges and their corners
(also called vertices).
An example of a mesh object
Many 3D applications use meshes as their primary type of 3D object, like sketchup, blender, maya or 3d studio max. Since meshes are very simple
objects, containing only vertices (points), edges and (triangular) faces, they are very easy to create, modify, subdivide, stretch, and can easily be passed from
one application to another without any loss. Besides, since they contain very simple data, 3D applications can usually manage very large quantities of them
without any problem. For those reasons, meshes are often the 3D object type of choice of applications dealing with movies, animation, and image creation.
In the field of engineering, however, meshes present one big limitation: They are very dumb objects, only composed of points,lines and faces. They are only
made of surfaces, and have no mass information, so they don't behave as solids. In a mesh there is no automatic way to know if a point is inside or outside the
object. This means that all solid-based operations, such as addition or subtraction, are always a bit difficult to perform on meshes, and return errors often.
In FreeCAD, since it is an engineering application, we would obviously prefer to work with more intelligent types of 3D objects, that can carry more
informations, such as mass, solid behaviour, or even custom parameters. The mesh module was first created to serve as a testbed, but be able to read,
manipulate and convert meshes is also highly important for FreeCAD. Very often, in your workflow, you will receive 3D data in mesh format. You will need to
handle that data, analyse it to detect errors or other problems that prevent converting them to more intelligent objects, and finally, convert them to more
intelligent objects, handled by the Part Module.
Using the mesh module
The mesh module has currently a very simple interface, all its functions are grouped in the Mesh menu entry. The most important operations you can currently
do with meshes are:
Import meshes in several file formats
Export meshes in several file formats
Convert Part objects into meshes
Analyse curvature, faces, and check if a mesh can be safely converted into a solid
Flip mesh normals
Close holes in meshes
Remove faces of meshes
Union, subtract and intersect meshes
Create mesh primitives, like cubes, spheres, cones or cylinders
Cut meshes along a line
These are only some of the basic operations currently present in the Mesh module interface. But the FreeCAD meshes can also be handled in many more
ways by scripting.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Mesh_Workbench"
Part Module
the CAD capabilities of FreeCAD are based on the OpenCasCade kernel. The Part module allows FreeCAD to access and use the OpenCasCade objects and
functions. OpenCascade is a professional-level CAD kernel, that features advanced 3D geometry manipulation and objects. The Part objects, unlike Mesh
Module objects, are much more complex, and therefore permit much more advanced operations, like coheent booleans operations, modifications history and
parametric behaviour.
Example of Part shapes in FreeCAD
The tools
The Part module tools are all located in the Part menu that appears when you load the Part module.
These are tools for creating primitive objects.
Box: Draws a box by specifying its dimensions
Cone: Draws a cone by specifying its dimensions
Cylinder: Draws a cylinder by specifying its dimensions
Sphere: Draws a sphere by specifying its dimensions
Torus: Draws a torus (ring) by specifying its dimensions
Modifying objects
These are tools for modifying existing objects. They will allow you to choose which object to modify.
Booleans: Performs boolean operations on objects
Fuse: Fuses (unions) two objects
Common: Extracts the common (intersection) part of two objects
Cut: Cuts (subtracts) one object from another
Extrude: Extrudes planar faces of an object
Fillet: Fillets (rounds) edges of an object
Revolve: Creates an object by revolving another object around an axis
Section: Creates a section by intersecting an object with a section plane
Chamfer: Chamfers edges of an object
Mirror: Mirrors the selected object around a given axis
Boolean Operations
An example of union (Fuse), intersection (Common) and difference (Cut)
Explaining the concepts
In OpenCasCade terminology, we distinguish between geometric primitives and (topological) shapes. A geometric primitive can be a point, a line, a circle, a
plane, etc. or even some more complex types like a B-Spline curve or surface. A shape can be a vertex, an edge, a wire, a face, a solid or a compound of other
shapes. The geometric primitive are not made to be directly displayed on the 3D scene, but rather to be used as building geometry for shapes. For example, an
edge can be constructed from a line or from a portion of a circle.
We could say, to resume, that geometry primitive are "shapeless" building blocks, and shapes are the real spatial geometry built on it.
To get a complete list of all of them refer to the OCC documentation and search for Geom_Geometry and TopoDS_Shape. There you can also read more
about the differences between geometric objects and shapes. Please note that unfortunately the OCC documentation is not available online (you must
download an archive) and is mostly aimed at programmers, not at end-users. But hopefully you'll find enough information to get started here.
The geometric types actually can be divided into two major groups: curves and surfaces. Out of the curves (line, circle, ...) you can directly build an edge, out
of the surfaces (plane, cylinder, ...) a face can be built. For example, the geometric primitive line is unlimited, i.e. it is defined by a base vector and a direction
vector while its shape representation must be something limited by a start and end point. And a box -- a solid -- can be created by six limited planes.
From an edge or face you can also go back to its geometric primitive counter part.
Thus, out of shapes you can build very complex parts or, the other way round, extract all sub-shape a more complex shape is made of.
The main data structure used in the Part module is the BRep data type from OpenCascade. About all contents and object types of the Part module are now
available to python scripting. This includes geometric primitives, such as Line and Circle (or Arc), and the whole range of TopoShapes, like Vertexes, Edges,
Wires, Faces, Solids and Compounds. For each of those objects, several creations methods exist, and for some of them, especially the TopoShapes,
advanced operations like booleans union/difference/intersection are also available. Explore the contents of the Part module, as described in the FreeCAD
Scripting Basics page, to know more.
To create a line element switch to the Python console and type in:
import Part,PartGui
Let's go through the above python example step by step:
import Part,PartGui
loads the Part module and creates a new document
Line is actually a line segment, hence the start and endpoint.
This adds a Part object type to the document and assigns the shape representation of the line segment to the 'Shape' property of the added object. It is
important to understand here that we used a geometric primitive (the Part.line) to create a TopoShape out of it (the toShape() method). Only Shapes can be
added to the document. In FreeCAD, geometry primitives are used as "building structures" for Shapes.
Updates the document. This also prepare the visual representation of the new part object.
Note that a Line can be created by specifiying its start and endpoint directly in the constructor, for ex. Part.Line(point1,point2) or we can create a default line
and set its properties afterwards, like we did here.
A circle can be created in a similar way:
import Part
doc = App.activeDocument()
c = Part.Circle()
f = doc.addObject("Part::Feature", "Circle")
f.Shape = c.toShape()
Note again, we used the circle (geometry primitive) to construct a shape out of it. We can of course still access our construction geometry afterwards, by
s = f.Shape
e = s.Edges[0]
c = e.Curve
Here we take the shape of our object f, then we take its list of edges, in this case there will be only one because we made the whole shape out of a single
circle, so we take only the first item of the Edges list, and we takes its curve. Every Edge has a Curve, which is the geometry primitive it is based on.
Head to the Topological data scripting page if you would like to know more.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Part_Module"
Drawing Module
The Drawing module allows you to put your 3D work on paper. That is, to put views of your models in a 2D window and to insert that window in a drawing, for
example a sheet with a border, a title and your logo and finally print that sheet. The Drawing module is currently under construction and more or less a
technology preview!
GUI Tools
These are tools for creating, configuring and exporting 2D drawing sheets
New drawing sheet: Creates a new drawing sheet from an existing SVG file
New A3 landscape drawing: Creates a new drawing sheet from FreeCAD's default A3 template
Insert a view: Inserts a view of the selected object in the active drawing sheet
Save sheet: Saves the current sheet as a SVG file
In the picture you see the main concepts of the Drawing module. The document contains a shape object (Schenkel) which we want to extract to a drawing.
Therefore a "Page" is created. A page gets instantiated through a template, in this case the "A3_Landscape" template. The template is an SVG document
which can hold your usual page frame, your logo or comply to your presentation standards.
In this page we can insert one or more views. Each view has a position on the page (Properties X,Y), a scale factor (Property scale) and additional properties.
Every time the page or the view or the referenced object changes the page gets regenerated and the page display updated.
At the moment the end user(GUI) workflow are very limited, so the scripting API is more interesting. Here follows examples on how to use the scripting API of
the drawing module.
Simple example
First of all you need the Part and the Drawing module:
import FreeCAD, Part, Drawing
Create a small sample part,100,100).cut(Part.makeCylinder(80,100)).cut(Part.makeBox(90,40,100)).cut(Part.makeBox(20,85,100)))
Direct projection. The G0 means hard edge, the G1 is tangent continuous.
Shape = App.ActiveDocument.Shape.Shape
[visibleG0,visibleG1,hiddenG0,hiddenG1] = Drawing.project(Shape)
print "visible edges:", len(visibleG0.Edges)
print "hidden edges:", len(hiddenG0.Edges)
Everything was projected on the Z-plane:
print "Bnd Box shape: X=",Shape.BoundBox.XLength," Y=",Shape.BoundBox.YLength," Z=",Shape.BoundBox.ZLength
print "Bnd Box project: X=",visibleG0.BoundBox.XLength," Y=",visibleG0.BoundBox.YLength," Z=",visibleG0.BoundBox.ZLength
Different projection vector
[visibleG0,visibleG1,hiddenG0,hiddenG1] = Drawing.project(Shape,Base.Vector(1,1,1))
Project to SVG
resultSVG = Drawing.projectToSVG(Shape,App.Vector(1,1,1))
print resultSVG
The parametric way
Create the body
# Create three boxes and a cylinder
# Fuse two boxes and the cylinder
App.activeDocument().Fusion.Base = App.activeDocument().Cylinder
App.activeDocument().Fusion.Tool = App.activeDocument().Box1
App.activeDocument().Fusion1.Base = App.activeDocument().Box2
App.activeDocument().Fusion1.Tool = App.activeDocument().Fusion
# Cut the fused shapes from the first box
App.activeDocument().Shape.Base = App.activeDocument().Box
App.activeDocument().Shape.Tool = App.activeDocument().Fusion1
# Hide all the intermediate shapes
Insert a Page object and assign a template
App.activeDocument().Page.Template = App.getResourceDir()+'Mod/Drawing/Templates/A3_Landscape.svg'
Create a view on the "Shape" object, define the position and scale and assign it to a Page
App.activeDocument().View.Source = App.activeDocument().Shape
App.activeDocument().View.Direction = (0.0,0.0,1.0)
App.activeDocument().View.X = 10.0
App.activeDocument().View.Y = 10.0
Create a second view on the same object but this time the view will be rotated by 90 degrees.
App.activeDocument().ViewRot.Source = App.activeDocument().Shape
App.activeDocument().ViewRot.Direction = (0.0,0.0,1.0)
App.activeDocument().ViewRot.X = 290.0
App.activeDocument().ViewRot.Y = 30.0
App.activeDocument().ViewRot.Scale = 1.0
App.activeDocument().ViewRot.Rotation = 90.0
Create a third view on the same object but with an isometric view direction. The hidden lines are activated too.
App.activeDocument().ViewIso.Source = App.activeDocument().Shape
App.activeDocument().ViewIso.Direction = (1.0,1.0,1.0)
App.activeDocument().ViewIso.X = 335.0
App.activeDocument().ViewIso.Y = 140.0
App.activeDocument().ViewIso.ShowHiddenLines = True
Change something and update. The update process changes the view and the page.
App.activeDocument().View.X = 30.0
App.activeDocument().View.Y = 30.0
App.activeDocument().View.Scale = 1.5
Accessing the bits and pieces
Get the SVG fragment of a single view
ViewSVG = App.activeDocument().View.ViewResult
print ViewSVG
Get the whole result page (it's a file in the document's temporary directory, only read permission)
print "Resulting SVG document: ",App.activeDocument().Page.PageResult
file = open(App.activeDocument().Page.PageResult,"r")
print "Result page is ",len(file.readlines())," lines long"
Important: free the file!
del file
Insert a view with your own content:
App.activeDocument().ViewSelf.ViewResult = """<g id="ViewSelf"
stroke="rgb(0, 0, 0)"
<ellipse cx="40" cy="40" rx="30" ry="15"/>
del Shape,ViewSVG, resultSVG
That leads to the following result:
FreeCAD comes bundled with a set of default templates, but you can find more on the Drawing templates page.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Draw ing_Module"
Raytracing Module
This module is aimed at sending the contents of your scene to an external renderer, for generating photorealistic images of your work. The Raytracing module
is still in very early stage of completion, so you have not many options available at the moment. Currently, only a basic set of tools to export Part objects as
POV-ray files is implemented. Those files can then be loaded into POV-ray and rendered.
GUI Tools
These are tools for exporting your 3D work to external renderers
Create a Povray project: Creates a new POV-Ray project
Insert view info: Inserts the view info (camera position, etc) to the current POV-Ray project
Insert part info:Inserts the selected object to the current POV-Ray project
Export a View
The easiest way is to export the current 3D view and all of its content to a Povray file. First, you must load or create your CAD data and position the 3D View
orientation as you wish. Then choose "Export View..." from the raytracing menu.
You get ask for a location to save the resulting *.pov file. After that you can open it in Povray and render:
As usual in a rendererer you can make big and nice pictures:
Here is how to use these features from python:
import Raytracing,RaytracingGui
OutFile = open('C:/Documents and Settings/jriegel/Desktop/test.pov','w')
del OutFile
About POV-Ray:
About other open-source renderers (for future implementation):
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Raytracing_Module"
Image Module
The image module manages different types of bitmap images, and lets you open them in FreeCAD. Currently, the modules lets you open .bmp, .jpg, .png and
.xpm file formats in a separate viewer window. There is also a tool that allows you to capture an image from a webcam.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Image_Module"
Draft Module
(Redirected from 2d Drafting Module)
The draft Module is a work-in-progress and quite experimental module made to add basic 2d drawing functionality to FreeCAD. It is written entirely in python,
and is also intended to showcase how far you can extend FreeCAD entirely in python, without even touching the source code.
Currently it is not really usable for production work, but already contains a couple of working basic functions. Feel free to test, and give us a feedback on the
discussion page.
The draft workbench is available in your workbenches list. When you activate it, two toolbars will appear; a classical toolbar containing the standard draft
commands listed below and a special command bar that has no tool icon on it, but that is used by the different functions to display their controls. On that
command bar, you can also change general things like current line color and width. As a sidenote, the command bar (and, IMHO, the whole QT interface) looks
much better if you choose the "cleanlooks" style in FreeCAD general preferences...
For an in-depth explanation, read the Draft tutorial (work in progress), or read the quickstart section below to get you quickly on rails.
Not all Draft commands work well in 3D at the moment. So, the best thing to do is to put yourself in orthographic 2D view before starting to draw. To do that,
open or create a new document, then press the O key (or menu view -> orthographic view) to switch to orthographic mode. Then press the 2 key (or menu
view -> standard views -> top) to put you in top view. Now, you are ready to draw. You can also configure freecad (menu edit -> preferences) to always start in
orthographic mode.
All draft commands follow more or less the same rules: Drawing tools will ask you to pick points on the screen or enter numeric coordinates, while modification
tools will ask you to choose an object to work on first, in case no object is selected. In almost all commands, pressing the CTRL key will allow you to snap
to existing points, SHIFT will constrain your movement horizontally, verically or in relation to an existing segment, and in some tools ALT will give you extra
options such as creating a new object instead of transforming an existing one. The ESC key will always cancel the active command.
On some desktop systems (ex. Gnome, Kde), the ALT key is bound by default to moving windows on the desktop.
You might need to change that shortcut key in your desktop preferences.
Some commands work in non-horizontal planes too, just make sure the Z coordinate is unlocked when drawing, and place yourself in the appropriate view.
Below you will find a more complete description of all available tools.
Importing & exporting
These are functions for opening, importing or exporting other file formats. Opening will open a new document with the contents of the file, while importing will
append the file content to the current document. Exporting will save the selected objects to a file. If nothing is selected, then all objects will be exported. Be
aware that since the purpose of the Draft module is to work with 2d objects, those importers focus only on 2d objects, and, although DXF and OCA formats do
support objects definitions in 3D space (objects are not necessarily flat), they won't import volumetric objects like meshes, 3D faces, etc, but rather lines,
circles, texts or flat shapes. Currently supported file formats are:
Autodesk .DXF: Imports and exports DXF files created with other CAD applications
SVG (as geometry): Imports and exports SVG files created with vector drawing applications
Open Cad format .OCA: Imports and exports OCA/GCAD files, a potentially new open CAD file format
Airfoil Data Format .DAT: Imports DAT files describing Airfoil profiles
Drawing objects
These are tools for creating objects.
2-point Line: Draws a line segment from 2 points
Wire (multiple-point line): Draws a line made of multiple line segments
Circle: Draws a circle from center and radius
Arc: Draws an arc segment from center, radius, start angle and end angle
Rectangle: Draws a rectangle from 2 opposite points
Polygon: Draws a regular polygon from a center and a radius
BSpline: Draws a B-Spline from a serie of points
Text: Draws a multi-line text annotation
Dimension: Draws a dimension annotation
Modifying objects
These are tools for modifying existing objects. They work on selected objects, but if no object is selected, you will be invited to select one.
Move: Moves object(s) from one location to another
Rotate: Rotates object(s) from a start angle to an end angle
Offset: Moves segments of an object about a certain distance
Upgrade: Joins objects into a higher-level object
Downgrade: Explodes objects into lower-level objects
Trim/Extend (Trimex): Trims or extends an object
Scale: Scales selected object(s) around a base point
Edit: Edits a selected object
Drawing: Writes selected objects to a Drawing sheet
Common behaviours
Snapping: Allows to place new points on special places on existing objects
Constraining: Allows to place new points horizontally or vertically in relation to previous points
Working with manual coordinates: Allows to enter manual coordinates instead of clicking on screen
Copying: All modification tools can either modify the selected objects or create a modified copy of them. Pressing ALT while using the tool will make a
Construction Mode: Allows you to put geometry apart from the rest, for easy switch on/switch off
Work Plane : All Draft commands can be used on any plane in the 3D space. The current working plane can be easily configured
All newly created objects adopt current Draft color and width
The Draft module also has its preferences screen
See the Draft API page for a complete description of the Draft functions that you can use in scripts and macros
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Draft_Module"
Robot Workbench
(Redirected from Robot Module)
The robot workbench is a tool to simulate industrial grade 6-Axis Robots, like e.g. Kuka. You can do following tasks:
set up a simulation environment with a robot and work pieces
create and fill up trajectories
decompose features of an CAD part to a trajectory
simulate the robot movement and reachability
export the trajectory to a robot program file
An examples you can find here: Example files or try the Robot tutorial.
Here the principal commands you can use to create a robot set-up.
The tools to create and manage the 6-Axis robots
Create a robot: Insert a new robot into the scene
Simulate a trajectory: Opens the simulation dialog and let you simulate
Export a trajectory: Export a robot program file
Set home positon: Set the home position of an robot
Restore home positon: move the robot to its home position
Tools to creat and manipulate trajectories. There are two kinds, the parametric and non parametric ones.
non parametric
Create a trajectory: Insert a new robot into the scene
Set the default orientation: Set the orientation way-points gets created by default
Set the default speed parameter: set the defaults for way-point creation
Insert a waypoint: Insert a way-point from the current robot position into a trajectory
Insert a waypoint: Insert a way-point from the current mouse position into a trajectory
Create a trajectory out of edges: Insert a new object which decompose edges to a trajectory
Dress-up a trajectory: Let you override one or more properties of a trajectory
Trajectory compound: create a compound out of some single trajectories
This section is generated out of: You can
use this file directly if you want.
Example how to use the basic robot class Robot6Axis which represents a 6-axis industrial robot. The Robot module is dependent on Part but not on other
modules. It works mostly with the basic types Placement, Vector and Matrix. So we need only:
from Robot import *
from Part import *
from FreeCAD import *
Basic robot stuff
create the robot. If you do not specify another kinematic it becomes a Puma 560
rob = Robot6Axis()
print rob
accessing the axis and the Tcp. Axes go from 1-6 and are in degree:
Start = rob.Tcp
print Start
print rob.Axis1
move the first axis of the robot:
rob.Axis1 = 5.0
the Tcp has changed (forward kinematic)
print rob.Tcp
move the robot back to start position (reverse kinematic):
rob.Tcp = Start
print rob.Axis1
the same with axis 2:
rob.Axis2 = 5.0
print rob.Tcp
rob.Tcp = Start
print rob.Axis2
w = Waypoint(Placement(),name="Pt",type="LIN")
print w.Name,w.Type,w.Pos,w.Cont,w.Velocity,w.Base,w.Tool
generate more. The trajectory always finds automatically a unique name for the waypoints
l = [w]
for i in range(5):
create a trajectory
t = Trajectory(l)
print t
for i in range(7):
see a list of all waypoints:
print t.Waypoints
del rob,Start,t,l,w
working with the document
Working with the robot document objects: first create a robot in the active document
if(App.activeDocument() == None):App.newDocument()
Define the visual representation and the kinematic definition (see 6-Axis Robot for details about that)
App.activeDocument().Robot.RobotVrmlFile = App.getResourceDir()+"Mod/Robot/Lib/Kuka/kr500_1.wrl"
App.activeDocument().Robot.RobotKinematicFile = App.getResourceDir()+"Mod/Robot/Lib/Kuka/kr500_1.csv"
start positon of the Axis (only that which differ from 0)
App.activeDocument().Robot.Axis2 = -90
App.activeDocument().Robot.Axis3 = 90
retrieve the Tcp position
pos = FreeCAD.getDocument("Unnamed").getObject("Robot").Tcp
move the robot
FreeCAD.getDocument("Unnamed").getObject("Robot").Tcp = pos
create an empty Trajectory object in the active document
get the Trajectory
t = App.activeDocument().Trajectory.Trajectory
add the actual TCP position of the robot to the trajectory
StartTcp = App.activeDocument().Robot.Tcp
App.activeDocument().Trajectory.Trajectory = t
print App.activeDocument().Trajectory.Trajectory
insert some more Waypoints and the start point at the end again:
for i in range(7):
t.insertWaypoints(StartTcp) # end point of the trajectory
App.activeDocument().Trajectory.Trajectory = t
print App.activeDocument().Trajectory.Trajectory
To be done..... ;-)
Exporting the trajectory
The trajectory is exported by Python. That means for every control cabinet type there is a post-processor Python module. Here is in detail the Kuka postprocessor described
from KukaExporter import ExportCompactSub
and that's kind of how it's done:
for w in App.activeDocument().Trajectory.Trajectory.Waypoints:
(A,B,C) = (w.Pos.Rotation.toEuler())
print ("LIN {X %.3f,Y %.3f,Z %.3f,A %.3f,B %.3f,C %.3f} ; %s"%(w.Pos.Base.x,w.Pos.Base.y,w.Pos.Base.z,A,B,C,w.Name))
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Robot_Workbench"
Category:Command Reference
(Redirected from List of Commands)
This category contains the help pages of each of FreeCAD command.
Pages in category "Command Reference"
The following 153 pages are in this category, out of 153 total.
M cont.
Draft Apply
Draft Arc
Draft BSpline
Draft Circle
Draft Dimension
Draft Downgrade
Draft Drawing
Draft Edit
Draft Line
Draft Move
Draft Offset
Draft Polygon
Draft Rectangle
Draft Rotate
Draft Scale
Draft Text
Draft Trimex
Draft Upgrade
Draft Wire
Mesh VertexCurvature
Std DlgMacroExecuteDirect
Std DlgMacroRecord
Std DlgMacroStop
Std DlgParameter
Std DlgPreferences
Std Export
Std FreeCADWebsite
Std FreezeViews
Std Import
Std MeasureDistance
Std New
Std OnlineHelp
Std OnlineHelpPython
Std OnlineHelpWebsite
Std Open
Std OrthographicCamera
Std Paste
Std PerspectiveCamera
Std Print
Std PrintPdf
Std ProjectInfo
Std PythonWebsite
Std Quit
Std RecentFiles
Std Redo
Std SaveAs
Std SceneInspector
Std SelectAll
Std SetAppearance
Std TipOfTheDay
Std ToggleClipPlane
Std ToggleVisibility
Std TreeSelection
Std ViewBoxZoom
Std ViewCreate
Std ViewDockUndockFullscreen
Std ViewExamples
Std ViewFitAll
Std ViewFitSelection
Std ViewIvIssueCamPos
Std ViewIvStereo
Std ViewScreenShot
Std ViewXX
Std ViewZoom
Std WhatsThis
Std Workbench
Part Booleans
Part Booleans/fr
Part Box
Part Box/fr
Part Chamfer
Part Chamfer/fr
Part Common
Part Common/fr
Part Cone
Part Cone/fr
Part Cut
Part Cut/fr
Part Cylinder
Part Cylinder/fr
Part Extrude
Part Extrude/fr
Part Fillet
Part Fillet/fr
Part Fuse
Part Fuse/fr
Part Mirror
Part Mirror/fr
Part Revolve
Part Revolve/fr
Part Section
Part Section/fr
Part Sphere
Part Sphere/fr
Part Torus
Part Torus/fr
GuiCommand model
Macro Rotate View
Mesh BoundingBox
Mesh BuildRegularSolid
Mesh CurvatureInfo
Mesh Demolding
Mesh Difference
Mesh EvaluateFacet
Mesh EvaluateSolid
Mesh Evaluation
Mesh ExMakeMesh
Mesh ExMakeTool
Mesh ExMakeUnion
Mesh FillInteractiveHole
Mesh FillupHoles
Mesh FixDegenerations
Mesh FixDuplicateFaces
Mesh FixDuplicatePoints
Mesh FixIndices
Mesh FlipNormals
Mesh FromGeometry
Mesh HarmonizeNormals
Mesh Import
Mesh Intersection
Mesh PolyCut
Mesh PolySegm
Mesh PolySplit
Mesh RemoveCompByHand
Mesh RemoveComponents
Mesh ToolMesh
Mesh Transform
Mesh Union
S cont.
Robot CreateRobot
Robot CreateTrajectory
Robot Edge2Trac
Robot Export
Robot InsertWaypoint
Robot InsertWaypointPre
Robot RestoreHomePos
Robot SetDefaultOrientation
Robot SetDefaultValues
Robot SetHomePos
Robot Simulate
Robot TrajectoryCompound
Robot TrajectoryDressUp
Std About
Std AboutQt
Std CommandLine
Std Copy
Std Cut
Std Delete
Std DlgCustomize
Std DlgMacroExecute
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Category:Command_Reference"
Macros are a convenient way to create complex actions in FreeCAD. You simply record actions as you do them, then save that under a name, and replay them
whenever you want. Since macros are in reality a list of python commands, you can also edit them, and create very complex scripts.
How it works
If you enable console output (Menu Edit -> Preferences -> General -> Macros -> Show scripts commands in python console), you will see that in FreeCAD,
every action you do, such as pressing a button, outputs a python command. Thos commands are what can be recorded in a macro. The main tool for making
macros is the macros toolbar:
. On it you have 4 buttons: Record, stop recording, edit and play the current macro.
It is very simple to use: Press the record button, you will be asked to give a name to your macro, then perform some actions. When you are done, click the
stop recording button, and your actions will be saved. You can now access the macro dialog with the edit button:
There you can manage your macros, delete, edit or create new ones from scratch. If you edit a macro, it will be opened in an editor window where you can
make changes to its code.
Press the record button, give a name, let's say "cylinder 10x10", then, in the Part Workbench, create a cylinder with radius = 10 and height = 10. Then, press
the "stop recording" button. In the edit macros dialog, you can see the python code that has been recorded, and, if you want, make alterations to it. To execute
your macro, simply press the execute button on the toolbar while your macro is in the editor. You macro is always saved to disk, so any change you make, or
any new macro you create, will always be available next time you start FreeCAD.
Of course it is not practical to load a macro in the editor in order to use it. FreeCAD provides much better ways to use your macro, such as assigning a
keyboard shortcut to it or putting an entry in the menu. Once your macro is created, all this can be done via the Tools -> Customize menu:
This way you can make your macro become a real tool, just like any standard FreeCAD tool. This, added to the power of python scripting within FreeCAD,
makes it possible to easily add your own tools to the interface. Read on to the Scripting page if you want to know more about python scripting...
Creating macros without recording
You can also directly copy/paste python code into a macro, without recording GUI action. Simply create a new macro, edit it, and paste your code. You can
then save your macro the same way as you save a FreeCAD document. Next time you start FreeCAD, the macro will appear under the "Installed Macros" item
of the Macro menu.
Macros repository
Visit the Macros recipes page to pick some useful macros to add to your FreeCAD installation.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Macros"
Introduction to python
This is a short tutorial made for who is totally new to python. Python is an open-source, multiplatform programming language. Python has several features
that make it very different than other common programming languages, and very accessible to new users like yourself:
It has been designed specially to be easy to read by human beings, and so it is very easy to learn and understand.
It is interpreted, that is, unlike compiled languages like C, your program doesn't need to be compiled before it is executed. The code you write can be
immediately executed, line by line if you want so. This makes it extremely easy to learn and to find errors in your code, because you go slowly, step-bystep.
It can be embedded in other programs to be used as scripting language. FreeCAD has an embedded python interpreter, so you can write python code in
FreeCAD, that will manipulate parts of FreeCAD, for example to create geometry. This is extremely powerful, because instead of just clicking a button
labeled "create sphere", that a programmer has placed there for you, you have the freedom to create easily your own tool to create exactly the geometry
you want.
It is extensible, you can easily plug new modules in your python installation and extend its functionality. For example, you have modules that allow
python to read and write jpg images, to communicate with twitter, to schedule tasks to be performed by your operating system, etc.
So, hands on! Be aware that what will come next is a very simple introduction, by no means a complete tutorial. But my hope is that after that you'll get
enough basics to explore deeper into the FreeCAD mechanisms.
The interpreter
Usually, when writing computer programs, you simply open a text editor or your special programming environment which is in most case a text editor with
several tools around it, write your program, then compile it and execute it. Most of the time you made errors while writing, so your program won't work, and you
will get an error message telling you what went wrong. Then you go back to your text editor, correct the mistakes, run again, and so on until your program
works fine.
That whole process, in python, can be done transparently inside the python interpreter. The interpreter is a python window with a command prompt, where you
can simply type python code. If you install python on your computer (download it from the python website if you are on Windows or Mac, install it from your
package repository if you are on linux), you will have a python interpreter in your start menu. But FreeCAD also has a python interpreter in its bottom part:
The interpreter shows the python version, then a >>> symbol, which is the command prompt, that is, where you enter python code. Writing code in the
interpreter is simple: one line is one instruction. When you press Enter, your line of code will be executed (after being instantly and invisibly compiled). For
example, try writing this:
print "hello"
print is a special python keyword that means, obviously, to print something on the screen. When you press Enter, the operation is executed, and the message
"hello" is printed. If you make an error, for example let's write:
print hello
python will tell us that it doesn't know what hello is. The " characters specify that the content is a string, which is simply, in programming jargon, a piece of
text. without the ", the print command believed hello was not a piece of text but a special python keyword. The important thing is, you immediately get notified
that you made an error. By pressing the up arrow (or, in the FreeCAD interpreter, CTRL+up arrow), you can go back to the last command you wrote and correct
the python interpreter also has a built-in help system. Try typing:
or, for example, let's say we don't understand what went wrong with our print hello command above, we want specific information about the "print" command:
You'll get a long and complete description of everything the print command can do.
Now we dominate totally our interpreter, we can begin with serious stuff.
Of course, printing "hello" is not very interesting. More interesting is printing stuff you don't know before, or let python find for you. That's where the concept of
variable comes in. A variable is simply a value that you store under a name. For example, type this:
a = "hello"
print a
I guess you understood what happened, we "saved" the string "hello" under the name a. Now, a is not an unknown name anymore! We can use it anywhere, for
example in the print command. We can use any name we want, just respecting simple rules, like not using spaces or punctuation. For example, we could very
well write:
hello = "my own version of hello"
print hello
See? now hello is not an undefined word anymore. What if, by terrible bad luck, we choosed a name that already exists in python? Let's say we want to store
our string under the name "print":
print = "hello"
Python is very intelligent and will tell us that this is not possible. It has some "reserved" keywords that cannot be modified. But our own variables can be
modified anytime, that's exactly why they are called variables, the contents can vary. For example:
myVariable = "hello"
print myVariable
myVariable = "good bye"
print myVariable
We changed the value of myVariable. We can also copy variables:
var1 = "hello"
var2 = var1
print var2
Note that it is interesting to give good names to your variables, because when you'll write long programs, after a while you won't remember what your variable
named "a" is for. But if you named it for example myWelcomeMessage, you'll remember easily what it is used for when you'll see it.
Of course you must know that programming is useful to treat all kind of data, and especially numbers, not only text strings. One thing is important, python
must know what kind of data it is dealing with. We saw in our print hello example, that the print command recognized our "hello" string. That is because by
using the ", we told specifically the print command that what it would come next is a text string.
we can always check what data type is the contents of a variable with the special python keyword type:
myVar = "hello"
It will tell us the contents of myVar is 'str', or string in python jargon. We have also other basic types of data, such as integer and float numbers:
firstNumber = 10
secondNumber = 20
print firstNumber + secondNumber
This is already much more interesting, isn't it? Now we already have a powerful calculator! Look well at how it worked, python knows that 10 and 20 are integer
numbers. So they are stored as "int", and python can do with them everything it can do with integers. Look at the results of this:
firstNumber = "10"
secondNumber = "20"
print firstNumber + secondNumber
See? We forced python to consider that our two variables are not numbers but mere pieces of text. Python can add two pieces of text together, but it won't try
to find out any sum. But we were talking about integer numbers. There are also float numbers. The difference is that integer numbers don't have decimal part,
while foat numbers can have a decimal part:
var1 = 13
var2 = 15.65
print "var1 is of type ", type(var1)
print "var2 is of type ", type(var2)
Int and Floats can be mixed together without problem:
total = var1 + var2
print total
print type(total)
Of course the total has decimals, right? Then python automatically decided that the result is a float. In several cases such as this one, python automatically
decides what type to give to something. In other cases it doesn't. For example:
varA = "hello 123"
varB = 456
print varA + varB
This will give us an error, varA is a string and varB is an int, and python doesn't know what to do. But we can force python to convert between types:
varA = "hello"
varB = 123
print varA + str(varB)
Now both are strings, the operation works! Note that we "stringified" varB at the time of printing, but we didn't change varB itself. If we wanted to turn varB
permanently into a string, we would need to do this:
varB = str(varB)
We can also use int() and float() to convert to int and float if we want:
varA = "123"
print int(varA)
print float(varA)
Note on python commands
You must have noticed that in this section we used the print command in several ways. We printed variables, sums, several things separated by commas, and
even the result of other python command such as type(). Maybe you also saw that doing those two commands:
print type(varA)
have exactly the same result. That is because we are in the interpreter, and everything is automatically printed on screen. When we'll write more complex
programs that run outside the interpreter, they won't print automatically everything on screen, so we'll need to use the print command. But from now on, let's
stop using it here, it'll go faster. so we can simply write:
myVar = "hello friends"
You must also have seen that most of the python commands (or keywords) we already know have parenthesis used to tell them on what contents the
command must work: type(), int(), str(), etc. Only exception is the print command, which in fact is not an exception, it also works normally like this:
print("hello"), but, since it is used often, the python programmers made a simplified version.
Another interesting data type is lists. A list is simply a list of other data. The same way as we define a text string by using " ", we define lists by using [ ]:
myList = [1,2,3]
myOtherList = ["Bart", "Frank", "Bob"]
myMixedList = ["hello", 345, 34.567]
You see that it can contain any type of data. Lists are very useful because you can group variables together. You can then do all kind of things within that
groups, for example counting them:
or retrieving one item of a list:
myName = myOtherList[0]
myFriendsName = myOtherList[1]
You see that while the len() command returns the total number of items in a list, their "position" in the list begins with 0. The first item in a list is always at
position 0, so in our myOtherList, "Bob" will be at position 2. We can do much more stuff with lists such as you can read here, such as sorting contents,
removing or adding elements.
A funny and interesting thing for you: a text string is, in reality, a list of characters! Try doing this:
myvar = "hello"
Usually all you can do with lists can also be done with strings.
Outside strings, ints, floats and lists, there are more built-in data types, such as dictionnaries, or you can even create your own data types with classes.
One big cool use of lists is also browsing through them and do something with each item. For example look at this:
alldaltons = ["Joe", "William", "Jack", "Averell"]
for dalton in alldaltons:
print dalton + " Dalton"
We iterated (programming jargon again!) through our list with the "for ... in ..." command and did something with each of the items. Note the special syntax: the
for command terminates with : which indicates that what will comes after will be a block of one of more commands. Immediately after you enter the command
line ending with :, the command prompt will change to ... which means python knows that a :-ended line has happened and that what will come next will be
part of it.
How will python know how many of the next lines will be to be executed inside the operation? For that, python uses indentation. That is, your next lines
won't begin immediately. You will begin them with a blank space, or several blank spaces, or a tab, or several tabs. Other programming languages use other
methods, like putting everythin inside parenthesis, etc. As long as you write your next lines with the same indentation, they will be considered part of the for-in
block. If you begin one line with 2 spaces and the next one with 4, there will be an error. When you finished, just write another line without indentation, or
simply press Enter to come back from the for-in block
Indentation is cool because if you make big ones (for example use tabs instead of spaces because it's larger), when you write a big program you'll have a clear
view of what is executed inside what. We'll see that many other commands than for-in can have indented blocks of code too.
For-in commands can be used for many things that must be done more than once. It can for example be combined with the range() command:
serie = range(1,11)
total = 0
print "sum"
for number in serie:
print number
total = total + number
print "----"
print total
Or more complex things like this:
alldaltons = ["Joe", "William", "Jack", "Averell"]
for n in range(4):
print alldaltons[n], " is Dalton number ", n
You see that the range() command also has that strange particularity that it begins with 0 (if you don't specify the starting number) and that its last number will
be one less than the ending number you specify. That is, of course, so it works well with other python commands. For example:
alldaltons = ["Joe", "William", "Jack", "Averell"]
total = len(alldaltons)
for n in range(total):
print alldaltons[n]
Another interesting use of indented blocks is with the if command. If executes a code block only if a certain condition is met, for example:
alldaltons = ["Joe", "William", "Jack", "Averell"]
if "Joe" in alldaltons:
print "We found that Dalton!!!"
Of course this will always print the first sentence, but try replacing the second line by:
if "Lucky" in alldaltons:
Then nothing is printed. We can also specify an else: statement:
alldaltons = ["Joe", "William", "Jack", "Averell"]
if "Lucky" in alldaltons:
print "We found that Dalton!!!"
print "Such Dalton doesn't exist!"
The standard python commands are not many. In current version of python there are about 30, and we already know several of them. But imagine if we could
invent our own commands? Well, we can, and it's extremely easy. In fact, most the additional modules that you can plug into your python installation do just
that, they add commands that you can use. a custom command in python is called a function and is made like this:
def printsqm(myValue):
print str(myValue)+" square meters"
Extremely simple: the def() command defines a new function. You give it a name, and inside the parenthesis you define arguments that we'll use in our
function. Arguments are data that will be passed to the function. For example, look at the len() command. If you just write len() alone, python will tell you it
needs an argument. That is, you want len() of something, right? Then, for example, you'll write len(myList) and you'll get the length of myList. Well, myList is
an argument that you pass to the len() function. The len() function is defined in such a way that it knows what to do with what is passed to it. Same as we did
The "myValue" name can be anything, and it will be used only inside the function. It is just a name you give to the argument so you can do something with it,
but it also serves so the function knows how many arguments to expect. For example, if you do this:
There will be an error. Our function was programmed to receive just one argument, but it received two, 45 and 34. We could instead do something like this:
def sum(val1,val2):
total = val1 + val2
return total
myTotal = sum(45,34)
We made a function that receives two arguments, sums them, and returns that value. Returning something is very useful, because we can do something with
the result, such as store it in the myTotal variable. Of course, since we are in the interpreter and everything is printed, doing:
will print the result on the screen, but outside the interpreter, since there is no more print command inside the function, nothing would appear on the screen.
You would need to do:
print sum(45,34)
to have something printed. Read more about functions here.
Now that we have a good idea of how python works, we'll need one last thing: How to work with files and modules.
Until now, we wrote python instructions line by line in the interpreter, right? What if we could write several lines together, and have them executed all at once? It
would certainly be handier for doing more complex things. And we could save our work too. Well, that too, is extremely easy. Simply open a text editor (such
as the windows notepad), and write all your python lines, the same way as you write them in the interpreter, with indentations, etc. Then, save that file
somewhere, preferably with a .py extension. That's it, you have a complete python program. Of course, there are much better editors than notepad, but it is
just to show you that a python program is nothing else than a text file.
To make python execute that program, there are hundreds of ways. In windows, simply right-click your file, open it with python, and execute it. But you can
also execute it from the python interpreter itself. For this, the interpreter must know where your .py program is. In FreeCAD, the easiest way is to place your
program in a place that FreeCAD's python interpreter knows by default, such as FreeCAD's bin folder, or any of the Mod folders. Suppose we write a file like
def sum(a,b):
return a + b
print " succesfully loaded"
and we save it as in our FreeCAD/bin directory. Now, let's start FreeCAD, and in the interpreter window, write:
import test
without the .py extension. This will simply execute the contents of the file, line by line, just as if we had written it in the interpreter. The sum function will be
created, and the message will be printed. There is one big difference: the import command is made not only to execute programs written in files, like ours, but
also to load the functions inside, so they become available in the interpreter. Files containing functions, like ours, are called modules.
Normally when we write a sum() function in the interpreter, we execute it simply like that:
Like we did earlier. When we import a module containing our sum() function, the syntax is a bit different. We do:
That is, the module is imported as a "container", and all its functions are inside. This is extremely useful, because we can import a lot of modules, and keep
everything well organized. So, basically, everywhere you see something.somethingElse, with a dot inbetween, that means somethingElse is inside something.
We can also throw out the test part, and import our sum() function directly into the main interpreter space, like this:
from test import *
Basically all modules behave like that. You import a module, then you can use its functions like that: module.function(argument). Almost all modules do that:
they define functions, new data types and classes that you can use in the interpreter or in your own python modules, because nothing prevents you to import
modules inside your module!
One last extremely useful thing. How do we know what modules we have, what functions are inside and how to use them (that is, what kind of arguments they
need)? We saw already that python has a help() function. Doing:
Will give us a list of all available modules. We can now type q to get out of the interactive help, and import any of them. We can even browse their content with
the dir() command
import math
We'll see all the functions contained in the math module, as well as strange stuff named __doc__, __file__, __name__. The __doc__ is extremely useful, it is a
documentation text. Every function of (well-made) modules has a __doc__ that explains how to use it. For example, we see that there is a sin function in side
the math module. Want to know how to use it?
print math.sin.__doc__
Starting with FreeCAD
Well, I think you must know have a good idea of how python works, and you can start exploring what FreeCAD has to offer. FreeCAD's python functions are all
well organized in different modules. Some of them are already loaded (imported) when you start FreeCAD. So, just do
and read on to FreeCAD Scripting Basics...
Of course, we saw here only a very small part of the python world. There are many important concepts that we didn't mention here. There are two very
important python reference documents on the net:
the official Python reference
the Dive into Python wikibook
Be sure to bookmark them!
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Introduction_to_python"
FreeCAD Scripting Basics
Python scripting in FreeCAD
FreeCAD is built from scratch to be totally controlled by python scripts. Almost all parts of FreeCAD such as the interface, the scene contents, and even the
representation of this content in the 3d views are accessible from the built-in python interpreter or from your own scripts. As a result, FreeCAD is probably one
of the most deeply customizable engineering application available today.
In its current state however, FreeCAD has very few "native" commands to interact on your 3D objects, mainly because it is still in early stage of development,
but also because the philosophy behind it is more to provide a platform for CAD development than a user-tailored application. But the ease of python scripting
inside FreeCAD will probably help much to see quickly new functionality being developed by "power users", or, typically, users who know a bit of python
programming, like, we hope, yourself.
If you are not familiar with python, we recommend you to search for tutorials on the internet, and have a quick look at its structure. Python is a very easy
language to learn, especially because it can be run inside an interpreter, where from simple commands to complete programs can be executed on the fly,
without the need to compile anything. FreeCAD has a built-in python interpreter. If you don't see the window labeled "Report view" as shown below, you can
activate it under the View -> Views -> Report view to bring up the interpreter.
The interpreter
From the interpreter, you can access all your system-installed python modules, as well as the built-in FreeCAD modules, and all additional FreeCAD modules
you installed later. The screenshot below shows the python interpreter:
From the interpreter, you can execute python code and browse through the available classes and function. FreeCAD provides a very handy class browser for
exploration of your new FreeCAD world: When you type the name of a known class followed by a period (meaning you want to add something from that class),
a class browser window opens, where you can navigate between available subclasses and methods. When you select something, an associated help text (if
existing) is displayed:
So, start here by typing App. or Gui. and see what happens. Another more generic python way of exploring contents of modules and classes is to use the
print dir() command. For example, typing print dir() will list all modules currently loaded in FreeCAD. print dir(App) will show you everything inside the App
module, etc.
Another useful feature of the interpreter is the possibility to go back in command history and retrieve a line of code you already typed earlier. To navigate in
command history, just use CTRL+UP or CTRL+DOWN.
By right-clicking in the interpreter window, you also have several other options, such as copy the entire history (useful to experiment something here, then
make a full script of it), or insert filename with complete path.
Python Help
In the FreeCAD Help menu, you'll find an entry labeled "Python help", which will open a browser window containing a complete, realtime-generated
documentation of all python modules available to the FreeCAD interpreter, including python and FreeCAD built-in modules, system-installed modules, and
FreeCAD additional modules. The documentation available there depends on how much effort each module developer put in documenting his code, but usually
python module have the reputation to be fairly well documented. Your FreeCAD window must stay open for this documentation system to work.
Built-in modules
Since FreeCAD is designed to be run without Graphic User Interface, almost all its functionality is separated in two groups: Core functionality, named App, and
Gui functionality, named Gui. So, our two main FreeCAD built-in modules are called App and Gui. These two modules can also be accessed from scripts
outside of the interpreter, by the respective names of FreeCAD and FreeCADGui.
In the App module, you'll find everything related to the application itself, like methods for opening or closing files, and to the documents, like setting the
active document or listing their contents.
In the Gui module, you'll find tools for accessing and managing Gui elements, like the workbenches and their toolbars, and, more interesting, the
graphical representation of all FreeCAD content.
Listing all the content of those modules is a bit counter-productive task, since they grow quite fast along FreeCAD development. But the two browsing tools
provided (the class browser and the python help) should give you, at any moment, a complete and up-to-date documentation of these modules.
The App and Gui objects
As we said, in FreeCAD, everything is separated between core and representation. This includes the 3D objects too. You can access defining properties of
objects (called features in FreeCAD) via the App module, and change the way they are represented on screen via the Gui module. For example, a cube has
properties that define it, like width, length, height, that are stored in an App object, and representation properties, such as faces color, drawing mode, that are
stored in a corresponding Gui object.
This way of doing allows a very wide range of uses, like having algorithms work only on the defining part of features, without the need to care about any visual
part, or even redirect the content of the document to non-graphical application, such as lists, spreadsheets, or element analysis.
For every App object in your document, exists a corresponding Gui object. The document itself, actually, also has App and a Gui objects. This, of course, is
only valid when you run FreeCAD with its full interface. In the command-line version, no GUI exists, so only App objects are availible. Note that the Gui part of
objects is generated again everytime an App object is marked as "to be recomputed" (for example when one of its parameters changed), so changes you might
have done directly to the Gui object might get lost.
to access the App part of something, you type:
myObject = App.ActiveDocument.getObject("ObjectName")
where "ObjectName is the name of your object. You can also type:
myObject = App.ActiveDocument.ObjectName
to access the Gui part of the same object, you type:
myViewObject = Gui.ActiveDocument.getObject("ObjectName")
where "ObjectName is the name of your object. You can also type:
myViewObject = App.ActiveDocument.ObjectName.ViewObject
If we have no GUI (for example we are in command line mode), the last line will return None.
The Document objects
In FreeCAD all your work resides inside Documents. A document contains your geometry and can be saved to a file. Several documents can be opened at the
same time. The document, like the geometry contained inside, has App and Gui objects. App object contains your actual geometry definitions, while the Gui
object contains the different views of your document. You can open several windows, each one viewing your work with a different zoom factor or point of view.
These views are all part of your document's Gui object.
To access the App part the currently open (active) document, you type:
myDocument = App.ActiveDocument
To create a new document, type:
myDocument = App.newDocument("Document Name")
To access the Gui part the currently open (active) document, you type:
myGuiDocument = Gui.ActiveDocument
To access the current view, you type:
myView = Gui.ActiveDocument.ActiveView
Using additional modules
The FreeCAD and FreeCADGui modules are solely responsibles for creating and managing objects in the FreeCAD document. They don't actually do anything
such as creating or modifying geometry. That is because that geometry can be of several types, and so it is managed by additional modules, each responsible
for managing a certain geometry type. For example, the Part Module uses the OpenCascade kernel, and therefore is able to create and manipulate BRep-type
geometry, which is what OpenCascade is built for. The Mesh Module is able to build and modify mesh objects. That way, FreeCAD is able to handle a wide
variety of object types, that can all coexist in the same document, and new types could be added easily in the future.
Creating objects
Each module has its own way to treat its geometry, but one thing they usually all can do is create objects in the document. But the FreeCAD document is also
aware of the available object types provided by the modules:
will list you all the possible objects you can create. For example, let's create a mesh (treated by the mesh module) and a part (treated by the part module):
myMesh = FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.addObject("Mesh::Feature","myMeshName")
myPart = FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.addObject("Part::Feature","myPartName")
The first argument is the object type, the second the name of the object. Our two objects look almost the same: They don't contain any geometry yet, and
most of their properties are the same when you inspect them with dir(myMesh) and dir(myPart). Except for one, myMesh has a "Mesh" property and "Part"
has a "Shape" property. That is where the Mesh and Part data are stored. For example, let's create a Part cube and store it in our myPart object:
import Part
cube = Part.makeBox(2,2,2)
myPart.Shape = cube
You could try storing the cube inside the Mesh property of the myMesh object, it will return an error complaining of the wrong type. That is because those
properties are made to store only a certain type. In the myMesh's Mesh property, you can only save stuff created with the Mesh module. Note that most
modules also have a shortcut to add their geometry to the document:
import Part
cube = Part.makeBox(2,2,2)
Modifying objects
Modifying an object is done the same way:
import Part
cube = Part.makeBox(2,2,2)
myPart.Shape = cube
Now let's change the shape by a bigger one:
biggercube = Part.makeBox(5,5,5)
myPart.Shape = biggercube
Querying objects
You can always look at the type of an object like this:
myObj = FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.getObject("myObjectName")
print myObj.Type
or know if an object is derived from one of the basic ones (Part Feature, Mesh Feature, etc):
print myObj.isDerivedFrom("Part::Feature")
Now you can really start playing with FreeCAD! To look at what you can do with the Part Module, read the Part scripting page, or the Mesh Scripting page
for working with the Mesh Module. Note that, although the Part and Mesh modules are the most complete and widely used, other modules such as the Draft
Module also have scripting APIs that can be useful to you. For a complete list of each modules and their available tools, visit the Category:API section.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=FreeCAD_Scripting_Basics"
Mesh Scripting
First of all you have to import the Mesh module:
import Mesh
After that you have access to the Mesh module and the Mesh class which facilitate the functions of the FreeCAD C++ Mesh-Kernel.
Creation and Loading
To create an empty mesh object just use the standard constructor:
mesh = Mesh.Mesh()
You can also create an object from a file
mesh = Mesh.Mesh('D:/temp/Something.stl')
What file formats you can use to build up a mesh is noted here.
Or create it out of a set of triangles described by their corner points:
planarMesh = [
# triangle 1
#triangle 2
planarMeshObject = Mesh.Mesh(planarMesh)
The Mesh-Kernel takes care about creating a topological correct data structure by sorting coincident points and edges together.
Later on you will see how you can test and examine mesh data.
To create regular geometries you can use the Python script
import BuildRegularGeoms
This script provides methods to define simple rotation bodies like spheres, ellipsoids, cylinders, toroids and cones. And it also has a method to create a simple
cube. To create a toroid, for instance, can be done as follows:
t = BuildRegularGeoms.Toroid(8.0, 2.0, 50) # list with several thousands triangles
m = Mesh.mesh(t)
The first two parameters define the radiuses of the toroid and the third parameter is a sub-sampling factor for how many triangles are created. The higher this
value the smoother and the lower the coarser the body is. The Mesh class provides a set of boolean functions that can be used for modeling purposes. It
provides union, intersection and difference of two mesh objects.
m1, m2
m3 = Mesh.mesh(m1)
m4 = Mesh.mesh(m1)
m5 = Mesh.mesh(m1)
m6 = Mesh.mesh(m2)
# are the input mesh objects
# create a copy of m1
# union of m1 and m2, the result is stored in m3
# intersection of m1 and m2
# the difference of m1 and m2
# the difference of m2 and m1, usually the result is different to m5
Finally, a full example that computes the intersection between a sphere and a cylinder that intersects the sphere.
import Mesh, BuildRegularGeoms
sphere = Mesh.mesh( BuildRegularGeoms.Sphere(5.0, 50) )
cylinder = Mesh.mesh( BuildRegularGeoms.Cylinder(2.0, 10.0, True, 1.0, 50) )
diff = sphere
d = FreeCAD.newDocument()
Examining and Testing
Write your own Algorithms
You can even write the mesh to a python module:
import SavedMesh
m2 = Mesh.mesh(SavedMesh.faces)
Gui related stuff
Odds and Ends
An extensive, ought hard to use, source of Mesh related scripting are the unit test scripts of the Mesh-Module. In this unit tests literally all methods are called
and all properties/attributes are tweaked. So if you are bold enough, take a look at the Unit Test module.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Mesh_Scripting"
Topological data scripting
We will here explain you how to control the Part Module directly from the FreeCAD python interpreter, or from any external script. Be sure to browse the
Scripting section and the FreeCAD Scripting Basics pages if you need more information about how python scripting works in FreeCAD.
First to use the Part module functionality you have to load the Part module into the interpreter: import Part
Class Diagram
This is a UML overview about the most important classes of the Part module:
The geomtric objects are the building block of all topological objects:
GEOM Base class of the geometric objects
LINE A straight line in 3D, defined by starting point and and point
CIRCLE Circle or circle segment defined by a center point and start and end point
...... And soon some more ;-)
The following topological data types are available:
COMPOUND A group of any type of topological object.
COMPSOLID A composite solid is a set of solids connected by their faces. It expands the notions of WIRE and SHELL to solids.
SOLID A part of space limited by shells. It is three dimensional.
SHELL A set of faces connected by their edges. A shell can be open or closed.
FACE In 2D it is part of a plane; in 3D it is part of a surface. Its geometry is constrained (trimmed) by contours. It is two dimensional.
WIRE A set of edges connected by their vertices. It can be an open or closed contour depending on whether the edges are linked or not.
EDGE A topological element corresponding to a restrained curve. An edge is generally limited by vertices. It has one dimension.
VERTEX A topological element corresponding to a point. It has zero dimension.
SHAPE A generic term covering all of the above.
Creating basic types
Short description
You can easily create basic topological objects with the "make...()" methods from the Part Module:
b = Part.makeBox(100,100,100)
A couple of other make...() methods available:
makeBox(l,w,h,[p,d]) -- Make a box located in p and pointing into the direction d with the dimensions (l,w,h). By default p is Vector(0,0,0) and d is
makeCircle(radius,[p,d,angle1,angle2]) -- Make a circle with a given radius. By default p=Vector(0,0,0), d=Vector(0,0,1), angle1=0 and angle2=360
makeCompound(list) -- Create a compound out of a list of shapes
makeCone(radius1,radius2,height,[p,d,angle]) -- Make a cone with a given radii and height. By default p=Vector(0,0,0), d=Vector(0,0,1) and angle=360
makeCylinder(radius,height,[p,d,angle]) -- Make a cylinder with a given radius and height. By default p=Vector(0,0,0), d=Vector(0,0,1) and angle=360
makeLine((x1,y1,z1),(x2,y2,z2)) -- Make a line of two points
makePlane(length,width,[p,d]) -- Make a plane with length and width. By default p=Vector(0,0,0) and d=Vector(0,0,1)
makePolygon(list) -- Make a polygon of a list of points
makeSphere(radius,[p,d,angle1,angle2,angle3]) -- Make a sphere with a given radius. By default p=Vector(0,0,0), d=Vector(0,0,1), angle1=0, angle2=90
and angle3=360
makeTorus(radius1,radius2,[p,d,angle1,angle2,angle3]) -- Make a torus with a given radii. By default p=Vector(0,0,0), d=Vector(0,0,1), angle1=0,
angle2=360 and angle3=360
Detailed explanations
First import the following:
>>> import Part
>>> from FreeCAD import Base
How to create a Vertex?
>>> vertex = Part.Vertex((1,0,0))
vertex is a point created at x=1,y=0,z=0 given a vertex object, you can find its location like this:
>>> vertex.Point
Vector (1, 0, 0)
How to create an Edge?
An edge is nothing but a line with two vertexes:
>>> edge = Part.makeLine((0,0,0), (10,0,0))
>>> edge.Vertexes
[<Vertex object at 01877430>, <Vertex object at 014888E0>]
Note: You cannot create an edge by passing two vertexes. You can find the length and center of an edge like this:
>>> edge.Length
>>> edge.CenterOfMass
Vector (5, 0, 0)
How to create a Wire?
A wire can be created from a list of edges or even a list of wires:
>>> edge1 = Part.makeLine((0,0,0), (10,0,0))
>>> edge2 = Part.makeLine((10,0,0), (10,10,0))
>>> wire1 = Part.Wire([edge1,edge2])
>>> edge3 = Part.makeLine((10,10,0), (0,10,0))
>>> edge4 = Part.makeLine((0,10,0), (0,0,0))
>>> wire2 = Part.Wire([edge3,edge4])
>>> wire3 = Part.Wire([wire1,wire2])
>>> wire3.Edges
[<Edge object at 016695F8>, <Edge object at 0197AED8>, <Edge object at 01828B20>,
<Edge object at 0190A788>]
>>> will display four lines as a square:
>>> wire3.Length
>>> wire3.CenterOfMass
Vector (5, 5, 0)
>>> wire3.isClosed()
>>> wire2.isClosed()
How to create a Face?
Only faces created from closed wires will be valid. In this example, wire3 is a closed wire but wire2 is not a closed wire (see above)
>>> face = Part.Face(wire3)
>>> face.Area
>>> face.CenterOfMass
Vector (5, 5, 0)
>>> face.Length
>>> face.isValid()
>>> sface = Part.Face(wire2)
>>> face.isValid()
Only faces will have an area, not wires nor edges.
How to create a circle?
circle = Part.makeCircle(radius,[center,dir_normal,angle1,angle2]) -- Make a circle with a given radius
By default, center=Vector(0,0,0), dir_normal=Vector(0,0,1), angle1=0 and angle2=360. A circle can be created as simply as this:
>>> circle = Part.makeCircle(10)
>>> circle.Curve
Circle (Radius : 10, Position : (0, 0, 0), Direction : (0, 0, 1))
If you want to create it at certain position and with certain direction
>>> ccircle = Part.makeCircle(10, Base.Vector(10,0,0), Base.Vector(1,0,0))
>>> ccircle.Curve
Circle (Radius : 10, Position : (10, 0, 0), Direction : (1, 0, 0))
ccircle will be created at distance 10 from origin on x and will be facing towards x axis. Note: makeCircle only accepts Base.Vector() for position and normal
but not tuples. You can also create part of the circle by giving start angle and end angle as:
>>> from math import pi
>>> arc1 = Part.makeCircle(10, Base.Vector(0,0,0), Base.Vector(0,0,1), 0, 180)
>>> arc2 = Part.makeCircle(10, Base.Vector(0,0,0), Base.Vector(0,0,1), 180, 360)
Both arc1 and arc2 jointly will make a circle. Angles should be provided in degrees, if you have radians simply convert them using formula: degrees = radians *
180/PI or using python's math module (after doing import math, of course): degrees = math.degrees(radians)
How to create an Arc along points?
Unfortunately there is no makeArc function but we have Part.Arc function to create an arc along three points. Basically it can be supposed as an arc joining
start point and end point along the middle point. Part.Arc creates an arc object on which .toShape() has to be called to get the edge object, which is generally
produced by makeLine or makeCircle
>>> arc = Part.Arc(Base.Vector(0,0,0),Base.Vector(0,5,0),Base.Vector(5,5,0))
>>> arc
<Arc object>
>>> arc_edge = arc.toShape()
Note: Arc only accepts Base.Vector() for points but not tuples. arc_edge is what we want which we can display using If you want a small
portion of a circle as an arc, it's possible too:
>>> from math import pi
>>> circle = Part.Circle(Base.Vector(0,0,0),Base.Vector(0,0,1),10)
>>> arc = Part.Arc(c,0,pi)
How to create a polygon or line along points?
A line along multiple points is nothing but creating a wire with multiple edges. makePolygon function takes a list of points and creates a wire along those
>>> lshape_wire = Part.makePolygon([Base.Vector(0,5,0),Base.Vector(0,0,0),Base.Vector(5,0,0)])
How to create a plane?
Plane is a flat surface, meaning a face in 2D makePlane(length,width,[start_pnt,dir_normal]) -- Make a plane By default start_pnt=Vector(0,0,0) and
dir_normal=Vector(0,0,1). dir_normal=Vector(0,0,1) will create the plane facing z axis. dir_normal=Vector(1,0,0) will create the plane facing x axis:
dir_normal=Vector(0,0,1). dir_normal=Vector(0,0,1) will create the plane facing z axis. dir_normal=Vector(1,0,0) will create the plane facing x axis:
>>> plane = Part.makePlane(2,2)
>>> plane
<Face object at 028AF990>
>>> plane = Part.makePlane(2,2, Base.Vector(3,0,0), Base.Vector(0,1,0))
>>> plane.BoundBox
BoundBox (3, 0, 0, 5, 0, 2)
BoundBox is a cuboid enclosing the plane with a diagonal starting at (3,0,0) and ending at (5,0,2). Here the BoundBox thickness in y axis is zero. Note:
makePlane only accepts Base.Vector() for start_pnt and dir_normal but not tuples
How to create an ellipse?
To create an ellipse there are several ways:
Creates an ellipse with major radius 2 and minor radius 1 with the center in (0,0,0)
Create a copy of the given ellipse
Creates an ellipse centered on the point Center, where the plane of the ellipse is defined by Center, S1 and S2, its major axis is defined by Center and S1, its
major radius is the distance between Center and S1, and its minor radius is the distance between S2 and the major axis.
Creates an ellipse with major and minor radii MajorRadius and MinorRadius, and located in the plane defined by Center and the normal (0,0,1)
>>> eli = Part.Ellipse(Base.Vector(10,0,0),Base.Vector(0,5,0),Base.Vector(0,0,0))
In the above code we have passed S1, S2 and center. Similarly to Arc, Ellipse also creates an ellipse object but not edge, so we need to convert it into edge
using toShape() to display
Note: Arc only accepts Base.Vector() for points but not tuples
>>> eli = Part.Ellipse(Base.Vector(0,0,0),10,5)
for the above Ellipse constructor we have passed center, MajorRadius and MinorRadius
How to create a Torus?
pnt=Vector(0,0,0),dir=Vector(0,0,1),angle1=0,angle1=360 and angle=360
consider torus as small circle sweeping along a big circle:
radius1 is the radius of big cirlce, radius2 is the radius of small circle, pnt is the center of torus and dir is the normal direction. angle1 and angle2 are angles in
radians for the small circle, to create an arc the last parameter angle is to make a section of the torus:
>>> torus = Part.makeTorus(10, 2)
The above code will create a torus with diameter 20(radius 10) and thickness 4(small cirlce radius 2)
>>> tor=Part.makeTorus(10,5,Base.Vector(0,0,0),Base.Vector(0,0,1),0,180)
The above code will create a slice of the torus
>>> tor=Part.makeTorus(10,5,Base.Vector(0,0,0),Base.Vector(0,0,1),0,360,180)
The above code will create a semi torus, only the last parameter is changed i.e the angle and remaining angles are defaults.
Giving the angle 180 will create the torus from 0 to 180 i.e half
How to make a box or cuboid?
makeBox(length,width,height,[pnt,dir]) -- Make a box located in pnt with the dimensions (length,width,height)
By default pnt=Vector(0,0,0) and dir=Vector(0,0,1)
>>> box = Part.makeBox(10,10,10)
>>> len(box.Vertexes)
How to make a Sphere?
makeSphere(radius,[pnt, dir, angle1,angle2,angle3]) -- Make a sphere with a given radius. By default pnt=Vector(0,0,0), dir=Vector(0,0,1), angle1=-90,
angle2=90 and angle3=360. angle1 and angle2 are the vertical minimum and maximum of the sphere, angle3 is the sphere diameter itself
>>> sphere = Part.makeSphere(10)
>>> hemisphere = Part.makeSphere(10,Base.Vector(0,0,0),Base.Vector(0,0,1),-90,90,180)
How to make a Cylinder?
makeCylinder(radius,height,[pnt,dir,angle]) -- Make a cylinder with a given radius and height
By default pnt=Vector(0,0,0),dir=Vector(0,0,1) and angle=360
>>> cylinder = Part.makeCylinder(5,20)
>>> partCylinder = Part.makeCylinder(5,20,Base.Vector(20,0,0),Base.Vector(0,0,1),180)
How to make a Cone?
makeCone(radius1,radius2,height,[pnt,dir,angle]) -- Make a cone with given radii and height
By default pnt=Vector(0,0,0), dir=Vector(0,0,1) and angle=360
>>> cone = Part.makeCone(10,0,20)
>>> semicone = Part.makeCone(10,0,20,Base.Vector(20,0,0),Base.Vector(0,0,1),180)
Boolean Operations
How to cut one shape from other?
Difference of this and a given topo shape.
>>> cylinder = Part.makeCylinder(3,10,Base.Vector(0,0,0),Base.Vector(1,0,0))
>>> sphere = Part.makeSphere(5,Base.Vector(5,0,0))
>>> diff = cylinder.cut(sphere)
>>> diff.Solids
[<Solid object at 018AB630>, <Solid object at 0D8CDE48>]
>>> diff.ShapeType
Playground:cut shapes.png Playground:cut.png
How to get common between two shapes?
Intersection of this and a given topo shape.
>>> cylinder1 = Part.makeCylinder(3,10,Base.Vector(0,0,0),Base.Vector(1,0,0))
>>> cylinder2 = Part.makeCylinder(3,10,Base.Vector(5,0,-5),Base.Vector(0,0,1))
>>> common = cylinder1.common(cylinder2)
Playground:common cylinders.png Playground:common.png
How to fuse two shapes?
Union of this and a given topo shape.
>>> cylinder1 = Part.makeCylinder(3,10,Base.Vector(0,0,0),Base.Vector(1,0,0))
>>> cylinder2 = Part.makeCylinder(3,10,Base.Vector(5,0,-5),Base.Vector(0,0,1))
>>> fuse = cylinder1.fuse(cylinder2)
>>> fuse.Solids
[<Solid object at 0DA5B8A0>]
How to section a solid with given shape?
Section of this with a given topo shape.
will return a intersection curve, a compound with edges
>>> cylinder1 = Part.makeCylinder(3,10,Base.Vector(0,0,0),Base.Vector(1,0,0))
>>> cylinder2 = Part.makeCylinder(3,10,Base.Vector(5,0,-5),Base.Vector(0,0,1))
>>> section = cylinder1.section(cylinder2)
>>> section.Wires
>>> section.Edges
[<Edge object at 0D87CFE8>, <Edge object at 019564F8>, <Edge object at 0D998458>,
<Edge object at 0D86DE18>, <Edge object at 0D9B8E80>, <Edge object at 012A3640>,
<Edge object at 0D8F4BB0>]
Exploring shapes
You can easily explore the topological data structure:
import Part
b = Part.makeBox(100,100,100)
w = b.Wires[0]
e = w.Edges[0]
v = e.Vertexes[0]
By typing the line above in the python interpreter, you will gain a good understanding of the structure of Part objects. Here, our makeBox() command created a
solid shape. This solid, like all Part solids, contains faces. Faces always contain wires, which are lists of edges that border the face. Each face has exactly
one closed wire. In the wire, we can look at each edge separately, and inside each edge, we can see the vertexes. Straight edges have only two vertexes,
obviously. Part Vertexes are OCC shapes, but they have a Point attribute which returns a nice FreeCAD Vector.
Exploring Edges
In case of an edge, which is an arbitrary curve, it's most likely you want to do a discretization. In FreeCAD the edges are parametrized by their lengths. That
means you can walk an edge/curve by its length:
import Part
anEdge = Part.makeBox(100,100,100).Edges[0] # make a box with 100mm edge length and get the first edge
print anEdge.Length # get the length of the edge in mm (modeling unit)
Now you can access a lot of properties of the edge by using the length as a position. That means if the edge is 100mm long the start position is 0 and the end
position 100.
# tangent direction at the beginning
# Point at the beginning
# Point at the end of the edge
anEdge.derivative1At(50.0) # first derivative of the curve in the middle
anEdge.derivative2At(50.0) # second derivative of the curve in the middle
anEdge.derivative3At(50.0) # third derivative of the curve in the middle
anEdge.centerOfCurvatureAt(50) # center of the curvature for that position
# the curvature
# normal vector at that position (if defined)
Using the selection
Here we see now how we can use the selection the user did in the viewer. First of all we create a box and shows it in the viewer
import Part,100,100))
Select now some faces or edges. With this script you can iterate all selected objects and their sub elements:
for o in Gui.Selection.getSelectionEx():
print o.ObjectName
for s in o.SubElementNames:
print "name: ",s
for s in o.SubObjects:
print "object: ",s
Select some edges and this script will calculate the length:
length = 0.0
for o in Gui.Selection.getSelectionEx():
for s in o.SubObjects:
length += s.Length
print "Length of the selected edges:" ,length
Creating simple topology
We will now create a topology by constructing it out of simpler geometry. As a case study we use a part as seen in the picture which consists of four vertexes,
two circles and two lines.
Creating Geometry
First we have to create the distinct geometric parts of this wire. And we have to take care that the vertexes of the geometric parts are at the same position.
Otherwise later on we might not be able to connect the geometric parts to a topology!
So we create first the points:
V1 =
V2 =
V3 =
V4 =
FreeCAD import Base
To create an arc of circle we make a helper point and create the arc of circle through three points:
VC1 = Base.Vector(-10,0,0)
C1 = Part.Arc(V1,VC1,V4)
# and the second one
VC2 = Base.Vector(40,0,0)
C2 = Part.Arc(V2,VC2,V3)
The line can be created very simple out of the points:
L1 = Part.Line(V1,V2)
# and the second one
L2 = Part.Line(V4,V3)
Putting all together
The last step is to put the geometric base elements together and bake a topological shape:
S1 = Part.Shape([C1,C2,L1,L2])
Make a prism
Now extrude the wire in a direction and make an actual 3D shape:
W = Part.Wire(S1.Edges)
P = W.extrude(Base.Vector(0,0,10))
The OCC bottle
A typical example found on the OpenCasCade Getting Started Page is how to build a bottle. This is a good exercise for FreeCAD too. In fact, you can follow
our example below and the OCC page simultaneously, you will understand well how OCC structures are implemented in FreeCAD.
The complete script below is also included in FreeCAD installation (inside the Mod/Part folder) and can be called from the python interpreter by typing:
import Part
import MakeBottle
bottle = MakeBottle.makeBottle()
The complete script
Here is the complete MakeBottle script:
import Part, FreeCAD, math
from FreeCAD import Base
def makeBottle(myWidth=50.0, myHeight=70.0, myThickness=30.0):
aArcOfCircle = Part.Arc(aPnt2,aPnt3,aPnt4)
aTrsf.rotateZ(math.pi) # rotate around the z-axis
myNeckRadius = myThickness / 4.
myNeckHeight = myHeight / 10
myNeck = Part.makeCylinder(myNeckRadius,myNeckHeight,neckLocation,neckNormal)
myBody = myBody.fuse(myNeck)
faceToRemove = 0
zMax = -1.0
for xp in myBody.Faces:
surf = xp.Surface
if type(surf) == Part.Plane:
z = surf.Position.z
if z > zMax:
zMax = z
faceToRemove = xp
myBody = myBody.makeThickness([faceToRemove],-myThickness/50 , 1.e-3)
return myBody
Detailed explanation
import Part, FreeCAD, math
from FreeCAD import Base
We will need,of course, the Part module, but also the FreeCAD.Base module, which contains basic FreeCAD structures like vectors and matrixes.
def makeBottle(myWidth=50.0, myHeight=70.0, myThickness=30.0):
Here we define our makeBottle function. This function can be called without arguments, like we did above, in which case default values for width, height, and
thickness will be used. Then, we define a couple of points that will be used for building our base profile.
aArcOfCircle = Part.Arc(aPnt2,aPnt3,aPnt4)
Here we actually define the geometry: an arc, made of 3 points, and two line segments, made of 2 points.
Remember the difference between geometry and shapes? Here we build shapes out of our construction geometry. 3 edges (edges can be straight or curved),
then a wire made of those three edges.
aTrsf.rotateZ(math.pi) # rotate around the z-axis
Until now we built only a half profile. Easier than building the whole profile the same way, we can just mirror what we did, and glue both halfs together. So we
first create a matrix. A matrix is a very common way to apply transformations to objects in the 3D world, since it can contain in one structure all basic
transformations that 3D objects can suffer (move, rotate and scale). Here, after we create the matrix, we mirror it, and we create a copy of our wire with that
transformation matrix applied to it. We now have two wires, and we can make a third wire out of them, since wires are actually lists of edges.
Now that we have a closed wire, it can be turned into a face. Once we have a face, we can extrude it. Doing so, we actually made a solid. Then we apply a nice
little fillet to our object because we care about good design, don't we?
myNeckRadius = myThickness / 4.
myNeckHeight = myHeight / 10
myNeck = Part.makeCylinder(myNeckRadius,myNeckHeight,neckLocation,neckNormal)
Then, the body of our bottle is made, we still need to create a neck. So we make a new solid, with a cylinder.
myBody = myBody.fuse(myNeck)
The fuse operation, which in other apps is sometimes called union, is very powerful. It will take care of gluing what needs to be glued and remove parts that
need to be removed.
return myBody
Then, we return our Part solid as the result of our function. That Part solid, like any other Part shape, can be attributed to an object in a FreeCAD document,
myObject = FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.addObject("Part::Feature","myObject")
myObject.Shape = bottle
or, more simple:
Load and Save
There are several ways to save your work in the Part module. You can of course save your FreeCAD document, but you can also save Part objects directly to
common CAD formats, such as BREP, IGS, STEP and STL.
Saving a shape to a file is easy. There are exportBrep(), exportIges(), exportStl() and exportStep() methods availables for all shape objects. So, doing:
import Part
s = Part.makeBox(0,0,0,10,10,10)
this will save our box into a STEP file. To load a BREP, IGES or STEP file, simply do the contrary:
import Part
s = Part.Shape()"test.stp")
Note that importing or opening BREP, IGES or STEP files can also be done directly from the File -> Open or File -> Import menu. At the moment exporting is
still not possible that way, but should be there soon.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Topological_data_scripting"
Mesh to Part
Converting Part objects to Meshes
Converting higher-level objects such as Part shapes into simpler objects such as meshes is a pretty simple operation, where all faces of a Part object get
triangulated. The result of that triangulation (tessellation) is then used to construct a mesh:
#let's assume our document contains one part object
import Mesh
faces = []
shape = FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.ActiveObject.Shape
triangles = shape.tessellate(1) # the number represents the precision of the tessellation)
for tri in triangles[1]:
face = []
for i in range(3):
vindex = tri[i]
m = Mesh.Mesh(faces)
Sometimes the triangulation of certain faces offered by OpenCascade is quite ugly. If the face has a rectangular parameter space and doesn't contain any
holes or other trimming curves you can also create a mesh on your own:
import Mesh
def makeMeshFromFace(u,v,face):
for j in range(v):
for i in range(u):
for j in range(v-1):
for i in range(u-1):
return mesh
Converting Meshes to Part objects
Converting Meshes to Part objects is an extremely important operation in CAD work, because very often you receive 3D data in mesh format from other people
or outputted from other applications. Meshes are very practical to represent free-form geometry and big visual scenes, as it is very lightweight, but for CAD we
generally prefer higher-level objects that carry much more information, such as the idea of solid, or faces made of curves instead of triangles.
Converting meshes to those higher-level objects (handled by the Part Module in FreeCAD) is not an easy operation. Meshes can be made of thousands of
triangles (for example when generated by a 3D scanner), and having solids made of the same number of faces would be extremely heavy to manipulate. So
you generally want to optimize the object when converting.
FreeCAD currently offers two methods to convert Meshes to Part objects. The first method is a simple, direct conversion, without any optimization:
import Mesh,Part
mesh = Mesh.createTorus()
shape = Part.Shape()
shape.makeShapeFromMesh(mesh.Topology,0.05) # the second arg is the tolerance for sewing
solid = Part.makeSolid(shape)
The second method offers the possibility to consider mesh facets coplanar when the angle between them is under a certain value. This allows to build much
simpler shapes:
# let's assume our document contains one Mesh object
import Mesh,Part,MeshPart
faces = []
mesh = App.ActiveDocument.ActiveObject.Mesh
segments = mesh.getPlanes(0.00001) # use rather strict tolerance here
for i in segments:
if len(i) > 0:
# a segment can have inner holes
wires = MeshPart.wireFromSegment(mesh, i)
# we assume that the exterior boundary is that one with the biggest bounding box
if len(wires) > 0:
for i in wires:
if i.BoundBox.DiagonalLength > max_length:
max_length = i.BoundBox.DiagonalLength
ext = i
# all interior wires mark a hole and must reverse their orientation, otherwise Part.Face fails
for i in wires:
# make sure that the exterior wires comes as first in the lsit
wires.insert(0, ext)
#solid = Part.Solid(Part.Shell(faces))
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Mesh_to_Part"
FreeCAD is basically a collage of different powerful libraries, the most important being openCascade, for managing and constructing geometry, Coin3d to
display that geometry, and Qt to put all this in a nice Graphical User Interface.
The geometry that appears in the 3D views of FreeCAD are rendered by the Coin3D library. Coin3D is an implementation of the OpenInventor standard. The
openCascade software also provides the same functionality, but it was decided, at the very beginnings of FreeCAD, not to use the built-in openCascade viewer
and rather switch to the more performant coin3D software.
OpenInventor is actually a 3D scene descrition language. The scene described in openInventor is then rendered in OpenGL on your screen. Coin3D takes
care of doing this, so the programmer doesn't need to deal with complex openGL calls, he just has to provide it with valid OpenInventor code. The big advantage
is that openInventor is a very well-known and well documented standard.
One of the big jobs FreeCAD does for you is basically to translate openCascade geometry information into openInventor language.
OpenInventor describes a 3D scene in the form of a scenegraph, like the one below:
image from Inventor mentor
An openInventor scenegraph describes everything that makes part of a 3D scene, such as geometry, colors, materials, lights, etc, and organizes all that data
in a convenient and clear structure. Everything can be grouped into sub-structures, allowing you to organize your scene contents pretty much the way you like.
Here is an example of an openInventor file:
#Inventor V2.0 ascii
Separator {
RotationXYZ {
axis Z
angle 0
Transform {
translation 0 0 0.5
Separator {
Material {
diffuseColor 0.05 0.05 0.05
Transform {
rotation 1 0 0 1.5708
scaleFactor 0.2 0.5 0.2
Cylinder {
As you can see, the structure is very simple. You use separators to organize your data into blocks, a bit like you would organize your files into folders. Each
statement affects what comes next, for example the first two items of our root separator are a rotation and a translation, both will affect the next item, which is
a separator. In that separator, a material is defined, and another transformation. Our cylinder will therefore be affected by both transformations, the one who was
applied directly to it and the one that was applied to its parent separator.
We also have many other types of elements to organize our scene, such as groups, switches or annotations. We can define very complex materials for our
objects, with color, textures, shading modes and transparency. We can also define lights, cameras, and even movement. It is even possible to embed pieces of
scripting in openInventor files, to define more complex behaviours.
If you are interested in learning more about openInventor, head directly to its most famous reference, the Inventor mentor.
In FreeCAD, normally, we don't need to interact directly with the openInventor scenegraph. Every object in a FreeCAD document, being a mesh, a part shape or
anything else, gets automatically converted to openInventor code and inserted in the main scenegraph that you see in a 3D view. That scenegraph gets updated
continuously when you do modifications, add or remove objects to the document. In fact, every object (in App space) has a view provider (a corresponding
object in Gui space), responsible for issuing openInventor code.
But there are many advantages to be able to access the scenegraph directly. For example, we can temporarily change the appearence of an object, or we can
add objects to the scene that have no real existence in the FreeCAD document, such as construction geometry, helpers, graphical hints or tools such as
manipulators or on-screen information.
FreeCAD itself features several tools to see or modify openInventor code. For example, the following python code will show the openInventor representation of a
selected object:
obj = FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.ActiveObject
viewprovider = obj.ViewObject
print viewprovider.toString()
But we also have a python module that allows complete access to anything managed by Coin3D, such as our FreeCAD scenegraph. So, read on to Pivy.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Scenegraph"
Pivy is a python binding library for Coin3d, the 3D-rendering library used FreeCAD. When imported in a running python interpreter, it allows to dialog directly
with any running Coin3d scenegraphs, such as the FreeCAD 3D views, or even to create new ones. Pivy is bundled in standard FreeCAD installation.
The coin library is divided into several pieces, coin itself, for manipulating scenegraphs and bindings for several GUI systems, such as windows or, like in our
case, qt. Those modules are available to pivy too, depending if they are present on the system. The coin module is always present, and it is what we will use
anyway, since we won't need to care about anchoring our 3D display in any interface, it is already done by FreeCAD itself. All we need to do is this:
from pivy import coin
Accessing and modifying the scenegraph
We saw in the Scenegraph page how a typical Coin scene is organized. Everything that appears in a FreeCAD 3D view is a coin scenegraph, organized the
same way. We have one root node, and all objects on the screen are its children.
FreeCAD has an easy way to access the root node of a 3D view scenegraph:
sg = FreeCADGui.ActiveDocument.ActiveView.getScenegraph()
print sg
This will return the root node:
<pivy.coin.SoSelection; proxy of <Swig Object of type 'SoSelection *' at 0x360cb60> >
We can inspect the immediate children of our scene:
for node in sg.getChilden()
print node
Some of those nodes, such as SoSeparators or SoGroups, can have children themselves. The complete list of the available coin objects can be found in the
official coin documentation.
Let's try to add something to our scenegraph now. We'll add a nice red cube:
col = coin.SoBaseColor()
cub = coin.SoCube()
myCustomNode = coin.SoSeparator()
and here is our (nice) red cube. Now, let's try this:
See? everything is still accessible and modifiable on-the-fly. No need to recompute or redraw anything, coin takes care of everything. You can add stuff to your
scenegraph, change properties, hide stuff, show temporary objects, anything. Of course, this only concerns the display in the 3D view. That display gets
recomputed by FreeCAD on file open, and when an object needs recomputing. So, if you change the aspect of an existing FreeCAD object, those changes will
be lost if the object gets recomputed or when you reopen the file.
A key to work with scenegraphs in your scripts is to be able to access certain properties of the nodes you added when needed. For example, if we wanted to
move our cube, we would have added a SoTranslation node to our custom node, and it would have looked like this:
col = coin.SoBaseColor()
trans = coin.SoTranslation()
cub = coin.SoCube()
myCustomNode = coin.SoSeparator()
Remember that in an openInventor scenegraph, the order is important. A node affects what comes next, so you can say something like: color red, cube, color
yellow, sphere, and you will get a red cube and a yellow sphere. If we added the translation now to our existing custom node, it would come after the cube, and
not affect it. If we had inserted it when creating it, like here above, we could now do:
And our cube would jump 2 units to the right. Finally, removing something is done with:
Using callback mechanisms
A callback mechanism is a system that permits a library that you are using, such as our coin library, to call you back, that is, to call a certain function from
your currently running python object. This is extremely useful, because that way coin can notify you if some specific event occurs in the scene. Coin can
watch very different things, such as mouse position, clicks of a mouse button, keyboard keys being pressed, and many other things.
FreeCAD features an easy way to use such callbacks:
class ButtonTest:
def __init__(self):
self.view = FreeCADGui.ActiveDocument.ActiveView
self.callback = self.view.addEventCallbackPivy(SoMouseButtonEvent.getClassTypeId(),self.getMouseClick)
def getMouseClick(self,event_cb):
event = event_cb.getEvent()
if event.getState() == SoMouseButtonEvent.DOWN:
print "Alert!!! A mouse button has been improperly clicked!!!"
The callback has to be initiated from an object, because that object must still be running when the callback will occur. See also a complete list of possible
events and their parameters, or the official coin documentation.
Unfortunately pivy itself still doesn't have a proper documentation, but since it is an accurate translation of coin, you can safely use the coin documentation as
reference, and use python style instead of c++ style (for example SoFile::getClassTypeId() would in pivy be SoFile.getClassId())
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Piv y"
PyQt is a python module that allows python applications to create, access and modify Qt applications. You can use it for example to create your own Qt
programs in python, or to access and modify the interface of a running qt application, like FreeCAD.
By using the PyQt module from inside FreeCAD, you have therefore full control over its interface. You can for example:
Add your own panels, widgets and toolbars
Add or hide elements to existing panels
Change, redirect or add connections between all those elements
PyQt has an extensive API documentation, and there are many tutorials on the net to teach you how it works.
If you want to work on the FreeCAD interface, the very first thing to do is create a reference to the FreeCAD main window:
import sys
from PyQt4 import QtGui
app = QtGui.qApp
mw = app.activeWindow()
Then, you can for example browse through all the widgets of the interface:
for child in mw.children:
print 'widget name = ', child.getObjectName(), ', widget type = ', child
The widgets in a Qt interface are usually nested into "containers" widgets, so the children of our main window can themselves contain other children.
Depending on the widget type, there are a lot of things you can do. Check the API documentation to see what is possible.
Adding a new widget, for example a dockWidget (which can be placed in one of FreeCAD's side panels) is easy:
myWidget = QtGui.QDockWidget()
You could then add stuff directly to your widget:
myWidget.setObjectName("my Nice New Widget")
myWidget.resize(QtCore.QSize(QtCore.QRect(0,0,300,100))) # sets size of the widget
label = QtGui.QLabel(myWidget) # creates a label
label.setGeometry(QtCore.QRect(50,50,200,24)) # sets its size
label.setObjectName("myLabel") # sets its name, so it can be found by name
But a preferred method is to create a UI object which will do all of the setup of your widget at once. The big advantage is that such an UI object can be created
graphically with the Qt Designer program. A typical object generated by Qt Designer is like this:
class myWidget_Ui(object):
def setupUi(self, myWidget):
myWidget.setObjectName("my Nice New Widget")
myWidget.resize(QtCore.QSize(QtCore.QRect(0,0,300,100).size()).expandedTo(myWidget.minimumSizeHint())) # sets size of the widget
self.label = QtGui.QLabel(myWidget) # creates a label
self.label.setGeometry(QtCore.QRect(50,50,200,24)) # sets its size
self.label.setObjectName("label") # sets its name, so it can be found by name
def retranslateUi(self, draftToolbar): # built-in QT function that manages translations of widgets
myWidget.setWindowTitle(QtGui.QApplication.translate("myWidget", "My Widget", None, QtGui.QApplication.UnicodeUTF8))
self.label.setText(QtGui.QApplication.translate("myWidget", "Welcome to my new widget!", None, QtGui.QApplication.UnicodeUTF8))
To use it, you just need to apply it to your freshly created widget like this:
myNewFreeCADWidget = QtGui.QDockWidget() # create a new dckwidget
myNewFreeCADWidget.ui = myWidget_Ui() # load the Ui script
myNewFreeCADWidget.ui.setupUi(myNewFreeCADWidget) # setup the ui
FCmw.addDockWidget(QtCore.Qt.RightDockWidgetArea,myNewFreeCADWidget) # add the widget to the main window
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=PyQt"
Scripted objects
Besides the standard object types such as annotations, meshes and parts objects, FreeCAD also offers the amazing possibility to build 100% python-scripted
objects, called Python Features. Those objects will behave exactly as any other FreeCAD object, can be saved in a document and opened on any other
installation of FreeCAD, since the python code that defines the object is also saved in the document.
Python Features follow the same rule as all FreeCAD features: they are separated into App and GUI parts. The app part, the Document Object, defines the
geometry of our object, while its GUI part, the View Provider Object, defines how the object will be drawn on screen. The View Provider Object, as any other
FreeCAD feature, is only available when you run FreeCAD in its own GUI. There are several properties and methods available to build your object. Properties
must be of any of the predefined properties types that FreeCAD offers, and will appear in the property view window, so they can be edited by the user. This
way, FeaturePython objects are truly and totally parametric. you can define properties for the Object and its ViewObject separately.
Basic example
The following sample can be found in the src/Mod/TemplatePyMod/ file, together with several other examples:
"Examples for a feature class and its view provider."
import FreeCAD, FreeCADGui
from pivy import coin
class Box:
def __init__(self, obj):
"Add some custom properties to our box feature"
obj.addProperty("App::PropertyLength","Length","Box","Length of the box").Length=1.0
obj.addProperty("App::PropertyLength","Width","Box","Width of the box").Width=1.0
obj.addProperty("App::PropertyLength","Height","Box", "Height of the box").Height=1.0
obj.Proxy = self
def onChanged(self, fp, prop):
"Do something when a property has changed"
FreeCAD.Console.PrintMessage("Change property: " + str(prop) + "\n")
def execute(self, fp):
"Do something when doing a recomputation, this method is mandatory"
FreeCAD.Console.PrintMessage("Recompute Python Box feature\n")
class ViewProviderBox:
def __init__(self, obj):
"Set this object to the proxy object of the actual view provider"
obj.addProperty("App::PropertyColor","Color","Box","Color of the box").Color=(1.0,0.0,0.0)
obj.Proxy = self
def attach(self, obj):
"Setup the scene sub-graph of the view provider, this method is mandatory"
self.shaded = coin.SoGroup()
self.wireframe = coin.SoGroup()
self.scale = coin.SoScale()
self.color = coin.SoBaseColor()
style=coin.SoDrawStyle() = coin.SoDrawStyle.LINES
def updateData(self, fp, prop):
"If a property of the handled feature has changed we have the chance to handle this here"
# fp is the handled feature, prop is the name of the property that has changed
l = fp.getPropertyByName("Length")
w = fp.getPropertyByName("Width")
h = fp.getPropertyByName("Height")
def getDisplayModes(self,obj):
"Return a list of display modes."
return modes
def getDefaultDisplayMode(self):
"Return the name of the default display mode. It must be defined in getDisplayModes."
return "Shaded"
def setDisplayMode(self,mode):
"Map the display mode defined in attach with those defined in getDisplayModes.
Since they have the same names nothing needs to be done. This method is optional"
return mode
def onChanged(self, vp, prop):
"Here we can do something when a single property got changed"
FreeCAD.Console.PrintMessage("Change property: " + str(prop) + "\n")
if prop == "Color":
c = vp.getPropertyByName("Color")
def getIcon(self):
"Return the icon in XMP format which will appear in the tree view. This method is
optional and if not defined a default icon is shown."
return """
/* XPM */
static const char * ViewProviderBox_xpm[] = {
"16 16 6 1",
" c None",
". c #141010",
"+ c #615BD2",
"@ c #C39D55",
"# c #000000",
"$ c #57C355",
[email protected]@@@.++..++.",
[email protected]@@@.++..++.",
[email protected]@ .++++++.",
" [email protected]@ .++..++.",
"###@@@@ .++..++.",
"##[email protected]@$#.++++++.",
" #$#$$$$$#
" ##$$$$$#
def __getstate__(self):
"When saving the document this object gets stored using Python's cPickle module.
Since we have some un-pickable here -- the Coin stuff -- we must define this method
to return a tuple of all pickable objects or None."
return None
def __setstate__(self,state):
"When restoring the pickled object from document we have the chance to set some internals here.
Since no data were pickled nothing needs to be done here."
return None
def makeBox():
Available properties
Properties are the true building stones of FeaturePython objects. Through them, the user will be able to interact and modify your object. After creating a new
FeaturePython object in your document ( a=FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.addObject("App::FeaturePython","Box") ), you can get a list of the available properties
by issuing:
You will get a list of available properties:
When adding properties to your custom objects, take care of this:
Do not use characters "<" or ">" in the properties descriptions (that would break the xml pieces in the .fcstd file)
Properties are stored alphabetically in a .fcstd file. If you have a shape in your properties, any property whose name comes after "Shape" in alphabetic
order, will be loaded AFTER the shape, which can cause strange behaviours.
Other more complex example
This example makes use of the Part Module to create an octahedron, then creates its coin representation with pivy.
First is the Document object itself:
import FreeCAD, FreeCADGui, Part
class Octahedron:
def __init__(self, obj):
"Add some custom properties to our box feature"
obj.addProperty("App::PropertyLength","Length","Octahedron","Length of the octahedron").Length=1.0
obj.addProperty("App::PropertyLength","Width","Octahedron","Width of the octahedron").Width=1.0
obj.addProperty("App::PropertyLength","Height","Octahedron", "Height of the octahedron").Height=1.0
obj.addProperty("Part::PropertyPartShape","Shape","Octahedron", "Shape of the octahedron")
obj.Proxy = self
def execute(self, fp):
# Define six vetices for the shape
v1 = FreeCAD.Vector(0,0,0)
v2 = FreeCAD.Vector(fp.Length,0,0)
v3 = FreeCAD.Vector(0,fp.Width,0)
v4 = FreeCAD.Vector(fp.Length,fp.Width,0)
v5 = FreeCAD.Vector(fp.Length/2,fp.Width/2,fp.Height/2)
v6 = FreeCAD.Vector(fp.Length/2,fp.Width/2,-fp.Height/2)
# Make the wires/faces
f1 = self.make_face(v1,v2,v5)
f2 = self.make_face(v2,v4,v5)
f3 = self.make_face(v4,v3,v5)
f4 = self.make_face(v3,v1,v5)
f5 = self.make_face(v2,v1,v6)
f6 = self.make_face(v4,v2,v6)
f7 = self.make_face(v3,v4,v6)
f8 = self.make_face(v1,v3,v6)
fp.Shape = solid
# helper mehod to create the faces
def make_face(self,v1,v2,v3):
wire = Part.makePolygon([v1,v2,v3,v1])
face = Part.Face(wire)
return face
Then, we have the view provider object, responsible for showing the object in the 3D scene:
class ViewProviderOctahedron:
def __init__(self, obj):
"Set this object to the proxy object of the actual view provider"
obj.addProperty("App::PropertyColor","Color","Octahedron","Color of the octahedron").Color=(1.0,0.0,0.0)
obj.Proxy = self
def attach(self, obj):
"Setup the scene sub-graph of the view provider, this method is mandatory"
self.shaded = coin.SoGroup()
self.wireframe = coin.SoGroup()
self.scale = coin.SoScale()
self.color = coin.SoBaseColor()
style=coin.SoDrawStyle() = coin.SoDrawStyle.LINES
def updateData(self, fp, prop):
"If a property of the handled feature has changed we have the chance to handle this here"
# fp is the handled feature, prop is the name of the property that has changed
if prop == "Shape":
s = fp.getPropertyByName("Shape")
for i in s.Vertexes:,i.X,i.Y,i.Z)
def getDisplayModes(self,obj):
"Return a list of display modes."
return modes
def getDefaultDisplayMode(self):
"Return the name of the default display mode. It must be defined in getDisplayModes."
return "Shaded"
def setDisplayMode(self,mode):
return mode
def onChanged(self, vp, prop):
"Here we can do something when a single property got changed"
FreeCAD.Console.PrintMessage("Change property: " + str(prop) + "\n")
if prop == "Color":
c = vp.getPropertyByName("Color")
def getIcon(self):
return """
/* XPM */
static const char * ViewProviderBox_xpm[] = {
"16 16 6 1",
c None",
c #141010",
c #615BD2",
c #C39D55",
c #000000",
c #57C355",
[email protected]@@@.++..++.",
[email protected]@@@.++..++.",
[email protected]@ .++++++.",
" [email protected]@ .++..++.",
"###@@@@ .++..++.",
"##[email protected]@$#.++++++.",
" #$#$$$$$#
" ##$$$$$#
def __getstate__(self):
return None
def __setstate__(self,state):
return None
Finally, once our object and its viewobject are defined, we just need to call them:
Making objects selectable
If you want to make your object selectable, or at least part of it, by clicking on it in the viewport, you must include its coin geometry inside a SoFCSelection
node. If your object has complex representation, with widgets, annotations, etc, you might want to include only a part of it in a SoFCSelection. Everything that
is a SoFCSelection is constantly scanned by FreeCAD to detect selection/preselection, so it makes sense try not to overload it with unneeded scanning. This
is what you would do to include a self.face from the example above:
selectionNode = coin.SoType.fromName("SoFCSelection").createInstance()
selectionNode.objectName.setValue(obj.Object.Name) # here obj is the ViewObject, we need its associated App Object
Simply, you create a SoFCSelection node, then you add your geometry nodes to it, then you add it to your main node, instead of adding your geometry nodes
Working with simple shapes
If your parametric object simply outputs a shape, you don't need to use a view provider object. The shape will be displayed using FreeCAD's standard shape
class Line:
def __init__(self, obj):
"App two point properties"
obj.addProperty("App::PropertyVector","p1","Line","Start point")
obj.addProperty("App::PropertyVector","p2","Line","End point").p2=FreeCAD.Vector(1,0,0)
obj.Proxy = self
def execute(self, fp):
"Print a short message when doing a recomputation, this method is mandatory"
fp.Shape = Part.makeLine(fp.p1,fp.p2)
a.ViewObject.Proxy=0 # just set it to something different from None (this assignment is needed to run an internal notification)
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Scripted_obj ects"
Embedding FreeCAD
FreeCAD has the amazing ability to be importable as a python module in other programs or in a standalone python console, together with all its modules and
components. It's even possible to import the FreeCAD GUI as python module -- with some restrictions, however.
Using FreeCAD without GUI
One first, direct, easy and useful application you can make of this is to import FreeCAD documents into your program. In the following example, we'll import
the Part geometry of a FreeCAD document into blender. Here is the complete script. I hope you'll be impressed by its simplicity:
FREECADPATH = '/opt/FreeCAD/lib' # path to your or FreeCAD.dll file
import Blender, sys
def import_fcstd(filename):
import FreeCAD
except ValueError:
Blender.Draw.PupMenu('Error%t|FreeCAD library not found. Please check the FREECADPATH variable in the import script is correct')
scene = Blender.Scene.GetCurrent()
import Part
doc =
objects = doc.Objects
for ob in objects:
if ob.Type[:4] == 'Part':
shape = ob.Shape
if shape.Faces:
mesh = Blender.Mesh.New()
rawdata = shape.tessellate(1)
for v in rawdata[0]:
for f in rawdata[1]:
def main():
Blender.Window.FileSelector(import_fcstd, 'IMPORT FCSTD',
# This lets you import the script without running it
if __name__=='__main__':
The first, important part is to make sure python will find our FreeCAD library. Once it finds it, all FreeCAD modules such as Part, that we'll use too, will be
available automatically. So we simply take the sys.path variable, which is where python searches for modules, and we append the FreeCAD lib path. This
modification is only temporary, and will be lost when we'll close our python interpreter. Another way could be making a link to your FreeCAD library in one of the
python search paths. I kept the path in a constant (FREECADPATH) so it'll be easier for another user of the script to configure it to his own system.
Once we are sure the library is loaded (the try/except sequence), we can now work with FreeCAD, the same way as we would inside FreeCAD's own python
interpreter. We open the FreeCAD document that is passed to us by the main() function, and we make a list of its objects. Then, as we choosed only to care
about Part geometry, we check if the Type property of each object contains "Part", then we tesselate it.
The tesselation produce a list of vertices and a list of faces defined by vertices indexes. This is perfect, since it is exactly the same way as blender defines
meshes. So, our task is ridiculously simple, we just add both lists contents to the verts and faces of a blender mesh. When everything is done, we just redraw
the screen, and that's it!
Of course this script is very simple (in fact I made a more advanced here), you might want to extend it, for example importing mesh objects too, or importing
Part geometry that has no faces, or import other file formats that FreeCAD can read. You might also want to export geometry to a FreeCAD document, which
can be done the same way. You might also want to build a dialog, so the user can choose what to import, etc... The beauty of all this actually lies in the fact
that you let FreeCAD do the ground work while presenting its results in the program of your choice.
Using FreeCAD with GUI
From version 4.2 on Qt has the intriguing ability to embed Qt-GUI-dependent plugins into non-Qt host applications and share the host's event loop.
Especially, for FreeCAD this means that it can be imported from within another application with its whole user interface where the host application has full
control over FreeCAD, then.
The whole python code to achieve that has only two lines
import FreeCADGui
If the host application is based on Qt then this solution should work on all platforms which Qt supports. However, the host should link the same Qt version as
FreeCAD because otherwise you could run into unexpected runtime errors.
For non-Qt applications, however, there are a few limitations you must be aware of. This solution probably doesn't work together with all other toolkits. For
Windows it works as long as the host application is directly based on Win32 or any other toolkit that internally uses the Win32 API such as wxWidgets, MFC
or WinForms. In order to get it working under X11 the host application must link the "glib" library.
Note, for any console application this solution of course doesn't work because there is no event loop running.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Embedding_FreeCAD"
(Redirected from API documentation)
This category gathers article that list objects and methods available to the python programmer.
Pages in category "API"
The following 15 pages are in this category, out of 15 total.
F cont.
Base API
Builtin modules
Draft API
Object API
TopoShape API
Selection API
Matrix API
Mesh API
Console API
Part API
Placement API
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Category:API"
Vector API
ViewObject API
Code snippets
This page contains examples, pieces, chunks of FreeCAD python code collected from users experiences and discussions on the forums. Read and use it as a
start for your own scripts...
A typical file
Every module must contain, besides your main module file, an file, responsible for inserting the module in the main Gui. This is an example of a
simple one.
class ScriptWorkbench (Workbench):
MenuText = "Scripts"
def Initialize(self):
import Scripts # assuming is your module
list = ["Script_Cmd"] # That list must contain command names, that can be defined in
self.appendToolbar("My Scripts",list)
A typical module file
This is an example of a main module file, containing everything your module does. It is the file invoked by the previous example. You can have all
your custom commands here.
import FreeCAD, FreeCADGui
class ScriptCmd:
def Activated(self):
# Here your write what your ScriptCmd does...
FreeCAD.Console.PrintMessage('Hello, World!')
def GetResources(self):
return {'Pixmap' : 'path_to_an_icon/myicon.png', 'MenuText': 'Short text', 'ToolTip': 'More detailed text'}
FreeCADGui.addCommand('Script_Cmd', ScriptCmd())
Import a new filetype
Making an importer for a new filetype in FreeCAD is easy. FreeCAD doesn't consider that you import data in an opened document, but rather that you simply
can directly open the new filetype. So what you need to do is to add the new file extension to FreeCAD's list of known extensions, and write the code that will
read the file and create the FreeCAD objects you want:
This line must be added to the file to add the new file extension to the list:
# Assumes is the file that has the code for opening and reading .ext files
FreeCAD.addImportType("Your new File Type (*.ext)","Import_Ext")
Then in the file:
def open(filename):
# here you do all what is needed with filename, read, classify data, create corresponding FreeCAD objects
To export your document to some new filetype works the same way, except that you use:
FreeCAD.addExportType("Your new File Type (*.ext)","Export_Ext")
Adding a line
A line simply has 2 points.
import Part,PartGui
# add a line element to the document and set its points
Adding a polygon
A polygon is simply a set of connected line segments (a polyline in AutoCAD). It doesn't need to be closed.
import Part,PartGui
# create a 3D vector, set its coordinates and add it to the list
#... repeat for all nodes
# Create a polygon object and set its nodes
Adding and removing an object to a group
grp=doc.addObject("App::DocumentObjectGroup", "Group")
lin=doc.addObject("Part::Feature", "Line")
grp.addObject(lin) # adds the lin object to the group grp
grp.removeObject(lin) # removes the lin object from the group grp
Note: You can even add other groups to a group...
Adding a Mesh
import Mesh
# create a new empty mesh
m = Mesh.Mesh()
# build up box out of 12 facets
m.addFacet(0.0,0.0,0.0, 0.0,0.0,1.0, 0.0,1.0,1.0)
m.addFacet(0.0,0.0,0.0, 0.0,1.0,1.0, 0.0,1.0,0.0)
m.addFacet(0.0,0.0,0.0, 1.0,0.0,0.0, 1.0,0.0,1.0)
m.addFacet(0.0,0.0,0.0, 1.0,0.0,1.0, 0.0,0.0,1.0)
m.addFacet(0.0,0.0,0.0, 0.0,1.0,0.0, 1.0,1.0,0.0)
m.addFacet(0.0,0.0,0.0, 1.0,1.0,0.0, 1.0,0.0,0.0)
m.addFacet(0.0,1.0,0.0, 0.0,1.0,1.0, 1.0,1.0,1.0)
m.addFacet(0.0,1.0,0.0, 1.0,1.0,1.0, 1.0,1.0,0.0)
m.addFacet(0.0,1.0,1.0, 0.0,0.0,1.0, 1.0,0.0,1.0)
m.addFacet(0.0,1.0,1.0, 1.0,0.0,1.0, 1.0,1.0,1.0)
m.addFacet(1.0,1.0,0.0, 1.0,1.0,1.0, 1.0,0.0,1.0)
m.addFacet(1.0,1.0,0.0, 1.0,0.0,1.0, 1.0,0.0,0.0)
# scale to a edge langth of 100
# add the mesh to the active document
Adding an arc or a circle
import Part
doc = App.activeDocument()
c = Part.Circle()
f = doc.addObject("Part::Feature", "Circle") # create a document with a circle feature
f.Shape = c.toShape() # Assign the circle shape to the shape property
Accessing and changing representation of an object
Each object in a FreeCAD document has an associated view representation object that stores all the parameters that define how the object appear, like color,
linewidth, etc...
# access the active document containing all
# view representations of the features in the
# corresponding App document
# access the view representation to the Mesh feature 'Cube'
# prints the color to the console
v.ShapeColor=(1.0,1.0,1.0) # sets the shape color to white
Observing mouse events in the 3D viewer via Python
The Inventor framework allows to add one or more callback nodes to the scenegraph of the viewer. By default in FreeCAD one callback node is installed per
viewer which allows to add global or static C++ functions. In the appropriate Python binding some methods are provided to make use of this technique from
within Python code.
#This class logs any mouse button events. As the registered callback function fires twice for 'down' and
#'up' events we need a boolean flag to handle this.
class ViewObserver:
def logPosition(self, info):
down = (info["State"] == "DOWN")
pos = info["Position"]
if (down):
FreeCAD.Console.PrintMessage("Clicked on position: ("+str(pos[0])+", "+str(pos[0])+")\n")
o = ViewObserver()
c = v.addEventCallback("SoMouseButtonEvent",o.logPosition)
Now, pick somewhere on the area in the 3D viewer and observe the messages in the output window. To finish the observation just call
The following event types are supported
SoEvent -- all kind of events
SoButtonEvent -- all mouse button and key events
SoLocation2Event -- 2D movement events (normally mouse movements)
SoMotion3Event -- 3D movement events (normally spaceball)
SoKeyboradEvent -- key down and up events
SoMouseButtonEvent -- mouse button down and up events
SoSpaceballButtonEvent -- spaceball button down and up events
The Python function that can be registered with addEventCallback() expects a dictionary. Depending on the watched event the dictionary can contain different
For all events it has the keys:
Type -- the name of the event type i.e. SoMouseEvent, SoLocation2Event, ...
Time -- the current time as string
Position -- a tuple of two integers, mouse position
ShiftDown -- a boolean, true if Shift was pressed otherwise false
CtrlDown -- a boolean, true if Ctrl was pressed otherwise false
AltDown -- a boolean, true if Alt was pressed otherwise false
For all button events, i.e. keyboard, mouse or spaceball events
State -- A string 'UP' if the button was up, 'DOWN' if it was down or 'UNKNOWN' for all other cases
For keyboard events:
Key -- a character of the pressed key
For mouse button event
Button -- The pressed button, could be BUTTON1, ..., BUTTON5 or ANY
For spaceball events:
Button -- The pressed button, could be BUTTON1, ..., BUTTON7 or ANY
And finally motion events:
Translation -- a tuple of three floats
Rotation -- a quaternion for the rotation, i.e. a tuple of four floats
Manipulate the scenegraph in Python
It is also possible to get and change the scenegraph in Python, with the 'pivy' module -- a Python binding for Coin.
from pivy.coin import *
view = Gui.ActiveDocument.ActiveView
root = view.getSceneGraph()
# load the pivy module
# get the active viewer
# the root is an SoSeparator node
The Python API of pivy is created by using the tool SWIG. As we use in FreeCAD some self-written nodes you cannot create them directly in Python. However,
it is possible to create a node by its internal name. An instance of the type 'SoFCSelection' can be created with
type = SoType.fromName("SoFCSelection")
node = type.createInstance()
Adding and removing objects to/from the scenegraph
Adding new nodes to the scenegraph can be done this way. Take care of always adding a SoSeparator to contain the geometry, coordinates and material info
of a same object. The following example adds a red line from (0,0,0) to (10,0,0):
from pivy import coin
sg = Gui.ActiveDocument.ActiveView.getSceneGraph()
co = coin.SoCoordinate3()
pts = [[0,0,0],[10,0,0]]
ma = coin.SoBaseColor()
ma.rgb = (1,0,0)
li = coin.SoLineSet()
no = coin.SoSeparator()
To remove it, simply issue:
Adding custom widgets to the interface
You can create custom widgets with Qt designer, transform them into a python script, and then load them into the FreeCAD interface with PyQt4.
The python code produced by the Ui python compiler (the tool that converts qt-designer .ui files into python code) generally looks like this (it is simple, you can
also code it directly in python):
class myWidget_Ui(object):
def setupUi(self, myWidget):
myWidget.setObjectName("my Nice New Widget")
myWidget.resize(QtCore.QSize(QtCore.QRect(0,0,300,100).size()).expandedTo(myWidget.minimumSizeHint())) # sets size of the widget
self.label = QtGui.QLabel(myWidget) # creates a label
self.label.setGeometry(QtCore.QRect(50,50,200,24)) # sets its size
self.label.setObjectName("label") # sets its name, so it can be found by name
def retranslateUi(self, draftToolbar): # built-in QT function that manages translations of widgets
myWidget.setWindowTitle(QtGui.QApplication.translate("myWidget", "My Widget", None, QtGui.QApplication.UnicodeUTF8))
self.label.setText(QtGui.QApplication.translate("myWidget", "Welcome to my new widget!", None, QtGui.QApplication.UnicodeUTF8))
Then, all you need to do is to create a reference to the FreeCAD Qt window, insert a custom widget into it, and "transform" this widget into yours with the Ui
code we just made:
app = QtGui.qApp
FCmw = app.activeWindow() # the active qt window, = the freecad window since we are inside it
myNewFreeCADWidget = QtGui.QDockWidget() # create a new dckwidget
myNewFreeCADWidget.ui = myWidget_Ui() # load the Ui script
myNewFreeCADWidget.ui.setupUi(myNewFreeCADWidget) # setup the ui
FCmw.addDockWidget(QtCore.Qt.RightDockWidgetArea,myNewFreeCADWidget) # add the widget to the main window
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Code_snippets"
Line drawing function
This page shows how advanced functionality can easily be built in Python. In this exercise, we will be building a new tool that draws a line. This tool can then
be linked to a FreeCAD command, and that command can be called by any element of the interface, like a menu item or a toolbar button.
The main script
First we will write a script containing all our functionality. Then, we will save this in a file, and import it in FreeCAD, so all classes and functions we write will be
availible to FreeCAD. So, launch your favorite text editor, and type the following lines:
import FreeCADGui, Part
from pivy.coin import *
class line:
"this class will create a line after the user clicked 2 points on the screen"
def __init__(self):
self.view = FreeCADGui.ActiveDocument.ActiveView
self.stack = []
self.callback = self.view.addEventCallbackPivy(SoMouseButtonEvent.getClassTypeId(),self.getpoint)
def getpoint(self,event_cb):
event = event_cb.getEvent()
if event.getState() == SoMouseButtonEvent.DOWN:
pos = event.getPosition()
point = self.view.getPoint(pos[0],pos[1])
if len(self.stack) == 2:
l = Part.Line(self.stack[0],self.stack[1])
shape = l.toShape()
Detailed explanation
import Part, FreeCADGui
from pivy.coin import *
In Python, when you want to use functions from another module, you need to import it. In our case, we will need functions from the Part Module, for creating
the line, and from the Gui module (FreeCADGui), for accessing the 3D view. We also need the complete contents of the coin library, so we can use directly all
coin objects like SoMouseButtonEvent, etc...
class line:
Here we define our main class. Why do we use a class and not a function? The reason is that we need our tool to stay "alive" while we are waiting for the user
to click on the screen. A function ends when its task has been done, but an object (a class defines an object) stays alive until it is destroyed.
"this class will create a line after the user clicked 2 points on the screen"
In Python, every class or function can have a description string. This is particularly useful in FreeCAD, because when you'll call that class in the interpreter, the
description string will be displayed as a tooltip.
def __init__(self):
Python classes can always contain an __init__ function, which is executed when the class is called to create an object. So, we will put here everything we
want to happen when our line tool begins.
self.view = FreeCADGui.ActiveDocument.ActiveView
In a class, you usually want to append self. before a variable name, so it will be easily accessible to all functions inside and outside that class. Here, we will
use self.view to access and manipulate the active 3D view.
self.stack = []
Here we create an empty list that will contain the 3D points sent by the getpoint function.
self.callback = self.view.addEventCallbackPivy(SoMouseButtonEvent.getClassTypeId(),self.getpoint)
This is the important part: Since it is actually a coin3D scene, the FreeCAD uses coin callback mechanism, that allows a function to be called everytime a
certain scene event happens. In our case, we are creating a callback for SoMouseButtonEvent events, and we bind it to the getpoint function. Now, everytime
a mouse button is pressed or released, the getpoint function will be executed.
Note that there is also an alternative to addEventCallbackPivy() called addEventCallback() which dispenses the use of pivy. But since pivy is a very efficient and
natural way to access any part of the coin scene, it is much better to use it as much as you can!
def getpoint(self,event_cb):
Now we define the getpoint function, that will be executed when a mouse button is pressed in a 3D view. This function will receive an argument, that we will call
event_cb. From this event callback we can access the event object, which contains several pieces of information (mode info here).
if event.getState() == SoMouseButtonEvent.DOWN:
The getpoint function will be called when a mouse button is pressed or released. But we want to pick a 3D point only when pressed (otherwise we would get
two 3D points very close to each other). So we must check for that here.
pos = event.getPosition()
Here we get the screen coordinates of the mouse cursor
point = self.view.getPoint(pos[0],pos[1])
This function gives us a FreeCAD vector (x,y,z) containing the 3D point that lies on the focal plane, just under our mouse cursor. If you are in camera view,
imagine a ray coming from the camera, passing through the mouse cursor, and hitting the focal plane. There is our 3D point. If we are in orthogonal view, the
ray is parallel to the view direction.
We add our new point to the stack
if len(self.stack) == 2:
Do we have enough points already? if yes, then let's draw the line!
l = Part.Line(self.stack[0],self.stack[1])
Here we use the function Line() from the Part Module that creates a line from two FreeCAD vectors. Everything we create and modify inside the Part module,
stays in the Part module. So, until now, we created a Line Part. It is not bound to any object of our active document, so nothing appears on the screen.
shape = l.toShape()
The FreeCAD document can only accept shapes from the Part module. Shapes are the most generic type of the Part module. So, we must convert our line to
a shape before adding it to the document.
The Part module has a very handy show() function that creates a new object in the document and binds a shape to it. We could also have created a new object
in the document first, then bound the shape to it manually.
Since we are done with our line, let's remove the callback mechanism, that consumes precious CPU cycles.
Testing & Using the script
Now, let's save our script to some place where the FreeCAD python interpreter will find it. When importing modules, the interpreter will look in the following
places: the python installation paths, the FreeCAD bin directory, and all FreeCAD modules directories. So, the best solution is to create a new directory in one
of the FreeCAD Mod directories, and to save our script in it. For example, let's make a "MyScripts" directory, and save our script as "".
Now, everything is ready, let's start FreeCAD, create a new document, and, in the python interpreter, issue:
import exercise
If no error message appear, that means our exercise script has been loaded. We can now check its contents with:
The command dir() is a built-in python command that lists the contents of a module. We can see that our line() class is there, waiting for us. Now let's test it:
Then, click two times in the 3D view, and bingo, here is our line! To do it again, just type exercise.line() again, and again, and again... Feels great, no?
Registering the script in the FreeCAD interface
Now, for our new line tool to be really cool, it should have a button on the interface, so we don't need to type all that stuff everytime. The easiest way is to
transform our new MyScripts directory into a full FreeCAD workbench. It is easy, all that is needed is to put a file called inside your MyScripts
directory. The will contain the instructions to create a new workbench, and add our new tool to it. Besides that we will also need to transform a bit our
exercise code, so the line() tool is recognized as an official FreeCAD command. Let's start by making an file, and write the following code in it:
class MyWorkbench (Workbench):
MenuText = "MyScripts"
def Initialize(self):
import exercise
commandslist = ["line"]
self.appendToolbar("My Scripts",commandslist)
By now, you should already understand the above script by yourself, I think: We create a new class that we call MyWorkbench, we give it a title (MenuText),
and we define an Initialize() function that will be executed when the workbench is loaded into FreeCAD. In that function, we load in the contents of our exercise
file, and append the FreeCAD commands found inside to a command list. Then, we make a toolbar called "My Scripts" and we assign our commands list to it.
Currently, of course, we have only one tool, so our command list contains only one element. Then, once our workbench is ready, we add it to the main
But this still won't work, because a FreeCAD command must be formatted in a certain way to work. So we will need to transform a bit our line() tool. Our new script will now look like this:
import FreeCADGui, Part
from pivy.coin import *
class line:
"this class will create a line after the user clicked 2 points on the screen"
def Activated(self):
self.view = FreeCADGui.ActiveDocument.ActiveView
self.stack = []
self.callback = self.view.addEventCallbackPivy(SoMouseButtonEvent.getClassTypeId(),self.getpoint)
def getpoint(self,event_cb):
event = event_cb.getEvent()
if event.getState() == SoMouseButtonEvent.DOWN:
pos = event.getPosition()
point = self.view.getPoint(pos[0],pos[1])
if len(self.stack) == 2:
l = Part.Line(self.stack[0],self.stack[1])
shape = l.toShape()
def GetResources(self):
return {'Pixmap' : 'path_to_an_icon/line_icon.png', 'MenuText': 'Line', 'ToolTip': 'Creates a line by clicking 2 points on the screen'}
FreeCADGui.addCommand('line', line())
What we did here is transform our __init__() function into an Activated() function, because when FreeCAD commands are run, they automatically execute the
Activated() function. We also added a GetResources() function, that informs FreeCAD where it can find an icon for the tool, and what will be the name and
tooltip of our tool. Any jpg, png or svg image will work as an icon, it can be any size, but it is best to use a size that is close to the final aspect, like 16x16,
24x24 or 32x32. Then, we add the line() class as an official FreeCAD command with the addCommand() method.
That's it, we now just need to restart FreeCAD and we'll have a nice new workbench with our brand new line tool!
So you want more?
If you liked this exercise, why not try to improve this little tool? There are many things that can be done, like for example:
Add user feedback: until now we did a very bare tool, the user might be a bit lost when using it. Sowe could add some feedback, telling him what to do
next. For example, you could issue messages to the FreeCAD console. Have a look in the FreeCAD.Console module
Add a possibility to type the 3D points coordinates manually. Look at the python input() function, for example
Add the possibility to add more than 2 points
Add events for other things: Now we just check for Mouse button events, what if we would also do something when the mouse is moved, like displaying
current coordinates?
Give a name to the created object
Don't hesitate to write your questions or ideas on the talk page !
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Line_draw ing_function"
Dialog creation
In this page we will show how to build a simple Qt Dialog with Qt Designer, Qt's official tool for designing interfaces, then convert it to python code, then use it
inside FreeCAD. I'll assume in the example that you know how to edit and run python scripts already, and that you can do simple things in a terminal window
such as navigate, etc. You must also have, of course, pyqt installed.
Designing the dialog
In CAD applications, designing a good UI (User Interface) is very important. About everything the user will do will be through some piece of interface: reading
dialog boxes, pressing buttons, choosing between icons, etc. So it is very important to think carefully to what you want to do, how you want the user to
behave, and how will be the workflow of your action.
There are a couple of concepts to know when designing interface:
Modal/non-modal dialogs: A modal dialog appears in front of your screen, stopping the action of the main window, forcing the user to respond to the
dialog, while a non-modal dialog doesn't stop you from working on the main window. In some case the first is better, in other cases not.
Identifying what is required and what is optional: Make sure the user knows what he must do. Label everything with proper description, use tooltips, etc.
Separating commands from parameters: This is usually done with buttons and text input fields. The user knows that clicking a button will produce an
action while changing a value inside a text field will change a parameter somewhere. Nowadays, though, users usually know well what is a button, what
is an input field, etc. The interface toolkit we are using, Qt, is a state-of-the-art toolkit, and we won't have to worry much about making things clear, since
they will already be very clear by themselves.
So, now that we have well defined what we will do, it's time to open the qt designer. Let's design a very simple dialog, like this:
We will then use this dialog in FreeCAD to produce a nice rectangular plane. You might find it not very useful to produce nice rectangular planes, but it will be
easy to change it later to do more complex things. When you open it, Qt Designer looks like this:
It is very simple to use. On the left bar you have elements that can be dragged on your widget. On the right side you have properties panels displaying all kinds
of editable properties of selected elements. So, begin with creating a new widget. Select "Dialog without buttons", since we don't want the default Ok/Cancel
buttons. Then, drag on your widget 3 labels, one for the title, one for writing "Height" and one for writing "Width". Labels are simple texts that appear on your
widget, just to inform the user. If you select a label, on the right side will appear several properties that you can change if you want, such as font style, height,
Then, add 2 LineEdits, which are text fields that the user can fill in, one for the height and one for the width. Here too, we can edit properties. For example,
why not set a default value? For example 1.00 for each. This way, when the user will see the dialog, both values will be filled already and if he is satisfied he
can directly press the button, saving precious time. Then, add a PushButton, which is the button the user will need to press after he filled the 2 fields.
Note that I choosed here very simple controls, but Qt has many more options, for example you could use Spinboxes instead of LineEdits, etc... Have a look at
what is available, you will surely have other ideas.
That's about all we need to do in Qt Designer. One last thing, though, let's rename all our elements with easier names, so it will be easier to identify them in our
Converting our dialog to python
Now, let's save our widget somewhere. It will be saved as an .ui file, that we will easily convert to python script with pyuic. On windows, the pyuic program is
bundled with pyqt (to be verified), on linux you probably will need to install it separately from your package manager (on debian-based systems, it is part of the
pyqt4-dev-tools package). To do the conversion, you'll need to open a terminal window (or a command prompt window on windows), navigate to where you
saved your .ui file, and issue:
pyuic mywidget.ui >
On some systems the program is called pyuic4 instead of pyuic. This will simply convert the .ui file into a python script. If we open the file, its
contents are very easy to understand:
from PyQt4 import QtCore, QtGui
class Ui_Dialog(object):
def setupUi(self, Dialog):
Dialog.resize(187, 178)
self.title = QtGui.QLabel(Dialog)
self.title.setGeometry(QtCore.QRect(10, 10, 271, 16))
self.label_width = QtGui.QLabel(Dialog)
def retranslateUi(self, Dialog):
Dialog.setWindowTitle(QtGui.QApplication.translate("Dialog", "Dialog", None, QtGui.QApplication.UnicodeUTF8))
self.title.setText(QtGui.QApplication.translate("Dialog", "Plane-O-Matic", None, QtGui.QApplication.UnicodeUTF8))
As you see it has a very simple structure: a class named Ui_Dialog is created, that stores the interface elements of our widget. That class has two methods,
one for setting up the widget, and one for translating its contents, that is part of the general Qt mechanism for translating interface elements. The setup method
simply creates, one by one, the widgets as we defined them in Qt Designer, and sets their options as we decided earlier. Then, the whole interface gets
translated, and finally, the slots get connected (we'll talk about that later).
We can now create a new widget, and use this class to create its interface. We can already see our widget in action, by putting our file in a place
where FreeCAD will find it (in the FreeCAD bin directory, or in any of the Mod subdirectories), and, in the FreeCAD python interpreter, issue:
from PyQt4 import QtGui
import mywidget
d = QtGui.QWidget()
d.ui = mywidget.Ui_Dialog()
And our dialog will appear! Note that our python interpreter is still working, we have a non-modal dialog. So, to close it, we can (apart from clicking its close
icon, of course) issue:
Making our dialog do something
Now that we can show and hide our dialog, we just need to add one last part: To make it do something! If you play a bit with Qt designer, you'll quickly discover
a whole section called "signals and slots". Basically, it works like this: elements on your widgets (in Qt terminology, those elements are themselves widgets)
can send signals. Those signals differ according to the widget type. For example, a button can send a signal when it is pressed and when it is released. Those
signals can be connected to slots, which can be special functionality of other widgets (for example a dialog has a "close" slot to which you can connect the
signal from a close button), or can be custom functions. The PyQt Reference Documentation lists all the qt widgets, what they can do, what signals they
can send, etc...
What we will do here, is create a new function that will create a plane based on height and width, and connect that function to the pressed signal emitted by
our "Create!" button. So, let's begin with importing our FreeCAD modules, by putting the following line at the top of the script, where we already import QtCore
and QtGui:
import FreeCAD, Part
Then, let's add a new function to our Ui_Dialog class:
def createPlane(self):
# first we check if valid numbers have been entered
w = float(self.width.text())
h = float(self.height.text())
except ValueError:
print "Error! Width and Height values must be valid numbers!"
# create a face from 4 points
p1 = FreeCAD.Vector(0,0,0)
p2 = FreeCAD.Vector(w,0,0)
p3 = FreeCAD.Vector(w,h,0)
p4 = FreeCAD.Vector(0,h,0)
pointslist = [p1,p2,p3,p4,p1]
mywire = Part.makePolygon(pointslist)
myface = Part.Face(mywire)
Then, we need to inform Qt to connect the button to the function, by placing the following line just before QtCore.QMetaObject.connectSlotsByName(Dialog):
This, as you see, connects the pressed() signal of our create object (the "Create!" button), to a slot named createPlane, which we just defined. That's it! Now,
as a final touch, we can add a little function to create the dialog, it will be easier to call. Outside the Ui_Dialog class, let's add this code:
class plane():
d = QtGui.QWidget()
d.ui = Ui_Dialog()
Then, from FreeCAD, we only need to do:
import mywidget
That's all Folks... Now you can try all kinds of things, like for example inserting your widget in the FreeCAD interface (see the Code snippets page), or making
much more advanced custom tools, by using other elements on your widget.
The complete script
This is the complete script, for reference:
# -*- coding: utf-8 -*# Form implementation generated from reading ui file 'mywidget.ui'
# Created: Mon Jun 1 19:09:10 2009
by: PyQt4 UI code generator 4.4.4
# WARNING! All changes made in this file will be lost!
from PyQt4 import QtCore, QtGui
import FreeCAD, Part
class Ui_Dialog(object):
def setupUi(self, Dialog):
Dialog.resize(187, 178)
self.title = QtGui.QLabel(Dialog)
self.title.setGeometry(QtCore.QRect(10, 10, 271, 16))
self.label_width = QtGui.QLabel(Dialog)
self.label_width.setGeometry(QtCore.QRect(10, 50, 57, 16))
self.label_height = QtGui.QLabel(Dialog)
self.label_height.setGeometry(QtCore.QRect(10, 90, 57, 16))
self.width = QtGui.QLineEdit(Dialog)
self.width.setGeometry(QtCore.QRect(60, 40, 111, 26))
self.height = QtGui.QLineEdit(Dialog)
self.height.setGeometry(QtCore.QRect(60, 80, 111, 26))
self.create = QtGui.QPushButton(Dialog)
self.create.setGeometry(QtCore.QRect(50, 140, 83, 26))
def retranslateUi(self, Dialog):
Dialog.setWindowTitle(QtGui.QApplication.translate("Dialog", "Dialog", None, QtGui.QApplication.UnicodeUTF8))
self.title.setText(QtGui.QApplication.translate("Dialog", "Plane-O-Matic", None, QtGui.QApplication.UnicodeUTF8))
self.label_width.setText(QtGui.QApplication.translate("Dialog", "Width", None, QtGui.QApplication.UnicodeUTF8))
self.label_height.setText(QtGui.QApplication.translate("Dialog", "Height", None, QtGui.QApplication.UnicodeUTF8))
self.create.setText(QtGui.QApplication.translate("Dialog", "Create!", None, QtGui.QApplication.UnicodeUTF8))
def createPlane(self):
# first we check if valid numbers have been entered
w = float(self.width.text())
h = float(self.height.text())
except ValueError:
print "Error! Width and Height values must be valid numbers!"
# create a face from 4 points
p1 = FreeCAD.Vector(0,0,0)
p2 = FreeCAD.Vector(w,0,0)
p3 = FreeCAD.Vector(w,h,0)
p4 = FreeCAD.Vector(0,h,0)
pointslist = [p1,p2,p3,p4,p1]
mywire = Part.makePolygon(pointslist)
myface = Part.Face(mywire)
class plane():
d = QtGui.QWidget()
d.ui = Ui_Dialog()
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Dialog_creation"
Statement of the maintainer
I know that the discussion on the "right" licence for open source occupied a significant portion of internet bandwidth and so is here the reason why, in my
opinion, FreeCAD should have this one.
I chose the LGPL and the GPL for the project and I know the pro and cons about the LGPL and will give you some reasons for that decision.
FreeCAD is a mixture of a library and an application, so the GPL would be a little bit strong for that. It would prevent writing commercial modules for FreeCAD
because it would prevent linking with the FreeCAD base libs. You may ask why commercial modules at all? Therefore Linux is good example. Would Linux be
so successful when the GNU C Library would be GPL and therefore prevent linking against non-GPL applications? And although I love the freedom of Linux, I
also want to be able to use the very good NVIDIA 3D graphic driver. I understand and accept the reason NVIDIA does not wish to give away driver code. We all
work for companies and need payment or at least food. So for me, a coexistence of open source and closed source software is not a bad thing, when it obeys
the rules of the LGPL. I would like to see someone writing a Catia import/export processor for FreeCAD and distribute it for free or for some money. I don't like
to force him to give away more than he wants to. That wouldn't be good neither for him nor for FreeCAD.
Nevertheless this decision is made only for the core system of FreeCAD. Every writer of an application module may make his own decision.
Used Licences
Here the three licences under which FreeCAD is published:
General Public Licence (GPL2+)
For the Python scripts to build the binaries as stated in the .py files in src/Tools
Lesser General Public Licence (LGPL2+)
For the core libs as stated in the .h and .cpp files in src/App src/Gui src/Base and most modules in src/Mod and for the executable as stated in the .h
and .cpp files in src/main. The icons and other graphic parts are also LGPL.
Open Publication Licence
For the documentation on as not marked differently by the author
We try to use only LGPL type licences for the core system linked libraries (see Third Party Libraries) with one exception:
the Coin3D licence (
See FreeCAD's debian copyright file for more details about the licenses used in FreeCAD
Impact of the licences
Private users
Private users can use FreeCAD free of charge and can do basically whatever they want to do with it....
Professional users
Can use FreeCAD freely, for any kind of private or professional work. They can customize the application as they wish. They can write open or closed source
extensions to FreeCAD. They are always master of their data, they are not forced to update FreeCAD, change their usage of FreeCAD. Using FreeCAD doesn't
bind them to any kind of contract or obligation.
Open Source developers
Can use FreeCAD as the groundwork for own extension modules for special purposes. They can choose either the GPL or the LGPL to allow the use of their
work in proprietary software or not.
Professional developers
Professional developers can use FreeCAD as the groundwork for their own extension modules for special purposes and are not forced to make their modules
open source. They can use all modules which use the LGPL. They are allowed to distribute FreeCAD along with their proprietary software. They will get the
support of the author(s) as long as it is not a one way street. If you want to sell your module you need a Coin3D licence, otherwise you are forced by this
library to make it open source.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Licence"
Reporting bugs
Recently the sourceforge platform made the mantis bug tracker application available to projects, and FreeCAD is now using it actively, instead of the old builtin bug tracker. The adress of our bug tracker is:
If you think you might have found a bug, you are welcome to report it there. But before reporting a bug, please check the following items:
Make sure your bug is really a bug, that is, something that should be working and that is not working. If you are not sure, dont hesitate to explain your
problem on the forum and ask what to do.
Before submitting anything, read the frequently asked questions, do a search on the forum, and make sure the same bug hasn't been reported
before, by doing a search on the bug tracker.
Describe as clearly as possible the problem, and how it can be reproduced. If we can not verify the bug, we might not be able to fix it.
Join the following information: Your operating system, if it is 32 or 64 bits, and the version of FreeCAD you are running.
Please file one separate report for each bug.
If you are on a linux system and your bug causes a crash in FreeCAD, you can try running a debug backtrace: From a terminal run gdb freecad
(assuming package gdb is installed), then, inside gdb, type run . FreeCAD will then run. After the crash happens, type bt , to get the full backtrace.
Include that backtrace in your bug report.
Requesting features
If you want something to appear in FreeCAD that is not implemented yet, it is not a bug but a feature request. You can also submit it on the same tracker (file
it as feature request instead of bug), but keep in mind there are no guarantees that your wish will be fullfilled.
Submitting patches
In case you have programmed a bug fix, an extension or something else that can be of public use in FreeCAD, create a patch using the Subversion diff tool
and submit it on the same tracker (file it as patch).
The "old" sourceforge tracker (obsolete)
Note: Please use the new mantis bug tracker to submit bugs, this one is now a bit deprecated...
Where to find?
The FreeCAD project has its own tracker summary page. There you find the overview on the individual sections of the tracker.
When to use?
The FreeCAD Bug Tracker
If you think you might have found a bug, go to the Bugs Section of the tracker and choose "any" for status to see all bug request ever filed. The keyword
search allows you to find bug tracker entries for a similiar issue. If you can not find an older entry about your problem, you should file a new entry on the same
Feature Requests
If you are missing a feature in FreeCAD that you think of as beeing absolutely necessary to become the worlds best CAD-Software, you might find the
Feature Request section helpfull.
Support Requests
If you don't get around compiling FreeCAD and the Compile On Windows or Compile On Unix section does not give you a hint, or you try to port it to a new
environment or are programming new modules or extensions for FreeCAD and need some assistance then the Support Requests section is the place you
might want to go to.
New Patches
In case you have programmed a bug fix, an extension or something else that can be of public use in FreeCAD, create a patch using Subversion and file it in the
patches section.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Tracker"
This article explains step by step how to compile FreeCAD on Windows.
What you need is mainly the compiler. On Windows we use the M$ VisualStudio 8 Compiler with the highest service pack. Although it's probably possible to
use Cygwin or MingW gcc it's not tested or ported so far. We have also ported to use VC8 Express Edition. You need to download the Windows Platform SDK
to get e.g. the Windows.h. Also you need all the Third Party Libraries to successfully compile FreeCAD.
If you use the M$ compilers you want most likely download the FreeCAD LibPack which provides you with all needed libs to build FreeCAD on Windows.
Building with cMake
First of all, you have to download cMake and install it on your build machine.
The switch to cMake
Since version 0.9 we use the cMake build system to generate the build/make files for various compilers. We do not longer deliver .vcproj files. If you want build
former versions of FreeCAD (0.8 and older) see "Building older versions" later in this article.
We switched because it became more and more painful to maintain project files for 30+ build targets and x compilers. cMake gives us the posibility to support
alternative IDEs, like Code::Blocks, Qt Creator and Eclipse CDT the main compiler we use is still M$ VC9 Express, though. But we plan for the future a build
process on Windows without proprietary compiler software.
Configure the build process
The first step to build FreeCAD with cMake is to configure the environment. There are basically two ways to go:
Using the LibPack
Installing all needed libs and let cMake find them
In the first case you only need to give cMake the path to the LibPack and all the rest should be done automatically and you see such a screen:
You see the LibPack path inserted into the FREECAD_LIBPACK_DIR variable. Starting from that all includes and paths are set. You just need to press the
Generate button and the project files get generated.
If you switch the FREECAD_LIBPACK_USE options off, the configuration tries to find each and every library needed on your system. Depending on the libs that
works well more or less. So you have to do often define some paths by hand. cMake will show you what is not found and need to be specified.
Options for the Build Process
The cMake build system gives us a lot more flexibility over the build process. That means we can switch on and off some features or modules. It's in a way like
the Linux kernel build. You have a lot switches to determine the build process.
Here is the description of these switches. They will most likely change a lot in the future because we want to increase the build flexibility a lot more.
Link table
Variable name
Switch the usage of the FreeCAD LibPack on or off
On Win32 on, otherwishe off
Directory where the LibPack is
Build FreeCAD with all Gui related modules
Build the CAM module, experimental!
Create the project files for the Windows installer.
FREECAD_BUILD_DOXYGEN_DOCU Create the project files for source code documentation. OFF
Switch on stuff needed only when you do a Release build. OFF
command line build
Here an example how to build FreeCAD from the Command line:
rem @echo off
Build script, uses vcbuild to completetly build FreeCAD
rem update trunc
cd "D:\_Projekte\FreeCAD\FreeCAD_0.9"
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Subversion\bin\svn.exe" update
set the aprobiated Variables here or outside in the system
set PATH=C:\WINDOWS\system32;C:\WINDOWS;C:\WINDOWS\System32\Wbem
set LIB=
rem Register VS Build programms
call "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\vcvarsall.bat"
rem Set Standard include paths
set INCLUDE=%INCLUDE%;%FrameworkSDKDir%\include
set INCLUDE=%INCLUDE%;C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.0A\Include
rem Set lib Pathes
set LIB=%LIB%;C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.0A\Lib
set LIB=%LIB%;%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Visual Studio\VC98\Lib
rem Start the Visuall Studio build process
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\vcpackages\vcbuild.exe" "D:\_Projekte\FreeCAD FreeCAD_0.9_build\FreeCAD_trunk.sln" /useenv
Building older versions
Using LibPack
To make it easier to get FreeCAD compiled, we provide a collection of all needed libraries. It's called the LibPack. You can find it on the download page on
You need to set the following environment variables:
Add "%FREECADLIB%\bin" and "%FREECADLIB%\dll" to the system PATH variable. Keep in mind that you have to replace "%FREECADLIB%" with the path
name, since Windows does not recursively replace environment variables.
Directory setup in Visual Studio
Some search path of Visual Studio need to be set. To change them, use the menu Tools→Options→Directory
Add the following search path to the include path search list:
Add the following search path to the lib path search list:
Add the following search path to the executable path search list:
TortoiseSVN binary installation directory, usually "C:\Programm Files\TortoiseSVN\bin", this is needed for a distribution build when SubWVRev.exe is
used to extract the version number from Subversion.
Python needed
During the compilation some Python scripts get executed. So the Python interpreter has to function on the OS. Use a command box to check it. If the Python
library is not properly installed you will get an error message like Cannot find python.exe. If you use the LibPack you can also use the python.exe in the bin
Special for VC8
When building the project with VC8, you have to change the link information for the WildMagic library, since you need a different version for VC6 and VC8. Both
versions are supplied in LIBPACK/dll. In the project properties for AppMesh change the library name for the wm.dll to the VC8 version. Take care to change it in
Debug and Release configuration.
After you conform to all prerequisites the compilation is - hopefully - only a mouse click in VC ;-)
After Compiling
To get FreeCAD up and running from the compiler environment you need to copy a few files from the LibPack to the bin folder where FreeCAD.exe is installed
after a successful build:
python.exe and python_d.exe from LIBPACK/bin
python25.dll and python25_d.dll from LIBPACK/bin from LIBPACK/bin
make a copy of and rename it to
QtCore4.dll from LIBPACK/bin
QtGui4.dll from LIBPACK/bin
boost_signals-vc80-mt-1_34_1.dll from LIBPACK/bin
boost_program_options-vc80-mt-1_34_1.dll from LIBPACK/bin
xerces-c_2_8.dll from LIBPACK/bin
zlib1.dll from LIBPACK/bin
coin2.dll from LIBPACK/bin
soqt1.dll from LIBPACK/bin
QtOpenGL4.dll from LIBPACK/bin
QtNetwork 4.dll from LIBPACK/bin
QtSvg4.dll from LIBPACK/bin
QtXml4.dll from LIBPACK/bin
When using a LibPack with a Python version older than 2.5 you have to copy two further files:
zlib.pyd and zlib_d.pyd from LIBPACK/bin/lib. This is needed by python to open the zipped python library.
_sre.pyd and _sre_d.pyd from LIBPACK/bin/lib. This is needed by python for the built in help system.
If you don't get it running due to a Python error it is very likely that one of the zlib*.pyd files is missing.
Additional stuff
If you whant to build the source code documentation you need DoxyGen.
To create an intstaller package you need WIX.
During the compilation some Python scripts get executed. So the Python interpreter has to work properly.
For more details have also a look to README.Linux in your sources.
First of all you should build the Qt plugin that provides all custom widgets of FreeCAD we need for the Qt Designer. The sources are located under
So far we don't provide a makefile -- but calling
creates it. Once that's done, calling mak e will create the library
To make this library known to your Qt Designer you have to copy the file to
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=CompileOnWindow s"
On recent linux distributions, FreeCAD is generally easy to build, since all dependencies are usually provided by the package manager. Basically, you'll just
need to get the FreeCAD source, then install the dependencies listed below, then issue:
./ && ./configure && make
./cmake . && make
to get FreeCAD built, depending on what build system you prefer to use (autotools or cmake). Below, you'll find detailed explanations of the whole process
and particularities you might encounter. Before you get too bogged down in details, there is also a shellscript that you can use to follow along. If you find
anything wrong in it or here below, please help us correcting it.
Getting the source
Before you can compile FreeCAD, you must get the source code. First install subversion. Then, from the directory of your choice (for example your user
directory), do:
svn co freecad
This will perform an anonymous checkout of the current development version in a new directory called "freecad". Alternatively you can download a source
tarball but they could be already quite old so it's probably better to always get the latest sources via subversion. Note, though, that the subversion version is
the FreeCAD version currently being worked on, and it might contain bugs or even fail to compile.
To compile FreeCAD under Linux you have to install all libraries mentioned in Third Party Libraries first. You also need the GNU gcc compiler version equal
or above 3.0.0. g++ is also needed because FreeCAD is completely written in C++. Both gcc and g++ are included in the build-essential package listed below.
During the compilation some Python scripts get executed. So the Python interpreter has to work properly.
To avoid any linker problems during the build process it would be a good idea to have the library paths either in your LD_LIBRARY_PATH variable or in your file. This is normally already the case in recent distributions.
For more details have also a look to README.Linux in your sources.
Debian/Ubuntu and most recent distributions
On Debian based systems it is quite easy to get all needed dependencies installed. Most of the libraries are available via apt-get or synaptic package manager.
Below are listed all packgages you need to install. On other distributions, the package names can vary, but usually you'll be able to find them all too:
libxerces-c2-dev (or libxerces28-dev depending on your system)
python2.5-dev (or higher version if available)
To simply install all these libraries in one step, just copy/paste the following text in a terminal (only for debian/ubuntu based systems) as root:
aptitude install build-essential python libcoin60-dev libsoqt4-dev libxerces-c2-dev
libboost-dev libboost-date-time-dev libboost-filesystem-dev libboost-graph-dev libboost-iostreams-dev
libboost-program-options-dev libboost-serialization-dev libboost-signals-dev libboost-regex-dev libboost-thread-dev
libqt4-dev qt4-dev-tools python2.5-dev libopencascade-dev libf2c2-dev gfortran
Another simple way, if your debian-based distribution already has a freecad package, is to do:
apt-get build-dep freecad
which will fetch all packages needed to build freecad. Beware that some new packages might be needed since last version, that you still need to install
optionally you can also install
libsimage-dev (to make Coin to support additional image file formats)
checkinstall (to register your installed files into your system's package manager, so yo can easily uninstall later)
python-pivy (needed for the 2D Drafting module)
python-qt4 (needed for the 2D Drafting module)
To build & install FreeCAD on Fedora 13, a few tips and tricks are needed:
Install a bunch of required packages, most are available from the Fedora 13 repositories
Download and build xerces
Download and build OpenCascade. Need to point it to xmu: ./configure --with-xmu-include=/usr/include/X11/Xmu --with-xmu-library=/usr/lib
Download and build Pivy. You have to remove 2 references to non existent "SoQtSpaceball.h" from pivy/interfaces/soqt.i Commenting out those two lines
allow the build & install to work.
Configure Freecad. You will need to point it to a few things: ./configure --with-qt4-include=/usr/include --with-qt4-bin=/usr/lib/qt4/bin --with-occlib=/usr/local/lib --with-occ-include=/usr/local/inc --with-xercesc-lib=/usr/local/lib
make - hits a problem where the build is breaking because the ldflags for soqt are set to "-LNONE" which made libtool barf. My hackish workaround was
to modify /usr/lib/Coin2/conf/soqt-default.cfg so that the ldflags are "" instead of "-LNONE". After this -> success !
make install
Older and non-conventional distributions
On older distributions, however you might not find the following libraries:
Not all Linux distributions have an official OpenCASCADE package in their repositories. You have to check yourself for your distribution if one is available. At
least from Debian Lenny and Ubuntu Intrepid on an official .deb package is provided. For older Debian or Ubuntu releases you may get unofficial packages from
here. To build your own private .deb packages follow these steps:
dpkg-source -x opencascade_6.2.0-7.dsc
# Install OCC build-deps
sudo apt-get install build-essential devscripts debhelper autoconf
automake libtool bison libx11-dev tcl8.4-dev tk8.4-dev libgl1-mesa-dev
libglu1-mesa-dev java-gcj-compat-dev libxmu-dev
#Build Opencascade packages. This takes hours and requires
# at least 8 GB of free disk space
cd opencascade-6.2.0 ; debuild
# Install the resulting library debs
sudo dpkg -i libopencascade6.2-0_6.2.0-7_i386.deb
Alternatively, you can download and compile the latest version from
Install the package normally, be aware that the installer is a java program that requires the official java runtime edition from Sun (package name: sun-java6-jre),
not the open-source java (gij) that is bundled with Ubuntu. Install it if needed:
sudo apt-get remove gij
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jre
Be careful, if you use gij java with other things like a browser plugin, they won't work anymore. If the installer doesn't work, try:
java -cp path_to_file_setup.jar <-Dtemp.dir=path_to_tmp_directory> run
Once the package is installed, go into the "ros" directory inside the opencascade dir, and do
./configure --with-tcl=/usr/lib/tcl8.4 --with-tk=/usr/lib/tk8.4
Now you can build. Go back to the ros folder and do:
It will take a long time, maybe several hours.
When it is done, just install by doing
sudo make install
The library files will be copied into /usr/local/lib which is fine because there they will be found automatically by any program. Alternatively, you can also do
sudo checkinstall
which will do the same as make install but create an entry in your package management system so you can easily uninstall later. Now clean up the enormous
temporary compilation files by doing
make clean
Possible error 1: If you are using OCC version 6.2, it is likely that the compiler will stop right after the beginning of the "make" operation. If it happens, edit the
"configure" script, locate the CXXFLAGS="$CXXFLAGS " statement, and replace it by CXXFLAGS="$CXXFLAGS -ffriend-injection -fpermissive". Then do the
configure step again.
Possible error 2: Possibly several modules (WOKSH, WOKLibs, TKWOKTcl, TKViewerTest and TKDraw) will complain that they couldn't find the tcl/tk
headers. In that case, since the option is not offered in the configure script, you will have to edit manually the makefile of each of those modules: Go into
adm/make and into each of the bad modules folders. Edit the Makefile, and locate the lines CSF_TclLibs_INCLUDES = -I/usr/include and
CSF_TclTkLibs_INCLUDES = -I/usr/include and add /tcl8.4 and /tk8.4 to it so they read: CSF_TclLibs_INCLUDES = -I/usr/include/tcl8.4 and
CSF_TclTkLibs_INCLUDES = -I/usr/include/tk8.4
The SoQt library must be compiled against Qt4, which is the case in most recent distributions. But at the time of writing this article there were only SoQt4
packages for Debian itself available but not for all Ubuntu versions. To get the packages built do the following steps:
dpkg-source -x soqt_1.4.1-6.dsc
sudo apt-get install doxygen devscripts fakeroot debhelper libqt3-mt-dev qt3-dev-tools libqt4-opengl-dev
cd soqt-1.4.1
sudo dpkg -i libsoqt4-20_1.4.1-6_i386.deb libsoqt4-dev_1.4.1-6_i386.deb libsoqt-dev-common_1.4.1-6_i386.deb
If you are on a 64bit system, you will probably need to change i386 by amd64.
Pivy is not needed to build FreeCAD or to run it, but it is needed for the 2D Drafting module to work. If you are not going to use that module, you won't need
pivy. At the time of writing, Pivy is very new and might not have made its way into your distribution repository. If you cannot find Pivy in your distribution's
packages repository, you can grab debian/ubuntu packages on the FreeCAD download page:
or compile pivy yourself:
Pivy compilation instructions
Compile FreeCAD
Finding compile bugs
The autotools way
You must have automake and libtool installed on your system; on Debian/Ubuntu:
aptitude install automake libtool
If you got the sources with subversion then the very first step must be
that creates the configure script and more. For the build process itself we provide a configure script. Just type
To get everything configured. If you want an overview of all options you can specify, you can type
./configure --help.
Normally you need none of them - unless you have one of your libraries installed in a really uncommon directory. After configuration has finished, compiling
FreeCAD is as simple as
If any error occurs while building from sources, please double-check this page and README.Linux file, then you could jump to the Bug Tracker on
SourceForge, choose Any for status and click the Browse button to see previous reports on compile problems. After having built FreeCAD successfully, do
make install
to install it onto your machine. The default install directory is
It will be installed in a FreeCAD folder in your home folder, so you don't need root privileges. Instead of make install, you can also do
In this way FreeCAD will be installed by your package management system, so you can uninstall it easily later. But since all of FreeCAD installation resides
into one single directory, just removing the FreeCAD directory is a valid way to uninstall too.
The cMake way
cMake is a newer build system which has the big advantage of being common for different target systems (Linux, Windows, MacOSX, etc). FreeCAD is
progressively switching to the cMake system, and you can already build FreeCAD in that way. Like with autotools, the process goes in two steps : first you
configure the source, and then you build the program proper.
In the first step, cMake checks that every needed programs and libraries are present on your system and sets up all that's necessary for the subsequent
compilation. You are given a few alternatives detailed below, but FreeCAD comes with sensible defaults and, assuming cMake is installed on your system, for a
first compilation you can just switch to your FreeCAD source folder and issue:
cmake .
to have the source configured (Don't forget the dot! It's a parameter to the cmake command). Then issue:
to have FreeCAD built. A proper system-wide installation of FreeCAD still cannot be made with cmake, but you can run FreeCAD simply by issuing
Out of source build:
If you intend to follow the fast evolving SVN versions and maybe contribute to the code, cMake allows for out of source builds. Just create a build directory
distinct from your freecad root folder, switch to this directory and there issue:
cmake path-to-freecad-root
The effect is that every file generated at configure time goes in your build directory, and does not get mixed with the sources checked-out from SVN. The
management of your local copy of the sources is greatly eased.
Configuration options:
There are a number of experimental or unfinished modules you may have to build if you want to work on them. To do so, you need to set the proper options for
the configuration phase. Do it either on the command line, passing -D <var>:<type>=<value> options to cMake or using one of the availables gui-frontends (eg
for Debian, packages cmake-qt-gui or cmake-curses-gui).
As an example, to configure on the command line with the Assembly module built, issue:
cmake -D FREECAD_BUILD_ASSEMBLY:BOOL=ON path-to-freecad-root
Possible options are listed in FreeCAD's root CmakeLists.txt file.
Optional parts
If you want to develop Qt stuff for FreeCAD, you'll need the Qt Designer plugin that provides all custom widgets of FreeCAD. Go to
So far we don't provide a makefile -- but calling
creates it. Once that's done, calling
will create the library To make this library known to Qt Designer you have to copy the file to
If you feel bold enough to dive in the code, you could take advantage to consult FreeCAD's Source documentation
Note for 64bit systems
When building FreeCAD for 64-bit there is a known issue with the OpenCASCADE 64-bit package. To get FreeCAD running properly you might need to run the
./configure script with the additional define _OCC64 set:
./configure CXXFLAGS="-D_OCC64"
For Debian based systems this workaround is not needed when using the prebuilt package because there the OpenCASCADE package is built to set internally
this define. Now you just need to compile FreeCAD the same way as described above.
Automake macros
The configure script of FreeCAD makes use of several automake macros that are sometimes not installed with their packages: bnv_have_qt.m4, coin.m4, and
gts.m4. If needed (error while configuring), google for them and you will find them easily. They are just simple scripts that you need to put in your
/usr/share/aclocal folder.
Making a debian package
If you plan to build a Debian package out of the sources you need to install those packages first:
lintian (optional, used for checking if packages are standard-compliant)
To build a package open a console, simply go to the FreeCAD directory and call
Once the package is built, you can use lintian to check if the package contains errors
lintian your-fresh-new-freecad-package.deb (replace by the name of the package you just created)
Automatic build scripts
Here is all what you need for a complete build of FreeCAD. It's a one-script-approach and works on a fresh installed distro. The commands will ask for root
password (for installation of packages) and sometime to acknowledge a fingerprint for an external repository server or https-subversion repository. This scripts
should run on 32 and 64 bit versions. They are written for distinct version, but are also likely to run on a later version with or without minor changes.
If you have such a script for your preferred distro, please send it! We will incorporate it into this article.
Ubuntu 9.10 - Karmic Koala / Ubuntu 10.04 LTS - Lucid Lynx / Ubuntu 10.10 Maveric
sudo apt-get install build-essential python libcoin60-dev libsoqt4-dev \
libxerces-c2-dev libboost-dev libboost-date-time-dev libboost-filesystem-dev \
libboost-graph-dev libboost-iostreams-dev libboost-program-options-dev \
libboost-serialization-dev libboost-signals-dev libboost-regex-dev libboost-thread-dev \
libqt4-dev qt4-dev-tools python2.6-dev libopencascade-dev libsoqt4-dev \
libode-dev subversion cmake libeigen2-dev libsimage-dev python-qt4 \
libtool autotools-dev automake bison flex libf2c2-dev gfortran
# checkout the latest source
svn co freecad
# go to source dir
cd freecad
# build configuration
cmake .
# build FreeCAD
# test FreeCAD
cd bin
./FreeCAD -t 0
# use FreeCAD
Ubuntu 9.04 - Jaunty Jackalope
# get the needed tools and libs
sudo apt-get install build-essential python libcoin40-dev libsoqt4-dev \
libxerces-c2-dev libboost-dev libboost-date-time-dev libboost-filesystem-dev \
libboost-graph-dev libboost-iostreams-dev libboost-program-options-dev \
libboost-serialization-dev libboost-signals-dev libboost-regex-dev \
libboost-thread-dev libqt4-dev qt4-dev-tools python2.6-dev \
libsimage-dev libopencascade-dev \
libsoqt4-dev libode0-dev subversion cmake libeigen2-dev python-pivy \
libtool autotools-dev automake
# checkout the latest source
svn co freecad
# go to source dir
cd freecad
# build configuration
cmake .
# build FreeCAD
# test FreeCAD
cd bin
./FreeCAD -t 0
OpenSuse 11.2
This script is not working at the moment because:
libXerces-c-devel seams to be disappeared ....
# install needed packages for development
sudo zypper install gcc cmake subversion OpenCASCADE-devel \
libXerces-c-devel python-devel libqt4-devel python-qt4 \
Coin-devel SoQt-devel boost-devel libode-devel libQtWebKit-devel \
libeigen2-devel gcc-fortran f2c
# get the source
svn co freecad
# go to source dir
cd freecad
# build configuration
cmake .
# build FreeCAD
nice make
# test FreeCAD
cd bin
./FreeCAD -t 0
OpenSuse 11.1
# additional repository (for OpenCascade)
sudo zypper -p
# install needed packages for development
sudo zypper install gcc cmake subversion OpenCASCADE-devel \
libXerces-c-devel python-devel libqt4-devel python-qt4 \
Coin-devel SoQt-devel boost-devel libode-devel libQtWebKit-devel \
# get the source
svn co freecad
# go to source dir
cd freecad
# build configuration
cmake .
# build FreeCAD
nice make
# test FreeCAD
cd bin
./FreeCAD -t 0
Debian Squeeze
# get the needed tools and libs
sudo apt-get install build-essential python libcoin60-dev libsoqt4-dev \
libxerces-c2-dev libboost-dev libboost-date-time-dev libboost-filesystem-dev \
libboost-graph-dev libboost-iostreams-dev libboost-program-options-dev \
libboost-serialization-dev libboost-signals-dev libboost-regex-dev \
libqt4-dev qt4-dev-tools python2.5-dev \
libsimage-dev libopencascade-dev \
libsoqt4-dev libode-dev subversion cmake libeigen2-dev python-pivy \
libtool autotools-dev automake libf2c2-dev gfortran
# checkout the latest source
svn co freecad
# go to source dir
cd freecad
# build configuration
cmake .
# build FreeCAD
# test FreeCAD
cd bin
./FreeCAD -t 0
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=CompileOnUnix"
Compiling FreeCAD on a Mac isn't much different from the steps on Linux or other UNIX variants. The biggest challenge is really getting all of the dependencies
installed. In the following sections, I (lhagan) will detail the exact steps I had to go through to get this application to compile on Leopard and Snow Leopard
using an Intel Mac (PowerPC should be feasible, but requires recompiling some binary libraries that I haven't got to yet). As far as I know, I'm the only one to
successfully build FreeCAD on a Mac recently, so please post on the discussion forum if these steps work for you, on the help forum if they don't, or edit
this page if you find errors.
Download the FreeCAD sources
First you need to get a copy of the FreeCAD source tree. Just check out the latest revision from the Sourceforge subversion repository using this command in
the terminal:
svn co freecad
This will put the FreeCAD source and related files in your home folder (~/freecad/). Location is not important if you'd rather put it somewhere else, you just
need full access to the files.
Install MacPorts and Library Dependencies
Next, if you don't already have it, install MacPorts. MacPorts is a system that allows you to download, compile, and install many common open-source
applications with a single command. Similar applications from the UNIX/Linux world are PKGSRC and APT. To install, just download the disk image from the
MacPorts site and follow the directions:
Whether or not you just installed MacPorts, you'll probably want to make sure it's up to date. Run:
sudo port selfupdate
Now that MacPorts is installed and up to date, you can start installing some of FreeCAD's required packages:
The following command will compile/install all required libraries. If MacPorts produces errors, you may want to try installing them one at a time.
sudo port install ode xercesc boost gts opencv
On Snow Leopard, opencv does not currently build. You can, however, proceed without opencv.
Install Frameworks and OpenCASCADE
FreeCAD has other dependencies (see CompileOnUnix), but the rest are either included by default in OS X Leopard or can be installed using Installer
packages. Download and install the following:
Get the "Framework Only" version unless you plan to develop using Qt (it's much smaller). FreeCAD compiles on OS X Leopard with Qt 4.5. Installs in
/Library/Frameworks and /usr/bin.
Install Coin.pkg AND CoinTools.pkg. FreeCAD compiles on OS X Leopard with Coin 3.1.0. Installs in /Library/Frameworks.
Install SoQt.pkg AND SoQtTools.pkg. For some reason, the SoQt framework is not provided as an official binary. For convenience, I'm providing the
above compiled version. If you'd like to compile your own, download the latest source from and follow the
directions in README.MACOSX. FreeCAD compiles on OS X Leopard with SoQt 1.4.1. Installs in /Library/Frameworks.
The above OCC 6.3.0 binary distribution is a modified version of the one provided by the maintainers of PythonOCC You
can use the version from PythonOCC, however changes to the .la files are needed in order for the FreeCAD build process to properly link to it and you'll
need to download the OCC source separately. I have not yet successfully built OpenCASCADE myself, but would like to eventually -- this would be key
to providing a PowerPC distribution (if that's even possible). If you get OpenCASCADE to build on OS X, let me know how. Installs in /usr/local/lib/OCC
and /usr/local/include/OCC.
UPDATED 2009-11-28 with fixes for Snow Leopard. If you installed OCC prior to this date, it is recommended that you manually delete the
old files and install the new package.
sudo rm -r /usr/local/lib/OCC
sudo rm -r /usr/local/include/OCC
Download and 'install' the template
The following archive contains an application bundle template for FreeCAD. This is not strictly necessary, but it makes working with FreeCAD more convenient
than the default installation configuration. Mine is in the /Applications folder, but you should be able to put it anywhere you want -- just remember that the
bundle can't be moved after FreeCAD is complied and installed (without some further modifications). Running make install using the configuration below will
install into this bundle.
UPDATED 2009-11-28 with the new FreeCAD application icon
Now configure, compile, and install FreeCAD using the following commands from within the root FreeCAD folder. If you put your bundle
somewhere other than /Applications (or aren't using the bundle), change the 'PREFIX' line accordingly.
./configure --with-xercesc-lib=/opt/local/lib --with-xercesc-include=/opt/local/include --with-boost-lib=/opt/local/lib \
--with-boost-include=/opt/local/include --with-qt4-bin=/usr/bin --with-qt4-framework=/Library/Frameworks \
--with-occ-lib=/usr/local/lib/OCC --with-occ-include=/usr/local/include/OCC --with-coin=/Library/Frameworks \
--with-soqt=/Library/Frameworks --prefix=$PREFIX --bindir=$PREFIX/MacOS --libdir=$PREFIX/Frameworks/FreeCAD \
--includedir=$PREFIX/Resources/include --datarootdir=$PREFIX/Resources/share
make LDFLAGS=-Wl,-headerpad_max_install_names
make install
Depending on your machine, the make step can take quite a while.
If everything went properly, double-clicking the .app bundle should start FreeCAD. If you have any issues, post the details on the help forum.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=CompileOnMac"
Third Party Libraries
These are libraries which are not changed in the FreeCAD project. They are basically used unchanged as a dynamic link library (*.so or *.dll). If there is a
change necessary or a wrapper class is needed, then the code of the wrapper or the changed library code have to be moved to the FreeCAD base package.
The used libraries are:
Consider using LibPack instead of downloading and installing all the stuff on your own.
Link table
Lib name
Version needed Link to get it
>= 2.5.x
OpenCasCade >= 5.2
>= 4.1.x
>= 2.x
>= 0.10.x
>= 1.2
>= 2.7.x < 3.0
>= 0.7.x
>= 1.x.x
>= 1.33.x
>= 2.0.5
Version: 2.5 or higher
License: Python 2.5 license
You can use the source or binary from or use alternetivly ActiveState Python from though it is a little
bit hard to get the debug libs from ActiveState.
Python is the primary scripting language and is used throughout the application. For example:
Implement test scripts for testing on:
memory leaks
ensure presents of functionality after changes
post build checks
test coverage tests
Macros and macro recording
Implement application logic for standard packages
Implementation of whole workbenches
Dynamic loading of packages
Implementing rules for design (Knowledge engineering)
Doing some fancy Internet stuff like work groups and PDM
And so on ...
Especially the dynamic package loading of Python is used to load at run time additional functionality and workbenches needed for the actual tasks. For a
closer look to Python see: Why Python you may ask. There are some reasons: So far I used different scripting languages in my professional
Python is more OO then Perl and Tcl, the code is not a mess like in Perl and VB. Java isn't a script language in the first place and hard (or impossible) to
embed. Python is well documented and easy to embed and extend. It is also well tested and has a strong back hold in the open source community.
Goes to Guido van Rossum and a lot of people made Python such a success!
Version: 5.2 or higher
License: OCTPL
OCC is a full-featured CAD Kernel. Originally, it's developed by Matra Datavision in France for the Strim (Styler) and Euclid Quantum applications and later on
made Open Source. It's a really huge library and makes a free CAD application possible in the first place, by providing some packages which would be hard or
impossible to implement in an Open Source project:
A complete STEP compliant geometry kernel
A topological data model and all needed functions to work on (cut, fuse, extrude, and so on. . . )
Standard Import- / Export processors like STEP, IGES, VRML
3D and 2D viewer with selection support
A document and project data structure with support for save and restore, external linking of documents, recalculation of design history (parametric
modeling) and a facility to load new data types as an extension package dynamically
To learn more about OpenCasCade take a look at the OpenCasCade page or
Version: 4.1.x or higher
License: GPL v2.0/v3.0 or Commercial (from version 4.5 on also LPGL v2.1)
I don't think I need to tell a lot about Qt. It's one of the most often used GUI toolkits in Open Source projects. For me the most important point to use Qt is the
Qt Designer and the possibility to load whole dialog boxes as a (XML) resource and incorporate specialized widgets. In a CAX application the user interaction
and dialog boxes are by far the biggest part of the code and a good dialog designer is very important to easily extend FreeCAD with new functionality. Further
information and a very good online documentation you'll find on
Version: 2.0 or higer
License: GPL v2.0 or Commercial
Coin is a high-level 3D graphics library with a C++ Application Programming Interface. Coin uses scenegraph data structures to render real-time graphics
suitable for mostly all kinds of scientific and engineering visualization applications.
Coin is portable over a wide range of platforms: any UNIX / Linux / *BSD platform, all Microsoft Windows operating system, and Mac OS X.
Coin is built on the industry-standard OpenGL immediate mode rendering library, and adds abstractions for higher-level primitives, provides 3D interactivity,
immensely increases programmer convenience and productivity, and contains many complex optimization features for fast rendering that are transparent for the
application programmer.
Coin is based on the SGI Open Inventor API. Open Inventor, for those who are not familiar with it, has long since become the de facto standard graphics library
for 3D visualization and visual simulation software in the scientific and engineering community. It has proved it's worth over a period of more than 10 years, its
maturity contributing to its success as a major building block in thousands of large-scale engineering applications around the world.
We will use OpenInventor as 3D viewer in FreeCAD because the OpenCasCade viewer (AIS and Graphics3D) has serios limitations and performace
bottlenecks, especially when it goes in large-scale engineering rendering. Other things like textures or volumetric rendering are not really supported, and so on
Since Version 2.0 Coin uses a different licence model. It's not longer LGPL. They use GPL for open source and a commercial licence for closed source. That
means if you want to sell your work based on FreeCAD (extension modules) you need to purchase a Coin licence!
ODE (Open dynamic engine)
Version: 0.10.0 or higher
License: LGPL v2.1 or later or BSD
ODE is an open source, high performance library for simulating rigid body dynamics. It is fully featured, stable, mature and platform independent with an easy
to use C/C++ API. It has advanced joint types and integrated collision detection with friction. ODE is useful for simulating vehicles, objects in virtual reality
environments and virtual creatures. It is currently used in many computer games, 3D authoring tools and simulation tools.
Russell Smith is the primary author of ODE.
Version: 1.2.0 or higher
License: GPL v2.0 or Commercial
SoQt is the Inventor binding to the Qt Gui Toolkit. Unfortunately, it's not longer LGPL so we have to remove it from the code base of FreeCAD and link it as a
library. It has the same licence model like Coin. And you have to compile it with your version of Qt.
Version: 2.7.0 or higher
License: Apache Software License Version 2.0
Xerces-C++ is a validating XML parser written in a portable subset of C++. Xerces-C++ makes it easy to give your application the ability to read and write XML
data. A shared library is provided for parsing, generating, manipulating, and validating XML documents.
Xerces-C++ is faithful to the XML 1.0 recommendation and many associated standards (see Features below).
The parser provides high performance, modularity, and scalability. Source code, samples and API documentation are provided with the parser. For portability,
care has been taken to make minimal use of templates, no RTTI, and minimal use of #ifdefs.
The parser is used for saving and restoring parameters in FreeCAD.
Version: 0.7.x
License: LGPL v2.0 or later
GTS stands for the GNU Triangulated Surface Library. It is an Open Source Free Software Library intended to provide a set of useful functions to deal with 3D
GTS stands for the GNU Triangulated Surface Library. It is an Open Source Free Software Library intended to provide a set of useful functions to deal with 3D
surfaces meshed with interconnected triangles. The source code is available free of charge under the Free Software LGPL license.
Actually not needed to compile FreeCAD. You can switch on the usage with a proprocessor switch in FCConfig.h.
Version: 1.x.x
License: zlib License
zlib is designed to be a free, general-purpose, legally unencumbered -- that is, not covered by any patents -- lossless data-compression library for use on
virtually any computer hardware and operating system. The zlib data format is itself portable across platforms. Unlike the LZW compression method used in
Unix compress(1) and in the GIF image format, the compression method currently used in zlib essentially never expands the data. (LZW can double or triple
the file size in extreme cases.) zlib's memory footprint is also independent of the input data and can be reduced, if necessary, at some cost in compression.
Version: 1.33.x
License: Boost Software License - Version 1.0
The Boost C++ libraries are a collection of peer-reviewed, open source libraries that extend the functionality of C++. The libraries are licensed under the Boost
Software License, designed to allow Boost to be used with both open and closed source projects. Many of Boost's founders are on the C++ standard
committee and several Boost libraries have been accepted for incorporation into the Technical Report 1 of C++0x.
The libraries are aimed at a wide range of C++ users and application domains. They range from general-purpose libraries like SmartPtr, to OS Abstractions like
FileSystem, to libraries primarily aimed at other library developers and advanced C++ users, like MPL.
In order to ensure efficiency and flexibility, Boost makes extensive use of templates. Boost has been a source of extensive work and research into generic
programming and meta-programming in C++.
See: for details.
LibPack is a convenient package with all the above libraries packed together. It is currently available for the Windows platform on the Download page! If you're
working under Linux you don't need a LibPack, instead of you should make use of the package repositories of your Linux distribution.
FreeCADLibs7.x Changelog
Using QT 4.5.x and Coin 3.1.x
Eigen template lib for Robot added
SMESH experimental
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Third_Party_Libraries"
Third Party Tools
Tool Page
For every serious software development you need tools. Here is a list of tools we use to develop FreeCAD:
Platform independend tools
The Qt-toolkit is a state of the art, plattform independend user interface design tool. It is contained in the LibPack of FreeCAD, but can also be downloaded at
Great vector drawing programm. Adhers to the SVG standard and is used to draw Icons and Pictures. Get it at
A very good and stable tool to generate source documentation from the .h and .cpp files.
The Gimp
Not much to say about the Gnu Image Manipulation Program. Besides it can handle .xpm files which is a very convenient way to handle Icons in QT
Programms. XPM is basicly C-Code which can be compiled into a programme.
Get the GIMP here:
Tools on Windows
Visual Studio 8 Express
Although VC8 is for C++ development not really a step forward since VisualStudio 6 (IMO a big step back), its a free development system on Windows. For
native Win32 applications you need to download the PlatformSDK from M$.
So the Express edition is hard to find. But you might try this link
Is a Open Source tool to record Screencasts (Webcasts). Its a very good tool to create tutorials by recording them. Its far not so boring as writing
See for details.
Tortoise SVN
This is a very great tool. It makes using Subversion (our version control system on a real pleasure. You can throught out the explorer integration, easily
manage Revisions, check on Diffs, resolve Confilcts, make branches, and so on.... The commit dialog itself is a piece of art. It gives you an overview over your
changed files and allows you to put them in the commit or not. That makes it easy to bundle the changes to logical units and give them an clear commit
You find ToroiseSVN on
A full featured Open Source UML programm. It has a lot of features of the big ones, including reverse engeniering C++ source code....
Download here:
Tools on Linux
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Third_Party_Tools"
Start up and Configuration
This page shows the different ways to start FreeCAD and the most important configuration features.
Starting FreeCAD from the Command line
FreeCAD can be started normally, by double-clicking on its desktop icon or selecting it from the start menu, but it can also be started directly from the
command line. This allows you to change soem of the default startup options.
Command line options
The command line options are subject of frequent changes, therefore it is a good idea to check the current options by typing:
FreeCAD --help
From the response you can read the possible parameters:
FreeCAD [options] File1 File2 .....
Allowed options:
Generic options:
-v [ --version ]
-h [ --help ]
-c [ --console ]
print version string
print help message
start in console mode
-l [ --write-log ] arg
-t [ --run-test ] arg
-M [ --module-path ] arg
-P [ --python-path ] arg
--response-file arg
write a log file
test level
additional module paths
additional python paths
can be specified with '@name', too
Response and config files
FreeCAD can read some of these options from a config file. This file must be in the bin path and must be named FreeCAD.cfg. Be aware that options specified
in the command line override the config file!
Some operating system have very low limit of the command line length. The common way to work around those limitations is using response files. A response
file is just a configuration file which uses the same syntax as the command line. If the command line specifies a name of response file to use, it's loaded and
parsed in addition to the command line:
FreeCAD @ResponseFile.txt
FreeCAD --response-file=ResponseFile.txt
Hidden options
There are a couple of options not visible to the user. These options are e.g. the X-Window parameters parsed by the Windows system:
-display display, sets the X display (default is $DISPLAY).
-geometry geometry, sets the client geometry of the first window that is shown.
-fn or -font font, defines the application font. The font should be specified using an X logical font description.
-bg or -background color, sets the default background color and an application palette (light and dark shades are calculated).
-fg or -foreground color, sets the default foreground color.
-btn or -button color, sets the default button color.
-name name, sets the application name.
-title title, sets the application title.
-visual TrueColor, forces the application to use a TrueColor visual on an 8-bit display.
-ncols count, limits the number of colors allocated in the color cube on an 8-bit display, if the application is using the QApplication::ManyColor color
specification. If count is 216 then a 6x6x6 color cube is used (i.e. 6 levels of red, 6 of green, and 6 of blue); for other values, a cube approximately
proportional to a 2x3x1 cube is used.
-cmap, causes the application to install a private color map on an 8-bit display.
Running FreeCAD without User Interface
FreeCAD normally starts in GUI mode, but you can also force it to start in console mode by typing:
FreeCAD -c
from the command line. In console mode, no user interface will be displayed, and you will be presented with a python interpreter prompt. From that python
prompt, you have the same functionality as the python interpreter that runs inside the FreeCAD GUI, and normal access to all modules and plugins of
FreeCAD, excepted the FreeCADGui module. Be aware that modules that depend on FreeCADGui might also be unavailable.
Running FreeCAD as a python module
FreeCAD can also be used to run as a python module inside other applications that use python or from an external python shell. For that, the host python
application must know where your FreeCAD libs reside. The best way to obtain that is to temporarily append FreeCAD's lib path to the sys.path variable. The
following code typed from any python shell will import FreeCAD and let you run it the same way as in console mode:
import sys sys.path.append("path/to/FreeCAD/lib") # change this by your own FreeCAD lib path import FreeCAD
Once FreeCAD is loaded, it is up to you to make it interact with your host application in any way you can imagine!
The Config set
On every Startup FreeCAD examines its surrounding and the command line parameters. It builds up a configuration set which holds the essence of the
runtime information. This information is later used to determine the place where to save user data or log files. It is also very important for post postmortem
analyzes. Therefore it is saved in the log file.
User related information
Config var name
User config entries
Example M$
Example Posix (Linux)
Path where FreeCAD
stores User Related
application data.
C:\Documents and
File where FreeCAD stores C:\Documents and
User Related application
C:\Documents and
File where FreeCAD stores
Application Related data.
Home path of the current
C:\Documents and Settings\username\My
Command line arguments
User config entries
Config var name
1 if the logging is switched on
File name where the log is placed
C:\Documents and
This indicates how the main loop will work. "Script" means that the given
script is called and then exit. "Cmd" runs the command line interpreter.
"Internal" runs an internal script. "Gui" enters the Gui event loop.
"Module" loads a given python module.
Meaning depends on the RunMode
Meaning depends on the RunMode
Verbosity level of FreeCAD
"" or "strict"
Holds the number of files opened through command line arguments
AdditionalModulePaths Holds the additional Module paths given in the cmd line
System related
User config entries
Config var name
Path where FreeCAD is installed
Holds a list of paths which python search modules. This is at
startup can change during execution
Example M$
Example Posix (Linux)
Some libraries need to call system environment variables. Sometimes when there is a problem with a FreeCAD installation, it is because some environment
variable is absent or set wrongly. Therefore, some important variables get duplicated in the Config and saved in the log file.
Python related environment variables:
OpenCascade related environment variables:
System related environment variables:
Build related information
The table below shows the availible informations about the Build version. Most of it comes from the Subversion repository. This stuff is needed to exactly
rebuild a version!
User config entries
Config var name
Major Version number of the Build. Defined in
Minor Version number of the Build. Defined in
SVN Repository Revision number of the src in the Build.
Generated by SVN
BuildRevisionRange Range of differnt changes
BuildRepositoryURL Repository URL
Date of the above Revision
2007/02/03 22:21:18
Indicates if the source was changed ager checkout
Src modified
Src not mixed
Branding related
These Config entries are related to the branding mechanism of FreeCAD. See Branding for more details.
User config entries
Config var name
Name of the build Executable file. Can diver from FreeCAD if a different main.cpp is
Over all Version shows up at start time
Icon which is used for the Executable, shows in Application MainWindow.
Banner which is prompted in console mode
Name of the Icon used for the Splash Screen
Alignment of the Text in the Splash dialog
Color of the splasher Text
Name of the Workbech which get started automaticly after Startup
"Part design"
HiddenDockWindow List of dockwindows (separated by a semicolon) which will be disabled
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Start_up_and_Configuration"
"Property editor"
FreeCAD Build Tool
The FreeCAD build tool or fcbt is a python script located at
It can be used to simplify some frequent tasks in building, distributing and extending FreeCAD.
With Python correctly installed, fcbt can be invoked by the command
It displays a menu, where you can select the task you want to use it for:
FreeCAD Build Tool
fcbt <command name> [command parameter]
possible commands are:
- DistSrc
Build a source Distr. of the current source tree
- DistBin
Build a binary Distr. of the current source tree
- DistSetup
Build a Setup Distr. of the current source tree
- DistSetup
(DUI) Build a User Setup Distr. of the current source tree
- DistAll
Run all three above modules
- NextBuildNumber (NBN) Increase the Build Number of this Version
- CreateModule
Insert a new FreeCAD Module in the module directory
For help on the modules type:
fcbt <command name> ?
At the input promt enter the abbreviated command you want to call. For example type "CM" for creating a module.
The command "DS" creates a source distribution of the current source tree.
The command "DB" creates a binary distribution of the current source tree.
The command "DI" creates a setup distribution of the current source tree.
The command "DUI" creates a user setup distribution of the current source tree.
The command "DA" executes "DS", "DB" and "DI" in sequence.
The "NBN" command increments the build number to create a new release version of FreeCAD.
The "CM" command creates a new application module.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=FreeCAD_Build_Tool"
Module Creation
Creating a new application module in FreeCAD is rather simple. In the FreeCAD development tree exists the FreeCAD Build Tool (fcbt) that does the
most important things for you. It is a Python script located under
When your python interpreter is correctly installed you can execute the script from a command line with
It will display the following menu:
FreeCAD Build Tool
fcbt <command name> [command parameter]
possible commands are:
- DistSrc
Build a source Distr. of the current source tree
- DistBin
Build a binary Distr. of the current source tree
- DistSetup
Build a Setup Distr. of the current source tree
- DistSetup
(DUI) Build a User Setup Distr. of the current source tree
- DistAll
Run all three above modules
- BuildDoc
Create the documentation (source docs)
- NextBuildNumber (NBN) Increase the Build Number of this Version
- CreateModule
Insert a new FreeCAD Module in the module directory
For help on the modules type:
fcbt <command name> ?
At the command prompt enter CM to start the creation of a module:
Insert command: CM
You are now asked to specify a name for your new module. Lets call it TestMod for example:
Please enter a name for your application: TestMod
After pressing enter fcbt starts copying all necessary files for your module in a new folder at
Then all files are modified with your new module name. The only thing you need to do now is to add the two new projects "appTestMod" and "appTestModGui"
to your workspace (on Windows) or to your makefile targets (unix). Thats it!
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Module_Creation"
Test first
Before you go through the pain off debugging use the test framework to check if the standard tests work properly. If not there is maybe a broken installation.
command line
The debugging of FreeCAD is supported by a few internal mechanisms. The command line version of FreeCAD provides to options for debugging support:
With the "v" option FreeCAD gives a more verbose output.
With the "l" option FreeCAD writes additional information to a logfile.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Debugging"
FreeCAD comes with an extensive testing framework. The testing bases on a set of Python scripts which are located in the test module.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Testing"
This article describes the Branding of FreeCAD. Branding means to start your own application on base of FreeCAD. That can be only your own executable or
splash screen till a complete reworked program. On base of the flexible architecture of FreeCAD it's easy to use it as base for your own special purpose
Most of the branding is done in the MainCmd.cpp or MainGui.cpp. These Projects generate the executable files of FreeCAD. To make your own Brand just
copy the Main or MainGui projets and give the executable an own name, e.g. FooApp.exe. The most important settings for a new look can be made in one
place in the main() function. Here is the code section that controls the branding:
int main( int argc, char ** argv )
// Name and Version of the Application
App::Application::Config()["ExeName"] = "FooApp.exe";
App::Application::Config()["ExeVersion"] = "0.7";
// set the banner (for loging and console)
App::Application::Config()["ConsoleBanner"] = sBanner;
App::Application::Config()["AppIcon"] = "FCIcon";
App::Application::Config()["SplashPicture"] = "FooAppSplasher";
App::Application::Config()["StartWorkbench"] = "Part design";
App::Application::Config()["HiddenDockWindow"] = "Property editor";
App::Application::Config()["SplashAlignment" ] = "Bottom|Left";
App::Application::Config()["SplashTextColor" ] = "#000000"; // black
// Inits the Application
App::Application::Config()["RunMode"] = "Gui";
Gui::BitmapFactory().addXPM("FooAppSplasher", ( const char** ) splash_screen);
return 0;
The first Config entry defines the program name. This is not the executable name, which can be changed by renaming or by compiler settings, but the name
that is displayed in the task bar on windows or in the program list on Unix systems.
The next lines define the Config entries of your FooApp Application. A description of the Config and its entries you find in Start up and Configuration.
All image resources are compiled into FreeCAD. This reduces delayed loading and keeps the installation compact. The images are included in XPM-Format
which is basically a text format that uses C-syntax. You can basically draw this images with a text editor, but it is more comfortable to create the images with
your favorite graphics program and convert it later to XPM format.
The GNU image program Gimp can save XPM file.
For conversion you can use the ImageConv tool which is included with freecad. You can find it under
It can not only convert images but also automatically update the BmpFactoryIcons.cpp file, where the images are registered. The typical usage is as simple
like the following example:
ImageConv -i InputImage.png -o OutputImage.xpm
This converts the file InputImage.png in XPM-format and writes the result to file OutputImage.xpm.
The line:
Gui::BitmapFactory().addXPM("FooAppSplasher", ( const char** ) splash_screen);
in the main() then include the image in the BitmapFactory of FreeCAD.
The main application icon FCIcon that appears in window titles and other places is defined in
and starts with the line
static const char *FCIcon[]={
Replace it with your favourite icon, recompile freecad and the next step to create your own brand is done. There are many other icons in this file that you might
change to your gusto.
If you need to add new icons, you have to register it in
so that you can access from FreeCAD.
Background Image
The background image appears, when no document window is open. Like the splash screen it is defined in developers.h in the section starting with:
static const char* const background[]={
You should choose a low contrast image for the background. Otherwise it might irritate the user.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Branding"
Localisation is in general the process of providing a Software with a multiple language user interface. In FreeCAD you can set the language of the user
interface under Edit→Preferences→Application. FreeCAD uses Qt to enable multiple language support. On Unix/Linux systems, FreeCAD uses the current
locale settings of your system by default.
Helping to translate FreeCAD
One of the very important things you can do for FreeCAD if you are not a programmer, is to help to translate the program in your language. To do so is now
easier than ever, with the use of the Crowdin collaborative on-line translation system.
How to Translate
Go to the FreeCAD translation project page on Crowdin;
Login by creating a new profile, or using a third-party account like your GMail address;
Click on the language you wish to work on;
Start translating by clicking on the Translate button next to one of the files. For example, FreeCAD.ts contains the text strings for the FreeCAD main
You can vote for existing translations, or you can create your own.
Note: If you are actively taking part in translating FreeCAD and want to be
informed before next release is ready to be launched,
so there is time to review your translation, please subscribe
to this issue:
Translating with Qt-Linguist (old way)
The following information doesn't need to be used anymore and will likely become obsolete. It is being kept here so that programmers may familiarize
themselves with how it works.
Open all of the language folders of FreeCAD shown below
Verify that a .ts file with your language code doesn't exist ("fr" for french, "de" for german, etc...)
If it exists, you can download that file, if you want to modify/review/better the translation (click the file, then download)
If it doesn't exist, download the .ts file without language code (or any other .ts available, it will work too)
Rename that file with your language code
Open it with the Qt-Linguist program
Start translating (Qt Linguist is very easy to use)
Once it's completely done, save your file
send the files to us so we can include them in the freecad source code so they benefit other users too.
Available translation files
FreeCAD main GUI
Complete Workbench
Drawing Workbench
Draft Workbench
Reverse Engineering Workbench
FEM Workbench
Robot Workbench
Image Workbench
Sketcher Workbench
Mesh Workbench
Test Workbench
Points Workbench
Raytracing Workbench
Part Workbench
PartDesign Workbench
Assembly Workbench
MeshPart Workbench
Preparing your own modules/applications for translation
To localise your application module your need to helpers that come with Qt. You can download them from the Trolltech-Website, but they are also contained
in the LibPack:
Generates project files
Extracts or updates the original texts in your project by scanning the source code
The Qt-Linguist is very easy to use and helps you translating with nice features like a phrase book for common sentences.
Project Setup
To start the localisation of your project go to the GUI-Part of you module and type on the command line:
qmake -project
This scans your project directory for files containing text strings and creates a project file like the following example:
# Automatically generated by qmake (1.06c) Do 2. Nov 14:44:21 2006
# Input
HEADERS += ViewProvider.h Workbench.h
SOURCES += AppMyModGui.cpp \
Command.cpp \
ViewProvider.cpp \
You can manually add files here. The section TRANSLATIONS contains a list of files with the translation for each language. In the above example MyMod_de.ts
is the german translation.
Now you need to run lupdate to extract all string literals in your GUI. Running lupdate after changes in the source code is allways safe since it never
deletes strings from your translations files. It only adds new strings.
Now you need to add the .ts-files to your VisualStudio project. Specifiy the following custom build method for them:
python ..\..\..\Tools\ "$(InputDir)\$(InputName).ts"
"$(InputDir)\$(InputName).h" "$(InputName)"
Note: Enter this in one command line, the line break is only for layout purpose.
By compiling the .ts-file of the above example, a header file MyMod_de.h is created. The best place to include this is in App<Modul>Gui.cpp. In our example
this would be AppMyModGui.cpp. There you add the line
new Gui::LanguageProducer("Deutsch", <Modul>_de_h_data, <Modul>_de_h_len);
to publish your translation in the application.
Setting up python files for translation
To ease localization for the py files you can use the tool "pylupdate4" which accepts one or more py files. With the -ts option you can prepare/update one or
more .ts files. For instance to prepare a .ts file for French simply enter into the command line:
pylupdate4 *.py -ts YourModule_fr.ts
the pylupdate tool will scan your .py files for translate() or tr() functions and create a YourModule_fr.ts file. That file can the be translated with QLinguist and a
YourModule_fr.qm file produced from QLinguist or with the command
lrelease YourModule_fr.ts
Beware that the pylupdate4 tool is not very good at recognizing translate() functions, they need to be formatted very specifically ( see the Draft module files for
examples). Inside your file, you can then setup a translator like this (after loading your QApplication but BEFORE creating any qt widget):
translator = QtCore.QTranslator()
Optionally, you can also create the file XML Draft.qrc with this content:
<qresource prefix="/translations" >
and running pyrcc4 Draft.qrc -o creates a big Python containing all resources. BTW this approach also works to put icon files in one resource file
Translating the wiki
This wiki is hosting a lot of contents. The most up-to-date and interesting material is gathered in the manual. So the first step is to check if the manual
translation has already been started for your language (look in the left sidebar, under "manual"). If not, head to the forum and say that you want to start a new
translation, we'll create the basic setup for the language you want to work on.
You must then gain wiki edit permission.
If your language is already listed, see what pages are still missing a translation (they will be listed in red). The technique is simple: go into a red page, and
copy/paste the contents of the corresponding English page, and start translating. Do not forget to include all the tags and templates from the original English
page. Some of those templates will have an equivalent in your language (for example, there is a French Docnav template called Docnav/fr). Look at other
already translated pages to see how they did it.
Then, once you translated a page, you must add to the original English page a link to your translation, so readers know that there is a translated version
available, using the {{languages}} template. Look at how other translators did it to do the same.
And if you are unsure, head to the forums and ask people to check what you did and tell you if it's right or not.
Three templates are commonly used in manual pages. These 3 templates have localized versions (Template:Docnav/fr, Template:fr, etc...)
Template:Docnav : it is the navigation bar at the bottom of the pages, showing previous and next pages
Template:Languages : this template must be placed on original pages, to indicate the reader that a translation exists. The localised version must in
return be placed on the translated page, to link to the original English page.
Template:en : there is one of these for each language. They must be placed inside the language template.
Page Naming Convention
Please take note that, due to limitations in the Sourceforge implementation of the MediaWiki engine, we require that your pages all keep their original English
counterpart's name, appending a slash and your language code. For example, the translated page for About FreeCAD should be About Freecad/es for Spanish,
About FreeCAD/pl for polish, etc. The reason is simple: so that if translators go away, the wiki's administrators, who do not speak all languages, will know what
these pages are for. This will facilitate maintenance and avoid lost pages.
If you want the Docnav template to show linked pages in your language, you can use redirect pages. They are basically shortcut links to the actual page.
Here is an example with the French page for About FreeCAD.
The page About FreeCAD/fr is the page with content
The page À propos de FreeCAD contains this code:
#REDIRECT [[About FreeCAD/fr]]
In the About FreeCAD/fr page, the Docnav code will look like this:
{{docnav/fr|Bienvenue sur l'aide en ligne|Fonctionnalités}}
The page "Bienvenue sur l'aide en ligne" redirects to Online Help Startpage/fr, and the page "Fonctionnalités" redirects to Feature list/fr.
If you are unsure how to proceed, don't hesitate to ask for help in the forum.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Localisation"
Extra python modules
The python interpreter inside FreeCAD can easily be extended by adding new modules to your system's python installation. Those modules will be
automatically detected and used by FreeCAD.
All pyhton modules can be used from within FreeCAD, but several of them, listed below, have a special importance because they allow python programs
complete access to core functionality of FreeCAD. Examples of use of those modules can also be found on the Code snippets page.
Note: of the following modules, Pivy is now fully integrated into any FreeCAD installation package, and PyQt4 is also integrated in the Windows installation
PyQt (version 4) is a python bindings library which allow programs to access, create or modify Qt interfaces. Since the FreeCAD interface is built with Qt,
installing PyQt4 on your system allow python programs inside FreeCAD to access all the interface, modify its parts, create new widgets or gather info from
interface parts.
PyQt is released under a multiple licensing system, same system as used by Qt. To resume, there is a commercial version and a free GPL version. If you
want to use it to make commercial (closed source) programs, you need to purchase the commercial license, otherwise you can simply install and use freely
the GPL version.
Before installing PyQt4, you obviously need a python environment installed and working.
The simplest way to install PyQt4 is through your distribution's package manager. On Debian/Ubuntu systems, the package name is generally python-qt4,
while on RPM-based systems it is named pyqt4. The necessary dependencies (Qt and SIP) will be taken care of automatically.
The program can be downloaded from here. You'll need to install the Qt and SIP libraries before installing pyqt4 (to be documented).
Once it is installed, you can check that everything is working by typing in FreeCAD python console:
import PyQt4
To access the FreeCAD interface, type:
from PyQt4 import QtCore,QtGui
app = QtGui.qApp
FreeCADWindow = app.activeWindow()
Now you can start to explore the interface with the dir() command. You can add new elements, like a custom widget, with commands like:
More pyQt4 tutorials (including how to build interfaces with Qt Designer to use with python): - the official PyQt4 API Reference - a simple introduction - very complete in-depth tutorial
Pivy is a coin bindings library for python, officially supported by coin. Coin itself is a toolkit for building 3D applications in OpenGL. It is the toolkit that
FreeCAD uses to draw its 3d Scene on the screen. Installing Pivy on your system will allow python programs to access the FreeCAD scenegraph, draw new
objects on the scene and use the wide range of available Coin tools for drawing operations. Coin is based on the open Inventor scene description language.
Pivy is used by the 2D drafting module of FreeCAD (and also by the complete module), so it is needed if you want to use any tool of those modules.
It is important to know that FreeCAD only uses coin for representation of objects on the screen, which is separated from the definition of objects. This means
that pivy won't be able to modify existing objects, neither to create valid FreeCAD objects. But it can be used to draw all kind of temporary things on screen,
such as axis, grids, manipulators, construction geometry, etc...
Pivy, as well as Coin, is released under a GPL license.
Debian & Ubuntu
Starting with Debian Squeeze and Ubuntu Lucid, pivy will be available directly from the official repositories, saving us a lot of hassle. In the meantime, you can
either download one of the packages we made (for debian and ubuntu karmic) availables on the Download pages, or compile it yourself.
The best way to compile pivy easily is to grab the debian source package for pivy and make a package with debuild. It is the same source code from the official
pivy site, but the debian people made several bug-fixing additions. It also compiles fine on ubuntu karmic:
(download the .orig.gz and the .diff.gz file, then unzip both, then apply the .diff to the source: go to the unzipped pivy source folder, and apply the .diff patch:
patch -p1 < ../pivy_0.5.0~svn765-2.diff
to have pivy properly built into an official installable package. Then, just install the package with gdebi.
Other linux distributions
First get the latest sources from the project's repository:
svn co Pivy
Then you need a tool called SWIG to generate the C++ code for the Python bindings. It is recommended to use version 1.3.25 of SWIG, not the latest version,
because at the moment pivy will only function correctly with 1.3.25. Download a 1.3.25 source tarball from Then unpack it and from a
command line do (as root):
make install (or checkinstall if you use it)
It takes just a few seconds to build.
After that go to the pivy sources and call
python build
which creates the source files. You may run into a compiler error where a 'const char*' cannot be converted in a 'char*'. To fix that you just need to write a
'const' before in the appropriate lines. There are six lines to fix. After that, install by issuing (as root):
python install (or checkinstall python install)
That's it, pivy is installed.
Assuming your are using Visual Studio 2005 or later you should open a command prompt with 'Visual Studio 2005 Command prompt' from the Tools menu. If
the Python interpreter is not yet in the system path do
set PATH=path_to_python_2.5;%PATH%
To get pivy working you should get the latest sources from the project's repository:
svn co Pivy
Then you need a tool called SWIG to generate the C++ code for the Python bindings. It is recommended to use version 1.3.25 of SWIG, not the latest version,
because at the moment pivy will only function correctly with 1.3.25. Download the binaries for 1.3.25 from Then unpack it and from the
command line add it to the system path
set PATH=path_to_swig_1.3.25;%PATH%
and set COINDIR to the appropriate path
set COINDIR=path_to_coin
On Windows the pivy config file expects SoWin instead of SoQt as default. I didn't find an obvious way to build with SoQt, so I modified the file
directly. In line 200 just remove the part 'sowin' : ('gui._sowin', 'sowin-config', 'pivy.gui.') (do not remove the closing parenthesis).
After that go to the pivy sources and call
python build
which creates the source files. You may run into a compiler error several header files couldn't be found. In this case adjust the INCLUDE variable
set INCLUDE=%INCLUDE%;path_to_coin_include_dir
and if the SoQt headers are not in the same place as the Coin headers also
set INCLUDE=%INCLUDE%;path_to_soqt_include_dir
and finally the Qt headers
set INCLUDE=%INCLUDE%;path_to_qt4\include\Qt
If you are using the Express Edition of Visual Studio you may get a python keyerror exception. In this case you have to modify a few things in
located in your python installation.
Go to line 122 and replace the line
vsbase = r"Software\Microsoft\VisualStudio\%0.1f" % version
vsbase = r"Software\Microsoft\VCExpress\%0.1f" % version
Then retry again. If you get a second error like
error: Python was built with Visual Studio 2003;...
you must also replace line 128
self.set_macro("FrameworkSDKDir", net, "sdkinstallrootv1.1")
self.set_macro("FrameworkSDKDir", net, "sdkinstallrootv2.0")
Retry once again. If you get again an error like
error: Python was built with Visual Studio version 8.0, and extensions need to be built with the same version of the compiler, but it isn't installed.
then you should check the environment variables DISTUTILS_USE_SDK and MSSDK with
echo %MSSDK%
If not yet set then just set it e.g. to 1
set MSSDK=1
Now, you may run into a compiler error where a 'const char*' cannot be converted in a 'char*'. To fix that you just need to write a 'const' before in the appropriate
lines. There are six lines to fix. After that copy the generated pivy directory to a place where the python interpreter in FreeCAD can find it.
To have Pivy access the FreeCAD scenegraph do the following:
from pivy import coin
App.newDocument() # Open a document and a view
view = Gui.ActiveDocument.ActiveView
FCSceneGraph = view.getSceneGraph() # returns a pivy Python object that holds a SoSeparator, the main "container" of the Coin scenegraph
FCSceneGraph.addChild(coin.SoCube()) # add a box to scene
You can now explore the FCSceneGraph with the dir() command.
Unfortunately documentation about pivy is still almost inexistant on the net. But you might find Coin documentation useful, since pivy simply translate Coin
functions, nodes and methods in python, everything keeps the same name and properties, keeping in mind the difference of syntax between C and python: - Coin3D API Reference - The Inventor Mentor - The "bible" of Inventor scene description
You can also look at the file in the FreeCAD Mod/Draft folder, since it makes big use of pivy.
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Extra_python_modules"
Here an overview which people or companies contribute to FreeCAD. The credits for the used libraries see Third Party Libraries.
Lead developer
Only the lead developers are able to commit code in the SVN repository. Currently these are:
Jürgen Riegel
Werner Mayer
Later on there may be responsibilities on module base.
People who contributed a notable amount of code:
Yorik van Havre
Graeme van der Vlugt
Berthold Grupp
Georg Wiora
Martin Burbaum
Jacques-Antoine Gaudin
Ken Cline
Dmitry Chigrin
Companies which donated Code or Developer:
Imetric 3D
Online version: " iki/free-cad/index.php?title=Contributors"
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