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· 7 min read
Brad Collette
Alexandre Prokoudine

Historically, the duration of FreeCAD development cycles has been uneven, anywhere between a few months and 2+ years.

Timeline of FreeCAD releases

We already talked about reasons and ways to make releases more predictable in one of the recent posts. But the truth is, this is a much older conversation that has been going on in the community for years now: at FOSDEM, in the forum, and in various other venues and social channels. The hackathon in Vancouver was a perfect opportunity for the developers community to set some boundaries for v1.0.

· 3 min read
Brad Collette

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? -Mark 8:36

Late last year I was talking with Open Core Ventures about the possibility of starting Ondsel. It was exciting to hear from people outside the FreeCAD community who shared the vision that this software was important and could be so much more than it already is. As the idea of actually starting a company took hold, the first important decision was which legal structure the new company would have. Two things that I read deeply affected me and shaped the final decision.

· 6 min read
Brad Collette
Rebecca Dodd

Besides working on Ondsel, I mostly work on the Path Workbench. Path has a unique user base made up of hobbyists and machinists. These people are using Path to generate G-code for the CNC machines and the code almost always has to be tailored for a specific machine.

Once you’ve edited the G-code once or twice, it’s natural to want to customize your postprocessor and that means editing a little Python code. Occasionally, one step leads to another and the user wants to contribute their changes ‘upstream’ so they can be used by others. It’s a common story and is, in fact, exactly how I got involved in open-source development.

· 9 min read
Brad Collette
Alexandre Prokoudine

FreeCAD 0.21 has just been released with numerous new features and improvements. Some of the Ondsel team members have been regular contributors to FreeCAD for many years, but this is the first time we participated in a development cycle as a commercial entity. Let’s take this opportunity to step back and reflect on it.

· 13 min read
Brad Collette
Alexandre Prokoudine

Funding free/libre software projects is difficult. For the last 5+ years, the knee jerk reaction has been to say “just do what Blender Foundation does, they got everything right”. But contributors come with different backgrounds. Some are perfectly fine about thinking like entrepreneurs, others would rather stick to programming, or designing interfaces, or bug triaging, or writing documentation etc.

· 13 min read
Alexandre Prokoudine

One of the sorely missing features in FreeCAD is a convenient system for creating custom data elements and interacting with them.

A common use case is constraining multiple features in a sketch to the same value. Instead of tweaking every instance of a horizontal distance constraint, you would create a custom data element (or property) called “Length” and then reference it via the Expression Engine. Then every time you change the value of that custom element, the entire sketch is updated automatically.

· 6 min read
Brad Collette
Rebecca Dodd

Discussions about FOSS issue practices often center around getting issue creation right. Have we set contributors up for success with guidelines and issue templates? Are we asking them to look at existing issues for their proposal first? These are bare minimum requirements.

We act like someone creates an issue and throws it over the wall, after which someone else picks it up to move it forward—all of which hinges on writing a good issue. If the issue goes stale, it wasn't a good issue, right?