|Original author(s)||Juergen Riegel, Werner Mayer|
|Initial release||29 October 2002|
|Stable release||0.13 / 12 February 2013|
|Written in||C++, Python|
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X|
|Type||3D Modeling, Scientific Engineering|
|License||GPL or LGPL|
FreeCAD is a general purpose 3D CAD modeler. It is free software (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 specialities. FreeCAD is currently in a beta stage of development.
FreeCAD features tools similar to CATIA, Creo, Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks or Solid Edge, and therefore also falls into the category of Mechanical computer-aided design (MCAD), PLM, CAx and CAE. It is intended to be a feature-based parametric modeler with a modular software architecture, which makes it easy to provide additional functionality without modifying the core system.
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 (like Blender) 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.
FreeCAD is intended to make use of other open-source libraries from the field of Scientific Computing. Among them are Open CASCADE (a CAD kernel), Coin3D (an incarnation of Open Inventor), the Qt GUI Framework, and Python, a popular scripting language. FreeCAD itself can also be used as a library by other programs.
There are moves to take FreeCAD into the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector and add Building Information Modeling (BIM) functionality with the Arch Module, and partial support for importing Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) format files.
GPLv3 vs GPLv2 controversy
As the GNU LibreDWG library was changed to GPLv3 it can't be used anymore by FreeCAD (and LibreCAD) who has dependency on Open CASCADE which are only compatible with GPLv2, as both licenses are incompatible. Open CASCADE technologies were contacted by Debian team in 2009, and 2012 got a reply that Open CASCADE technologies is considering dual-licensing OCCT (the library), however they have postponed that move. A request also went to the FSF to relicense GNU LibreDWG as GPLv2, which was rejected.
- FreeCAD official download page
- "Arch Module". FreeCAD wiki. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- "Arch IFC". FreeCAD wiki. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- Larabel, Michael (2013-01-24). "FSF Wastes Away Another "High Priority" Project". Phoronix. Retrieved 2013-08-22. "Both LibreCAD and FreeCAD both want to use LibreDWG and have patches available for supporting the DWG file format library, but can't integrate them. The programs have dependencies on the popular GPLv2 license while the Free Software Foundation will only let LibreDWG be licensed for GPLv3 use, not GPLv2."
- "Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses – Is GPLv3 compatible with GPLv2?". The official site. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
- Prokoudine, Alexandre (2012-12-27). "LibreDWG drama: the end or the new beginning?". libregraphicsworld.org. Retrieved 2013-08-23. "[...]the unfortunate situation with support for DWG files in free CAD software via LibreDWG. We feel, by now it ought to be closed. We have the final answer from FSF. [...] "We are not going to change the license.""
- Daniel Falck; Brad Collette: FreeCAD [How-to]. Solid Modeling with the Power of Python, Packt Publishing, Birmingham, 2012, ISBN 978-1849518864
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