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I am an organizer of the New York Robotics and Home Automation Meetup Group (http://robotics.meetup.com/72). We have been discussing plans for future meetings to begin the process of evaluating and learning various open source CAD programs.
Are there any BRL-CAD experts (or near-experts) who might like to give a talk to our group about your program?
We are open to your ideas about the exact form this talk might take. However, as a starting point, I think a workshop would be nice, kind of a beginners explanation to BRL-CAD.
What might also be interesting, as either part of the workshop or as a separate meeting would be a walk through the basic code of BRL-CAD, both to help people learn how it works and to perhaps bring new programmers into the process of developning
Our group is very diverse, and includes some excellent programmers, students, researchers builders, artists and the motivated curious. Hopefully, a meetup would both help our members get a start on something new and would bring new users and contributors to the BRL-CAD community.
Sorry, slipped and hit enter too soon...
If you are interested in talking to the New York Robotics Group, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me through the group board.
Thanks very much.
Howdy and apologies on the reply latency!
I'd be glad to give a talk sometime about BRL-CAD, though the logistics of setting that up might be a bit tricky. Particularly over the next three weeks or so, my time is pretty saturated (preparing for Siggraph, Google Summer of Code, other work). After Siggraph, though, I'd certainly be willing to talk.
That said, I'm more an expert on the BRL-CAD project itself, i.e., on the codebase and our development directlys. I'm not an expert user. I can find my way around the tools and give a basic demo, but I'm by far not one of the best modelers or instructor on using the tools. If you're looking for tool instruction, that's a much longer discussion. For a presentation and overview, though, I can give the high- and low-level detail about BRL-CAD, features it provides, its limitations, areas of active development focus, etc.
Sounds like you have a rather interesting task ahead of you for evaluating and learning various open source CAD programs as there really isn't much else of utility. As far as I know, BRL-CAD is the only 3D open source solid modeler in production use. That was one of the reasons I pressed for so long and so hard to get BRL-CAD released as open source. BRL-CAD has hundreds of years development effort invested (and still a long ways to go) giving the open source community a huge leg-up on making something the larger CAD community can use.
As for other CAD packages worth checking out, QCAD does a fair bit in the 2D drafting domain (an area in which we do not strongly focus). Other than that, there are just a couple start-up projects being worked on but that are still many many staff-years shy of something fully functional for production use (imho). Avocado and wildcat come to mind as new efforts you may want to check out, though their ability to sustain/grow development remains to be seen. They have an even longer ways to go.
Feature-wise, it's highly likely that BRL-CAD can provide what you're looking for as it's a highly flexible package with a *lot* of functionality. Usability is where things are currently painful and being worked on. We have lots of documentation to help but growing a team of new developers to focus on our new GUI is where the win is at.
Anyways, hopefully there's something useful to you in there. Look forward to talking with you more.