Archimedes' Future Viability

  • OniOid

    OniOid - 2006-10-30

    Hi guys. Congratulations on your fine project, it looks good.

    I have updated Wikipedia to, in part, reflect the new version, and have also inquired there in the discussion section something apparently contradictory about it.

    That said, I'm curious to know about Archimede's ongoing and future viability in a professional context, mainly insofar as if its development will be actively continued after its initial phase.

    In any case, I have just downloaded it and will be checking it out within the next week.


    • Hugo Corbucci

      Hugo Corbucci - 2006-11-06

      Hello Richard,
      Thanks for the compliments and for the Wikipedia update. We often forget some sites since we registered in about a dozen. :) I read the discussion and you are right. The fact is we hardly ever remember to update the wikipedia. I did it now and will try hard to remember for the next version.

      About our future, well, unfortunatly it is uncertain. We are working hard to try to find some financial support to keep a few programmers on it since most of them is graduating in december and will have to start working. If we manage to get some support, we'll put a couple of people working on Archimedes daily which should grant it a much faster grow. Otherwise, the project will grow very slowly since we'll have very few people with very little time to work on it.

      Our goal for the moment is to reach a level where Archimedes will be good enough to be used with educational purposes even if it is not ready for professional use. This will be the 1.0 version of Archimedes.

      The 2.0 version should provide enough features to transform Archimedes into a serious professional tool. It will, however, take us about between 12 and 18 months to get there if we have the financial support I told you about.

      Thanks for your message and please join our user list if you wish.


    • David Lark

      David Lark - 2007-03-31

      I just want to give you some feedback. I looked at sourceforge today to see if there was anything going on that might satisfy my needs, if not now in the future. This would be a building modeling solution, hopefully more powerful than Revit, but easier to use. This is not a fantasy goal, it would merely take some thought. I put some of my thoughts at awhile ago, I should probably update it.

      Your project, if I understand it correctly, is stuck back in the 2D world. This may be fine for some people, but I would prefer to have my computer tell me things about my buildings so I can see if I'm missing anything, rather than have to figure out everything and then draw it in many different views. Frankly, I'm tired of drawing lines and arcs, and having to verify that all the drawings show the same thing in the same places after a series of design revisions.

      Also, the postings I've seen tell me that your thinking is limited by comparing your product with the evil AutoCAD. Perhaps this type of thinking is an inherent limitation of the human mind, but if you continue along this path, you aren't likely to come up with anything better than the Intellicad lite versions which are available for free.

      I hope this doesn't come across as too harsh. I just wanted to explain why I won't be investing the time to download your product (unless someone educates me about something I've missed). In the meantime, I will continue looking for suitable software, or perhaps a platform to build what I want onto. Good luck with your project.


      • Hugo Corbucci

        Hugo Corbucci - 2007-04-02

        Well David,
        this was a bit harsh indeed.
        I bookmarked your site and will probably use it to pick some ideas.
        Now... we are "stuck" back in the 2D world because modeling a 2D CAD is not some child work. The 3D one is one dimension harder... let me try to explain this: catching a ball in a 2D world can be dificult (tried those soccer tables?). Catching it in a 3D world is MUCH harder! Try to catch it when it can fly or go underground!

        We understand that, in order to reach the 3D world, you have to master quite well the 2D world first. And this is the path we are following. We do believe it would be much better to work with 3D concepts and being able to have a software that understands your needs. However there is not ONE 2d software interface that makes it easy to upgrade to a 3D interface and still be useful.

        Now, the EVIL AutoCAD is indeed the product used to comparisons. This has a simple reason, 80% of the architects we know or hear of work with this evil tool. And, although there are not many other options, if they stay on it, it must have something that pleases them or at least it is the only software they know how to work on. We understand that if you want a transition to happen, you either have wonderful marvelous idea and launch a great product with a lot of publicity and earn millions with it, or you just offer the same product with improvements, adjustments and other qualities to grab the user basis slowly. Since we don't have a great idea and we are not CAD users, we chose the copy and improve path. Still seams reasonable to me (and by the way... I am limited by the human mind since it's the only one I have). I appreciate your words of courage but we do not intend to reach anything better then whatever the users would like us to make. If there is nobody interested in this project, it will die just like a lot of other projects did. I don't really think it is the case at the moment so it will live for another year.

        Don't get me wrong on this. I do accept AND hope to receive critics. However, critics should come with suggestions of solutions. Especially in the community we are in. I have received a serious critic about the AutoCAD interface AND got a suggestion with it: be flexible enough to allow several kinds of interface. Well... this made us remodel ALL of the interface to make it flexible enough. There were some critics saying we should move to a 3D world but as soon as I asked for help modeling the 3D mathematical world needed to implement the basic features in the software I got a nice "I don't know how!" answer. Now this is normal but don't expect me to run home make a 4 years course to be a master in non linear 3D algebra and be able to implement those features. If we are given time and money to learn or hire someone that knows how, great! I will be VERY glad to do so. But this is not the case at the moment.

        And at last, feel free to download the software while sleeping so you don't waste your time doing so and try it while waiting for the coffee. You will see it is still VERY imature and has almost none of the "essencial" features for a CAD software. There are also a couple tons of bugs and an awful font which will make you throw the software away right away. But remark that you are free to do so AND to download the source code and understand HOW this is done and WHY it is crappy. Note also that you are totally free to modify it and improve it so that you can then redistribute it and say you did a hell of a better software then we did.
        And at last, note that you could do all of this or just ignore it because some people worked together for fun with the intension of trying to help someone. So please reconsider your comments when you say whatever we did is not even worth a download.

        ps: this angry answer was caused by a very limited human mind that likes to work on a FOSS project as long as people that come along are willing to help.

    • David Lark

      David Lark - 2007-04-03


      Thanks for your reply, and my apologies for my lack of tact. Perhaps I should explain my situation.

      I just took the final exam to become an architect in California. I'll get the results in 6 weeks. I need to choose a program to base my practice around. I would buy Revit in a snap if it wasn't for Adesk's habit of sending a big guy out to your house every year to pick you up by your ankles and shaking until all the change falls out of your pockets. All the products I see out there are flawed, and history tells me that Adesk will find a way to ruin Revit. So I'm looking into other options, including creating my own program.

      I just asked support if I should start a project. They were encouraging, but I don't want to add a project if it would go nowhere, or dilute the resources going towards other worthwhile projects. Although I know VB somewhat, I'm not really a programmer, and would probably serve best as a promoter of a vision, and/or an organizer. Not that things have to be done my way, I just try to see through to the end goal.

      There was a project on sf awhile ago called PowerCAD. They seem to have evaporated, but they had some good ideas, such as separating the UI layer from the underlying services, similar to what you speak of. I see this as being essential, as most architects want a simple interface which looks nothing like ACAD. Although having an ACAD-like UI is helpful to people already familiar with it.

      Let me summarize my goals. I want to work with a building/site/project in its totality. I want a smooth process from start to finish, mainly involving one software package (add-ons & export for specialized tasks is OK). I want to be able to model any geometry, attach any type of data to it, and visualize the results in many different ways. If you have similar goals, I would be willing to help as I can. If your end goal is just a drafting package, it would be better for me to concentrate my efforts elsewhere.

      I suppose I broke an OSS rule by criticizing your ware without downloading it. I will likely download it soon, after I finish my tax return. I hope you can understand my reluctance to download stuff, my machines are full of demo versions that I don't have time to properly evaluate. Two companies that I was serious about buying from have essentially vanished (BOA and SoftCAD). I need to put Vectorworks through its paces; it may be the best choice for me in the meantime.

      Anyway, thanks for taking the time to help me understand your project better. If you have the time to reply regarding your goals, it would be helpful.

      • Mariana V Bravo

        Mariana V Bravo - 2007-04-03

        Hello David,

        I'm Mari, another developer for Archimedes.

        I just saw your page, you must have put a lot of thought and work into it. You must also realize that what you asked for is more than what a small group of people can do in a couple of years. That's a lot of stuff, man!! =)

        I don't have a lot of time for an elaborate response, so I'll be quick:

        First, we want that architects (and other CAD users) have a real open source software alternative to work with. One that fits their needs, not necessarily that replaces or equals what they currently have. That is probably not the best tool that could be anyway.

        We realize, that is also a lot of stuff. So here's another scenario: we provide a tool that is flexible enough so that other people around the globe can make the "add-ons" and features they like. A group of people (users) evaluate the best "add-ons" and the developers put together packages suitable for each kind of work. This is more what we are working for. Our goal is not to make the perfect CAD tool for you or for any other person/company. It is to make the base, the core of what any CAD tool must have, and help others develop features they need. It's the beauty of free software =D

        I could go on and explain a lot of other ideas and wishes we have, but maybe I'd get too confusing, and I gotta go anyway.

        We welcome any suggestions to improve the software we have. And, trust me, your page will give us a lot of material to prepare ideas for next year's Google Summer of Code (we missed out on this one :(


      • Hugo Corbucci

        Hugo Corbucci - 2007-04-03

        Hello David,
        Sorry I was (also) a bit harsh on my reply but I think you understood my point of view.
        Mariana already answered a couple of your questions and I confirm all she said.
        I'll only try to get our goals a bit more explicit.

        So, our primary goal at the moment is to complete our migration towards our new platform. It is taking a lot of time, much more then I expected to. However, it is for the best. The objective of this new platform is to have the software build on a plugin based system. Not only to have really cool plugins like firefox and gimp do. An even more aggressive approach: The idea is to be FULLY based on plugins. Any feature on the software will probably BE a plugin. This would mean that the core software would only be handling the flow between the user input (whatever this is) to the model representation (whatever this is). Of course, this sounds like an impossible task because it could solve any problem anyone would ever have. Indeed and we don't think we will manage to reach close to this, at least not in the next 10 years. But we do expect to walk towards this solution more and more.

        The secondary goal, that is, in fact, the real primary goal is to achieve version 1.0. And this version expects to be an educational version of a CAD software very similar to ACAD since it would be very easy to learn how to work on Archimedes and then moving to ACAD once you get a job in some company. We expect (and hope) that people will most likely try to create a Vectorworks or IntelliCAD interface to work over our engine and therefore having, with one software, the opportunity to see a couple of different interfaces and being able to choose the best one. We are not, however, going to develop those interfaces that soon since it would take us a precious time. If it wouldn't be for this migration, I think we might be quite close to this version but with the migration going, all feature development is stalled since December last year which means we have another 6 months development required after the migration is finished to achieve this version. Therefore we will maybe reach this state at the end of 2007, beginning of 2008.

        The third goal, and this is probably what interests you the most, is to work over this 1.0 version to build a real project tool. Which would include working in a 3D environment with several interface options, a file management tool to help put different parts of the project together or separated according to the user's need, a real integration with other cad system (ACAD, Vectors, IntelliCAD, etc...) and 3d systems (Blender, AOI, 3Dmax, etc...) as well as a nice printing system with view managements. Of course, this is a much wider work and much bigger. But the project gets quite accepted by the community, I expect a lot of those feature will be developed by other people around the world spreading the work to be done. You can, however, have to wait 4 or 5 years to have us reach this status.

        Of course, one cannot wait 5 years to start working and I do understand that. But the fact is, so far, this is a volunteer work and has absolutely NO financial support at all. This means all the developers and people involved are either employees in companies that have absolutely no interest in having this software supported anyhow or students still working to have their diploma. So unless we manage to pay a team to dedicate a 40h week journey on this project, I think it will not walk faster than what I just said.

        I hope this answers your questions and does not make you abandon the idea of having a free and open source CAD software. Now, regarding the download, you broke no rule. I only believe one cannot criticize a project saying it is not what they were looking for when they never said what they needed to the project leaders or developers and when the project is clearly still lacking a lot of work. That is all. But it doesn't matter, we will use the page you sent us and we will try to keep the work flowing but understand that there are MANY things to do and little time and people to develop them.

    • studioa

      studioa - 2007-04-10

      Hi all, I red this discussion and I believe that - me being an architect myself and running my own studio - this software is a great start, however needs to be steered to a different direction than the mainstream (acad & co). I used acad and I'm tired of it, so I dropped. As David mentioned, I'm also tired of drawing meaningless lines/arch that are not related in any way with real 3d, just to get back to the drawings and verify if all details match reality. We need consistency between the lines/arch drew and the real 3d object. We need intelligent objects that are beyond the parametric ones.
      So I would say that a brainstorm over what are the most needed tools and how to use them for real cad design & production would be very beneficial. Also in a brainstorm people come up with new unseen concepts, aside the mainstream. I'll be happy to dump all my thoughts regarding a true cad  application that will surpass all major so called "industry standard" application.
      Regarding funding your project, have you tried contacting foundations around the world? have you tried EU funding support for your project?

    • TommyJ

      TommyJ - 2007-04-20

      I've made another update to the Wikipedia article as it contains an editor concern regarding notability. I've added an external link to the review at Cad4Linux as well as a couple other minor changes, hoping this may meet the notability guidelines.


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