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I'm writing new software which you might like

Posted by Brian 

I'm currently writing a cad/cam application. It's written in Python and turns out to be really simple to do. I think when I am done it will be around 1000 lines of code, which is pretty f-ing small for the level of functionality. This means that it will be very 'hackable' and easy for developers to get involved with.

My application consists of two parts. There is an editor and a compiler. The editor is open source, the compiler is closed/proprietary. The compiler takes the shapes and converts them to cuts on a CNC machine so that we can manufacture the object life sized. My service is based around custom furniture.

I'm involved a lot at the Fab Lab in San Diego. I would like to see the editor side of this application grow in functionality. I would like to see it turn into a generalized 3D shopping/designing application. One where you could pick a bunch of home furnishings such as lamps, electronics, books, whatever... if you can't find what you are looking for or you want to make a specific accent piece, then you can build it.

It would be nice if you had multiple avenues for production. Some things might make sense to print out on your reprap at home, some might make sense to send to a digital factory specializing in low volume, automated manufacturing.

It would also be cool to print out scale models on the reprap before manufacturing the full scale product.

Reply to this message if your are interested in helping or seeing the software. I can email you a screen shot.

I'm setting up a sourceforge webpage right now. I'll repost when it's up.
Re: I'm writing new software which you might like
December 03, 2008 03:42PM
> The editor is open source, the compiler is closed/proprietary.
Sounds like you are trying to flog what is pretty much a not-very-stealth commercial product here. No? eye rolling smiley
What do you mean by flog?

I'm pretty up front and honorable about things. I am an independent entrepreneur and inventor. I dream about being able to pay my bills by making a service that allows creative people to easily make awesome furniture.

right now I'm eating a lot of ramen noodles...

I hope that the open source model will work for the editor. I hope that other people will pick it up and contribute to it in such a manner that it is more profitable to be open source than closed source. The results are up to the community.

The software which compiles the designs to be built out of wood is proprietary. I hope to be able to earn enough money so that I can do simple things like support a family or have a house... maybe take a vacation or two. I would like to earn this money while bringing something of value and beauty into this world. Do you see anything wrong with that?

However, you could write some software that would compile the designs to run on the reprap. I would like it to be interoperable with other vendors and other systems. I would like it to be an open market place. I encourage other people to add on and improve the editor.

Is this agreeable with you?
Re: I'm writing new software which you might like
December 03, 2008 06:22PM
Brian Wrote:
> Is this agreeable with you?
I'm not the chap who decides such things.
You don't decide what is agreeable with yourself?
Re: I'm writing new software which you might like
December 03, 2008 08:14PM
There is the open source GNU Computer Aided Manufacturing (GCAM) program at:

I am glad that you are developing in python. Unfortunately, as long as your program is partly closed source it is useless to me and I will not contribute to it. If you ever do open it up completely, preferably with the GNU license, I will look at it and probably at least use parts of it.

It is very difficult to make money writing open source programs on your own, and I agree it is necessary to eat. I make no money from skeinforge, and understand & accept that this will be the case for a long time. However, it is also very difficult to make money writing closed source programs on your own. With open source, you end up writing programs with many contributors, and it becomes difficult but at least possible to make money on em.

Eventually once reprap becomes huge, with roughly as many people owning a reprap as now own a printer, the developers will make some money, at least partly through advertising. Unfortunately, it won't be much because there are no barriers to entry and so people would develop in places with low cost of living, which would drive down average developer income to that level.

In my opinion. the way that reprappers will make the most wealth for themselves is by printing their own yachts, & eventually solar powered houses, that they could not hope to buy.

The secondary way that reprappers will make money is to sell stuff. Maybe starting with reprap, game & puzzle pieces, then moving to boats, yachts, then houses. They would be selling in their area, and so if they live in a rich area they will make a high income doing so, higher than they could make developing. In time, the ecosystem would end being people in low cost of living places, which could actually be on yachts, generally developing the software and design, while people in rich areas would generally sell stuff from repraps.

It will be a long time before we get to houses, but we may actually be able to make boats within a year if we can fabricate a tensile stuart platform. Solar power will be doable within a year, because a linear concentrator, like the open source one at:

is a similar tech level to a reprap.
Re: I'm writing new software which you might like
December 03, 2008 09:28PM
O.K. Imagine that it is two applications. One is a free, open source cad/cam application for editing polygon meshes. Another is a stand alone compiler that can convert polygon meshes into furniture.

You can do what you wish with the editor. You can save files in open formats or whatever you would like.

Sorry, but I didn't get any positive responses about releasing my software as open source. I think if there would be no support from the community then it could only hurt my company to do so. Therefore I will not be releasing the software.
Re: I'm writing new software which you might like
December 06, 2008 02:54AM
I'm all for OSS CAD/CAM. I understand why you're not open sourcing the compiler. That makes perfect sense. You're open sourcing the part that is general purpose, but keeping the application specific portion--WHICH REPRAPERS AREN'T EVEN INTERESTED IN--close to home. Makes perfect sense. I say go for it. If it's more useful that AoI for building reprap projects, then it'll likely get used.
Re: I'm writing new software which you might like
December 06, 2008 06:46AM
I could use something simpler than AoI myself. Using Sketchup now. Would prefer an open source program. Please, release yours and lets all see if it fills the bill.

Back to lurk mode.
Hopefully you will be able to find it on the www.h3d.org website in a few days. I'm having a hard time uploading it. Look for Make-o Editor under the demo's download.

However, keep in mind that it is very rough right now. It's pretty easy to extend and build on and the H3D toolkit is a dream, once you get the hang of it.

Re: I'm writing new software which you might like
December 19, 2008 05:12PM
Hi Brian,

I commend your work and intention to open source. What you develop proprietary is totally up to you. I understand the decision you're facing. Developing open source software is socially functional, but since you must feed yourself it is usually not individually sustainable to ONLY develop open source software.

In a perfect world, society should sponsor people that do community work.

In a purely market oriented world, it seems you need to open systems to create value, and close part of it to capture value.

I think that if you create a part that is open and we can all use, and leave another module (which we don't use for RepRap anyway) closed, I see no problem with that.


Erik de Bruijn
[Ultimaker.com] - [blog.erikdebruijn.nl]
Re: I'm writing new software which you might like
January 05, 2009 04:38PM
Brian, I wanted to follow up on my own reaction with this quote:


Erik de Bruijn
[Ultimaker.com] - [blog.erikdebruijn.nl]
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