[Discuss] CAD software: where does OSHWA stand?

Jean-Marie Verdun jean-marie.verdun at splitted-desktop.com
Sun Mar 19 14:41:27 UTC 2017


I think it is not that easy to manage. As being a FreeCAD 
"developer/contributor", we still have a lot of work ahead to reach the 
level of tools like Solidworks or Catia. You can do mostly everything 
with FreeCAD, but the time required to achieve some function might be 
exponential in some cases, or the code still need some improvement in 
some area.

But I also do believe that doing Open Hardware with proprietary format 
and proprietary tools is a non-sense as it doesn't provide any 
sustainable future to a specific development. My company is small but we 
took probably the hardest path currently by using pure Open Source 
software to design our Open Hardware computers within the Open Compute 
Project. That is true that we are much slower than any other "vendor" 
participating to the project and that do use proprietary tools and claim 
to publish open design by releasing pdf file. But we are proud of the 
improvement we are providing to FOSS, even if they are small step forward.

I understand that major companies are reluctant at slowing down there 
development process, but they also shall take corporate strategy 
decision on there real wish to embrace or not Open Hardware. If they 
want do Open Hardware, they should be committed at providing infos on 
design tools and there improvements which is the only way to provide 
collaboration feature to an hardware design.

What I am starting to believe is that FOSS can provide innovation that 
proprietary tools couldn't currently on the collaborative side. 
Proprietary tools are designed to be "single" seat tools by using a 
licensing approach which try to leverage this approach.

We launch during latest OCP summit the ohub project within the OCP 
toolchain group, which aims to create a backend platform for FOSS. For 
the one who are interested to learn more feel free to have a look to 
this short video


FOSS is the only way to me to sustain a positive futur to Open Hardware 
project, and we shouldn't restrict them to "entry" level project. Even 
the Open Source Vehicule project is promoting FreeCAD use 
https://www.osvehicle.com/ .

By the way most of the innovation in hardware are coming from 
innovations into the software tools used to design the hardware.

I'll be attending our next summit in Denver, and was thinking to run a 
talk about FreeCAD (upcoming feature in 0.17) and ohub. Does the 
community see any interest on that ? I will stay focus on the usage and 
avoid speaking about internals of these tools except is some of you are 
willing to discuss this ;)


Le 19/03/2017 à 14:35, phillip torrone a écrit :
> ideally oshwa(?) could work up an ideal list of things CAD makers could do to support open-source hardware makers, this way we'd collectively have a voice when asked "what can EAGLE/AUTODESK/ALTIUM, etc" do to support oshw makers.
> either way, send anything my way, i'll ask on tuesday to altium.
> https://blog.adafruit.com/2017/03/15/interview-with-altium-32117-430pm-et-altium-adafruit-adafruit/
> right now the most prolific makers in oshw generally seem to use:
> 	KiCad
> 	Altium
> 	Frtizing?
> 	online tools?
> the biggest that we seem to hear is forced cloud storage and "software as a service" is not desirable.
> cheers,
> pt
>> On Mar 19, 2017, at 8:43 AM, Javier Serrano <Javier.Serrano at cern.ch> wrote:
>> Thanks Alicia!
>> On 03/18/2017 09:54 PM, alicia wrote:
>>> Yes, OSHWA stands by this clause.
>>> "Ideally, your open-source hardware project would be designed using a
>>> free and open-source software application, to maximize the ability of
>>> others to view and edit it. For better or worse however, hardware design
>>> files are often created in proprietary programs and stored in
>>> proprietary formats."
>> Yes, of course, I read this in the OSHWA website and I even quoted it in
>> my original message. The question I was asking is rather:
>> On 03/17/2017 10:52 AM, Javier Serrano wrote:
>>> Happily for software developers, those days are
>>> long gone. Is such a state of affairs acknowledged as desirable by
>>> OSHWA, and is OSHWA willing to be more than a spectator in this regard?
>> I take it the answer is that OSHWA currently has no plans to take an
>> active role in the promotion/endorsement/support of FOSS tools for OSHW
>> development. Is this correct? If it is, I'd like to advocate for a
>> change in that regard, but before I do so I would need to know what
>> exactly is the current position of OSHWA management on this. The
>> paragraph you quote seems a bit vague to me. Also, is this list the
>> appropriate place for such advocacy? If there is a better channel I will
>> be happy to use it.
>> On 03/19/2017 02:58 AM, Rick Altherr wrote:
>>> I know my employer pays huge licensing fees for CAD software. There is
>>> certainly an economic incentive to using FOSS. I'm working with others
>>> in the cloud/server industry to move toward using FOSS tools for open
>>> hardware designs. With my employer's CAD team, I'm hearing mostly
>>> resistance to change, concern the tools can't actually complete the
>>> design and that is an unacceptable risk.  I'm eager to work with anyone
>>> who has interest or ideas on how to convince big companies FOSS is a
>>> viable alternative.
>> Thanks Rick. From the sounds of it, you deal with quite complex designs.
>> To be fully clear, when I talked about big OSHW companies I was thinking
>> about Sparkfun, Adafruit, Arduino... Current FOSS tools can easily cope
>> with the complexity of their designs. The understandable inertia of
>> designers to keep using the same tools would be a more plausible
>> explanation, I think, in their case. Plus the investment in know-how and
>> libraries, which is far from negligible. I may be completely wrong
>> though. I'd be very interested in reading their take on this. As I see
>> it today, these companies have little incentive to migrate because,
>> among other things, "For better or worse however, hardware design files
>> are often created in proprietary programs and stored in proprietary
>> formats." But it would be great for FOSS projects if they did migrate,
>> because FOSS tools will become much better if more people use them and
>> provide feedback and other types of support.
>> Regarding your particular case, I have always thought that licensing
>> costs are not a very strong argument, especially for complex products
>> like yours. Even if high, they typically get dwarfed by engineering
>> costs, and good tools more than pay for themselves in time savings of
>> designers. Besides, that might reinforce the misled belief that FOSS
>> developers should not be paid for their work. As we have seen in the
>> software world, a sustainable ecosystem is most often fuelled by paid
>> developers. For both complex and simple designs, I think the stronger
>> reason to use FOSS tools is that they allow sharing and collaborating
>> without any artificial and unnecessary hurdles, which is one of the
>> tenets of OSHW. So the big decision should be whether to do OSHW or not,
>> and once one has decided to do OSHW, I think the goal of doing it with
>> FOSS tools, or at the very least with file formats which are openly and
>> completely documented, should be a natural one.
>> Cheers,
>> Javier
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