Freecad - anyone tried it?

Just stumbled across this today… have toyed with Fusion360… but hmmm being Autodesk… is a big turn off and even moreso now with their new pricing policies “Subscription”
Freecad is open source… with a lot of plugins, seems like it is on an early devrlopment path like Blender… might get some boost with a lot of people looking for alternatives to the big boys


It certainly looks to have as much potential as Blender. I found it pretty raw last time I messed with it but I am glad to see it still advancing. I think it needs a GUI overall again much like Blender got and needed. imo


just downloaded it… it has an architectural plugin which I might play around with… agree it could leap ahead if it got blender style support… lots of angst with REVIT and non performing subscription based software

1 Like

I understand the subscription angst, I’m lucky in that my company can pay for it (I have the entire AEC collection) but I do understand the sour taste it leaves for some. I did see that arch plug-in and it does look intriguing for sure. Might have to give it another go myself.

Sort of amazing that a small group of enthusiasts can produce very capable software in Mac, Windows and Linux yet Trimble cannot / will not!


Hi gsharp,
I assume you are referring to Trimble’s fledgling, work in progress entry (LayOut) …
I sure wish they would step up and take this weak link in the SketchUp Pro package seriously! The pace of LayOut improvement has been very disappointing!
The embedded link to SU .skp files has such a powerful potential, but they don’t seem to be leveraging this capacity into what it truly could be!
LayOut could be industry leading 2D software, but instead, we have this … Why wouldn’t Trimble WANT to achieve this? SketchUp loyalists can fly in SU, but have to crawl in LayOut. They need to adjust their priorities!

1 Like

Blender is making a lot of progress right now

I am working on programming to create dimensional drawings in Blender.

There is something to do a little better in Blender for the equivalent of SketchUp’s Dynamic Components.
As for the nodal tool bought by Trimble which produced the “Live Components”, in 2021, Blender will have the equivalent (it starts right now with version 2.92)

I downloaded FreeCAD a while ago, mainly to explore its ability to open and view problem dwg files that people share here on the forum. I’ve only tried a few times for that. The sample files they include seem pretty nice, but I haven’t had an opportunity yet to take a deeper dive either into how to operate the GUI or how to create models. It seems to have a lot of potential for extensibility using Python plugins.

1 Like

Freecad is interesting because of its FEA and CFD capabilities

1 Like

some SU users appear to

others don’t

when the 2021 subscription announcement hit I investigated alternatives

downloaded FreeCAD, spent a few hours with it and uninstalled it

same with the other free alternatives out there

none of them could replicate the SU > LO workflow easily

Thanks for reminding me about FreeCAD it has developed well since I first looked at it. Sketchup was only ever designed for quick 3D sketches whereas NURBS cad was the real deal for mathematical accuracy and interoperability. You can go from NURBS down to mesh but not usefully the other way. Trimble are trying to charge as if it was a fully blown CAD package whereas it is a simple base program with real value coming from the highly creative contributors of plugins. I am a paid up pro user but will contribute no more towards it, unless updates are re-introduced and certainly never rent software. Another low cost stand alone NURBS CAD to look at is ViaCAD. I have been quite impressed with it’s ease of use.


This is why I develop a solution in Blender. I want to get the possibility to create a section cut / elevation from 3D and a new method to make dimensions (not the dimension tool like from Layout, a better one). Other illustration tool are easy to do and not a priority.
Another workflow improvement from SU/LO is to get everything into a unique application. I thought it was a good idea to have SU and LO separately for more simplicity. I do not think so now.

The current period should be considered by those who do not want the rent of software to evolve and learn other solutions.
Thanks to Trimble and its classic license abandonment announcement which made me interested in Blender. Now I am excited. I am starting to master it, program it, and there are some very interesting new functions in development.
I would look at FreeCad and ViaCad you quote.
There is also Rhino Grasshopper, whose license policy is correct towards its users. I don’t like Rhino much, but Grasshopper is absolutely awesome, and it’s a storehouse of productivity and power.

I’ve tried it but real life took over and I am now waiting for an opportuinity to pursue my investigation on it.

What I think is the best thing about it is parametrics. You can have a fully parametric workflow with it and I started experimenting that here:

Sketches are what I think a visual parametric system for architects should be. I’m waiting to see how we can author Live components, but if I was to call the shots I would push Trimble to get inspired in Sketches for an UI/UX. Sketches for Sketchup using Sketchup intuitive methods of drawing/modelling along with the parametric rules of FreeCAD sketches would be a dream.

FreeCAD has some incumbrances, mainly in it’s lack of ability to texture materials nicely, the difficulty on generating terrains, the unintuitive modelling workflows and somewhat basic support for 2D layouts.

I still prefer my Sketchup workflow a lot more, but I see much potential in FreeCAD. In the future, for me, if Sketchup will fall short (which has never happened), FreeCAD might be one of my top choices.

BlenderBIM should also be looked upon.


I started looking at FreeCad. Like Blender last June (which I now start to master with pleasure), I am far from being able to use it … but what I discover is interesting.
Technically, 3D and the tools dedicated to architecture seem very interesting.
There is also a drawing layout tool which could be a good substitute for Layout. At least it works without abnormal slowness.
I do not forget the possibility to make script in Python like all the CAD software that counts on the market today.

I don’t know of any CAD software except Vectorworks that counts that would support Python. Not AutoCad or Microstation,

Rhino+Grasshopper+Python, Revit+Dynamo+Python, BricsCAD+Python, Archicad+Python… these matter.

Blender starts getting some CAD tools too. It just misses Layout capabilities.

1 Like

I use Archicad daily. No Python. Objects are created with an arcane language called GDL. There is Grasshopper integration if you have Rhino.