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

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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!


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.

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Freecad is interesting because of its FEA and CFD capabilities

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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.


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 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.

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

I don’t use it but I was learning python because of Blender and Sverchok

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Surely this is not what is being used. :smirk:

I hope not. Dangerous creatures, recognised as such as far back as the late 19th century, in a verse by Hilaire Belloc.

The python

A Python I should not advise,
– It needs a doctor for its eyes,
And has the measles yearly,
However, if you feel inclined
To get one (to improve your mind,
And not from fashion merely),
Allow no music near its cage;
And when if flies into a rage
Chastise it, most severely.

I had an Aunt in Yucatan
Who bought a Python from a man
And kept it for a pet.
She died, because she never knew
These simple little rules and few;
– The Snake is living yet.

by (Joseph) Hilaire Belloc (1870 - 1953), “The python”, appears in More Beasts for Worse Children , first published 1897 (


This kind of deviation from the original topic isn’t at all respectful for such a good open source piece of software


For my part I am sorry to have stuck on the snake-named things. In fact I have been following the original topic with interest. Being half-retired I am looking through alternatives to Autodesk or Graphisoft bloatware to use in my small personal projects at home.

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