[OpenSCAD] User Poll: What do you want to see from OpenSCAD development?

W. Craig Trader craig.trader at gmail.com
Sun Nov 17 21:00:45 EST 2019

I'm a little late, but I'd still like to add my thoughts.

On Sat, Nov 9, 2019 at 5:23 PM Hans L <thehans at gmail.com> wrote:

> I wanted to get some input and have a bit of discussion from users here,
> regarding what they would most like to see from current or near-future
> OpenSCAD development.
> What do you feel is the most important aspect to focus on, or would have
> the biggest impact to your experience using OpenSCAD:
> 1) Stability, squash more bugs in general
> 2) Optimize existing code, make OpenSCAD faster
> 3) Addition of new features
> 4) More / improved documentation
> 5) All of the above should be balanced equally
> 6) Nothing, I am content
> 7) Something else not mentioned

I'm a software engineer by trade, and model designer by hobby. OpenSCAD is
my go-to tool for modeling. I tend to organize useful code into libraries,
so that similar models can be built automatically. Most of the models I
design have multiple parts, and frequently need multiple copies of each
part. I've built up a set of makefiles, libraries, and external tools that
let me create a set of STL files and a Markdown BOM from a single model
(that includes a bunch of libraries), but the end result is less than
ideal. As an example of how complex this can get, see (
https://github.com/wcraigtrader/game-parts/tree/master/18XX), specifically
the Makefile, 18XX.scad, and the libraries in ../util/.

   1. What I want is to *produce one or more 3MF file(s) from a model, with
   multiple objects and metadata so that I can specify author name, license
   terms, etcetera*.
   2. To go along with that, it would be wonderful to be able to *pick one
   object (or set of objects) in the UI and just render those objects in
   preview*. That would make it much easier to work on the components of a
   model without having to continually edit the rendering section while
   working on a module somewhere else.
   3. Add a *bounding box function that takes a child and returns the
   coordinates of a box that would contain the child*. In its simplest
   form, it could just emit the information to the console, so I could know if
   a sub-model was too large, or how large a mating part would need to be.
   4. Make it easier to *create test suites for OpenSCAD libraries and
   5. Make it easier to *debug complex libraries and modules*. I would
   dearly love to be able to set a breakpoint on a line and be able to inspect
   the variable space, call stack, and object model.
   6. I frequently need to edit with multiple windows open just to render
   results in one window. I've largely given up on the OpenSCAD editor,
   because it doesn't have the editing power I need. Instead, I just use a
   preview window with Automatic Reload and Preview, and edit in VSCode (not
   my preferred IDE, but it has SCAD syntax support).

There are a couple of open tickets about 3MF
in Github, but they seem to be wrapped around several other features, with
low apparent likelihood of completion. As an example,
https://github.com/openscad/openscad/issues/1608 seems to cover the
language extensions necessary to capture the information I want, but much
more, and has been open for 3 years.

For bounding boxes, these stories have been open for years:

   - https://github.com/openscad/openscad/issues/1088
   - https://github.com/openscad/openscad/issues/301

For test suites, see:

   - https://github.com/openscad/openscad/issues/2798

Thanks for asking!

- Craig -
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