[PythonCAD] VectorSection

Erwin Zierler pythonista at rendigo.com
Tue Oct 28 10:04:25 CET 2008

Hi Eric,
this sounds like a very reasonable approach. I have been working with CAD - mainly AutoCAD - since '87 or '88 and have dealt with lots of file conversion issues focussing on 3D files and formats. In rare occasions I even had to write my own converters, simply because it was less work than recreating a whole 3D scene myself in another program. Having an open source DWG reader will definitely be a big benefit for all CAD software projects. 
Concerning the Open Design Alliance, if I understand their policy correctly they offer differrent forms of membership. The (lowest) Associate Membership (as well as all higher levels of membership) supposedly gives you access to their download area but I am not quite sure I understand what exactly you get there? The OpenDWG Toolkit 'enables you to write C or C++ language programs that read and write DWG and DXF files'. Ok, but do you also get access to any source code which would make it possible to write for instance a DWG reader in python? Maybe you can clarify this? If I have to decide wether to support this effort (via funding or code contribution or both) it is crucial to me to have full access to source code that enables me to read binary DWG files including ALL geometry, i.e. also ACIS entities. Otherwise I can use existing code and stay with DXF/3DS import (which is undoubtedly less convenient but it does work). 
Alright, enough said. I hope the Vectorsection project will prosper!

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [PythonCAD] VectorSection (18-Okt-2008 20:25)
From:    Eric Wilhelm <scratchcomputing at gmail.com>
To:      pythonista at rendigo.com

> Hi all,
> I'm breathing some life back into the VectorSection project (previously 
> known as the "Uber Converter") starting with the website, a mailing 
> list, irc channel, and hopefully soon support for the .dwg format.
> VectorSection aims to be a universal vector graphics format translator 
> (doing for vectors what imagemagick does for raster graphics) as well 
> as a simple mechanism for accessing geometry and meta-data from the 
> wide diversity of existing 2D and 3D vector graphics formats.  The glue 
> for storage and translation in this system is a serialized data 
> structure (in YAML format) which can be used via a wide variety of 
> programming languages and allows components to be connected via pipes.  
> A "universal data structure" would be terribly unwieldy, thus there are 
> multiple central hub formats, each of which addresses a different data 
> paradigm (this is where VectorSection has a bit bigger task than 
> ImageMagick because we can't simply reduce everything to pixels.)
> So far, we've implemented support for .svg and .xar formats, and made 
> some headway into .pdf, .dxf, pythoncad's xml format, and a bridge to 
> the gdal/ogr GIS library.
> I'm partnering with Linux Fund to raise funding for adding read support 
> for the .dwg binary format as well as read/write .dxf support.  If you 
> or someone you know is able to donate toward this, please see:
>   http://linuxfund.org/projects/vectorsection
> Your department's end-of-year budget surplus would be very helpful :-)
> This will be a big milestone for the VectorSection project and the open 
> source CAD world.  The industry has a huge number of binary .dwg files, 
> which currently cannot be accessed with open source tools (and even the 
> cross-platform proprietary solutions are very limited.)  This is an 
> effort to open that flood gate, which I hope will foster a lot of 
> innovation in the open source CAD space by allowing "a weekend's worth" 
> of code to provide functionality to ordinary users without the 
> developer needing to deal with (or even spend much time considering) 
> the file format issues.
>   website:      http://vectorsection.org
>   mailing list: http://groups.google.com/group/vectorsection
>   irc:          irc://irc.freenode.org/vectorsection
> Feel free to reply with questions on this list, or come join the 
> VectorSection list and ask there.
> Thanks,
> Eric
> -- 
>   http://vectorsection.org
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