Quick check-in about workflow, and V4.

Next
 From:  FDP
8361.1 
I love MoI, and use it as a front-end for a Rhino-based workflow (I do drawings, renders, scripting and use Grasshopper in Rhino), however I have recently been pressured to move to Solidworks just for the benefit of assemblies and revision. I have a few questions about new features, followed by a specific question about my existing workflow inside MoI:

* Is there a path forward with MoI V4 to allow for the ability to take a 2D curve sketch and have it feed-forward on operations in a way that allows for the user to go back and modify the initial curves and have the results permute through?

* Will there be a way to nest hierarchies and add in metadata/tags? I would love to put part suppliers, prices, web links, links to drawings, etc in as object metadata!

* Can we link Images to objects to improve reference drawing integration?

* I think I saw instancing mentioned as a maybe, we need that so badly!

* Can we have parts libraries that link to external MoI/Rhino files in a zip file or external directory tree so that I can have a central repository for parts? I would love to be able to load in objects from an external file and link them into another file (and fully instance them for export). Right now screws have to get loaded in and saved with each MoI file - this can easily inflate the size of my files by 10X and kills my loading time.

* Internal revision control? I have used GIT as an external manager to handle revisions on large MoI projects, and this gets tedious.


Right now my projects always devolve into a total mess and are full of objects with names along this format:

AssemblyName_PartName_Type_Version Notes

where I will have a collection of objects that end up looking like this:

BracketAssembly_LowerBracket_Curves_001 (1/8" holes) <- Initial curves
BracketAssembly_LowerBracket_Curves_001A (1/8" holes) <-translation
BracketAssembly_LowerBracket_Solid_001A (1/8" holes) <-extrusion
BracketAssembly_LowerBracket_Solid_001B (1/8" holes) <-boolean operation
BracketAssembly_LowerBracket_Solid_001C (1/8" holes) <-boolean operation
BracketAssembly_LowerBracket_Curves_002 (1/4" holes) <- Modified curves
BracketAssembly_LowerBracket_Curves_002A (1/4" holes) <-translation
BracketAssembly_LowerBracket_Solid_002A (1/4" holes) <-extrusion
BracketAssembly_LowerBracket_Solid_002B (1/4" holes) <-boolean operation
BracketAssembly_LowerBracket_Solid_002C (1/4" holes) <-boolean operation

This method of organization is killing me, and when I have engineers make minor changes I either need to keep these changes as separate objects, files, or have a mess like the above!
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  Michael Gibson
8361.2 In reply to 8361.1 
Hi FDP, much of what you are asking about is for production mechnical CAD. Meanwhile the focus of MoI is on making an approachable tool that enables users other than mechanical engineers such as artists to gain benefit from basic CAD modeling.

So there's a fundamental mismatch there, the overall focus of MoI on being easy to use and working well for artists is not going to change in v4 or in the foreseeable future. I do expect to add more organizational features in v4 but if you are needing the feature set of a production mechanical CAD tool it is indeed probably in your best interest to look into stuff like Solidworks or Solid Edge and I would not advise you to expect that MoI is going to be a replacement for a more focused industry specific tool like that. It is not generally a goal for MoI to be a total drop in replacement in production for such tools.

Adding in all the kinds of things you're asking about would most likely have a side effect of bringing complexity along with it. If you need that complexity to help you do your work, then MoI is just not the right tool for your complete job. Of course, if you enjoy using MoI and feel comfortable with it, you don't necessarily have to abandon it completely, you can still do your sketching and quick modeling in MoI and bring your geometry over into your "heavyweight" production CAD for further work...

Also the first beta of v4 is still not even out yet and it's fairly difficult for me to guarantee which specific features will be in it, other than it being 64-bit and a Mac native build which will be in there right from the first beta. Other features have not been worked on yet and I do not have a fixed roadmap for exactly what will happen.


> * Is there a path forward with MoI V4 to allow for the ability to take a 2D curve
> sketch and have it feed-forward on operations in a way that allows for the user
> to go back and modify the initial curves and have the results permute through?

It's something I'm hoping to work on, but I am very unsure at this point if it will make it into v4 though or will have to wait until a future version.


> * Will there be a way to nest hierarchies and add in metadata/tags? I would love to put
> part suppliers, prices, web links, links to drawings, etc in as object metadata!

It's pretty likely that I will work on a grouping function for making hierarchical name tags in the scene browser. All these other things that you list though like part suppliers, prices, web links, and links to drawings are quite a ways outside the scope of what MoI is focused on and so are pretty unlikely.


> * Can we link Images to objects to improve reference drawing integration?

Seems pretty unlikely since it's been very rarely requested to my recollection.


> * I think I saw instancing mentioned as a maybe, we need that so badly!

This is pretty likely. Both grouping and instancing at a basic level are high on my radar.


> * Can we have parts libraries that link to external MoI/Rhino files in a zip file or
> external directory tree so that I can have a central repository for parts? I would
> love to be able to load in objects from an external file and link them into another
> file (and fully instance them for export). Right now screws have to get loaded in
> and saved with each MoI file - this can easily inflate the size of my files by 10X
> and kills my loading time.

I'm not sure about external references. Probably at some point but it seems pretty unlikely for v4 where just basic instancing in the same file is still not established as of yet. It's likely that feature areas like this will come out at a basic level in one version release and then once that seems to be working well further refinements and more advanced levels of it wouldn't be likely until some other release after that also depending on general level of demand.


> * Internal revision control? I have used GIT as an external manager to handle
> revisions on large MoI projects, and this gets tedious.

It is something that I've thought about before as part of a large history overhaul but it will involve a lot of work and is highly unlikely for v4, a lot of other history related foundation work needs to happen first before digging into this.


> Right now my projects always devolve into a total mess and are full of
> objects with names along this format:

Unfortunately it's a symptom of trying to force MoI to do things that it's just not designed to do. If you need a full production MCAD featureset then a tool that's very much focused on being lightweight and easy to use for non engineers is just not the right tool for your particular workflow.

I can certainly understand that you like MoI and want it to do everything you need and that would be more comfortable for you, but unfortunately making MoI into a Solidworks clone would likely make it a lot less comfortable for other users while simultaneously requiring a lot of work that is difficult for a one person shop like me to undertake.

Basically you should not expect MoI to turn into Solidworks, not in v4 and probably not ever. In fact if that happened it would probably mean that I'd messed up pretty bad because it's much more of a goal for MoI to work differently than a production MCAD tool so it works for people who aren't going to be able to use those types of things because they're too expensive and complex for them.

Hope that all makes sense!

- Michael
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  AlexPolo
8361.3 
Hi FDP and Michael,

I use a similar program set MOI > RHINO > SOLIDWORKS

I primarily use MOI for conceptualization the sketch freedom and 3d roughing leaves SOLIDWORKS and RHINO in the dust. Once I start to firm up a design I use RHINO and instances to form my assembly based on MOI parts. If I have a MOI assembly that needs multi parts instanced I do that in RHINO. I then via STP export move into SOLIDWORKS for major assemblies and Drawing Sets. I find the workflow works well instancing in MOI would mean no RHINO and move straight into SOLIDWORKS for major assemblies and Drawing Sheets. The Solidworks DRAWING SHEETS are some of the best documentation production tools and hard to beat. I agree with Michael keeping the simplicity of MOI is the upmost importance to its workflow speed - a few enhancements welcome but for a ZEN modeler like MOI to ever be like SOLIDWORKS would in effect loose its ZEN.

Look forward to V4 with grouping and instancing.

All the best


Attachments:

  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  eric (ERICCLOUGH)
8361.4 In reply to 8361.3 
Hi ..
I have to agree that MoI is a wonder and that Michael should not change his basic directions.
I specialize in relatively small architectural projects (up to about 6000 sq ft - 600m2).
MoI is my design tool. It is a joy to work with. I switch to Rhino when I must to complete the working drawings and final renderings (Octane).
The two programs are almost seamless when it comes to working together (going back to MoI to make furniture insets, for instance, and then plugging into Rhino).
Maybe high end CAD programs might give me a more robust work flow ... But after working with AutoCad for 20 years I'll never go back.
I'll never go back to running a big office, either.
cheers,
eric
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  FDP
8361.5 In reply to 8361.4 
Thanks Michael, AlexPolo and Eric!

Michael, I appreciate the incredibly detailed response, and agree that MoI has a special place that is separate from most Mech CAD software. I do not want to try to bend it into some poor-man's Solidworks, that would be doing MoI a disservice.

I do have to admit that I still don't agree that MoI has no place as a mechanical modeling tool - I think the ability to throw together very fast sketches in an intuitive manner and rapidly realize a design with a minimal interface clutter allows it to go much further than most other modelers into even relatively complex projects, it's ethos as a lightweight modeler can actually be a tremendous advantage in this area. When I watch someone struggling to do a rapid sketch to add a component in SolidWorks or Fusion 360 I find myself thinking back to why it is that I love MoI.

The real disadvantage of MoI comes when you want to modify a complex design down the road, and this is where I think a changes like allowing some kind of operations history/editor along with hierarchy would be tremendously useful!

Organizational features that are broad enough could allow for most of the things I am talking about, and more e.g. hierarchy could both allow you to have assembly groups and sub-groups, and also allow for you to link images to a particular part or group by dropping an image object under another object. You could allow any type of object to be a child, and leave it to users to come up with neat future uses for that.

The same goes for annotations, if you can have a "text" object that can be added as a child to any other object, and that has a name, it would be easy to add information like suppliers, web links, etc. Text objects could be allowed to feed the text tool, so for example, extruded text boolean-differenced out of a solid to create an engraved look could be modified later by modifying the original text object.

The same goes for instancing, and allowing outside links. Here, for example, you could allow a user to modify a linked image, in say Photoshop, and have the changes permute directly back into MoI without having to reload and re-orient the image reference.

I hope you don't take my suggestions as presumptuous or critical. MoI is very much your baby and you have done an amazing job with it. I love it as a lightweight CAD package and I really have never found anything more intuitive or enjoyable to work in. I agree with everyone else that the seamless MoI -> Rhino integration is great, and also that I just don't want to use anything else after using this combo.

-FDP
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  Michael Gibson
8361.6 In reply to 8361.5 
Hi FDP, don't get me wrong, I definitely do want to get some things that you mentioned to work in MoI relatively soon like hierarchical groups and instancing. But other things you were asking about are either further away than v4 or maybe never... I didn't mean to be negative or sound irritated in my explanations I just don't want to "sugarcoat" those types of things that are not likely to happen soon (or at all) so that you can plan accordingly. If features in Solidworks would help you get your job done with less work right now then using Solidworks would probably be a good idea for you. That doesn't mean that you can't still use MoI in areas where it does a good job, especially in early stages for concept modeling and quick drawing.


> The real disadvantage of MoI comes when you want to modify a complex design
> down the road, and this is where I think a changes like allowing some kind of
> operations history/editor along with hierarchy would be tremendously useful!

Yup, that's definitely correct - if you're at the stage where you're setting up mechanical part production and you know you will adjusting diameters and producing families of parts that's a stage where you would probably be better off with parametric functions in Solidworks. I certainly agree that this would be useful to have in MoI as well and it is something that I do hope to add into MoI. But there will be a lot of work involved in bringing that to MoI and I thought you were asking specifically if it would be in MoI v4, not just if it would ever be in MoI in the future.


> Organizational features that are broad enough could allow for most of the things I am talking
> about, and more <...>

So the unfortunate thing about this part is that making very broad functions can also take a lot more design and implementation work on my side. The "drop an image object under another object" is a good example of that - currently background images are a separate type of entity in MoI than a geometry object and trying to make them behave the same as geometry in grouping and hierarchy doesn't just come along automatically, it would probably involve some amount of internal redesign for that to happen.

The main focus of images in MoI is to make it possible to bring in a background image to use as a tracing reference, so the current implementation is tuned for that use, not for using it as a descriptive annotation like it sounds like you're looking for?


> The same goes for instancing, and allowing outside links. Here, for example, you could allow
> a user to modify a linked image, in say Photoshop, and have the changes permute directly
> back into MoI without having to reload and re-orient the image reference.

So again unfortunately there would be a substantial amount of work involved on my end to implement all the details that would actually enable that to happen. I have to weigh that work against the benefit that would be gained. Like I mentioned above the main use case for images in MoI is that they're intended to be used as a reference image like a scanned blueprint for example. If you have such an image that you are using as a background image in MoI there isn't much use in editing it in Photoshop dynamically.

If you have a very different use case like if you wanted the image to be part of some extensive 2D printed document that you wanted to create entirely inside of MoI like a Desktop Publishing app, then that type of live linking would be useful. But it would take a whole lot more work to set up "Desktop Publishing" level image infrastructure in MoI than it did to set up "image backdrop for tracing" infrastructure.

You've got to remember that I'm just one person working on MoI, so my resources are very limited. The more narrowly scoped and specifically targeted something is, usually goes along with a less intensive implementation as well. If I were to target all features in MoI to be flexible enough to be used for areas other than as modeling aids, each of those things would take a lot more of my time to work on and then since my time is limited the cost is that other features wouldn't happen.



> I hope you don't take my suggestions as presumptuous or critical.

I certainly took no offense and I did not intend to reply negatively, I'm sorry if it came across that way. I'm just trying to explain how MoI at its essence a pretty focused tool and if you are doing work outside of that focus area then some other broader tool like Solidworks is likely to be a better fit for those areas of your work.

I do expect to add more functionality to MoI over time, including in several areas that you're asking about. But some things that you listed like for example having a web link attached to something in your drawing, would be something for generating production type 2D drawings, it's just not an area that MoI is focused on right now. Some basic annotations like simple dimensions are pretty high on my target list but I only expect to have those at a simple level especially at first.

- Michael
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  Mauro (M-DYNAMICS)
8361.7 
A basic dimension system,choosing like A4 or A3 format then export sheet in PDF should be good enough for most of us ;)
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  FDP
8361.8 In reply to 8361.6 
Thanks Michael,
I did not take any offense to your initial response, just wanted to be clear that I don't mean to be pushy! Being the sole force behind a piece of software like MoI seems like an enormous undertaking in itself, let alone trying to continuously grow that software and deal with customer requests and support.

For the linked picture reference I think I just confused things a bit. Sometimes I will edit a reference image after loading it (for example to increase contrast on edges), but I'm pretty sure that MoI reloads the images when you re-load a file anyway, so this isn't a big issue (and of course you already have the "reload" button). Mainly I just wish that if I moved some curves I generated from a reference image the image could stay locked to the curves.

I've use MoI for both mechanical and artistic uses (for me as a designer they often mix together) and have found that it plays very nicely with 2D software for vector output as well as 3D 3rd party software through IGES or Step and .obj/.stl for 3D printing. The only issue I've had in mixed workflow are face direction being broken on occasion, otherwise it has fed everything from graphic arts to gaming workflows with relative ease.
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  AlexPolo
8361.9 
Hi All,

Even though parametric tools like Solidworks have strong merits I find that as part of my work flow I store base geometry in hidden layers or object names I can reconstruct even complex models very quickly by going back to base build stage. Perhaps in this workflow having a ARCHIVE HIDE function as I find switching individual layers/objects on and off in complex models the only repetitive function - that way the base build parts could be kept hidden withing the model and only switched back on when really required. As far placing parts in complex models a more advanced ORIENT tools like multi point orientation so that you can precisely place parts into large assemblies would certainly help. Minor thoughts.
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  FDP
8361.10 In reply to 8361.9 
Hi AlexPolo,
I essentially do the same as you - I tend to break models down into the base curves, and then steps for each operation to get to the final model and I hide the base geometry. The thing is, if you create an extrusion, for example, from a base curve and then directly edit the base curve you will see that the changes permute through to the extruded geometry (the same is true for making changes to mirrored or arrayed geometry). There is a one-step limit to this functionality at the moment, but it is there in some form.

I pretty routinely have 11-12 steps to get to a final geometry, and more importantly, have secondary geometry that is linked to a primary (take, for example, a part that fits into another part with a gap that is formed using the curve offset command). Here the existing MoI methodology can necessitate significant rebuilt times based on pretty simple base curve changes, even if there is a straight-forward procedure outlined by careful object naming (hours in the worst cases when multiple parts depend on each other).

From my perspective, having to manually do the rebuild is really where the workflow gets killed, even if it were easier to organize the manual steps from a user perspective, the real solution is just tracking the operations history of an object and allowing for it to be rebuilt based on changes to the input geometry. Another side effect of relying on hidden geometry is that file sizes are significantly impacted by having multiple copies of everything (I get into the 250MB size sometimes for relatively simple final models just from having all the internal revisions as separate hidden objects).

In some CAD software every object has it's own internal plane associated with it, and then a vector transform is applied to place the object geometry into the world view. I think without this ability for an object to have its own internal plane and then a transform attached you can't ever really do assemblies properly, as you can't know whether the object is in world space or object space.

My personal solution to these workflow issues at the moment is to feed MoI curves into Rhino and then use Grasshopper to set up a parametric workflow. There are a few really annoying issues in Grasshopper, but since they allow for Python scripting I can almost always write a little function to get myself around most of them, or add functionality as needed. The thing is that 90% of what I'm doing could just be done with the above-outline workflow in MoI, and Rhino + Grasshopper requires two relative large screens to really use effectively. Also, jumping into Rhino and invoking grasshopper kills the speed efficiency I get from using MoI in the first place. I have never found anything that works as well on one screen of almost any size as MoI - Michael pretty much nailed CAD UI better than any other software I have ever used (Maya, Houdini, Rhino, Solidworks, 3DS Max, Blender, Sketchup).

For multi-point orientation, I usually create a circle from 3-points on a circle found in a piece of input geometry and then use the created curve to manage rotations and scaling of the part. Not going to solve it for something super-complex, but I have found the process to be somewhat painless. It would be really nice to be able to have a quick command to temporarily turn any subsequent curves into a piece of temporary measurement/orientation geometry, and then allow for an close command to delete all those curves. Seems like low-hanging fruit and could allow for faster sketching (going to go see if this already exists).
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  eric (ERICCLOUGH)
8361.11 In reply to 8361.7 
Hi Michael ...

Will the V4 Beta include some basic dimensions? and, if so, will it incorporate into Rhino?

While Rhino and MoI are well integrated now once I switch to Rhino for some finish work it is not easy to switch back as dimensions and Rhino text don't show in MoI.

My goal is to do more work in MoI and less in Rhino.

cheers,
eric
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  Michael Gibson
8361.12 In reply to 8361.11 
Hi eric, the first v4 beta will not have dimensions yet, it will have the same features as v3 initially except that it will be 64-bit and a native Mac build.

After the first beta is out then I'll be working on new features and basic dimensions are high on my radar so I hope to be able to work on them during the beta period. But I don't know exactly when they will be implemented or how they will interact with Rhino dimensions yet, I won't know more details about that area until I've been able to spend some time on it.

- Michael
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  eric (ERICCLOUGH)
8361.13 In reply to 8361.12 
Thanks Michael.
I'm glad to hear that dimensions are fairly high on your priority list.
In my anticipation I forget that first you have to do a major rebuild before you can get to the details.
MoI is delightful for modeling and pretty good at basic 2d stuff. Unfortunately much of architectural work is in the 2d details and dimensions.
I just look forward to the day when I can keep working in MoI most of the time.
cheers,
eric
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Previous
Next
 From:  Michael Gibson
8361.14 In reply to 8361.13 
Hi eric, yeah it's been pretty frustrating to do all this work just to get back to the same feature set to start with. It would definitely be more fun to have been working on new features instead of the rewrite. But I do get an awful lot of questions relating to running out of memory and various quirks in the Mac version. So having those things ironed out really well will be worth it in the long run. It's one of those things where it just gets harder and harder the more you put it off!

It won't be too much longer before the first v4 beta, I still have just one big area to work on which is the viewport display.

- Michael
  Reply Reply More Options
Post Options
Reply as PM Reply as PM
Print Print
Mark as unread Mark as unread
Relationship Relationship
IP Logged

Message 8361.15 deleted 13 Apr by YOPHIE
 

Reply to All Reply to All