FreeCAD Usability Improvements

Some of my ideas for usability improvements in FreeCAD.

Visual feedback

Such as…

  • continuous immediate previewing of all changes
    • abolish all those Wizard-style input screens that force the user to enter the centre of the circle first, and then its radius, and then its plane of orientation: let the user freely specify and adjust all the parameters in whatever order makes most sense to them in that particular instance
  • better visibility controls on the model hierarchy
    • distinguish “this polygon is hidden because I temporarily want to see what’s behind it” from “this polygon is hidden because it is not itself a surface of the final 3D model: it is only the input data for an extrusion”
    • provide a way to temporarily hide a whole group and later return its visibility to the previous state in which some members of the group were visible and others were hidden
  • describe the selection in words in the status bar
    • Inkscape does this very well: e.g. “5 objects selected of types Rectangle, Path”
  • show the current selection
    • including selected elements whose visibility is set to “hidden”
    • including selected elements that would otherwise be hidden behind solid-rendered elements that are nearer the viewer
  • say what Undo and Redo will do
    • e.g. “Undo: Create Rectangle”
  • indicate whether the file is modified and whether the model is modified
    • two separate things, as the file includes both the model and the view settings

Sketcher

  • while editing a sketch mapped to a face, show that face as external geometry (to be used as construction lines) [did I notice something like this is now done?]
  • while editing, ensure the sketch is visible (e.g. by automatically fading everything else)
  • don’t clutter the display with tiny details: when the displayed size of an element is small, hide the associated constraint symbols
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