FreeCAD Plugins

There are basically two ways to add functionality to FreeCAD.
1. Workbenches
2. Macros

Workbenches

Workbenches can be thought of the set of tools grouped together to perform a specific task. Workbenches can be C++ or Python modules. The C++ ones written earlier are bundled with FreeCAD itself like Part, PartDesign, Mesh. More information regarding this can be found at http://www.freecadweb.org/wiki/?title=Workbenches.

Workbenches that are being written in Python are managed at https://github.com/FreeCAD/FreeCAD-addons so that they can be separated out from FreeCAD and plugged in later on. Hence, it becomes easy to handle Python modules as they don’t need compilation. Python workbenches are Arch, openSCAD, ship etc.

Some are hybrid (combination of C++ and Python) like PathDraft etc.

Macros

Macros can be visualized as single-file python scripts. These are having .FCMacro file extension. There are two ways to record macros.

1. Interactive: Go to Menu > Macro > Macro recording > Enter any name > Click ‘Record‘ > Do whatever you want to do and then click Macro > Stop macro recording. Read more: http://www.freecadweb.org/wiki/index.php?title=Macros

2. Python: Go to MenuMacro >  Macros > Create > Enter file name > Click ‘OK‘ > Write python code and save (Ctrl+S).

Macros are located at the FreeCAD wiki: http://www.freecadweb.org/wiki/index.php?title=Macros_recipes. Later, it was thought to port those macros to GitHub: https://github.com/FreeCAD/FreeCAD-macros. As one doesn’t need to know programming to create Macros, hence a normal user finds it difficult to use git and GitHub and most macro authors don’t have a GitHub account so they didn’t move the macros there. And the wiki is very easy for people to put their macros.

 

Hence, the idea is to implement a plugin manager that would be managing both Workbenches and the Macros without giving much hassle to the users to install them, via a single interface.

Currently, the installation directory for ~/.FreeCAD/Mod (in GNU/Linux at least). To see the User Data directory, go to FreeCAD Python console and paste:

print FreeCAD.getUserAppDataDir()

This will print the directory where to store the plugins. Mod is for containing the workbenches and the Macro directory is for storing the user created macros.

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