I got the chance to speak about FreeCAD at the Osmoces event near Chicago over the weekend. I had a really good time seeing some of the other presentations and exhibits and just hanging around with some pretty cool people. In addition to the talk, I also taught a workshop where we got hands-on with the software and modeled a simple part.
One theme in my presentation was that this stuff is really hard. It's hard to learn, hard to use, and mistakes have real consequences. This isn't just true of FreeCAD but of any CAD or modeling software. This fact was reinforced for me personally in the workshop where I saw frustration and confusion first hand.
Even though students struggled at first with the interface and the general concepts, most were able to make a lot of progress and judging by the number of students who stayed late and asked about areas I hadn't even covered, the demand for powerful open source design tools is growing.
This was the second time I've taught FreeCAD to a group of new users and I'm starting to get a sense for where they get hung up. I'm hoping to teach this again so I can build on that knowledge and perhaps find better ways to explain the core concepts. If you have anecdotes about learning CAD or teaching it to greenhorns, I'd be interested in your comments.
If you're looking for my slides or notes, they can be found here.