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One of the topics, I’m following on my blog for long time is open source. Open source software (OSS) or free open source software (FOSS) is a significant trend in modern software eco-system. Below you can find few passages from Wikipedia with explanations.
Here is definition for OSS:
Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner. Open-source software is the most prominent example of open-source development.
Here is definition for FOSS:
Free and open-source software (FOSS) is computer software that can be classified as both free software and open-source software.[a] That is, anyone is freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any way, and the source code is openly shared so that people are encouraged to voluntarily improve the design of the software. This is in contrast to proprietary software, where the software is under restrictive copyright and the source code is usually hidden from the users.
The exposure of engineering and manufacturing software into open source is limited so far. Few companies tried to create OSS offering, but the results were somewhat mixed. Few months ago, I summarized it in my article – Open Source PLM conundrum.
Aras is the most visible player in PLM open source. Even so, the presence of open source in Aras is limited to Aras solutions. Aras core (foundation) is probably can be better qualified as free software that can be downloaded and used by customers with zero upfront cost. Subscriptions are available, but not needed for core products. Opposite to that, Aras solutions are open sourced and available from Aras community solution website.
My attention was caught by an interesting announcement done by Jon Hirschtick recently during Develop3D Live conference in Warwick, UK – Onshape FeatureScript. Navigate to the following articles to read more – Onshape reflection on Develop3D Live and Onshape at Develop3D Live by Thinkrefine blog. Below few passages that can give you a brief summary:
FeatureScript is a new programming language that Onshape developed to make its own features. It will be made publicly available, along with a “Feature Studio” editing tool, sometime in May. Onshape will also share the code for its existing features to allow users to modify them in any way they wish.
Jon did something no self respecting CAD representative would be caught dead doing… he flipped open the hood, and exposed the source code of Onshape’s features. As far as we know, all other CAD companies have embedded the code for ‘features’ (tools, like copy and paste for example) into the very core of their systems – which means that any new features added can cause huge problems. This is probably why we only see a small handful of software updates from traditional CAD developers each year. The biggest news of the day: Onshape are going open-source for new features
A combination of Onshape FeatureScript and Onshape free license model is an interesting one. Everyone can use Onshape for free, develop features and publish source code on Github. Sounds cool and almost exactly how open source was developed.
But you can say it is not exactly open source and very similar to Aras open source model (free platform + open source extensions). Onshape itself is not an open source and controlled by Onshape cloud. Does it make difference? I don’t know. But I don’t remember somebody did something similar in CAD environment (For industry pundits – please check your memories. History is repeating sometimes). The only compatible thing in my memory is AutoLISP programming environment available in AutoCAD back many years ago. It created huge amount of AutoCAD developers and Autodesk leveraged it tremendously.
What is my conclusion? Onshape is opening a new page in the history of innovation by developing open source path to expand Onshape CAD with code that will be based on premises of open source distribution. It will be interesting to see how many developers will be interested to code new CAD features using Onshape FeatureScript language. Just my thoughts…