Friday, September 25, 2009

And the World's Oldest Source Code Repository is...

Many years ago (actually in 2006), I had written about an Open Source CAD program known as BRL-CAD (note: the links to tutorials I had included in that post are no longer active and give a message "BRL-CAD became an open source project in December of 2004 and is no longer hosted on FTP.ARL.ARMY.MIL").

Well surprisingly  BRL-CAD has been in the news for a while. Were you aware that according to Ohloh, BRL-CAD has the world's oldest open source repository? Can you believe that? The repository supposedly has been active since 1983.

Well if you thought that was interesting then check this. BRL-CAD was also a participating organization in the Google Summer of Code 2009 and had 3 student interns who worked on as many projects.

So the oldest CAD program is still being actively developed. That is interesting, but what I want to know is who is using BRL-CAD? I work for a CAD tools company and we have never been requested to even look at BRL-CAD as a possible CAD system to support. BRL-CAD's About page says that the U.S. Military is one of the clients. I have been on a Civilian installation of the U.S Army and have seen BRL-CAD installed on their lab computers. But none of the modelers were using it to deliver designs. So the question still stands - who is using BRL-CAD?

Do any of you have any experience with BRL-CAD at your work? Does anyone use BRL-CAD for anything? Let me know.

1 comment:

  1. BRL-CAD is primarily used in support of vulnerability and lethality analyses for nearly all military assets. That's a pretty niche community in itself but with very specific requirements. The performance and robustness requirements alone are more than CAD systems support for which BRL-CAD is custom tailored.

    It's mainly used by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the German ministry of defense, her majesty's government in the UK, and other similar research-oriented organizations that look at the survivability of vehicles, scenarios, buildings, personnel, and more. As analysis is near the end of a development life-cycle, that's a large part why BRL-CAD's is heavily biased towards import, robust representation support, high performance ray-tracing and geometric analysis, workflow flexibility, and less so on direct modeling and user interface.

    After having become open source just a couple years ago, the focus quickly shifted towards more general CAD community needs such as improved usability. There is a growing community around BRL-CAD and an increasing development rate (which has been increasing every year since going open source) working towards making things better. The legacy lives on... :-)