Now that the number of downloads for version 0.3.2 outreached the previous figure (76 downloads for version 0.3.1), it's probably the right time to package a new release and sum up what has been done over the seven months (or so) passed since our last update. I've also got some thoughts regarding Analysis Situs to share. After all, that's not a newsletter, that's a blog, right?
- What's in a name. It is funny to look at how people who use the software have a hard time spelling and especially pronouncing its name. Ana-ly-sis Si-tus... A-Situs? Situs? Omg. Is that the right time to reconsider the name? Not sure. It's just fun to discover how a name which wouldn't work starts working anyway. BTW, Analysis Situs is the former name of topology, so give it more respect: people did use it, and people did pronounce it a century ago. And don't take that too seriously ;)
- When to release? Well, here is a bit sloppy yet funny practice to set up the release dates. Let's do this: once the counter on the download page outreaches the previous figure on downloads, its time to wait for an update. That gives some reasonable time frames. E.g., if people stop downloading the software, it won't see any "official" release at all, because why to release something useless? If, in contrast, the downloads velocity starts to outbreak all reasonable upper bounds, well. We'll see. Is that going to happen?
- What is this software all about? I don't know. That's just a piece of software I have been using for many years for rapid prototyping. It does not solve any real problem from the very beginning to the very end. Really. It gives insights. Treat it as a Swedish multitool knife, use it the way you like. If the software works for you, I'll be happy to hear how, so give your kind feedback. That's a hobby project after all. It accumulates all sorts of tricks and codes which I'd treat as reusable when practicing geometric modeling. It has saved days of development time for me, and hopefully, it does something useful for you as well.
Okay, so what do we have in Analysis Situs 0.4?
- We're Linux-ready. You can now build the software at least under Ubuntu 18_04 and run it. Some bugs remain, but the software is operational (almost) and works smoothly (sometimes).
- VTK 8.2 is now used as a visualization backend. I've had hard times trying to get back nice Qt+VTK antialiasing but ultimately failed in this way. Who knows what exactly did VTK guys break in their Qt bridge so that all lines look so ugly now? Interestingly, offscreen rendering mode is now working, so there's potential in using the visualization of Analysis Situs for non-regression testing or other headless rendering workflows.
- AAG has seen some minor improvements, including a more polished JSON dump.
- More parameters are now exposed to objects in the tree. This makes the software a bit more flexible.
- Visibility is now controlled in the object tree.
- The scripting console was enriched with new handy commands. There is a little sense in listing all of them here, so check it out using the "show-commands" command. One of the new exciting commands is "reduce-step." It runs the code kindly published in open source by KiCAD developers for getting rid of redundancy in STEP files. Depending on the vendor who produced a STEP file, such compression might be very beneficial. Check out the talk by Seth Hillbrand at FOSDEM 2020 regarding this subject.
To conclude, the main "feature" of this release is the Linux support. You asked we listened. Thanks to everybody who provided comments, shared ideas and tried things out. A special "thank you" goes to the FreeCAD community.
Download Analysis Situs 0.4.0 on its project page.