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Xdraft drawing editor

(last update: 17 Dec 2009)

This web page describes my drawing editor, still a work in progress.

New: Version 0.13 released. This fixes package dependency problems introduced by Ubuntu 8. This new version will probably not install on Ubuntu 6 and earlier systems.

A short tutorial has been written. This is still in the very early stages and feedback is welcome.

Currently working on: Library items. Attribute editor. More input modes and intersections. Improved keyboard acceleration.

Also, pattern fills still need to be added to postscript output.

Still to be done: .dxf file format. Path objects. Attribute editor. Once these are done, I'll release version 1.0.

I have had a report of someone getting a core dump at startup; has anyone else seen this? Let me know if you have.

First practical use of xdraft. I've built a cabinet that was designed with xdraft.

I see there have already been over 1000 downloads and it's not even released yet. Not bad.

I just released 0.11; if you download it, please post a note to let me know any of the following:

Or just to let me know that you got it working ok.

Thanx in advance -- Ed Falk


Over the months, I've received multiple requests for the plans to my Miatascope. Problem is, I don't have the plans in any kind of electronic form. I designed it on the back of other documents, using an antique fountain pen. Scanning the backs of ratty stapled documents isn't really very good, so I decided to find some free Cad software and enter a formal design.

I tried to use some of the available free Cad software (Xfig under Linux, TurboCad-2d and others under Windoze) and came to one inescapable conclusion: They all suck. You'd think that the people who wrote them had never taken a drafting class in high school. Xfig came the closest to being useful, but its arc-definition mode was too limited, it didn't have any trimming functions, and most importantly, there was no dimension function.

Oh well; that's free software for you. I'm sure the professional stuff is much better. But no way am I paying $2000 just to enter the plans to a $500 telescope.

Next, I tried installing Catia [note: web page requires javascript -- foo] at work, where we have a license. I used Catia back in college -- it is without a doubt the finest Cad software ever written. If you've ever ridden in a modern airliner, you've ridden in something designed on Catia. Pratt & Witney designs their engines with Catia. Your car was probably designed with Catia.

But have you ever tried installing and administering Catia? Forget it. Requires a trained professional. Actually, I am a trained professional, and I still got nowhere. Catia administration requires a full-time person with extensive experience with IBM mainframes and who studied at Dassault in France for two years to learn how. Took me a week to install it, and I never did figure out how to run it. The next engineer after me tried to install it too, and didn't get any further. I think they're sending him to France now.

So what do I do? I decided that if Unix is 30 years old and still doesn't have a decent drafting program, it was time to write one. This program started life about 15 years ago. I wrote it in college to drive Imlac PDS-X vector displays connected to Pr1me-500 computers. None of the original source code remains (it was written in Fortran.) All that remains are the design ideas and philosophy. It incorporates the XFIG file format, and some ideas from XFIG, Catia and whatever crumbs of good ideas I got from the other Cad software I've played with.

I'm about 75% done.



Now in beta! Download it from the project page You also need to have Gnome and GTK+ installed on your system. These are pretty common and you probably already have them.

There's an rpm file which has been tested under RedHat 7 and 9 and will probably work on other versions as well. You probably won't need to build xdraft yourself, but if you want to compile it yourself, follow these steps:

This install procedure should work flawlessly under Linux. Xdraft has also been compiled under Solaris, but not lately, so the build process may have become broken.

If you have problems compiling or using Xdraft, you can send me email.

See the file Todo for a list of current bugs and things that still need doing. See Developers for a list of source files and descriptions.

For now, I'm most interested in the following:

-Ed Falk, Nov 2004


dr2a.gif dr2b.gif dr3b.gif

First Practical Use

I built a tape-recorder cabinet that I designed with xdraft. You can see pictures of it being designed in the snapshots above. Here is the
postscript output and some photographs:

[ Tutorial | A practical example | Project Page ]