FeatureScript lets 3D CAD users design faster

Picture: Created with Onshape’s FeatureScript, “Hex Infill” is a customised CAD feature designed to save material and time when 3D printing parts. FeatureScript is the first open programming language for adding new parametric CAD features. Although “Hex Infill” is a user-written feature, it behaves exactly like Onshape’s own built-in features.

Recognising that the design challenges for each industry and every company are different, Onshape is introducing FeatureScript, a new open programming language that lets CAD users create their own built-in parametric features or modify existing ones.

Ever wish you could change the way your CAD system’s features work? FeatureScript lets you do just that. It is the same language used to develop all of Onshape’s current features (Extrude, Fillet, Shell, Loft, etc.) and has already been used millions of times by Onshape users without even realising it.

By making FeatureScript public – available to all Free, Professional and Enterprise Customers – full-cloud Onshape is now offering the first truly customisable parametric CAD feature set.”This is the first time that a professional CAD system has made the implementation of its parametric features open and extensible,” says Ilya Baran, Onshape’s Director of FeatureScript. “In the past, the only way to change your feature toolbar would be to submit an enhancement request to your CAD vendor and wait forever. And most of those requests are never fulfilled.

FeatureScript swings the pendulum back and puts you in control.”In traditional desktop-installed CAD systems, it is possible to write add-on or macro features, but they are never as good as the built-in ones. FeatureScript offers the first opportunity to create features that are first-class citizens – as much a part of the system as the ones the development team wrote themselves.Under the open source MIT License, Onshape is also sharing the FeatureScript source code for all of its own features, allowing customers to copy, modify or adapt them as they see fit. New

Onshape features can now be created in Onshape’s new “Feature Studio,” a user-friendly development environment with a powerful editor, in-line help and documentation.Possible uses for FeatureScript include:
• Creating new high-level parametric features that perform complex or customised geometric modeling tasks. Features like these let users design products faster than they can with traditional off-the-shelf features.
• Customising existing features to suit user preferences for working fast and efficiently, such as a surface split feature that splits and preserves exactly the pieces that a particular user prefers.
• Combining existing features into one, such as a drafted filleted pocket.
• Filling in some current gaps in CAD functionality, such as a customised extrude option, or a particular type of 3D spline curve through points or driven by an equation.
• Creating surfaces using data from uploaded CSV or other data files.
• Building specialised patterns, such as sinusoidal or other unusual pattern geometries with unique per-instance behaviour.
• Building a specialised toolkit for a company (custom gears or enclosures or connectors that are used over and over again).

For 30 years, feature-based modeling has relied on a limited set of off-the-shelf features. With FeatureScript, we are ushering in a new era of custom parametrics,” says Onshape founder Jon Hirschtick. “Our early adopters have proven that with the ability to use custom features that they write or have others write for them, they’re able to significantly speed up their design process.”

“Customers who develop new features in FeatureScript are free to do with them as they please,” he adds. “Some may wish to sell them or share them with the community. Others might choose to keep their FeatureScript features proprietary as a competitive advantage.”

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