FreeCAD history began in January 2001, when Jürgen Riegel started working on the project that would later officialy become FreeCAD. CAS.CADE, a commercial software development framework including a geometric modeling kernel (or CAD kernel), had been released under an open source license in 2000 and renamed Open Cascade. This made the realisation of an open source 3D CAD program possible, as having to program a CAD kernel from scratch would have required a huge amount of work.
In Jürgen's owns words:
Start January 2001 by me as so called GOM (Graphical Object Modeler), with the Idea in mind to use Qt, Python and
Cas.CADE, an commercial CAD-Kernel I used in projects in Daimler this time. CasCade gone open source shortly before so the time seams right to try a move in the (at this time) empty space of open source cad. I had a two year experience with OpenCascade in a project called QSpect and was at the end the main software designer. I learned a lot in the field of 3D and CAD programming. I was also influenced by Catia V5 and its very special User and programming interface.... sf.net registration 2002-03-17 19:42 as FreeCAD. I couldn't think of an better name. Im very bad on names.... April 2003 Werner Meyer was one of the colleges in the QSpect project switched to company called Imetric. So the contact to Imetric was very promising since they searched for a new 3D software platform for their 3D sensors. So 2005 Imetric donated most of the Mesh module to FreeCAD and OpenSource and use since then FreeCAD as basis for their sensor system software. And Werner is since then a very active part of FreeCAD. 2005 after one year of struggle I decided to rip of the OpenCascade document framework and replace it with an own implementation. So at the end we use only the CAD kernel of OpenCascade and not the rest of the Framework.
2007 was another interesting milestone. We switched to QT4 and has there fore the LGPL and a lot of work (which did mostly Werner)
The project was announced to the general public on the OpenCascade Forum in 2003. Again, in Jürgen's words:
my name is Juergen Riegel and I want today announce a OpenCasCade project, FreeCAD. FreeCAD is an Open Source CAx RAD based on OpenCasCade, QT and Python. It features some key concepts like Macro recording, Workbenches, ability to run as a server and dynamically loadable Application extensions and its designed to be platform independent... Although its in a early stage and not usable for users and developers (first user release plant for end 2003) I would like to get some feedback on the direction and design of FreeCAD. The GUI is nearly finished and now we (Me and my co developer Werner Mayer) starting to add the first CAD functions (Part design).
FreeCAD can be seen as a general purpos mecanical CAD system but the first audience, I think, will be developers in the CAx area which need ground work for own development.
Eventually, the project gained traction, and saw the addition of new key contributors in the community.
Yorik van Havre joined the project in 2008 and started work on the Draft Module. Before that point, there was no way to create 2D geometry through the GUI. This module was programmed entirely in Python rather than in C++, the core programming language used in FreeCAD. This proved that Python integration was a success and could be used to extend or customize FreeCAD's capabilities. In addition to his work on the Draft module, Yorik worked on expanding the FreeCAD documentation, and became FreeCAD's de facto "Art director", creating many icons for FreeCAD's GUI and defining its style.
Version 0.7 of FreeCAD released in April 2009 was the first to include the Draft module. The Part module provided a simple CSG workflow with creation of primitive shapes and boolean operations accessible through the Part menu. Extrusion of 2D profiles and filleting was also possible.
Version 0.8 released in July 2009 saw some more work in the Draft module, including a new Dimension tool. The Part module benefited from a new toolbar along with new tools, Revolve and Section.
By the end of 2009, FreeCAD was accepted as a Debian package in the Debian repositories. FreeCAD was added to the Ubuntu 10.04 repositories in 2010.
Version 0.10 released on July 2010 introduced the Sketcher Workbench, based on Sketchsolve, a constraint-based solver to create 2D geometry. The first version was limited to creation of rectangles and lines.
In early 2011, taking the opportunity given by the Launchpad online platform, the FreeCAD Maintainers team was created to provide fresh stable releases along with daily build packages of FreeCAD to users of the Ubuntu operating system.
Version 0.11 released in May 2011 introduced the new Part Design workbench which included tools such as Pad, Pocket, Fillet and Chamfer. The Draft workbench received enhancements and new tools, like BSpline. The Robot workbench featured more GUI tools.
Version 0.12 released in January 2012 featured a more complete Sketcher workbench. It included a totally rewritten solver, FreeGCS. It was the result of months of work by the main FreeCAD developers along with newcomers logari81 (who programmed the solver) and mrlukeparry. More tools were added to the PartDesign workbench.
|0.15||Current Developer Release|
|0.14||2014-07-01||Release notes 014|
|0.13||2013-01-29||Release notes 013|
|0.12||2011-12-20||Release notes 012|
|0.11||2011-05-03||Release notes 011|
|0.0.1||2002-10-29||Initial Upload --> The birth of FreeCAD|
|Latest preview version|
|Older version, still supported|