Contributor Quickies

The list of possible quick projects that can be a good starting point for new contributors that would like to get involved in working on BRL-CAD. Each project is roughly sorted by difficulty as EASY, MEDIUM, or HARD and categorized by type of work. The tasks range from the very hard and math intense to tedious and VERY easy. Also listed are requirements and a rough estimate of time needed to complete the task. Note that the requirements are not prerequisites but skills that are necessary to complete the task. The time estimate only presumes you have a few (ideal) hours a day.

Please do contact us (via IRC or brlcad-devel mailing list) if you have any questions, corrections, comments, or ideas of your own that you'd like to suggest. Get started by Compiling!

Contents

Code[edit]


Tasks related to writing or refactoring code

VERY EASY: Implement a primitive centroid function[edit]

BRL-CAD provides more than two dozen types of geometry "primitives" such as ellipsoids, boxes, and cones. Every primitive is described by a collection of callback functions, for example rt_ell_bbox() returns the bounding box dimensions for an ellipsoid. Wikipedia, Wolfram Mathworld, and various other math sites (and research papers) around the web include the equations for most of our basic primitives.

This task involves writing a new callback function that takes an rt_db_internal object and calculates its centroid (as a point_t 3D point). Any of the primitives that do not already have a centroid callback are fair game.

Time: <1 day

References:

Code:

  • src/librt/primitives/*/*.c

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with C
  • Basic familiarity with a text editor
  • Ability to compile BRL-CAD successfully

VERY EASY: Implement a primitive surface area function[edit]

BRL-CAD provides more than two dozen types of geometry "primitives" such as ellipsoids, boxes, and cones. Every primitive is described by a collection of callback functions, for example rt_ell_bbox() returns the bounding box dimensions for an ellipsoid. Wikipedia, Wolfram Mathworld, and various other math sites (and research papers) around the web include the equations for most of our basic primitives.

This task involves writing a new callback function that takes an rt_db_internal object and calculates the surface area (units are mm^2). Any of the primitives that do not already have a surface area callback are fair game.

Time: <1 day

References:

Code:

  • src/librt/primitives/*/*.c

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with C
  • Basic familiarity with a text editor
  • Ability to compile BRL-CAD successfully

VERY EASY: Move LIBBN comments from source to header files[edit]

BRL-CAD uses Doxygen source code comments to document the API. The comments need to be moved from .c source code files to the corresponding .h API header file. There are approximately 300 public API functions across 30 files in LIBBN.

This task involves editing source code to move comments, cleaning up comment formatting, and verifying Doxygen output.

Time: <1 day

Code:

  • include/bn.h
  • src/libbn/*.c

Requirements:

  • Rudimentary familiarity with C
  • Basic familiarity with a text editor (copy-paste)

EASY: Implement a primitive volume function[edit]

BRL-CAD provides more than two dozen types of geometry "primitives" such as ellipsoids, boxes, and cones. Every primitive is described by a collection of callback functions, for example rt_ell_bbox() returns the bounding box dimensions for an ellipsoid. Wikipedia, Wolfram Mathworld, and various other math sites (and research papers) around the web include the equations for most of our basic primitives.

This task involves writing a new callback function that takes an rt_db_internal object and calculates the volume (units are mm^3). Any of the primitives that do not already have a volume callback are fair game.

Time: <1 days

References:

Code:

  • src/librt/primitives/*/*.c

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with C
  • Basic familiarity with a text editor
  • Ability to compile BRL-CAD successfully

EASY: Convert BU_SETJUMP/BU_UNSETJUMP blocks into try/catch layout[edit]

BRL-CAD's basic utility library (LIBBU) provides a set of macros, BU_SETJUMP and BU_UNSETJUMP, that are used for exception handling.

This task involves restructuring the logic where those macros are used so that they are all consistently in a more familiar "try/catch" ordering. Most are merely in "catch/try" order and need to be reversed, some are in an unstructured layout. There are approximately 50 places that need to be updated.

Time: < 2 days

Code:

  • include/bu.h
  • src/**/*.c

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with C
  • Basic familiarity with a text editor
  • Ability to compile BRL-CAD successfully

EASY: Move LIBRT comments from source to header files[edit]

BRL-CAD uses Doxygen source code comments to document the API. The comments need to be moved from .c source code files to the corresponding .h API header file. There are approximately 1000 public API functions across 200 files in LIBRT.

This task involves editing source code to move comments, cleaning up comment formatting, and verifying Doxygen output.

Time: <4 days

Code:

  • include/raytrace.h
  • include/nmg.h
  • include/db.h
  • include/db5.h
  • src/librt/*.c
  • src/librt/comb/*.c
  • src/librt/binunif/*.c
  • src/librt/primitives/**/*.c

Requirements:

  • Rudimentary familiarity with C
  • Basic familiarity with a text editor (copy-paste)

EASY: Fix 'analyze' command output formatting[edit]

BRL-CAD has an interactive geometry editor called MGED. MGED has several hundred commands including an "analyze" command that reports basic statistics such as bounding box size for a given geometry object. Over time, the output format of the analyze command has become misaligned and disorganized with messy printing.

This task involves cleaning up the basic printf-style printing so that columns line up neatly and the ornamental ascii table lines are properly aligned. The table lines should be rewritten to automatically expand as needed for the content being printed so it doesn't become a repeat maintenance burden in the future.

Time: <2 days

Code:

  • src/libged/analyze.c

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with C
  • Ability to compile and run MGED

EASY: Camera 360: A script to capture images while rotating the view around a scene[edit]

BRL-CAD allows the viewing angle for a scene to be set through a number of parameters. These are the azimuth, elevation, twist and also the amount of zoom for the scene. To render a scene a user first sets the view in MGED and then saves the view parameters in a BASH script. This script contains a call to the BRL-CAD ray tracing tool rt. The appropriate settings to its command line flags are written such that the images are rendered from the view set by the user in MGED.

The command for invoking rt may be called multiple times in a loop, each time carrying out a small change in the scene such as translating some geometry to achieve basic animation.

This task involves developing a bash script that changes the parameters to rt in every loop iteration such that the view camera revolves around the origin of the scene at a particular distance from it , in the XY plane. The camera should change the view in small increments such that the images are captured in small angular increments. This would allow a video to be created with the effect of walking around a model while inspecting it from all sides.

Note: that an equivalent effect could also be achieved by keeping the view steady but revolving the model gradually by 360 degrees instead.

Time: ~ 3 days

Code:

  • src/**/*.c

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with C and BASH scripting
  • Ability to compile and run MGED

EASY: Close MGED when both its windows are closed[edit]

BRL-CAD has an interactive geometry editor called MGED. It's often the starting point for beginners and allows creation and manipulation of models using commands. When MGED is invoked, then it creates 2 windows :

  • A command window
  • An OpenGL graphics window.

A user types command in the command window and views the results in the graphics window. However when the application is closed then it has a non-intuitive behavior in the sense that even if both the windows are manually closed, the MGED process is not terminated. Thus the proper way of closing it is through the exit command in the MGED command window.

This task involves fixing this behavior such that closing both the windows terminates the process properly.

Time: ~ 4 days

Code:

  • src/mged/mged.c

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with C
  • Ability to compile and run MGED

EASY: Implement parallel support for Windows[edit]

BRL-CAD works pervasively on symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) systems, i.e. computers with multiple CPUs or cores. However, support for SMP is implemented for each distinct platform. BRL-CAD runs on Windows, but presently only in a single-threaded mode.

This task involves implementing the hooks necessary to make BRL-CAD work in parallel on Windows. This can be achieved with relatively minor source code modifications to two files.

Time: <2 days

Code:

  • src/libbu/parallel.c
  • src/libbu/semaphore.c

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with C source code
  • Familiarity with compiling on Windows

MEDIUM: Decouple LIBDM from LIBGED[edit]

BRL-CAD has a 3D display manager library (LIBDM) and a geometry editor command library (LIBGED). For clean encapsulation and library management, it's desirable to keep library dependencies to a minimum. LIBGED presently makes direct calls to LIBDM for a "screengrab" command. Properly fixed, it should be possible to remove the LIBDM linkage from LIBGED's build file and the command still work as expected.

This task involves breaking the dependency of LIBGED on LIBDM by making LIBGED not directly call any LIBDM functions. To do this, LIBGED will likely need to introduce a callback mechanism in the "ged" struct so that the screengrab command can capture an image without directly calling a LIBDM function.

Time: <3 days

Code:

  • include/ged.h
  • include/dm.h
  • src/libged/screengrab.h
  • src/libged/CMakeLists.txt

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with C source code
  • Familiarity with C function callbacks

MEDIUM: Separate out LIBNMG from LIBRT[edit]

BRL-CAD has an N-Manifold Geometry (NMG) library embedded within our ray tracing (RT) library. The NMG source code is already isolated and separate but not cleanly and not into its own library.

This task involves moving the NMG source code into its own library directory and making the appropriate build system modifications so that it compiles the new library cleanly. There may be minor source code refactorings necessary to decouple the NMG code from LIBRT, but nothing major is expected.

Time: <3 days

Code:

  • include/raytrace.h
  • include/nmg.h
  • src/librt
  • src/librt/primitives/nmg

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with C source code
  • Basic familiarity with autoconf/automake/libtool build system

HARD: implement runtime detection of SSE[edit]

BRL-CAD will optionally leverage SSE instructions for some operations but SSE-support is set at compile-time. If you attempt to perform SSE instructions on non-SSE hardware, it'll basically halt the application with an illegal instruction exception.

This task involves implementing a new libbu function that reports whether SSE support is available at runtime. The most prevalent method for doing this is demonstrated by the Mesa folks where you set up an exception handler for SIGILL and attempt an SSE instruction. That's obviously a non-solution for Windows platforms, but is better than nothing and more useful than a Windows-only solution. Even better if you can handle both.

Time: <2 days

Code:

  • include/bu.h
  • src/libbu

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with C source code
  • Access to non-SSE hardware or hardware where SSE can be disabled (for testing)

HARD: Integrate hi/lo geometry wireframe modifications[edit]

BRL-CAD presently draws wireframes of geometry with a fixed level of detail. A contributor implemented support for "high" and "low" detail wireframes but their changes were to a very old version that could not be simply applied to the current source code.

This task involves identifying their source code changes (easy), isolating them (relatively easy), applying them to the current source code (maybe tricky, maybe not), documenting the new feature (trivial), and making sure everything works.

Time: <4 days

Code:

  • modified source tarball will be provided
  • src/librt/primitives/**/*.c (the *_tess() functions)

Requirements:

  • Familiarity reading and writing C source code
  • Basic familiarity with BRL-CAD's MGED

HARD: Fix Bounding Box function for BoT primitive[edit]

BRL-CAD provides functions for its geometric primitives that define a bounding box - a box that completely encloses the volume described by the primitive. Ideally, these boxes are as small as possible while still enclosing the primitive. Currently the routine for BoTs is incorrect.

This task involves studying the current code for the function rt_bot_bbox and determining what is causing the current inaccuracies (the bb command is a good way to visualize primitive bounding boxes) and making changes to produce a more optimal bounding box. The raytracing prep code in rt_bot_prep does prepare a better bounding box, so that is one place to check.

Time: <4 days

Code:

  • src/librt/primitives/bot/bot.c (the rt_bot_bbox function)

Requirements:

  • Familiarity reading and writing C source code
  • Basic familiarity with BRL-CAD's MGED

HARD: Implement a primitive UV-mapping callback[edit]

BRL-CAD provides more than two dozen types of geometry "primitives" such as ellipsoids, boxes, and cones. Every primitive is described by a collection of callback functions, for example rt_ell_bbox() returns the bounding box dimensions for an ellipsoid. One of those functions describes a UV mapping of the object's surface, which is used for things like texture and bump mapping. An example of this is rt_ell_uv() in the src/librt/primitives/ell/ell.c source file for an ellipsoid. Several of our more complex primitive types (such as BoT, NMG, and BREP/NURBS) do not presently implement a UV-mapping function leading to unexpected runtime behavior.

This task involves implementing a UV-mapping callback for any of the primitives that do not already have a functional UV-callback defined.

Time: <3 days

Code:

  • src/librt/primitives/*/*.c
  • src/librt/primitives/table.c
  • include/rtgeom.h

References:

Requirements:

  • Familiarity writing C source code
  • Basic familiarity with UV-mapping

Documentation[edit]


Tasks related to creating/editing documents

EASY: Add missing documentation (for JUST ONE command)[edit]

BRL-CAD is an extensive system with more than 400 commands and more than a million pages of documentation, but there are approximately 120 commands that are entirely undocumented:

a-d archer asc2g asc2pix bot-bldxf bottest brep_cube brep_simple brickwall btclsh burst bw-a bw-d bwish c-d chan_add clutter contours d-a damdf dauto dauto2 d-bw dconv ddisp d-f dfft d-i dmod double-asc dpeak dsel dsp_add dstat d-u dwin euclid_format euclid_unformat fbgammamod f-d fence fhor f-i g-adrt g-euclid1 g-jack globe g-off i-a i-d i-f ihist imod istat jack-g kurt lowp molecule nmgmodel nmg-sgp off-g pipe pipetest pix2g pix3filter pixcount pixelswap pixembed pixfields pixfieldsep pixflip-fb pixpaste pix-spm pix-yuv plstat pyramid rawbot remapid rlesortmap rletovcr room rtcell rtexample rtfrac rtrad rtsil rtsrv script-tab sketch solshoot sphflake spltest spm-fb ssampview syn tea tea_nmg testfree texturescale torii ttcp tube txyz-pl u-a u-bw u-d u-f umod ustat vcrtorle vegitation wall wdb_example xbmtorle xyz-pl yuv-pix

This task involves writing a failed document for JUST ONE of those commands in the Docbook format. The command documentation should provide a one-sentence description, a detailed paragraph description, explanation of all available command-line options, and one or more examples on how to use the command.

Time: < 2 days

Code:

  • doc/docbook/system/man1/en/Makefile.am
  • doc/docbook/system/man1/en/*.xml

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with using a text editor
  • Basic familiarity writing in a tagged format (Docbook format is very similar to html) -- many examples provided
  • Ability to figure out how to use the command you're documenting (most are very simple)

EASY: Write "MGED Interface" reference document[edit]

BRL-CAD's primary geometry editor is called MGED. MGED's documentation is extensive but incomplete without a concise 1 or 2 page document that details MGED's interface.

This task involves writing an interface reference document that gives a brief descriptive overview of the key bindings, mouse bindings, and primary GUI elements. The shift grips reference should be incorporated, albeit much more concisely and organized.

Time: <2 days

References:

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with word processing software
  • Basic familiarity with MGED

MEDIUM: Convert src/conv man pages to valid Docbook[edit]

BRL-CAD is in the process of converting its documentation into Docbook 4.5 format, in order to enable automatic generation of output in different formats (html, pdf, man) from a single source. This conversion includes existing UNIX man pages.

This task involves using the doclifter tool to perform a rough conversion to Docbook of all man pages in the src/conv subdirectory of the BRL-CAD source tree (about 40 files), then performing whatever manual corrections are needed to the autogenerated xml files to make them valid Docbook (some conversions have already been done and can serve as guides). The simplest way to confirm the files are successfully converted is to incorporate them into BRL-CAD's build logic for Docbook man pages and view the output using brlman and an html viewer. It is recommended to use the Emacs editor with the nxml mode in order to more easily identify and fix errors, but this is not a requirement.

Time: <4 days

References:

Requirements:

  • Basic ability to understand and work with xml files
  • Computer environment that can build BRL-CAD docs (xsltproc, autotools) and ability to set up BRL-CAD for building.

MEDIUM: Write a "BRL-CAD Commands Quick Reference" document[edit]

There is already a command quick reference for BRL-CAD's MGED geometry editing tool, but there is not a similar document for BRL-CAD's 400+ command-line commands.

This task involves writing a quick reference document similar to the MGED quick reference but for BRL-CAD commands.

Time: <3 days

References:

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with layout software
  • Basic familiarity with BRL-CAD

HARD: Write a "Technical Overview of BRL-CAD" document[edit]

This task involves describing everything in BRL-CAD succinctly yet comprehensively. Survey of all the major features, methodologies, and tools implemented in BRL-CAD with coverage on code maturity, library encapsulation, and tool aggregation. The document should be less than 10 pages, possibly only 1 or 2 pages, but cover multiple layers of information concisely.

Time: <4 days

References:

Requirements:

  • In-depth familiarity with BRL-CAD


HARD: Add missing documentation (for ALL missing)[edit]

BRL-CAD is an extensive system with more than 400 commands and more than a million pages of documentation, but there are approximately 120 commands that are entirely undocumented:

a-d archer asc2g asc2pix bot-bldxf bottest brep_cube brep_simple brickwall btclsh burst bw-a bw-d bwish c-d chan_add clutter contours d-a damdf dauto dauto2 d-bw dconv ddisp d-f dfft d-i dmod double-asc dpeak dsel dsp_add dstat d-u dwin euclid_format euclid_unformat fbgammamod f-d fence fhor f-i g-adrt g-euclid1 g-jack globe g-off i-a i-d i-f ihist imod istat jack-g kurt lowp molecule nmgmodel nmg-sgp off-g pipe pipetest pix2g pix3filter pixcount pixelswap pixembed pixfields pixfieldsep pixflip-fb pixpaste pix-spm pix-yuv plstat pyramid rawbot remapid rlesortmap rletovcr room rtcell rtexample rtfrac rtrad rtsil rtsrv script-tab sketch solshoot sphflake spltest spm-fb ssampview syn tea tea_nmg testfree texturescale torii ttcp tube txyz-pl u-a u-bw u-d u-f umod ustat vcrtorle vegitation wall wdb_example xbmtorle xyz-pl yuv-pix

This task involves writing a (very) simple stub document holder for each of those commands in the Docbook format. The commands only need to provide a one or two sentence summary of their purpose (which is usually already written in their source files) with a basic usage statement.

Time: < 4 days

Code:

  • doc/docbook/system/man1/en/Makefile.am
  • doc/docbook/system/man1/en/*.xml

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with using a text editor
  • Basic familiarity writing in a tagged format (Docbook format is very similar to html) -- many examples provided

Outreach[edit]


Tasks related to community management and outreach/marketing

EASY: Write solicitation for new website designer[edit]

The BRL-CAD website is in need of a design overhaul.

This task involves writing up a brief article soliciting new contributor(s) to work on designing a new website. The article needs to be detailed and specific to our particular website requirements (Drupal+Mediawiki+CSS) to ensure the contributor can design the appropriate stylesheet(s), updated graphics, and new layout.

Time: < 2days

References:

Requirements:

  • Ability to write well, clearly, and convincingly
  • Basic familiarity with the BRL-CAD website

EASY: Model new BRL-CAD Logo using BRL-CAD[edit]

The winner of the recent BRL-CAD Logo contest is a clean depiction of two interlocked components. Modeling the new Logo in BRL-CAD without using NURBS would require some careful arrangement, but would provide an attractive three dimensional rendering.

The output of this task would be a .asc file of BRL-CAD geometry (converted via g2asc) for inclusion in the db/ example directory. Optimally, the two segments would overlap at the join, but this is your opportunity as an artist and 3D magician to shine with your interpretation.

Time: < 2 days

References:

EASY: Write BRL-CAD News article on .deb/.rpm builds[edit]

BRL-CAD has a new maintainer, Jordi Sayol, for managing .deb and .rpm builds. Interview the developer, obtain details on how the releases are produced, what platforms are supported, etc, and write up an article for our Community Publication Portal (CPP)

The output of this task is an article added to our CPP wiki page in a final production-quality review state.

Time: < 1 day

References:

Requirements:

  • Decent writing and/or journalistic skills

MEDIUM: Write a BRL-CAD model showcase article[edit]

BRL-CAD has several geometry models developed by community members that showcase the power and applicability of BRL-CAD to various domains. For this task, you'd be expected to interview one or more individuals to obtain information and pictures about their project, write up a descriptive overview of their model, the goals of the project, and any interesting ancillary information that may be relevant. There are presently several candidate topics listed in our Community Publication Portal (CPP).

The output of this task is an article added to our CPP wiki page in a final production-quality review state.

Time: < 2 days

References:

Requirements:

  • Decent writing and/or journalistic skills
  • Ability to investigate and aggregate information from a variety of sources

MEDIUM: Design a "Commercial CAD Comparison" diagram[edit]

New users frequently ask how BRL-CAD compares to other major commercial CAD systems such as CATIA, Unigraphics/NX, Pro/ENGINEER, Solidworks, and AutoCAD. BRL-CAD has many of the same features and it would be very useful to visualize the feature overlap graphically with a diagram.

This task involves identifying core significant features of relevance and describing BRL-CAD along with the various major CAD vendors. The diagram should fit on one page.

Time: <2 days

References:

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with multiple commercial CAD software packages
  • Basic familiarity with BRL-CAD

Quality Assurance[edit]


Tasks related to testing and ensuring code is of high quality

EASY: Develop an N-Manifold Geometry (NMG) testing framework[edit]

BRL-CAD implements polygonal facetted geometry as "NMG" geometry, which is then used for converting from an implicit constructive solid geometry (CSG) representation to a mesh format. This is a huge portion of BRL-CAD's core libraries that is used by dozens of tools and commands so there is a need for improved robustness.

This task involves custom scripting or using a testing framework (such as googletest) that attempts to convert all of BRL-CAD's provided sample geometry into NMG format. There are more than 500 functions in the NMG code, so this task only exercises the NMG code indirectly through one of BRL-CAD's numerous geometry exporters such as g-nmg or g-dxf. The testing should report which objects do not successfully convert and percentage conversion success.

Time: <2 days

Files:

  • db/*.g
  • src/conv/g-nmg

References:

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with scripting or a testing framework

MEDIUM: Create comprehensive utility library (LIBBU) API unit tests[edit]

There are more than 300 library functions in our core LIBBU library. As a core library used by nearly every one of BRL-CAD's tools, testing those functions for correct behavior is important.

This task involves implementing a testing framework for LIBBU that exercises every single one of the public API C function calls and reports whether tests pass successfully or not.

Code:

  • include/bu.h
  • src/libbu

References:

Time: <3 days

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with C
  • Familiarity with scripting or a testing framework

MEDIUM: Create comprehensive numerics library (LIBBN) API unit tests[edit]

There are more than 300 library functions in our core LIBBN library. As a core library used by nearly every one of BRL-CAD's tools, testing those functions for correct behavior is important.

This task involves implementing a testing framework for LIBBN that exercises every single one of the public API C function calls and reports whether tests pass successfully or not.

Time: <3 days

Code:

  • include/bn.h
  • include/plot3.h
  • include/vmath.h
  • src/libbn

References:

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with C
  • Familiarity with scripting or a testing framework

MEDIUM: Create a comprehensive unit test for bn_dist_pt3_pt3()[edit]

There are more than 300 library functions in our LIBBN numerics library. Creating a comprehensive unit test involves exhaustively exploring all possible inputs to the function, testing them for proper behavior, and characterizing the output in a PASS/FAIL fashion.

Unlike the other testing framework tasks, the goal of this task is comprehensiveness. The task must cover all possible inputs including NULL, -inf, +inf, NaN, real numbers, and other values in most if not all possible combinations.

Time: <2 days

Code:

  • include/bn.h
  • src/libbn

References:

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with unit testing
  • Strong critical thinking skills
  • Basic familiarity with C
  • Familiarity with scripting or a testing framework

EASY: Find, reproduce, confirm, and report any bug in Archer[edit]

Archer is our new modeling interface and a soon-to-be replacement for our long-standing MGED geometry editor. It undoubtedly has bugs. It's your job to find them, but do so in a manner that is so obvious that one of the other devs will be able to instantly reproduce the bug given your instructions. Crashing bugs are best, but may require learning how to use the tool with minimal documentation.

This task involves filing a bug report with verifiable and reproducible steps that clearly demonstrate the bug. It can't be a bug already reported or otherwise documented.

References:


Research[edit]


Tasks related to studying a problem and recommending solutions

EASY: Investigate performance of setting thread affinity[edit]

BRL-CAD's raytrace library (LIBRT) is pervasively multithreaded using routines defined in our basic utility library (LIBBU) for detecting an using multiple CPUs/cores/threads.

This task involves making minor modifications to the LIBBU parallel interface using sched_setaffinity and/or pthread_attr_setaffinity_np (or similar affinity mechanism depending on the platform) and then evaluating the performance impact using our BRL-CAD Benchmark suite ('benchmark' command).

Time: <2 days

Code:

  • src/libbu/parallel.c
  • src/libbu/semaphore.c

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with C code
  • Ability to compile and run BRL-CAD

MEDIUM: Determine why solids.sh fails on 64-bit[edit]

BRL-CAD has a regression test script called solids.sh that creates a bunch of primitives, renders an image of those primitives, and then compares that image to a reference image. On (most?) 64-bit platforms, the test is off by several RGB values for exactly 3 pixels.

This task involves figuring out why, exactly, this is occurring. It may be helpful to compare intermediate computation results from a 32-bit environment to see where the computations diverge, however slightly. Ultimately, the goal is to identify the cause and a recommended course of action to fix the divergence problem.

Time: <2 days

Code:

  • regress/solids.sh

Requirements:

  • Familiarity compiling and debugging C code
  • Access to a 64-bit platform

MEDIUM: Investigate permuted vertex lists from g-iges + iges-g[edit]

BRL-CAD has a geometry exporter and importer for the International Graphics Exchange Standard (IGES) file format. If you run our g-iges exporter on some geometry, then run iges-g on that same geometry to import it back to BRL-CAD format, the geometry will have permuted vertex lists. Particularly for geometry already in polygonal format, such as our NMG or BoT geometry, this conversion should result in identical geometry but presently does not.

This task involves investigating why this occurs, reporting (in detail) why it occurs, and if obvious, making a recommendation on how to fix the problem.

Time: <4 days

Code:

  • src/conv/iges

Requirements:

  • Familiarity compiling and debugging C code
  • Ability to compile and run BRL-CAD's g-iges and iges-g converters

HARD: Investigate GMP integration[edit]

BRL-CAD uses a fastf_t typedef for most all math operations that is usually a "double" floating point type. We would like to provide the option for resorting to exact arithmetic if possible by merely redefining fastf_t to a C++ type sufficiently overloaded to behave the same.

This task would involve implementing a C++ class with overloaded operators such that vmath macro calls still work as well as a sampling of LIBBN API function calls without major changes to the original code. A perfect example case study would be creating the class then testing whether bn_dist_pt3_pt3() and bn_mat_determinant() compute correctly for values that cannot be exactly represented with floating point arithmetic.

Time: <3 days

Code:

  • include/vmath.h
  • include/bn.h

References:

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with C
  • Familiarity with GMP
  • Basic familiarity with (BRL-CAD's) LIBBN

HARD: Investigate the status of our command spreadsheet[edit]

We have a spreadsheet filled with information about all of BRL-CAD's 400+ commands including details about what command line options, inputs, and outputs are supported. The spreadsheet is not complete, however, and hasn't been reviewed in a couple years.

This task involves comprehensively going over the 400+ rows of the spreadsheet to systematically verify that the information is complete and correct, and to fill in missing information where needed. This task requires strong familiarity with the UNIX command line, manual pages, and how to pipe input to/from applications in a variety of formats.

Time: <3 days

Code:

  • src/ .. everywhere

References:

  • Existing spreadsheet available on request

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with C, ability to recognize getopt() option strings
  • Familiarity with the UNIX command line
  • Familiarity with manual pages

Training[edit]


Tasks related to helping others learn more

VERY EASY: LIBBU Doxygen cleanup[edit]

BRL-CAD uses Doxygen for most API documentation but the comment blocks are not optimally set up for Doxygen output. There are approximately 300 documented API function calls in LIBBU.

This task involves cleaning up the Doxygen comments in the library so that useful reports and API documentation is automatically generated (correctly and completely).

Time: <1 day

Code:

  • include/bu.h
  • src/libbu
  • misc/Doxyfile
  • ./configure --enable-documentation

References:

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with Doxygen

EASY: LIBBN Doxygen cleanup[edit]

BRL-CAD uses Doxygen for most API documentation but the comment blocks are not optimally set up for Doxygen output. There are approximately 300 documented API function calls in LIBBN.

This task involves cleaning up the Doxygen comments in the library (i.e., all of the /** */ comments) so that useful reports and API documentation is automatically generated (correctly and completely). The comments should be cleanly wrapped to column 70 with minimal or no embedded leading whitespace.

Time: <2 days

Code:

  • include/bn.h
  • include/plot3.h
  • include/vmath.h
  • src/libbn
  • misc/Doxyfile
  • ./configure --enable-documentation

References:

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with Doxygen

EASY: LIBWDB Doxygen cleanup[edit]

BRL-CAD uses Doxygen for most API documentation but the comment blocks are not optimally set up for Doxygen output. There are approximately 100 documented API function calls in LIBWDB.

This task involves cleaning up the Doxygen comments (i.e., all of the /** */ comments) in the library so that useful reports and API documentation is automatically generated (correctly and completely). The comments should be cleanly wrapped to column 70 with minimal or no embedded leading whitespace.

Time: <2 days

Code:

  • include/wdb.h
  • include/raytrace.h
  • src/libwdb
  • misc/Doxyfile
  • ./configure --enable-documentation

References:

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with Doxygen

MEDIUM: LIBRT Doxygen cleanup[edit]

BRL-CAD uses Doxygen for most API documentation but the comment blocks are not optimally set up for Doxygen output. There are approximately 1000 documented API function calls in LIBRT.

This task involves cleaning up the Doxygen comments (i.e., all of the /** */ comments) in the library so that useful reports and API documentation is automatically generated (correctly and completely). The comments should be cleanly wrapped to column 70 with minimal or no embedded leading whitespace.

Time: <4 days

Code:

  • include/raytrace.h
  • src/librt
  • src/librt/primitives
  • src/librt/comb
  • src/librt/binunif
  • misc/Doxyfile
  • ./configure --enable-documentation

References:

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with Doxygen

MEDIUM: "Introduction to BRL-CAD Tutorial"[edit]

BRL-CAD includes an extensive introduction to MGED tutorial series, but not a succinct introduction to BRL-CAD (the suite).

This task involves writing a brief introduction to BRL-CAD that highlights 10-20 of the core commands through an instructive tutorial. The tutorial should be brief, not exceeding 10 pages total.

Time: <2 days

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with layout software
  • Basic familiarity with BRL-CAD command line tools
  • Basic familiarity with UNIX

MEDIUM: Write a "BRL-CAD Ray Tracing Shaders" tutorial[edit]

BRL-CAD includes numerous shaders that let you specify different optical effects during ray tracing.

This task involves writing a brief tutorial that describes what shaders are and how one specifies them for geometry. How shaders are specified is already described in detail in the Introduction to MGED document.

Time: <4 days

Code:

  • src/liboptical/sh_*.c (for available shader names and corresponding options)

References:

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with BRL-CAD
  • Basic familiarity with word processing software

Translation[edit]


Tasks related to localization

VERY EASY: Translate "BRL-CAD Overview" document[edit]

BRL-CAD has a very brief overview document written in English, encoded in the Docbook XML format (very similar to HTML). http://brlcad.org/wiki/Overview

This task involves translating that document into another language correctly while preserving the existing valid Docbook tagging.

Time: <1 day

References:

Requirements:

  • Proficiency with a second language (not Spanish or Italian)
  • Basic ability to translate technical terms from English to another language
  • Basic familiarity with Docbook formatting and word processing

EASY: Translate a chapter from the Introduction to MGED to Portuguese[edit]

BRL-CAD has an extensive tutorial series in Docbook XML (very similar to HTML) for our MGED geometry editor. We already have a complete translation of the document in Spanish and English. We have a pretty strong Portuguese user base but no documentation in Portuguese. The Spanish translation may help serve as a translation guide.

This task involves picking one of the 16 chapters, the first available for your preferred language, and translating that chapter. You'll provide the translated chapter in the same text-based Docbook XML form you start with.

Time: <1 day

References:

Requirements:

  • Proficiency with Portuguese
  • Ability to use a text editor
  • Basic familiarity with Docbook formatting and word processing

EASY: Translate a chapter from the Introduction to MGED to Mandarin[edit]

BRL-CAD has an extensive tutorial series in Docbook XML (very similar to HTML) for our MGED geometry editor. We already have a complete translation of the document in Spanish and English.

This task involves picking one of the 16 chapters, the first available for your preferred language, and translating that chapter. You'll provide the translated chapter in the same text-based Docbook XML form you start with.

Time: <1 day

References:

Requirements:

  • Proficiency with Mandarin
  • Ability to use a text editor
  • Basic familiarity with Docbook formatting and word processing

EASY: Translate a chapter from the Introduction to MGED to Hindi[edit]

BRL-CAD has an extensive tutorial series in Docbook XML (very similar to HTML) for our MGED geometry editor. We already have a complete translation of the document in Spanish and English.

This task involves picking one of the 16 chapters, the first available for your preferred language, and translating that chapter. You'll provide the translated chapter in the same text-based Docbook XML form you start with.

Time: <1 day

References:

Requirements:

  • Proficiency with Hindi
  • Ability to use a text editor
  • Basic familiarity with Docbook formatting and word processing

EASY: Translate a chapter from the Introduction to MGED[edit]

BRL-CAD has an extensive tutorial series in Docbook XML (very similar to HTML) for our MGED geometry editor. We already have a complete translation of the document in Spanish and English.

This task involves picking one of the 16 chapters, the first available for your preferred language, and translating that chapter. You'll provide the translated chapter in the same text-based Docbook XML form you start with.

Time: <1 day

References:

Requirements:

  • Proficiency with any language other than English and Spanish
  • Preferably proficient with Russian, Arabic, Bengali, German, Japanese, or French
  • Ability to use a text editor
  • Basic familiarity with Docbook formatting and word processing

EASY: Translate our HACKING developer guide[edit]

BRL-CAD has an extensive developer guide text file that gives an overview on how to become involved, ways to contribute, practices and conventions to use, and more.

This task involves faithfully translating our developer guide document into another language.

Time: <1 day

References:

Requirements:

  • Proficiency with a second language
  • Basic ability to translate technical terms from English to another language

MEDIUM: Translate "Principles of Effective Modeling"[edit]

BRL-CAD includes a 75 page document on effective modeling practices that is desirable to have translated to other languages. The document is stored in the Docbook XML format (which is very similar to HTML).

This task involves taking the existing Docbook XML version of the document and translating the content into another language.

Time: <2 days

References:

Requirements:

  • Proficiency with a second language
  • Basic ability to translate technical terms from English to another language
  • Basic familiarity with Docbook formatting and word processing

User Interface[edit]


Tasks related to user experience research or user interface design and interaction

EASY: Design an MGED command spreadsheet[edit]

BRL-CAD's primary solid geometry modeling application is called MGED. MGED contains a comprehensive set of more than 700 commands for manipulating, viewing, and inspecting geometry. There is a need to more effectively manage those commands, characterize them all, and get a "big picture" of the command landscape so that usability may be addressed.

This task involves designing a spreadsheet that will be used to characterize all of MGED's commands.

Time: <2 days

References:

  • An existing spreadsheet already being used for BRL-CAD (i.e., non-MGED) commands is available.

Requirements:

  • Basic ability to use spreadsheet software
  • Ability to characterize information in a useful tabular form

EASY: Create prototype 2D CAD drawing(s)[edit]

BRL-CAD provides limited services for drafting features including the production of 2D CAD drawings (blueprints).

This task involves designing a 2D CAD drawing prototype that effectively captures a set of design requirements and follows industry conventions. Basically, this requires identifying one or more style(s) of drawings that should be supported along with critical elements to be included on each drawing.

Time: <3 days

References:

Requirements:

  • Familiarity with CAD drawings
  • Ability to recognize important features in CAD drawings
  • Familiarity with layout/diagram software

MEDIUM: Create prototype CAD GUI layout diagram[edit]

BRL-CAD's usability is notoriously complex and "expert friendly". MGED and Archer are the main geometry editors, with drastically different user interfaces.

This task involves evaluating the features provided by MGED and Archer, then designing a new GUI layout that encompasses their features while improving usability. Rationale for design decisions and layout should be provided.

Time: < 5 days

References:

Requirements:

  • Basic familiarity with BRL-CAD's MGED and Archer tools
  • Basic familiarity with software usability metrics
  • Familiarity creating a layout prototype

MEDIUM: Reorganize MGED menu[edit]

BRL-CAD's main graphical user interface, MGED, is heavily menu-driven but not exceptionally well organized. This task involves performing an exhaustive review of MGED's various menus, including temporary menus when in a given editing state, reorganizing them for logical groupings, and rewording them for clarity. It's necessary to learn the basics of the MGED interface in order to understand what the various options do.

For this task, you'll provide a description of the existing menus and mapping to a new organization including basic rationale behind any new groupings or rewording.

Time <2 days

References:

Requirements:

  • Basic ability to learn a GUI
  • Basic understanding of usability concepts and ability to organize items logically

HARD: Categorize all of BRL-CAD's commands into a spreadsheet[edit]

BRL-CAD is a suite of more than 400 processing tools, image tools, geometry converters, and more. There is an existing spreadsheet that characterizes all of the available commands in terms of inputs, outputs, and options, but there is insufficient characterization of BRL-CAD's commands as to how they logically group and work together.

This task involves building up a spreadsheet that lists all of our commands, describing a finite set of command categories, and characterizing all commands into those categories while filling in the spreadsheet with details for each command.

Time: <4 days

References:

  • A spreadsheet template will be provided.

Requirements:

  • Basic ability to use spreadsheet software
  • Ability to quickly browse files for information
  • Ability to be methodical and obsessive