The projects below serve as a starting point for new developers that would like to work on BRL-CAD. The ideas range from very simple to crazy hard with intense math. Each idea links to a page with more details.
Remember that these are just initial ideas. You must expand on these topics with more detail. You're encouraged to scale the scope up, down, or completely change the goals to fit your experience level. A higher or lower difficulty does not affect your chances of acceptance. There are also several other areas of development that are of high-interest in addition to those below.
Unless there are no qualified applicants, we will be slotting at least one student in each of the three main categories below: High Visibility, STEP Conversion, and Infrastructure.
Be sure to follow our checklist for guidance getting started with your proposal submission if you have not done so already.
BRL-CAD as a project has a number of development areas that represent our "primary" efforts - functionality we are implementing that is fundamentally required to in turn implement a broad range of new features. We will be allocating at least two students to a high visibility project proposal.
|NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines) 3D Geometry||BRL-CAD has recently implemented raytracing support for NURBS-based boundary representation geometry. It's one of our priority focus areas with high impact and high visibility. They are also pretty hard so be careful to have sufficient familiarity and lots of milestones.|
|NURBS Intersections: Evaluate the intersection of two NURBS surfaces. You'll get a 3D curve or a point, line segment, or even a plane depending how the surfaces overlap.||C/C++||HARD||Yapp, Rossberg|
|NURBS Editing Support: BRL-CAD doesn't currently have support for editing NURBS primitives. Fix that.||C/Tcl||MEDIUM||Yapp|
|Vector Drawings from NURBS: Huge impact here if you can update one or more of our raytracers to provide vector output instead of raster. Perhaps render directly to PDF or SVG.||C and/or C++||EASY||Rossberg|
|Code Refactoring||BRL-CAD has more than a million lines of code so we have to continually refactor and clean up code for maintainability. Cruft happens. These projects help reduce the complexity and make things better. They're not very hard at all, but exceedingly valuable to our project vitality.|
|MGED to Archer Command Migration: Our next-generation editor (Archer) needs to have the same (700+) commands that are in MGED. Help make our next CAD interface awesome.||C and Tcl||EASY||Yapp|
|Graphical User Interface (GUI)||Better cross platform support and improved GUI usability are high on BRL-CAD's priority list, but those developments require some fundamental work on our core display libraries.|
|New Cross-Platform 3D Display Manager: BRL-CAD uses display managers for visualizing 3D geometry in a window. We want one that uses a cross-platform toolkit such as Qt + OGRE.||C/C++||MEDIUM||Morrison|
|Geometry Conversion||When it comes to geometry conversion, STEP is the priority.|
|STEP exporter: We have an importer, we need a comprehensive exporter with support for implicit CSG, NURBS, or polygonal mesh geometry.||C/C++||EASY||Yapp, Morrison|
|Geometry Processing||As part of our new GUI development efforts, a lot of code had to be moved out of application space into a library. That library is our geometry editing library, LIBGED. A lot of time, attention, and emphasis is going on there to make sure that all of our core functionality is reusable by applications. More than 100k lines of code have already moved, but there's still a lot more work needed.|
|Add exec option to search: Our LIBGED library provides a search command very similar to the UNIX find command for scanning through geometry. Implement the -exec option.||C||EASY||Yapp|
|Geometric Constraint Solver: Our LIBPC parametric constraint library is the work-in-progress foundation of being able to validate and describe geometry relationships.||C/C++||HARD||Morrison|
We are an invested heavily in the ISO 10303 STEP standard for geometry import and export. Collaborating with the STEPcode community, we will be allocating one or more slots to a qualified capable student to specifically work on a STEP project.
|STEP Coverage Test: Write a program that links against STEPcode and generates a STEP output instantiating every entity for a given schema. Goal is a comprehensive program and data file for testing STEP import/export.||ANY (C/C++, Python, Java, Perl, ...)||HUGE||EASY||Mark, Charlie|
|STEP Incremental Loading: Basically take a work-in-progress to the next level. Modify the STEP parser to only read what it needs when it needs it, test, clean up, profile, and optimize.||C++||BIG||EASY||Mark, Charlie|
|STEP Multiple Protocol Parsing: Currently creates a parser that works with a specific application protocol (e.g., AP203, AP214). Make it work with multiple simultaneously.||C++||HUGE||MEDIUM||Mark, Charlie|
|STEP AP 242 Parser: We already parse a subset of AP203, but the new kid on the block is AP242. Make AP242 work with BRL-CAD's step-g importer.||C++||HUGE||EASY||Mark, Charlie|
|STEP Libraries: We took over NIST's STEP Class Library (SCL) project during our development of a STEP importer. SCL has since turned into a larger community collaboration. The code needs cleanup.||C/C++||HUGE||EASY||Mark, Charlie|
|STEP Viewer: STEP is a common CAD file format supported by just about every major CAD system. Given we have an importer and an interface for displaying geometry, a stand-alone STEP file viewer has some great potential.||C/C++||HUGE||MEDIUM||Mark, Charlie|
Although we have areas of primary focus, there are many other projects that would be very beneficial to BRL-CAD. We will be allocating at least one slot to a qualified and detailed infrastructure proposal from a capable student.
We have high expectations for web development projects because the developer often does not stick around after development is over. We're not interested in web code, we're interested in people. If you're willing to work on your project long after GSoC is over (i.e., joining the project) and are willing to make a long-term commitment to BRL-CAD, then we absolutely welcome your web development project idea.
|Synchronize Wiki with Docbook: We use Docbook for most of our user documentation but find editing a wiki page much easier to use. Set up a system so the two are always in sync.||Depends (likely PHP or Python)||HUGE||MEDIUM||Yapp|
|Benchmark Performance Database: BRL-CAD's Benchmark has been used for two decades to compare performance across configurations. Build a database website.||Depends (likely PHP or Python)||BIG||MEDIUM||Morrison|
|Materials Database: Create a Materials Database web site for collecting, managing, and providing programmatic interfaces to material properties.||Depends (likely PHP or Python)||BIG||MEDIUM||Morrison, Yapp|
|Plate Mode NURBS raytracing: Imported NURBS geometry often does NOT enclose space (i.e., not solid), so add support for specifying an implicit thickness.||C/C++||HUGE||HARD||Morrison|
|NURBS Optimization and Cleanup: We have a fantastic implementation of NURBS evaluation but haven't gone back to clean up or speed it up. Make it purdy.||C/C++||BIG||MEDIUM||Yapp, Morrison|
|Code Reduction: BRL-CAD is more than 1M lines of code. Approximately 10% of that is duplication. Help reduce that percentage.||C||BIG||EASY||Greenwald, Morrison|
|General Tree Walker: We have a half dozen or more functions that will traverse a geometry hierarchy in different ways. There only needs to be one.||C||HUGE||EASY||Greenwald, Yapp, Morrison|
|Rework of libbu/libbn to not require Tcl: Tcl's C API is used throughout BRL-CAD providing great abstractions, but we want our basic utility and numeric libraries (LIBBU & LIBBN) to stand alone.||C||HUGE||EASY||Morrison, Yapp, Greenwald|
|Consolidate image processing: We have 100+ image processing tools that independently read and write file data. Needs much reuse love.||C||HUGE||EASY||Greenwald|
|Fix Bugs: We take pride in our breadth of functionality and time-tested stability. We still have bugs. Identify some and fix 'em!||C||DEPENDS||EASY||TBD|
|Mesh library cleanup: BRL-CAD has an extensive n-manifold polygonal mesh library that needs some refactoring, testing, and optimization rework.||C||HUGE||MEDIUM||Morrison, Rossberg|
The primary environment in which users interact with BRL-CAD geometry is the MGED geometry editor. The "next generation" interface for MGED, dubbed Archer, has been under development for some time but there is a lot of functionality that still needs to be migrated and new features needed by MGED, Archer, or both.
|New Cross-Platform 2D Framebuffer: BRL-CAD uses framebuffers to display 2D imagery. The merits of having a single interface for most platforms is self-evident.||C/C++||HUGE||EASY||Morrison, Yapp|
|GUI Integration of Analysis Tools: There are a lot of visualization tools in BRL-CAD, but most aren't integrated with the GUI. Visualizing directly within the GUI would improve usability.||C||BIG||MEDIUM||Rossberg|
|NMG Editing: Our structured polygonal mesh geometry (N-Manifold Geometry = NMG) is a common export format, but our NMG edit support is non-existent. We need something.||C||HUGE||HARD||Morrison, Rossberg|
|Visualizing Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG): CSG forms a directed acyclic graph. Tree view widgets show a simple hierarchical representation, but we need something better.||C/C++||HUGE||EASY||Morrison|
STEP is an absurdly complicated format, but we're one of the first open source projects to implement a working importer. IGES is a much older standard, but more time-tested too. Both have a variety of potential high-priority projects associated with the.
|STEP importer improvements: We have an importer, but it's preliminary. Add support for importing hierarchy information, polygonal geometry, and implicit geometry.||C/C++||HUGE||MEDIUM||Yapp|
|Convert BoT to Pipe: Command line interface to convert facetted fluid/electrical line geometry into BRL-CAD native pipe solids.||C/C++/Tcl||HUGE||MEDIUM||Morrison|
|IGES import improvements: We have extensive support for the International Geometry Exchange Standard (IGES) with our g-iges and iges-g converters, but they need updating.||C||HUGE||MEDIUM||Morrison|
|Geometry Conversion Library: Probably our biggest open source asset is our extensive collection of importers and exporters. Turn them all into a universal conversion library.||C/C++||HUGE||EASY||Greenwald, Morrison, Rossberg|
|Voxelize command: Convert geometry into voxel data sets by shooting a grid of rays. The finite element analysis and volumetric rendering folks will love you.||C||BIG||EASY||Greenwald, Morrison, Rossberg|
As part of our new GUI development efforts, a lot of code had to be moved out of application space into a library. That library is our geometry editing library, LIBGED. A lot of time, attention, and emphasis is going on there to make sure that all of our core functionality is reusable by applications. More than 100k lines of code have already moved, but there's still a lot more work needed.
|GED Transactions: Migrating functionality from our MGED geometry editor into our LIBGED library provided excellent code reuse, but now we need transactions so that actions can be undone.||C||HUGE||EASY||Morrison|
|Add exec option to search: Our LIBGED library provides a search command very similar to the UNIX find command for scanning through geometry. Implement the -exec option.||C||HUGE||EASY||Yapp|
|Geometry Selection Functionality: Implement a new selection command that lets you temporarily group objects based on spatial, attribute, or geometric properties.||C||HUGE||EASY||Morrison|
|Space Partitioning for Tessellation: Technically an optimization task, make our geometry converters run an order of magnitude faster by using spatial partitioning during tessellation.||C||BIG||HARD||Greenwald, Yapp, Morrison|
|Overlap tool: Resolving geometric interferences (aka overlaps) is a common geometry editing activity. Design an awesome interface for resolving conflicts.||Tcl||HUGE||EASY||Yapp, Morrison, Greenwald|
Raytracing is at the heart of all that is BRL-CAD. The 'rt' application was the world's first distributed parallel ray tracer, implemented in early 80's, and it's backed by our powerful LIBRT library. We're the best as full path shotlines (shooting all the way through geometry, not just first hit) and can handle crazy big geometry very efficiently, very fast. It's how we perform geometric analysis, generate images, perform simulations, and more.
|Shader Enhancements: We have a functioning custom shader system in BRL-CAD, but there are now folks that specialize and there's lot of room for improvements.||C||BIG||EASY||Morrison, Greenwald|
|Material and Shader Objects: This one is a biggie but easy. Implement new object entities for describing shaders and material properties, use them during ray tracing.||C||HUGE||EASY||Morrison|
|NMG Raytracing Performance Improvement: BRL-CAD's structured mesh geometry (N-Manifold Geometry = NMG) needs some time in a profiler. Malloc during raytracing is bad.||C||BIG||HARD||Morrison, Greenwald|
|Generalized abstracted spacial partitioning capability: Need more be said? If you're familiar with BSPs, KD trees, and grid structures, then this one is for you.||C||HUGE||HARD||Greenwald, Morrison|
|High Dynamic Range Support: We don't have displays supporting this yet, but that's never stopped us before. Implement support for images with more than 8-bits per channel.||C and/or C++||BIG||EASY||Greenwald, Yapp|
|Analysis Library: There are various tools in BRL-CAD for calculating weights, moments of inertia, and more. They're stand-alone applications. Turn them into a library.||C||HUGE||HARD||Yapp, Morrison|
BRL-CAD has been used to visualize Hubble up in orbit (before it was launched), simulate light transport (multispectral analyses), model Earth's interior layers (education), and much more but there are lots of coding projects that would really help make BRL-CAD more useful for general science a work.
|Astronomical units: We already go "big", but accurately modeling at a galactic scale redefines that notion...||C||BIG||EASY||Morrison, Greenwald|
|Bending light: Think gravity wells and satellite cameras.||C||BIG||MEDIUM||Morrison|
|Celestial mechanics particle system: Simulate solar systems and galaxies.||C/C++||BIG||MEDIUM||Greenwald|
|Non-vacuum gravity simulator: Simulate falling to earth.||C/C++||BIG||MEDIUM||Greenwald, Morrison, Yapp|
|Polarization: We already do multispectral ray tracing, but don't simulate polarization effects. Implement ray splitting and filtering.||C||BIG||HARD||Morrison, Rossberg|
|Density functions: Accurately represent everything from atmosphere to bone. Implement support for parametric density functions for homogenous materials.||C||BIG||HARD||Rossberg, Morrison|
BRL-CAD includes a variety of tools that utilize networking. Our LIBPKG networking library predates pervasive TCP/IP availability and is time-tested. As BRL-CAD becomes more of an operation-oriented modular infrastructure, improvements to our networking underpinnings become necessary.
|Package Library Extensions: Our network "package" library is old but solid. As decades tick by, though, some implementation assumptions need revisiting.||C||BIG||EASY||Morrison|
Some of these project ideas aren't as detailed or elaborate as the ones above, but would be interesting and useful nonetheless. Please discuss with us before proposing one of these ideas.
Do you have an idea of your own? Let us know and maybe we'll like it too. We're very open to new ideas, areas of academic research, industry applications, and any other ways that may help get you hooked on BRL-CAD development. Just remember that BRL-CAD is a solid modeling CAD suite so keep that in mind when scoping your project.
BRL-CAD operates under group mentorship. That means you can contact anyone, not just the person assigned to you, for assistance. The mailing list and IRC channel are the preferred communication methods.