Google Summer of Code/Project Ideas
The projects below should serve as a good starting point for new developers that would like to work on BRL-CAD. The ideas range from very hard and math intense to very easy. Each idea links to a page with more details.
You are welcome to scale the scope of the project up or down as needed as the ideas suggested below are merely starting points. There are also several other areas of development that are of high-interest in addition to those below.
- 1 Project Categories
- 1.1 Web Development Projects
- 1.2 NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines) Projects
- 1.3 Collaborative Projects
- 1.4 Code Refactoring Projects
- 1.5 Graphical User Interface (GUI) Projects
- 1.6 Geometry Conversion Projects
- 1.7 Geometry Processing Projects
- 1.8 Rendering & Analysis Projects
- 1.9 Scientific Projects
- 1.10 Networking Projects
- 1.11 Other Tool Projects
- 1.12 <AN IDEA OF YOUR OWN>
- 2 Mentors
Web Development Projects
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||Browder, 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|
NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines) Projects
BRL-CAD has recently implemented raytracing support for NURBS-based boundary representation geometry. It's one of our hot-topic 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++||HUGE||HARD||Davisson, Yapp, Bowman, Rossberg|
|NURBS Editing Support: BRL-CAD doesn't currently have support for editing NURBS primitives. Fix that.||C/Tcl||BIG||MEDIUM||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||Davisson, Morrison, Bowman|
|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, Bowman, Morrison|
BRL-CAD utilizes lots of 3rd party dependencies that requires active maintenance and development. These projects aim to improve those dependencies directly so that they not only benefit BRL-CAD, but help improve other projects also using them.
|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||Gillich, Yapp|
|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||Yapp|
Code Refactoring Projects
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.
|Code Reduction: BRL-CAD is more than 1M lines of code. Approximately 10% of that is duplication. Help reduce that percentage.||C||BIG||EASY||Hinesley, Greenwald, Morrison, Gillich|
|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||HUGE||EASY||Hinesley, Yapp, Browder|
|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, Hinesley, 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, Hinesley|
|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||Browder, Hinesley, Gillich, Weiss|
|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, Weiss, Browder, Rossberg|
Graphical User Interface (GUI) Projects
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 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++||HUGE||MEDIUM||Morrison|
|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||Browder, Rossberg, Gillich|
|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||Weiss, 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, Browder|
Geometry Conversion Projects
When it comes to geometry conversion, STEP and IGES are the priority. 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.
|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, Anderson|
|STEP exporter: We have an importer, we need a comprehensive exporter with support for implicit CSG, NURBS, or polygonal mesh geometry.||C/C++||HUGE||EASY||Bowman, Yapp, Morrison|
|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||Bowman, Yapp|
|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, Hinesley|
|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||Hinesley, Greenwald, Morrison, Gillich, Rossberg|
Geometry Processing Projects
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, Hinesley|
|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||Hinesley, Morrison|
|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++||HUGE||HARD||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||Browder, Yapp, Morrison, Greenwald|
Rendering & Analysis Projects
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, Bowman|
|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|
|Vector output from raytracing: 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++||HUGE||EASY||Browder, Rossberg|
|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||Browder, 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, Davsisson|
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|
Other Tool Projects
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.
- Automated exploded view tool (C/C++/Tcl)
- Automated cutaway view tool (C/C++/Tcl)
- Converter completion so all current formats have both import and export (C)
- GUI Animation editor/creator (C/Tcl)
- Blender file format converter (C)
- Object-oriented interfaces (C/C++)
- Improved clone/pattern tool (C/Tcl)
<AN IDEA OF YOUR OWN>
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.
- Passion for the task being suggested
- Buy-in from one of the existing developers
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.
- Christopher Sean Morrison
- brlcad on irc.freenode.net
- Org admin, core dev, open source project lead
- Erik Greenwald
- ``Erik on irc.freenode.net
- Org admin, core dev
- Cliff Yapp
- starseeker on irc.freenode.net
- Mentor, core dev
- Daniel Rossberg
- d_rossberg on irc.freenode.net
- Mentor, core dev, math expert
- Tom Browder
- brlcad-devel maling list
- Mentor, analysis, code support
- Brandon Hinesley
- bhinesley on irc.freenode.net
- Mentor, former GSoC student