Besides the standard object types such as annotations, meshes and parts objects, FreeCAD also offers the amazing possibility to build 100% python-scripted objects, called Python Features. Those objects will behave exactly as any other FreeCAD object, and are saved and restored automatically on file save/load.

One particularity must be understood, those objects are saved in FreeCAD FcStd files with python's json module. That module turns a python object as a string, allowing it to be added to the saved file. On load, the json module uses that string to recreate the original object, provided it has access to the source code that created the object. This means that if you save such a custom object and open it on a machine where the python code that generated the object is not present, the object won't be recreated. If you distribute such objects to others, you will need to distribute the python script that created it together.

Python Features follow the same rule as all FreeCAD features: they are separated into App and GUI parts. The app part, the Document Object, defines the geometry of our object, while its GUI part, the View Provider Object, defines how the object will be drawn on screen. The View Provider Object, as any other FreeCAD feature, is only available when you run FreeCAD in its own GUI. There are several properties and methods available to build your object. Properties must be of any of the predefined properties types that FreeCAD offers, and will appear in the property view window, so they can be edited by the user. This way, FeaturePython objects are truly and totally parametric. you can define properties for the Object and its ViewObject separately.

Hint: In former versions we used Python's cPickle module. However, this module executes arbitrary code and thus causes a security problem. Thus, we moved to Python's json module.

Basic example

The following sample can be found in the src/Mod/TemplatePyMod/FeaturePython.py file, together with several other examples:

'''Examples for a feature class and its view provider.'''

import FreeCAD, FreeCADGui
from pivy import coin

class Box:
    def __init__(self, obj):
        '''Add some custom properties to our box feature'''
        obj.addProperty("App::PropertyLength","Length","Box","Length of the box").Length=1.0
        obj.addProperty("App::PropertyLength","Width","Box","Width of the box").Width=1.0
        obj.addProperty("App::PropertyLength","Height","Box", "Height of the box").Height=1.0
        obj.Proxy = self
   
    def onChanged(self, fp, prop):
        '''Do something when a property has changed'''
        FreeCAD.Console.PrintMessage("Change property: " + str(prop) + "\n")
 
    def execute(self, fp):
        '''Do something when doing a recomputation, this method is mandatory'''
        FreeCAD.Console.PrintMessage("Recompute Python Box feature\n")
 
class ViewProviderBox:
    def __init__(self, obj):
        '''Set this object to the proxy object of the actual view provider'''
        obj.addProperty("App::PropertyColor","Color","Box","Color of the box").Color=(1.0,0.0,0.0)
        obj.Proxy = self
 
    def attach(self, obj):
        '''Setup the scene sub-graph of the view provider, this method is mandatory'''
        self.shaded = coin.SoGroup()
        self.wireframe = coin.SoGroup()
        self.scale = coin.SoScale()
        self.color = coin.SoBaseColor()
       
        data=coin.SoCube()
        self.shaded.addChild(self.scale)
        self.shaded.addChild(self.color)
        self.shaded.addChild(data)
        obj.addDisplayMode(self.shaded,"Shaded");
        style=coin.SoDrawStyle()
        style.style = coin.SoDrawStyle.LINES
        self.wireframe.addChild(style)
        self.wireframe.addChild(self.scale)
        self.wireframe.addChild(self.color)
        self.wireframe.addChild(data)
        obj.addDisplayMode(self.wireframe,"Wireframe");
        self.onChanged(obj,"Color")
 
    def updateData(self, fp, prop):
        '''If a property of the handled feature has changed we have the chance to handle this here'''
        # fp is the handled feature, prop is the name of the property that has changed
        l = fp.getPropertyByName("Length")
        w = fp.getPropertyByName("Width")
        h = fp.getPropertyByName("Height")
        self.scale.scaleFactor.setValue(float(l),float(w),float(h))
        pass
 
    def getDisplayModes(self,obj):
        '''Return a list of display modes.'''
        modes=[]
        modes.append("Shaded")
        modes.append("Wireframe")
        return modes
 
    def getDefaultDisplayMode(self):
        '''Return the name of the default display mode. It must be defined in getDisplayModes.'''
        return "Shaded"
 
    def setDisplayMode(self,mode):
        '''Map the display mode defined in attach with those defined in getDisplayModes.\
                Since they have the same names nothing needs to be done. This method is optional'''
        return mode
 
    def onChanged(self, vp, prop):
        '''Here we can do something when a single property got changed'''
        FreeCAD.Console.PrintMessage("Change property: " + str(prop) + "\n")
        if prop == "Color":
            c = vp.getPropertyByName("Color")
            self.color.rgb.setValue(c[0],c[1],c[2])
 
    def getIcon(self):
        '''Return the icon in XPM format which will appear in the tree view. This method is\
                optional and if not defined a default icon is shown.'''
        return """
            /* XPM */
            static const char * ViewProviderBox_xpm[] = {
            "16 16 6 1",
            "   c None",
            ".  c #141010",
            "+  c #615BD2",
            "@  c #C39D55",
            "#  c #000000",
            "$  c #57C355",
            "        ........",
            "   ......++..+..",
            "   .@@@@.++..++.",
            "   .@@@@.++..++.",
            "   .@@  .++++++.",
            "  ..@@  .++..++.",
            "###@@@@ .++..++.",
            "##$.@@$#.++++++.",
            "#$#$.$$$........",
            "#$$#######      ",
            "#$$#$$$$$#      ",
            "#$$#$$$$$#      ",
            "#$$#$$$$$#      ",
            " #$#$$$$$#      ",
            "  ##$$$$$#      ",
            "   #######      "};
            """
 
    def __getstate__(self):
        '''When saving the document this object gets stored using Python's json module.\
                Since we have some un-serializable parts here -- the Coin stuff -- we must define this method\
                to return a tuple of all serializable objects or None.'''
        return None
 
    def __setstate__(self,state):
        '''When restoring the serialized object from document we have the chance to set some internals here.\
                Since no data were serialized nothing needs to be done here.'''
        return None
 
 
def makeBox():
    FreeCAD.newDocument()
    a=FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.addObject("App::FeaturePython","Box")
    Box(a)
    ViewProviderBox(a.ViewObject)

makeBox() 

Available properties

Properties are the true building stones of FeaturePython objects. Through them, the user will be able to interact and modify your object. After creating a new FeaturePython object in your document ( obj=FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.addObject("App::FeaturePython","Box") ), you can get a list of the available properties by issuing:

obj.supportedProperties() 

You will get a list of available properties:

App::PropertyBool
App::PropertyBoolList
App::PropertyFloat
App::PropertyFloatList
App::PropertyFloatConstraint
App::PropertyQuantity
App::PropertyQuantityConstraint
App::PropertyAngle
App::PropertyDistance
App::PropertyLength
App::PropertySpeed
App::PropertyAcceleration
App::PropertyForce
App::PropertyPressure
App::PropertyInteger
App::PropertyIntegerConstraint
App::PropertyPercent
App::PropertyEnumeration
App::PropertyIntegerList
App::PropertyIntegerSet
App::PropertyMap
App::PropertyString
App::PropertyUUID
App::PropertyFont
App::PropertyStringList
App::PropertyLink
App::PropertyLinkSub
App::PropertyLinkList
App::PropertyLinkSubList
App::PropertyMatrix
App::PropertyVector
App::PropertyVectorList
App::PropertyPlacement
App::PropertyPlacementLink
App::PropertyColor
App::PropertyColorList
App::PropertyMaterial
App::PropertyPath
App::PropertyFile
App::PropertyFileIncluded
App::PropertyPythonObject
Part::PropertyPartShape
Part::PropertyGeometryList
Part::PropertyShapeHistory
Part::PropertyFilletEdges
Sketcher::PropertyConstraintList 

When adding properties to your custom objects, take care of this:

  • Do not use characters "<" or ">" in the properties descriptions (that would break the xml pieces in the .fcstd file)
  • Properties are stored alphabetically in a .fcstd file. If you have a shape in your properties, any property whose name comes after "Shape" in alphabetic order, will be loaded AFTER the shape, which can cause strange behaviours.

Property Type

By default the properties can be updated. It is possible to make the properties read-only, for instance in the case one wants to show the result of a method. It is also possible to hide the property. The property type can be set using

obj.setEditorMode("MyPropertyName", mode) 

where mode is a short int that can be set to:

 0 -- default mode, read and write
 1 -- read-only
 2 -- hidden

The EditorModes are not set at FreeCAD file reload. This could to be done by the __setstate__ function. See http://forum.freecadweb.org/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=13460&start=10#p108072. By using the setEditorMode the properties are only read only in PropertyEditor. They could still be changed from python. To really make them read only the setting has to be passed directly inside the addProperty function. See http://forum.freecadweb.org/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=13460&start=20#p109709 for an example.

Other more complex example

This example makes use of the Part Module to create an octahedron, then creates its coin representation with pivy.

First is the Document object itself:

import FreeCAD, FreeCADGui, Part
import pivy
from pivy import coin

class Octahedron:
  def __init__(self, obj):
     "Add some custom properties to our box feature"
     obj.addProperty("App::PropertyLength","Length","Octahedron","Length of the octahedron").Length=1.0
     obj.addProperty("App::PropertyLength","Width","Octahedron","Width of the octahedron").Width=1.0
     obj.addProperty("App::PropertyLength","Height","Octahedron", "Height of the octahedron").Height=1.0
     obj.addProperty("Part::PropertyPartShape","Shape","Octahedron", "Shape of the octahedron")
     obj.Proxy = self

  def execute(self, fp):
     # Define six vetices for the shape
     v1 = FreeCAD.Vector(0,0,0)
     v2 = FreeCAD.Vector(fp.Length,0,0)
     v3 = FreeCAD.Vector(0,fp.Width,0)
     v4 = FreeCAD.Vector(fp.Length,fp.Width,0)
     v5 = FreeCAD.Vector(fp.Length/2,fp.Width/2,fp.Height/2)
     v6 = FreeCAD.Vector(fp.Length/2,fp.Width/2,-fp.Height/2)
     
     # Make the wires/faces
     f1 = self.make_face(v1,v2,v5)
     f2 = self.make_face(v2,v4,v5)
     f3 = self.make_face(v4,v3,v5)
     f4 = self.make_face(v3,v1,v5)
     f5 = self.make_face(v2,v1,v6)
     f6 = self.make_face(v4,v2,v6)
     f7 = self.make_face(v3,v4,v6)
     f8 = self.make_face(v1,v3,v6)
     shell=Part.makeShell([f1,f2,f3,f4,f5,f6,f7,f8])
     solid=Part.makeSolid(shell)
     fp.Shape = solid

  # helper mehod to create the faces
  def make_face(self,v1,v2,v3):
     wire = Part.makePolygon([v1,v2,v3,v1])
     face = Part.Face(wire)
     return face 

Then, we have the view provider object, responsible for showing the object in the 3D scene:

class ViewProviderOctahedron:
  def __init__(self, obj):
     "Set this object to the proxy object of the actual view provider"
     obj.addProperty("App::PropertyColor","Color","Octahedron","Color of the octahedron").Color=(1.0,0.0,0.0)
     obj.Proxy = self

  def attach(self, obj):
     "Setup the scene sub-graph of the view provider, this method is mandatory"
     self.shaded = coin.SoGroup()
     self.wireframe = coin.SoGroup()
     self.scale = coin.SoScale()
     self.color = coin.SoBaseColor()

     self.data=coin.SoCoordinate3()
     self.face=coin.SoIndexedLineSet()

     self.shaded.addChild(self.scale)
     self.shaded.addChild(self.color)
     self.shaded.addChild(self.data)
     self.shaded.addChild(self.face)
     obj.addDisplayMode(self.shaded,"Shaded");
     style=coin.SoDrawStyle()
     style.style = coin.SoDrawStyle.LINES
     self.wireframe.addChild(style)
     self.wireframe.addChild(self.scale)
     self.wireframe.addChild(self.color)
     self.wireframe.addChild(self.data)
     self.wireframe.addChild(self.face)
     obj.addDisplayMode(self.wireframe,"Wireframe");
     self.onChanged(obj,"Color")

  def updateData(self, fp, prop):
     "If a property of the handled feature has changed we have the chance to handle this here"
     # fp is the handled feature, prop is the name of the property that has changed
     if prop == "Shape":
        s = fp.getPropertyByName("Shape")
        self.data.point.setNum(6)
        cnt=0
        for i in s.Vertexes:
           self.data.point.set1Value(cnt,i.X,i.Y,i.Z)
           cnt=cnt+1
        
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(0,0)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(1,1)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(2,2)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(3,-1)

        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(4,1)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(5,3)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(6,2)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(7,-1)

        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(8,3)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(9,4)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(10,2)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(11,-1)

        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(12,4)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(13,0)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(14,2)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(15,-1)

        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(16,1)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(17,0)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(18,5)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(19,-1)

        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(20,3)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(21,1)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(22,5)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(23,-1)

        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(24,4)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(25,3)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(26,5)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(27,-1)

        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(28,0)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(29,4)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(30,5)
        self.face.coordIndex.set1Value(31,-1)

  def getDisplayModes(self,obj):
     "Return a list of display modes."
     modes=[]
     modes.append("Shaded")
     modes.append("Wireframe")
     return modes

  def getDefaultDisplayMode(self):
     "Return the name of the default display mode. It must be defined in getDisplayModes."
     return "Shaded"

  def setDisplayMode(self,mode):
     return mode

  def onChanged(self, vp, prop):
     "Here we can do something when a single property got changed"
     FreeCAD.Console.PrintMessage("Change property: " + str(prop) + "\n")
     if prop == "Color":
        c = vp.getPropertyByName("Color")
        self.color.rgb.setValue(c[0],c[1],c[2])

  def getIcon(self):
     return """
        /* XPM */
        static const char * ViewProviderBox_xpm[] = {
        "16 16 6 1",
        "    c None",
        ".   c #141010",
        "+   c #615BD2",
        "@   c #C39D55",
        "#   c #000000",
        "$   c #57C355",
        "        ........",
        "   ......++..+..",
        "   .@@@@.++..++.",
        "   .@@@@.++..++.",
        "   .@@  .++++++.",
        "  ..@@  .++..++.",
        "###@@@@ .++..++.",
        "##$.@@$#.++++++.",
        "#$#$.$$$........",
        "#$$#######      ",
        "#$$#$$$$$#      ",
        "#$$#$$$$$#      ",
        "#$$#$$$$$#      ",
        " #$#$$$$$#      ",
        "  ##$$$$$#      ",
        "   #######      "};
        """

  def __getstate__(self):
     return None

  def __setstate__(self,state):
     return None 

Finally, once our object and its viewobject are defined, we just need to call them:

FreeCAD.newDocument()
a=FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.addObject("App::FeaturePython","Octahedron")
Octahedron(a)
ViewProviderOctahedron(a.ViewObject) 

Making objects selectable

If you want to make your object selectable, or at least part of it, by clicking on it in the viewport, you must include its coin geometry inside a SoFCSelection node. If your object has complex representation, with widgets, annotations, etc, you might want to include only a part of it in a SoFCSelection. Everything that is a SoFCSelection is constantly scanned by FreeCAD to detect selection/preselection, so it makes sense try not to overload it with unneeded scanning. This is what you would do to include a self.face from the example above:

selectionNode = coin.SoType.fromName("SoFCSelection").createInstance()
selectionNode.documentName.setValue(FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.Name)
selectionNode.objectName.setValue(obj.Object.Name) # here obj is the ViewObject, we need its associated App Object
selectionNode.subElementName.setValue("Face")
selectNode.addChild(self.face)
...
self.shaded.addChild(selectionNode)
self.wireframe.addChild(selectionNode) 

Simply, you create a SoFCSelection node, then you add your geometry nodes to it, then you add it to your main node, instead of adding your geometry nodes directly.

Working with simple shapes

If your parametric object simply outputs a shape, you don't need to use a view provider object. The shape will be displayed using FreeCAD's standard shape representation:

import FreeCAD as App
import FreeCADGui
import FreeCAD
import Part
class Line:
    def __init__(self, obj):
        '''"App two point properties" '''
        obj.addProperty("App::PropertyVector","p1","Line","Start point")
        obj.addProperty("App::PropertyVector","p2","Line","End point").p2=FreeCAD.Vector(1,0,0)
        obj.Proxy = self

    def execute(self, fp):
        '''"Print a short message when doing a recomputation, this method is mandatory" '''
        fp.Shape = Part.makeLine(fp.p1,fp.p2)

a=FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.addObject("Part::FeaturePython","Line")
Line(a)
a.ViewObject.Proxy=0 # just set it to something different from None (this assignment is needed to run an internal notification)
FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.recompute() 

Same code with use ViewProviderLine

import FreeCAD as App
import FreeCADGui
import FreeCAD
import Part

class Line:
    def __init__(self, obj):
         '''"App two point properties" '''
         obj.addProperty("App::PropertyVector","p1","Line","Start point")
         obj.addProperty("App::PropertyVector","p2","Line","End point").p2=FreeCAD.Vector(100,0,0)
         obj.Proxy = self
   
    def execute(self, fp):
        '''"Print a short message when doing a recomputation, this method is mandatory" '''
        fp.Shape = Part.makeLine(fp.p1,fp.p2)

class ViewProviderLine:
   def __init__(self, obj):
      ''' Set this object to the proxy object of the actual view provider '''
      obj.Proxy = self

   def getDefaultDisplayMode(self):
      ''' Return the name of the default display mode. It must be defined in getDisplayModes. '''
      return "Flat Lines"

a=FreeCAD.ActiveDocument.addObject("Part::FeaturePython","Line")
Line(a)
ViewProviderLine(a.ViewObject)
App.ActiveDocument.recompute() 


Further informations

There are a few very interesting forum threads about scripted objects:

- http://forum.freecadweb.org/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=13740

- http://forum.freecadweb.org/viewtopic.php?t=12139

In addition to the examples presented here have a look at FreeCAD source code src/Mod/TemplatePyMod/FeaturePython.py for more examples.

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