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7 Open-Source Software Options for Architects | Architect Magazine

With technology becoming an increasingly significant expenditure, here are several free, open-source options suitable for the design workflow.

courtesy Ladybug Tools Sunlight analysis via Ladybug Tools
courtesy Ladybug Tools Sunlight analysis via Ladybug Tools

 

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Software is increasingly a top expense for architecture and design firms. With many software applications and file formats becoming de facto industry standards, firms are increasingly tied to commercial software publishers. Many in the software industry have moved from selling software as a one-time purchase—which would remain usable after it was fully paid for—to a recurring monthly subscription model—in which the tool loses functionality if the user stops paying. As a result, companies across industries have seen their monthly software expenses grow. One way that architecture and design firms can alleviate this financial burden and still have access to the software and technology necessary to run their businesses is to explore open-source alternatives, whose numbers have increased in recent years.

Open-source software is released under a specific license that gives users the right to download, use, or change the software and its source code. Unlike commercial software, which typically has a protected source code and proprietary file formats, open-source software projects are not profit-driven and encourage users to modify and share their code with the wider community. Often the goal of these projects is to develop applications that can accommodate multiple viewpoints and ways of working. Some well-known open-source projects include the Linux operating system, the WordPress web publishing platform, and the audio-editing application Audacity.

Open-Source Options

The promise of free, open-source software may sound great, and, importantly, many open-source applications are suitable for the design workflow, particularly as architects take on more digital tasks. Below, I list seven options to consider, ranging from 3D modeling tools to energy analysis applications.

Cristian Taborda Mejía / 77 Render Studio Rendering process created with Blender Cycles
Cristian Taborda Mejía / 77 Render Studio Rendering process created with Blender Cycles

Blender
Blender is a free and open-source suite of 3D modeling tools that provides modeling, rendering, animation, and simulation capabilities. Though the suite is geared more toward visual effects and character animation than architectural applications, a community of users offers tutorials and resources for the AEC professional through websites such as Blender3DArchitect. Blender does not directly import proprietary file formats like Autodesk’s DWG or RVT, but it can import open formats such as DXF. blender3d.com

The GIMP Team via a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License A screenshot with the caption: "GIMP running on Microsoft Windows features a widget theme mimicking the native environment"
The GIMP Team via a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License A screenshot with the caption: “GIMP running on Microsoft Windows features a widget theme mimicking the native environment”

Read on >>>> Source: 7 Open-Source Software Options for Architects | Architect Magazine

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