← Back to Kevin's newslettersPublished: 2022 July 15

A pen/gesture-based 2D CAD environment

Back in 2015 I designed and machined a walnut cell phone, which was my first experience using constraint-based CAD software like SolidWorks and Inventor. The capabilities of these tools blew my mind; they’re what pop into my mind whenever anyone mentions computers “augmenting the human intellect”.

However, they can also be deeply frustrating in that typical computer fashion of obscuring awesome capabilities behind inane precision mouse clicking and a maze of dialogs, filename pickers, and other finicky UI debris — not the least of which being that my 43 inch monitor means toolbar buttons might be literally several feet of cursor travel away from the work at hand.

In January this year while designing a simple part, all that precision clicking and tedious cursor travel finally pushed me off the deep end — I decided to build my own 2D constraint-based CAD tool, one with blackjack and hookers all commands accessible via a fast and loose pen/gesture interface, like an open bar party for Fitt’s Law.

While I’ve only spent a few months exploring, I’m happy with the vibe of the prototype thus far and am cautiously optimistic that it might join Finda as one of my rare computing yak shaves which graduates from “research project” to “actually useful tool”.

Anyway, I recently gave a talk about my CAD prototype for the Ink and Switch research group, which I’ve published along with my weekly research log; check it out.

Misc. stuff