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3D Printing Day 7: Picking a Software, OpenJsCad

by Carlyn Maw on April 16, 2012, no comments


OpenJsCad is another entry in the “model as programing problem” category. OpenJsCad has more flexibility than OpenSCAD but is currently way less pleasant to use.  OpenJsCad embraces dynamic variables. Even the shapes are variables. OpenSCAD has variables that behave more like glorified constants.  OpenJsCad entered the arena more recently (January 2012) and needs to resolve some interface problems. So while I think in the long run OpenJsCad might prove to be more powerful I didn’t enjoy using it as much.

OpenJsCad is the only software I’ve tried that bridges both worlds in terms of where you interact with it. If installing software locally is not an option, that’s okay – just go to the OpenJsCad home page and use it there. If you want to work offline, downloading the code is an option.

I’m not clear on why but the code does not live in the master branch on github. To get the actual source I had to go the the gh-pages branch and download the zip (rather than just clone the repository). After the unpacking the archive file I pointed Chrome to the index.html file included and everything worked perfectly.  Not quite as brain-dead easy as downloading an executable, but it would be possible to create models while lounging on a beautiful deserted island.

I didn’t read anything that wasn’t either on or linked to the OpenJsCad project front page and still managed to do my model in under an hour. Having already logically plotted things out using OpenSCAD may have helped, but OpenJsCad uses pretty standard conventions that will be comfortable to JavaScripters.

I did all my actual typing in BBEdit since the code window is small and “below the fold” when working on a laptop. I did not like that I couldn’t see the code, model and status messages all at the same time.


The Stats


Version ?


Target Demographic
  • Ideal Object – Algorithmicly generatived objets
  • Ideal User – Programer/Programaticaly inclined, intermediate


  • OpenSource – Yes
  • Free– Yes
  • Premium Version – No
  • Linux Version – N/A
  • Browser Based – Yes
  • Requires Internet Acces – No, if installed locally


Privacy, Community & Learning
  • StalkerWare – No
  • Private Files – Yes
  • Official Community Repository – No where I found (Other than Thingiverse)
  • Instashare – No
  • Collaborative Editing: Nothing built in, but whatever works for code will work for OpenJsCad
  • Official Tutorials – Examples provided
  • Community Tutorials – Didn’t not find a ton, didn’t look very hard


  • How many tutorials/videos to build first project – looked at 3 examples
  • Default Bkg Color – white
  • Good for Computer Beginners – Maybe
  • Requires 3 Button Mouse – No
  • Real-world units – No
  • Numeric controls – It’s ALL numeric…
  • WYSIWYG– Yes, but not directly editable, only a render of the code
  • Scripting – Yes (Duh)
  • Plugins & Extensions – The code is open source, I didn’t not notice plugins or libraries


  • Format Types: None
  • Direct to STL – YES
  • Format Types: STL
  • Adjust scale on output – No
  • Direct to Printing Service – No