a LDraw line adder tool
Lee Gaiteri's Edger
utility allows to create conditional lines between adjacent
facets, and edge lines on outside (unmatched) facets. But it
has a few drawbacks, such as requiring perfect match between
facets (something hard to get because of limited precision of
some tools such as MLCad), and it doesn't manage subparts or
primitives. Since we had a C++ training at job, I suggested
to write an improved version of Edger as an application exercise.
Edger2 is the result...
It is a simple console application, source code
is provided below to anyone willing to integrate it in a more
palatable user interface. You may also use Michael Heidemann
LETGUI front-end (highly recommended!).
package, including program for Windows, documentation,
source files (Visual C++ 6.0), sample files.
V1.0: Initial release
V1.1 (sept 2009): Corrected a bug
preventing inlining of subparts in current folder when used
V1.2 (april 2010): Corrected a bug
that prevented creation on a line for some angles. Added
V1.3 (sept 2010): Now creates conditional
lines on top of existing ones (in primitives) if needed.
Flat angle default is now 0.1° instead of 1°.
V1.4 (feb 2014): When inlining, color
was not properly transmitted to child elements.
The input file may contain any LDraw
type. Primitives and subfiles are ignored unless Edger2
is told to inline them.
Launch a command prompt
Type the command line: Edger2 [options]
Infile, Outfile. Edger2
will create Outfile containing the newly created lines appended
to Infile data (this behavior may be changed with command
line switches described below. Note that if file LdrawCutFileOut
exists it will be overwritten without warning.
Here is a screen shot of a sample run:
How Edger2 works
- Input file is parsed, and its content is stored into
an array. If a -d option is present, conditional lines (-dc)
or edge lines (-de) are deleted and are not stored in the
- If the user selected a subfile (-s or -i options), the
array is scanned and all subfiles/primitives that are found
in defined LDraw path (-l option) are inlined at the end
of the array. This inlining is done in a BFC compliant way.
- We then look for unmatched edges. For each side of triangle/quads,
the array is scanned to see if another element (triangle/quad/edge
line/conditional line) share a common side. If none is found,
an unmatched edge line is added at the end of the array.
This line is colored in red for easy spotting, as un unmatched
edge should not normally occur in a part. Note that side
comparison is done with some error margin (-p option) to
ensure that rounding errors that occur during part creation
are accounted for.
- We then scan the array again, this time to find common
vertices between triangles/quads. When one is found, we
compare the angle a between adjacent elements and
the threshold angles specified with -af, -ac and -ae angles.
- if a < af, the angle is very flat
and no line is created.
- if af < a < ac, the angle is shallow
and a conditional line is created.
- if ac < a < ae, the angle is neither
really shallow nor really sharp. Overlapping conditional
line AND edge lines are created. These lines are created
in green color to attract user attention: one of these
lines must be manually deleted.
- if ae < a, the angle is sharp and an edge
line is created.
- Note that angle a is kept in range 0..90°
if -b option is not specified. With -b the full range 0..180°
is used, but this requires a BFC valid part.
- Note that in the above step, if a -cx or -cv option
is specified, conditional lines are created only if surface
junction is convex (-cx) or concave (-cv).
- Output file is written. Depending on -i option, either
the original form is written, or an expanded version with
primitives/subfiles inlined is created.
From left to right:
- the input file, that might be a section
- Result of Edger2 with default options.
We see that the outside edge of the shape
is now outlined with red edge lines (unmatched
sides), and the sharp angles have an edge
- Same file, but this time LDView is set
to display conditional lines. We see that
Edger2 has also added conditional lines
on all shallow angle quad junctions.
- Here we used -c option. Used to check
the work of Edger2, this option colors newly
added edge lines in pink, and conditional
lines in light blue.
edger2 edg1.dat edg1o1.dat
edger2 -c edg1.dat edg1o2.dat
Here we see the role of precision. -p option
controls the maximum distance between two points
that Edger2 will consider matching. The piece of
this example was built by duplication and rotation
of one section. Because of rounding errors while
doing the rotations (MLCad has limited precision,
LDDP is only slightly better), points of adjacent
facets don't have exactly the same coordinates.
If specified precision is too high, they are too
far away to be considered matching and red non-matching
lines are created. Default value for precision is
Command line: edger2 -p 0.0001 edg1.dat edg1p1.dat
-af parameter specifies the angle between facets
that is flat enough not to need a conditional lines.
On the example shown, -af is set ot 0, and Edger2
needlessly inserts conditional lines on the flat
sides. Default value is -af 1 (1°).
Command line: edger2 -c -af 0 edg1.dat edg1a1.dat
-ae parameter specifies the angle above wich
Edger2 creates normal edge lines. Here we set -ae
to 20°, so sections junction (that have an angle
of about 30°) receive edge lines instead of
conditional ones. Default value for -ae is 60°
Command line: edger2 -c -ae 20 edg1.dat edg1a2.dat
-ac parameter specifies the maximum angle below
wich Edger2 creates conditional lines. Here we set
-ac to 20°, so sections junction (that have
an angle of about 30°) are in the "no mans
land" between conditional lines and edge lines.
They get both an edge line AND a conditional line.
They are both colored in green for easy spotting:
the user will have to manually suppress one of them.
In the resulting LDraw file, the edge line is followed
by the conditional line. This mode is useful to
fine tune 3D files such as LDraw files received
from LEGO Universe Team (see here
for more details).
Command line: edger2 -c -ac 20 edg1.dat edg1a3.dat
Unmatched edge line behavior is controlled
with -u parameter. With -u+ create only unmatched
edges. This option is useful to create the edge
line that will be used for example with Coverer or Ytruder (See also
the usage for T-junction detection at the bottom
of this page). When you don't need these unmatched
lines, use -u-. Note that you may use -u- and -u+
at the same time: in this case Edger2 created no
new lines! We will see below the usage of this possibility.
Edger2 -u+ -c edg1.dat edg1u1.dat
Edger2 -u- -c edg1.dat edg1u2.dat
We can restrict creation of conditional
lines to convex surfaces using command switch -cx,
or to concave surfaces (-cv). Technically conditional
lines are only needed on convex surfaces, but since
LDview smoother needs condlines everywhere to do
its wonderful job, I don't know if this option will
have much use. Of course, Edger2 needs to know inside
from outside to know if the surface is convex or
concave, so a BFCed input file is needed. -cv option
creates conditional lines only on concave surfaces.
Added for the sake of completeness, but should be
even more useless!
The last example shows the need for a file that
has correct orientation for all facets: despite
convex option, conditional lines were added on the
wrongly oriented concave section.
Edger2 -cx -c edg2.dat edg2cx.dat
Edger2 -cv -c edg2.dat edg2cv.dat
Edger2 -cx -c edg2a.dat edg2cxbad.dat
(new in version 1.2) Since
molded parts rarely have sharp edges, Edger2 default
behavior is to assume that angle between facets
normals is between 0 and 90°. This has the benefit
that it works correctly even if the part is a patchwork
of direct and inverted BFC elements. But sometimes
it is useful to be able to manage sharp angles correctly.
In the above example, Edger2 will set conditional
lines instead of edge lines on triangle corners,
especially if condline/edgeline threshold is set
high. With -b option, angle between normals is evaluated
in 0..180° range, but this requires a BFC valid
file to work
Edger2 -ac 70 edgebin.dat edgenob.dat
Edger2 -ac 70 -b edgebin.dat edgeb.dat
-w instructs Edger2 to save only newly created
lines. This behavior is similar to Edger.
Command line: Edger2 -w -c edg1.dat edg1w.dat
-dc and -de options allow to delete
existing lines before regenerating them. Note that
in case of subfiles this only affects the main file,
not the subfiles or primitives, even if -s or -i
option are specified (see below).
Command line: Edger2 -dc -de -ac 30 -ae 50 LUT2543.dat edg3d.dat
Subfile expansion is one important
improvement of Edger2 on Edger. By default Edger2
only looks for missing lines in the main file, but
with this option it will look also in the subfiles/primitives.
Of course this is mainly useful at the mainfile/primitives
boundary, or to create condlines at the junction
between subfiles. This is the case in the example
shown, the four sections forming this wheel receive
conditional lines where they meet. By default, subparts
are only searched in input file folder and relative
\s and \p folders.
Command line: Edger2 -s edg4.dat edg4s.dat
If you want to look also into primitives,
you need to specify your LDraw path. This is done
with the -l option. In addition to input file folder,
Edger2 searches for specified paths. When -l "ldp"
is specified, it searches ldp\p\, ldp\parts\,
ldp\parts\s\, ldp\Unofficial\p\, ldp\Unofficial\p\parts\,
ldp\Unofficial\p\parts\s\. You may have several
-l parameters, adding new search paths.
The example above shows a shape formed by stacked
cylinder and cones primitives, Edger2 adds conditional
lines at the junction. The third image show the
nice smoothing resulting.
Command line: Edger2 -s -l c:\ldraw edg5.dat edg5l.dat
(new in version 1.3) Primitives
such as partial cylinders or spheres have conditional
lines on edge. For cylinders, these integrated conditional
lines are expected to match a tangent plane, for
spheres they match a joining cylinder. If you try
to join something directed inwards, integrated conditional
lines will not show properly while they should (left
image). Edger2 properly creates an overlapping conditional
line in that case (middle image). Note that unfortunately
nothing will prevent the conditional line to appear
at the wrong incidence if you try to join something
directed outwards (third image, file edg6b). Edger2
can't do anything there.
Note that cylinders properly matches other cylinders
(and spheres matches spheres) because conditional
lines on each side complete each other properly.
Command line: Edger2 -s -l c:\ldraw edg6.dat edg6a.dat
Edger2 as an
With the adding of subfile capability (included BFC management
needed for convex/concave options), I had the engine of a BFC-aware
inliner. So I added -i option to write this inline data in the
output file instead of subfile references.
- -i+: expand subfiles and output inlined data with subfile
- -i-: expand subfiles and output inlined data without
These options both output inlined primitives and subfiles.
The second also suppress any comments present in the subfiles.
Use together with both -u- and -u+ options (this prevents
Edger2 to add any new line). The following command inlines the
cones from previous example:
Command line: Edger2 -u- -u+ -i- -l c:\ldraw edg5l.dat edg5linl.dat
Edger2 as a
T-junction and gap checker
T-junctions should be avoided as they can cause
artifact in part display (about T-junctions, see
thread). The example above show a pattern with
many T-junctions and a teeny gap on left side. Using
the unmatched side detection of Edger2 clearly show
these problems as red lines in the middle of the
Command line: Edger2 -u+ -s -l c:\ldraw tjunc.dat tjunco.dat
Viewing the result in wireframe mode show the
- Bad triangulation
- Improper junction with primitive
- Tiny gap