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Building FreeCAD from source on Windows

FreeCAD is a free, open source 3D CAD program. You can get the 0.14 version from the website, but it's rather old. So let's build the latest 64 bit version from source.

What you need to have installed

The tools I've been using for this guide are:

Python should be included in your system path. This can be confirmed by opening cmd and running python.exe. It should look like this:

Python in CMD window
Python in CMD window

Getting the source

Fire up Git Bash to create a working directory, a build directory and obtain the source:

cd /c
mkdir FreeCAD
cd FreeCAD/
mkdir build
git clone git://git.code.sf.net/p/free-cad/code freecad-master

Next grab the appropriate library package and unpack it in a subdir in your working directory.

FreeCAD LibPack 11.0 x86_64 VC12

Extracted the library directory should look like this:

bin
include
lib
share
src
tools
MANIFEST.db

The bin directory needs to be copied to C:\FreeCad\build. After this we need to dump the whole contents of the library pack directory in the source directory: C:\FreeCAD\FreeCADLibs_11.0_x64_VC12\* to C:\FreeCAD\freecad_master\.

Configuring the build

For this we fire up the CMake GUI and point it to the proper locations:

CMake GUI for FreeCAD
CMake GUI for FreeCAD

First hit configure, you should be getting a list of build options now. The ones that break for me are: BUILD_CAM, BUILD_TEMPLATE, BUILD_VR and FREECAD_USE_3DCONNEXION. I also needed to enable FREECAD_USE_EXTERNAL_PIVI, not sure why yet.

If all went well, hit generate.

Building

Next up is Visual Studio. Navigate to FILE -> Open -> Project/Solution -> C:\FreeCAD\build\FreeCAD_trunk.sln. Get a coffee...

Change the drop down menu from Debug to Release, hit F6 (Build Solution) and take that walk outside you've been avoiding.

Getting it to run

Now for me running as instructed on the FreeCAD Wiki, from Visual Studio, didn't work well at all. What I ended up doing was copying the all DLL files from my freecad_master\bin directory to build\bin. Then you can just run freecad.exe.

FreeCAD version
FreeCAD version

Further reading