Steve September 30, 2020

Strong opinions exist on both sides about OpenSCAD. The lightweight program takes megabytes of space, not gigabytes, so many people have a copy, even if they’ve never written a shape. Some people adore the text-only modeling language, and some people abhor the minimal function list. [Johnathon ‘Zalo’ Selstad] appreciates the idea but wants to see something more robust, and he wants to see it in your browser. His project CascadeStudio has a GitHub repo and a live link so you can start tinkering in a new window straight away.

We’re going to assume that anyone reading past this point is familiar with this type of modeling.

At the first keystroke, it is evident that CascadeStudio is different from OpenSCAD. For starters, tooltips reveal that formatting is a little different. A cone in OpenSCAD uses the cylinder() function while CascadeStudio insists that Cylinders() are the same diameter at the top and bottom, but a Cone() tapers. You may also notice the capital letters for CascadeStudio. Minor differences of this scale mean that anyone familiar with one may have speedbumps with the other, but not roadblocks.

In our opinion, the biggest boon to CascadeStudio is that you can send someone a URL, and they will get access to a fully-functional copy. You cannot simultaneously edit like a Google document, but it is conceivable to store a 3D model within a QR code, or an RFID tag, possibly without a URL shortener. Each time you refresh the rendered model by pressing F5, the URL updates, so it is possible to create dated savepoints with your browser bookmarks. You can save and load JSON files if you prefer to download your files, and you can export STEP, STL, and OBJ files for your printer.

Please tell us what you think of CascadeStudio below, and if this changed your mind about text-based modeling. We’ve seen this parametric workhorse tackle everyday tasks like container boxes to high-security keys.

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