MC, CC & CM Request: Show Job Details on Load in CM

When I load a new job in CM, I often find that I also have to load the C2D file into CC in order to get the details of the job, like it’s starting point, dimensions of the design, etc. I’ve started to try to solve this by convention, by including the basic info in the title of the files, but there’s actually a lot of info that would be helpful to know at cut time, and it’s really cumbersome to include it all.

Request:
Have the design programs save info (either buried in the GCode - if there’s a place for it - or in a “Carbide Sidecar” file) that carries the basic design attributes to be viewable when you load the Job into CM. It would be great to have a button in CM that pops up a dialog that displays (read only) the info, such as:

  • Dimensions of the stock (Width, Height, and Thickness )
  • Dimension Orientation (Top, bottom)
  • Toolpath Zero location (Center, bottom left, etc.)
  • Machine
  • Retract Height
  • Material
  • A free-text Comment field that the designer can use to put any info they’d like to tell the operator

Once you’ve established the mechanism to pass the info between the programs, the sky’s the limit. The display could also show a list of the tools (in order) that will be used by the GCode, so the user can prep for that when they start to load, or show version info, or really anything else the operator might find helpful.

Does anyone else have more info they’d like to see when they load a job?

I feel that this makes the Carbide suite more integrated, and helps promote CC and Meshcam as design tools. Meshcam and CC could provide the same file and info (and likely more). The more I think about it, the more a ubiquitous “Carbide Sidecar” file makes sense - CM would only show the info if the sidecar is in the directory with the GCode. If the file format (JSON?) is shared across all Carbide products, it would really serve to integrate your software and make your design tools even more valuable.

Any chance this might be implemented?

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@GJM I second your request! I have always wanted this option seeing the PC I run CM on does not run CC correctly so I have to take notes before going to the shop and running the project!

the interesting thing is that about half of what you ask for is already put in the .nc file by carbide create as a machine-parse-able comment.

I think the biggest hurdle is a UI one; how to present the information in a useful way that keeps some of the basic simplicity of CM in tact and not come across as super intimidating/confusing.

@fenrus All you really need is a “Job Details” button on the dialog that enables when the GCode is loaded and a sidecar is available. When the user pushes the button, a modal dialog can pop up with the info from the file formatted nicely. OK to clear the dialog. That’s it. The interface will only be “complicated” by a single button (or even info icon)!

I would like this too. My workflow often involves revisiting CC to see what the tool number really means and remind myself of the upcoming toolpaths.

I thought of parsing the JSON of the CC save fie and creating a detailed “Job Report” that I can show in a browser window next to the CM window.

There was a lot of discussion of similar ideas back on the original Shapeoko forums — a fair number of them have shown up at Cutrocket.com so hopefully we’ll get a better solution than folks using plain .txt files and really long filenames such as:

crafttool_stamp_case-lower_left_top-0_768thick_201_polycarbonate_pvclumber.nc

to recreate a recent project from memory.

Parsing the JSON file is a really interesting idea (and presumably what Cutrocket is doing) — I’ve done that in a very basic way, but the .c2d files are just too large for me to deal with at this time w/ the tools I’ve been using — if anyone knows of good libraries/techniques, I’d be glad to hear of them (my limited research hasn’t yielded anything which fits well w/ how I work).

Look at what Adobe did. They had Sidecar files (hidden, companion files) that traveled with the source file. Their software looks for the file with the same name and sidecar extension in the same directory/folder and opens it.

Of course, if it can be added to the .nc file, that’s even better

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I would also reiterate that the file format that is used by CM should be created from ANY of the Carbide design programs. That will make the family of Carbide products feel more integrated.

I would not have CM interpret the C2D file directly, because that will leave Meshcam out of the loop. I would alter both programs to produce a single file (I would imagine that Meshcam may put out more info than CC, but CM would only put up what it sees and tolerate missing info - which is why a format like JSON is practical). That would also keep the file optimally sized.

I don’t have any c2d files big enough to cause problems with any JSON parser I have to hand.

Can you share a candidate file that can be experimented with?

All of the info you need is sitting in the C2D, but again, I wouldn’t use it per se - I’d rather have the info accompanying (or in) the .nc file.

If you bring the c2d into Notepad++ and set the language to JSON, you contract the Curves section and you can see:


Which has a lot of the properties needed

Then if you look into the ToolPath section, you’ll find the Tool objects that gives you the tools to be used - Here’s the info in one of them:

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It’s not a file-size issue, but rather a quantity of data — I’ve been working w/ tiny JSON files from OpenSCAD as noted in: http://tug.org/TUGboat/tb40-2/tb125adams-3d.pdf

but when I make a simple 1" x 2" rectangle and save it from Carbide Create I get a 3,463 byte file — which is more than I really am up to coping with at this point in time — I suppose at some point in time I will have to work out it, but I’m waiting for the next revision of Carbide Create to be sure that there isn’t another major change in the file format.

FWIW, I had similar problems (which I never surmounted) trying to work w/ .inx and .idml files for InDesign

EDIT: Obviously, using an editor which has direct support for JSON will help a lot and I’ll have to look into Notepad ++ (which I’ve used in the past for other projects) — is there a similar (ideally free) editor for the Mac?

Right…so the included file/information would only need a portion of the Document Values section and portions of each of the toolpath’s Tool section. A VERY small bloat.

Found a Chrome Plug In (should run on Mac) for editing JSON files. Was able to do the same filtering, but it found something it didn’t like in the structure of the file that Notepad++ didn’t seem to mind.

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I understand now. I thought you were dealing with them programmatically rather than interactively in an editor - hence my confusion about the size.

If you need a free editor on a mac, perhaps try Visual Studio Code: https://code.visualstudio.com/download

It will edit pretty much anything.

Anyhow, my current default plan when I have time is to simply have a webpage load the C2D file, process it in javascript, and then spit out a report.

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so I already have a pile of tools like this as open source, and was (based on this post) considering adding a gcode inspector/reporter … its on github… help welcome

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This looks like it’s doing quite a bit of analysis for gcode and also capable of recording motion as it’s happening? You were thinking of adding the request to this code base?

basically yes… most of the pieces are there from the other gcode analysis bits…
turning that into a nice report-out does not seem insane

Great. Is that something could be incorporated into CM, or would that have to be a stand-alone product?

so I don’t work for Carbide3D at all

but I have found that asking for features like this goes better if we can visualize what it looks like

I am a big fan of compatibility so whilst parsing the c2d file and creating a sidecar is interesting, it does not help the non-CC world per se. I think the “polished” answer lies in the GCode comment lines, where CC can implement and I suspect Fusion preprocessor can mangle.

eg Fusion360 with C3D preprocessor already puts comments like this at the top of the gcode (for example)

(UFL_SMA_Gang_Bracket)

(T102 D=3.175 CR=0 - ZMIN=-25.8 - flat end mill)

(T304 D=1.587 CR=0 - ZMIN=-10.8 - flat end mill)

Which is easily viewable by hitting the “View” button in the latest CM software. Just having some sort predefined object/value pair inserted by CC or F360(if it can) in comment lines at the top might make things readable for those inclined without adding another CM button.