DMM Varkon® Tutorial
A Beginner's Guide to the Varkon Parametric Modeling and CAD Application Development System
By David M. MacMillan
Varkon is a parametric modeling system from Microform AB in Sweden. The Linux version of Varkon is shareware and is distributed under license at no cost.
The postal address for Microform AB is:
Though Varkon is more than a conventional CAD system, it can be used as a CAD system. However, Varkon is an unusual system which differs greatly in feel from conventional CAD systems. As a result, the first step of the learning curve is a big one. Using Varkon means thinking in ways that may be very new.
Why use Varkon, then?
I chose to use Varkon because of a perhaps unusual, twofold set of requirements. First, I wanted to remain within a Linux environment. Second, I wanted to use my CAD program to accomplish certain goals in my hobby, model engineering. I needed to be able to produce relatively simple drawings for shop use, and I wanted to be able to produce drawings for use in my writing about these projects. One additional requirement implied by this was the ability to show the position of a mechanism (such as the cylinder of an oscillating steam engine) in an arbitrary position. The ability to do this would allow me to construct illustrations showing the principles of operation of machines and mechanisms.
Beyond this, Varkon is a system conceived around a programming paradigm. To me, as a programmer, Varkon's approach seems intuitively the right way to go.
In the process of looking for a Linux CAD system, I investigated a number of alternatives. Some of these are noted below.
Note that there is an excellent meta-source for Linux software, the Linux Applications and Utilities Page at:
Since beginning this Tutorial, I've become aware of a commercial product called VariCAD. I haven't yet had the opportunity to use this system, so I can't comment further. A free demo version for Linux is available in both conventional tar and RedHat RPM formats. See:
At the time of writing, an "Academic" version of BentleyTM Systems' MicroStation ® CAD was available for Linux.
AC3D (Andy Colebourne 3D) is a fast, easy 3d modeler available as shareware
AERO, the Animation Editor for Realistic Object movement, is a physical system modeler. It allows you to define rigid-body systems which, when animated, obey the laws of physics.
BRL-CAD ® is a true Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG) solid modeler. Although BRL-CAD is a sophisticated system capable of many operations not possible in ordinary CAD programs, it differs from ordinary CAD programs in that it is designed to model physical systems rather than to produce drawings.
A free (no support services) version of BRL-CAD is available at no cost from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. You must complete and return to them a distribution agreement. This distribution is in source code form.
A Linux port by Michael Lamertz of an older version of this program is available at:
The Mind's Eye project is undertaking the development of an ambitious modeler/animation program for Linux.
Sced (SCene EDitor) is an extremely sophisticated constraint-based 3D modeler developed by Prof. Stephen Chenney. Sceda is an extention of sced by Denis McLaughlin which supports animation.
tgif is an excellent 2-D drawing program developed by William Chia-Wei Cheng email@example.com
It has been rumored that version 3.5 of CorelDRAW TM or ® is available for Linux. There is some information at:
However, I have not been able to find out any more about this.
With the exception of any material noted as being in the public domain, the text, images, and encoding of this document are copyright © 1998 by David M. MacMillan.
The author has no relationship with Microform AB, and this Tutorial is neither a product of nor endorsed by Microform AB.
"Varkon" is a registered trademark of Microform AB, Sweden.
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