The Web of Things As someone who's going to need 3D printing soon I've

The Web of Things

As someone who’s going to need 3D printing soon I’ve been lurking on here - must admit the whole subject reminds me very much of the late 70s/early 80s when hobbyist computing started which is great :slight_smile:

Anyway, to the point, there was a posting here very early on about having a free independent website for collecting and distributing files.

That thought’s got stuck in my head - because I’m a professional contract web developer and the basics of such a site are not difficult to achieve. So I’m interested in building it.

To that end: What would you want to see (and not see) in such a site? Is it really needed? And, on a more practical level, what are the filetypes? :slight_smile:

And Happy New Year.

Filetypes are generally…well…a lot of them actually. SVG, AI, STL, OBJ, DXF, PDF, PRT…not all of them have renderers though.

I think more than a place to host files, we need a place to be able to shift prints and services around. Something that isn’t motivated by profit, but benefits the community as a whole. If someone isn’t already selling the parts on ebay for a specific machine, nobody knows where to go in order to get those parts printed. But without some sort of system in place, this can become a logistical nightmare, if someone doesn’t get compensation for their material, time, etc.

There are a lot of things you could do as a web designer. Many ideas posted here often. Web-service-based slicing, the idea I just mentioned, a new thingiverse-competitor, printer comparison tables, a newbie start guide, etc.

@Steve_Turnbull We are talking about thingiverse replacement, or going beyond like @ThantiK mentioned?

You said “having a free independent website for collecting and distributing files.” and “the basics of such a site are not difficult to achieve”.

I would say, the functionality should cover the minimum what thingiverse does, otherwise you won’t convince people to go there - so one thing is to upload files and create previews, tracking derivatives, commenting but also social connectivity (allow FB/G+/OpenID login), the functionality adds up beyond triviality, and if it really aims to be the web of things, the actual implementation has to be scalable (EC2, load balancing etc).

The “free and independent” seems a main objective, so, how is this ensured? I would suggest a proper non-profit foundation (incl. fundraising to cover running costs), perhaps debian-like election of the board?

@Rene_K_Mueller That’s why I’m asking :slight_smile: I suppose I’m thinking “beyond thingiverse” but going for full functionality instantly is never a good idea as you end up at the coding level forever because you can always think of improvements.

Likewise with choice of hosting. We just start with some quick and easy shared hosting and develop as needed.

I appreciate what you’re saying about the funding model and organisational structure (I operate in the open source domain) but that definitely wouldn’t be my plan - I have better things to do with my life than add the stress of fundraising and politics.

I was thinking more in terms of limited advertising (don’t worry I hate sites that fill their pages with ads as well - at least with this kind of thing the ads are likely to be relevant) to pay for hosting. As the number of people using the site increases so does the revenue so we can move to better hosting as we go along.

@Steve_Turnbull Good thoughts, Steve. One downside I’ve seen to Thingiverse is how finding objects really hinges on the quality of the description provided by the creator. A ‘new & improved’ model would likely need a robust system for classifying parts (dimensions, description, categories, materials, etc).

One example would be replacement parts for a specific product (my dressers have plastic brackets that are constantly breaking). How would I contribute these parts to ‘New Thingiverse’ (NT) in such a way that somebody with a similar problem could actually find and use them?

@Dan_Periard Thanks for that. That’s the sort of information I need - site design is all about how people use a site.

Would I be right in thinking that someone who went to the trouble of creating an object, would be willing to put lots of information into a database?

Although I share your sentiment about fundraising and politics I think the “independence” (which is your aim) I would pay attention to, otherwise it’s just an alternative with another dependency, e.g. if you personally run the site, it’s dependent on you.

Can’t disagree with you there @Rene_K_Mueller and I completely understand your concern. You’ll just have to trust that I’m a decent and ethical individual (which I am) and if someone else comes along who wants to do the whole foundation thing I’ll cooperate - and I’ll make provision for the site in case I drop dead. (Assuming I create the site which I still haven’t quite decided but with this feedback it’s promising.)

I’m not sure if this is referring to one of my posts from awhile back or not ( but if so, what I have in mind is something even lower in the stack than a separate site as a means to address the issue of conflict that will arise when the properties of things conflict with the needs of the system hosting them.

Since that post I’ve done some research, found out about some potential existing projects that might be a part of something like this and have distilled the idea a bit. I’ll be writing up my findings as well as proposing an implementation on my blog ( hopefully before the end of January.

The short version is that the way to look at this is that it is something sites like Thingiverse and its alternatives will participate in, as well as applications that create and consume models; so there is certainly a place for a “better than Thingiverse” in this scenario, it’s just a part of a larger architecture designed to keep things safe from the concerns and interests of specific entities.

@Jason_Gullickson Yes that was it - I’m all in favour of distributed models and I have worked in that area. Including multi-site search using CQL ( which might be useful.