This will be based in a large part on the work being done on open-source appropriate technology for sustainable development.
The Ideal Open-source Digital Design Repository should be:
- Completely free and open-source in all respects
- Run by an non-profit organization for the explicit benefit of the community
- Flexible in format acceptance (able to convert proprietary formats to open formats) - ability to post photos and video embeddable in the instructions.
- Scalable (infinitely)
- Browse-able in systematic menus (e.g. USPTO classes or Amazon)-- a hierarchical thing categories (much less broad and more specific than what Thingiverse has now -- also allow for users to input new subcategories)
- Advanced search (e.g. based on your tool set find the things you can make given a search term) and able to filter on multiple tags (example: ultimaker and filament not openscad) and control the order:
- By Date Added
- By # of 'I Like That's (popularity)
- By # of 'I Made One'
- Enable evolution tracking (derivatives [allow multiple] and version tracking)
- Innovation/Design review, comment and rating (rating can be automated - e.g. most downloaded, most liked, etc.) Also enable warning tags and recommended removal for poor or dangerous designs.
- Innovator rating and tracking of contributions
- Ability to collaborate on designs (multiple authors)
- Certification capability (e.g. x company says this works)
- Geographical use tracking (e.g. find someone with a tool or who has made a design in your region)
- Tool tracking
- Ability to create and share selected library of designs - ability to organize that library (e.g. add folders to objects we like, to organize lists)
- Design and System-design capacity.
- Enable group or designer branding (e.g. designed by user x with logo)
- Multilingual support (e.g. auto-translation into other languages)
- Resource tracking
- Easy to use Ã¢â¬â inputs to semantic search
- Auto-import functions (e.g. as a patent term ends and reverts to public domain it is automatically included)
- Social networking - enable both external but also internal social networking (e.g. search one's "followers" [via the "like it" and/or "made one"] ala LinkedIn).
- Digitial-hardcopy tie (e.g. QR codes)
- No advertising
- A flag whether the designer has made it or not (e.g. reduced to practice) - this can be like the appropedia status tags http://www.appropedia.org/Status
- Option to request a design and the idea vote up
- An explicit area for specifying the designer's print/slicing settings for a given design (e.g. a series of check boxes and drop down boxes in an optional input category).
- A well-documented RESTful API is always helpful. Having one will allow other sites/apps to extend and augment core site features and functionality. Also enabling better branding while still keeping a centralized repository.
- Ability to track changes between STL files (CubeHero attempting https://cubehero.com )
- Set up customized feed for new stuff or for a specific maker
- Capability to upload more than one file or photo at a time (Make it as easy as possible to add things)
Constructive recommendations for MakerBot: Set up a non-profit 501c3, put a bunch of well known open-source advocates on the board, then spin Thingiverse off to the non-profit. Let them have Thingiverse.org completely separate it from MakerBot to regain public trust. Make it completely open in all respects. It is in the best interests of MakerBot to have a thriving, sharing, open design community. That is what has made 3D printers valuable. You don't need to own the repository it just has to exist somewhere for you to leverage the value. Then, let the NPO start working through the list of design improvements to make Thingiverse better. As an added benefit to this approach all of the investment made in Thingiverse to date and any porting, upkeep, etc. from MakerBot will be a tax deductible donation.
If Thingiverse can not regain the communities trust someone is likely to start a new open repository. It again is important to point out that we (as the community) need one place to upload designs. The architecture of the new repository should be set up to allow the scaling and feature offerings listed above but should also contain the following things that Thingiverse got right.
What Thingiverse Got Right that should be kept.
- Ability to upload any form of design file
- Ability to render STLs into images
- Image icon for each design
- Ability to cross tag items
- Ability to tie to derivatives
- Easy open-source license choices
- Ability to comment on designs
- Track user contributions
- Ability to tie to tools
- Quasi-community ranking via 'likes' and back links to user pages
- Enabling liking to select innovations into quasi-private library
- Social networking and QR codes
Please feel free to add more ideas below.
This list was compiled with either direct (posted comment here or conversation with J. Pearce) or indirect input (e.g. google group, forum posting) from: S. Dick, S. Albritton, W. Chung, G. Grant, G. Steed, I. Zelenika, J. Francois, L. Rodriguez, R. Thompson, G. Anzalone, J. Keegan, W. Kyriakou, H. Kyriakou, R. McCaskill, O. Bailey, MacGyver, and Thingiverse users: TeamTeamUSA, Daid, The Ruttmeister, and the makers of Thingiverse.com
I also tried to summarize what has been going on here https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!forum/thingiverse for some time.