msx80

[Software] Blueprint, a building instruction generator for LDD

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2 hours ago, ThinkCleverAndSmart said:

I don't see why you need to comment this here

well, where else?

2 hours ago, ThinkCleverAndSmart said:

I wanted to create the frame of the truck first, then the surrounding elements of the frame, the engine, and lastly the cab. This isn't a bottom to top build, and it requires special made instructions to be able to tell the story at the same time as building. My Scania isn't just an RC truck, but it is an experience for the builder. For someone who has never been to the factory, or someone who has been standing there for years. For this kind of thing, an LDD model isn't enough.

Blueprint has been the perfect Lego instructions generator for me. The instructions look great and the flexibility is awesome. The lack of updates is a bit worrying but overall the program works like it should.

I have to this day sold over 40 sets of instructions for this truck. It's not that much of a number, but it has made me more money that twice the cost of the pieces in the model itself. This is important for any creator as it gives the possibilities to continue with the ambition. I could not have but a premium price on a LDD model, only with real instructions

Yeah I hadn't considered Technics stuff, for which I guess it makes sense to follow a guide (even though I believe the LDD generator uses groups & that works too).

But hey, 40 sets it looks like our numbers are similar. Let's be real, it's beer money (that indeed pays for parts) and it's nice to have along as it's fun. But in the end, MOCing can in no way bring more money than it costed, and thus if you start building more & more instructions & it stops being fun, it stops making sense. Doing that for "just" 40 people, that is simply not worth it. Even for 400 people I wouldn't do it, actually. 4000, maybe, but shared instructions will always remain a niche (unless one day gathering parts becomes easy & cheap enough.That was one of LDD's goals & it failed. Now that is one of Stud.io's goals and.. who knows).

Imagine if you were a Youtuber and all of your videos had 40 views, and you knew that was the norm out there - you'd probably stop bothering making nice edits. And actually, it might even make more sense to make Youtube instructions, it'd be as much work, but ads might bring more than selling a few dozens of instructions. I have acually made 2 tiny Youtubes to test basic editing. It was fun, it of course brought no views (like, 6000 at best, which for YT is nothing), thus I wouldn't bother anymore unless I wanna do it for fun again.

Anyway, my whole point was about the number of people who are gonna see/use what you do, and it looks like you confirm it's a niche "market". But maybe I was spoiled making stuff used by millions of people in the past, I don't know. The most ironic is that it was still in a very niche stuff, but still the numbers were extremely different.

 

Edited by anothergol

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1 hour ago, BennyT19 said:

Like @ThinkCleverAndSmart says above, it's also about leading people on an experience about building the model the way you intended and guide them through a process. 

But yeah that's exactly why we do it. All I'm saying is, you're doing that for a few dozen people, at best. And you might even be doing it for just 1 dude, or no one at all, so there may not even be a "them".

If this kind of stuff was viewed by millions & brought no money, yeah it'd still make a lot of sense IMHO.

Btw you know what's at the top in Rebrickable (other than stuff relying on licenses)? Instructions for alternate builds for existing sets (or combinations of sets). That's for the reason I told about, only a couple of people are ready to do boring & costy Bricklink orders. I myself would not bother, while I Bricklink every week. I would have LOVED to get the Arvo brother's models, but even for these I wouldn't have bothered gathering some obscure retired parts (of course these were releasing nice books, maybe some collectors were into that). But when Xingbao released their stuff, I surely bought most of them. It might happen that the Chinese will start "licensing" (if they really ever did that) more & more MOCs, and then yeah, making instructions will start to make a lot of sense.

Edited by anothergol

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4 hours ago, anothergol said:

Seeing Stud.io got its own instructions designer as well (but most importantly, a new renderer!), made me think again about instruction designers.

I don't quite get it.

I've myself used Blueprint, and it was fun, once. I only did it for the fun of it, but it's tedious, do it more than once and it becomes work. Now who is this for?
I get it that *some* people sell full kits online, they really aren't that many, I couldn't even name more than 3.
For ALL the rest, it's about sharing, or selling instructions with a couple of people who are enough into Lego that they can make tedious Bricklink orders, and who are then likely to be able to read through your LDD - those don't really need proper instructions.

Well: I've had a MOC sold on Rebrickable, that temporarily got to the third place at the top of their "commercial" instructions. I had sold around 30. That should give an idea about how much all the rest in the list have sold. & don't get me wrong, it's nice to make beer money from something you only did for fun anyway. But then it has to remain fun.
I hadn't bothered generating instructions for that MOC, because I already knew it'd be tedious. I did for another MOC, a free one for which Idon't really know how many have downloaded it [edit: actually I'm hosting it & I can check: 12 downloads in 2018], & if it was worth it. But I have another MOC sold on Rebrickable, a MOC that's not based on something popular, & thus it's not 30 that I have sold there, but 1. And I am pretty certain that the vast majority of the MOCs at Rebrickable have sold zero, or one. And because, again, it's only about instructions & not full kits, thus is restricted to the few who really wanna bother Bricklinking several batches to build your stuff, I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of free MOCs on Rebrickable haven't been downloaded either.

So, instructions generators, yeah it's nice to try them out for the fun of it, for the fun of "I made this". But I don't see who would find it fun to repeat this for every MOC he wants to share, it quickly stops being fun. And if the fun isn't there, and money obviously isn't there, then why do it?

I know for me, I don't get the chance to build things "in the brick" very often due to being a dad that is in school full time along with a full time job. I started making instructions for the fun of sharing them with others. It also lets me design something then have an instruction manual so that when I have the time to build it is an easy way to have steps to follow so I don't have to remember where I left off. I already completed the design digitally and I can build a few steps here and there as time allows. The instruction process rule I have is that every part I place has to connect to the previous structure. It really helps me nail down a design and make sure that it will actually hold together once I build it. 

Quite the interesting topic to have here tho, thanks for prompting the discussion!

If you would like to see what I have made available you can see my posts here for some of Imvanya's wonderful sports cars or on my ReBrickable page. 

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I am the coach for a FIRST Lego League team. This coming season will be my fifth. My daughter and I design the base robot (all technic) in LDD, (she does most of the work, but I do help her). LDD isn't very good for building complicated robots with interacting pieces. You need step-by-step instructions. Often we will need to build three or four "base robots" for the team to practice with, and we want them all to be pretty much exactly the same. So that's why we put the instruction in Blueprint. I don't think we could do it with Blueprint, so we really appreciate the effort!

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On 8/7/2018 at 3:30 AM, anothergol said:

Seeing Stud.io got its own instructions designer as well (but most importantly, a new renderer!), made me think again about instruction designers.

I don't quite get it.

I've myself used Blueprint, and it was fun, once. I only did it for the fun of it, but it's tedious, do it more than once and it becomes work. Now who is this for?
I get it that *some* people sell full kits online, they really aren't that many, I couldn't even name more than 3.
For ALL the rest, it's about sharing, or selling instructions with a couple of people who are enough into Lego that they can make tedious Bricklink orders, and who are then likely to be able to read through your LDD - those don't really need proper instructions.

Well: I've had a MOC sold on Rebrickable, that temporarily got to the third place at the top of their "commercial" instructions. I had sold around 30. That should give an idea about how much all the rest in the list have sold. & don't get me wrong, it's nice to make beer money from something you only did for fun anyway. But then it has to remain fun.
I hadn't bothered generating instructions for that MOC, because I already knew it'd be tedious. I did for another MOC, a free one for which Idon't really know how many have downloaded it [edit: actually I'm hosting it & I can check: 12 downloads in 2018], & if it was worth it. But I have another MOC sold on Rebrickable, a MOC that's not based on something popular, & thus it's not 30 that I have sold there, but 1. And I am pretty certain that the vast majority of the MOCs at Rebrickable have sold zero, or one. And because, again, it's only about instructions & not full kits, thus is restricted to the few who really wanna bother Bricklinking several batches to build your stuff, I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of free MOCs on Rebrickable haven't been downloaded either.

So, instructions generators, yeah it's nice to try them out for the fun of it, for the fun of "I made this". But I don't see who would find it fun to repeat this for every MOC he wants to share, it quickly stops being fun. And if the fun isn't there, and money obviously isn't there, then why do it?

Here's another much more simplistic reason. I don't have the physical space at my desk and computer to put together a modular or similar multi thousand piece scale model. I can't afford to purchase a laptop to have LDD at my building space..... so.... instructions are about the only way I can take my digital model to physical model. Yes it takes a lot of time, and maybe you can cut a few corners in the building steps cause it's for yourself.... but its a ton easier than moving setting up* my iMac to the living room... 

Edited by Zelgazra

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16 minutes ago, Zelgazra said:

Here's another much more simplistic reason. I don't have the physical space at my desk and computer to put together a modular or similar multi thousand piece scale model. I can't afford to purchase a laptop to have LDD at my building space..... so.... instructions are about the only way I can take my digital model to physical model. Yes it takes a lot of time, and maybe you can cut a few corners in the building steps cause it's for yourself.... but its a ton easier than moving setting up* my iMac to the living room... 

that sounds pretty overkill (are you really printing it to paper?) while you could export a PDF from LDD that you'd just view on a smartphone or cheap tablet

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I don't think so, as LDDs instruction capability in incredibly lacking to save the least. There is no option to adjust the pieces in an order that makes sense, ie. Without floating or invisible pieces or part count per page or rotation option. It is possible to make just functional Instructions in LDD, but only for minimal piece count builds. A build with 1000+ parts is an instant nightmare. And to be honest, even A few hundred pieces is beyond frustrating to read through/make Sense of.

I feel the option of blueprint, in a world of few, let alone Functional instruction builders, is brilliant. I've used this software to design 1600+ page instruction books with 18000+ part counts and it's been an absolute pleasure to navigate. Time consuming, yes, some elements I would adjust,  yes but as far as usability, functionallity and end product, it was been awesome. Lots of my builds are labour of love stuff: birthday presents, awards, micro builds and the such but I also do personal commissions and They have paid their war for sure. It's not about the finances though.. It's about being able to use something that is functional for you,  the user. As there are a ton of differ people in the FOL community, there would also be a ton of different mindsets, design types and tech abilities, so Why not have a variety of software for option and use? Wouldn't that give people the option to see what works for them and advance their skill sets? And isn't that the crux of a good creative community? I feel honoured that msx80 and team have lavished us with this software and updates over the years. They saw a needed gap and filled it the best way they knew how, for free, for the community and The sharing of incredible fan builds. So what if they don't give updates all the time..? It can be frustrating but hell, I'm sure these guys have lives too! Work, social, kids.. Who are we to rag on the developers of a community driven, social and freeware piece of software? We have a great spot to deliver feedback and adjustment queries but unless we take up the charge of assisting in development, in which I have no skill set, I feel it's not our space to complain.

Thanks a ton blueprint crew. Your tops in my books.

44 minutes ago, anothergol said:
1 hour ago, Zelgazra said:

 

that sounds pretty overkill (are you really printing it to paper?) while you could export a PDF from LDD that you'd just view on a smartphone or cheap tablet 

I don't think so, as LDDs instruction capability in incredibly lacking to save the least. There is no option to adjust the pieces in an order that makes sense, ie. Without floating or invisible pieces or part count per page or rotation option. It is possible to make just functional Instructions in LDD, but only for minimal piece count builds. A build with 1000+ parts is an instant nightmare. And to be honest, even A few hundred pieces is beyond frustrating to read through/make Sense of.

I feel the option of blueprint, in a world of few, let alone Functional instruction builders, is brilliant. I've used this software to design 1600+ page instruction books with 18000+ part counts and it's been an absolute pleasure to navigate. Time consuming, yes, some elements I would adjust,  yes but as far as usability, functionallity and end product, it was been awesome. Lots of my builds are labour of love stuff: birthday presents, awards, micro builds and the such but I also do personal commissions and They have paid their war for sure. It's not about the finances though.. It's about being able to use something that is functional for you,  the user. As there are a ton of differ people in the FOL community, there would also be a ton of different mindsets, design types and tech abilities, so Why not have a variety of software for option and use? Wouldn't that give people the option to see what works for them and advance their skill sets? And isn't that the crux of a good creative community? I feel honoured that msx80 and team have lavished us with this software and updates over the years. They saw a needed gap and filled it the best way they knew how, for free, for the community and The sharing of incredible fan builds. So what if they don't give updates all the time..? It can be frustrating but hell, I'm sure these guys have lives too! Work, social, kids.. Who are we to rag on the developers of a community driven, social and freeware piece of software? We have a great spot to deliver feedback and adjustment queries but unless we take up the charge of assisting in development, in which I have no skill set, I feel it's not our space to complain.

Thanks a ton blueprint crew. Your tops in my books.

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13 minutes ago, Ben Andrews said:

It is possible to make just functional Instructions in LDD, but only for minimal piece count builds. A build with 1000+ parts is an instant nightmare.

Not if you group your stuff properly, then the LDD will generate instructions "per group" (from my experience).
The real problem is the exported images used by the exported HTML (I wrote PDF by mistake, it really is HTML), they suck, they aren't centered properly and often look minuscule.

And I'm not dissing Blueprint, I've used it, it's great. I've also used Bluerender, it's great.
It's just that now that another player has just entered the "market", I'm questioning the real use of this kind of tool. And again, I believe that the majority who think they need this, are delusional, thinking that they will be generating instructions for thousands of people, while the fact it that it will be most likely for a dozen.
But hey, perhaps one day it will make sense. It only needs one chinese service who will say "we'll take your instructions, gather/produce, pack & send all the parts for you", for this thing to be very useful. It's not the app that's the problem, it's not the amount of people interested by MOCs either, it's the amount of people interested by MOCs for which they will have to hunt for parts, pay for lots of shipments (of dirty parts) & wait for weeks because of 1 seller in the bunch.

Edited by anothergol

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Hi there! First of all thanks everybody for the kind words :) I like to make building instructions for my models (the best on at least) just to preserve the models, i hate the idea of losing them forever when i finally dismount them. Having BI makes it possible for me to reconstruct them exacly as they were, "immortalizing" them if you will. And when i build a model, either mine or of others, i simply find BI to be far better than other options like video instructions, photo sequences and raw LDD files (even on Rebrickable i only try models with BI).  I used LDraw and Lpub for quite some time but the modelling experience on LDD was just better. I felt it lacked a good BI capability and just gave a try to make one. Finding a good, productive workflow was not easy, expecially since the BI editor is not integrated with Model editor, and i had to work with a "finished product" with no "building hints" watsoever (except maybe groups) :) Unfortunately being LDD a closed platform makes everything much harder. Some years ago i had the opportunity to meet with some TLG folks to discuss about lego modelling software, and i took a chance to push forward the cause of an open platform, but i don't think they really considered it :)

I rekon that after a while, making building instructions with blueprint can feel like a job, boring and repetitive. I had a change to work as a paid "BI designer" for models of others, and i definitely can feel it. But it's the same with any other software with similar functionalities, it definitely was for LPub for example. I think that people should simply do them until they get bored, since it's just an hobby. Every hobby has a boring part (for example, sorting lego kills me :P).

Also, i don't think that other kind of instructions really are much less work.

In the end, you can use or not use Blueprint, it doesn't really change for me since i don't get money :P, and if you have different tools that you find more comfortable with, by all means just go ahead and use them :)

I'm happy to see that's the software is appreciated by most, i love randomly finding BI made with it on the internet, and i know of at least a book that was made using blueprint.

Sorry everybody for the lack of updates, i wish i could do more but it's not always possible :)

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1 hour ago, msx80 said:

Finding a good, productive workflow was not easy,

Can't compared it to anything else because it's the only one that I've used, but I found the workflow pretty neat & logical btw. I remember it worked pretty well, it ended up being a little tedious work, but most likely as tedious as it had to be.
The only "problem" I had with it was the weird pixellation. I don't even understand how Blueprint renders, because it looks like hand-drawn, while obviously you couldn't do that for every part, let alone new parts. Yet, I didn't know it was possible to render 3D parts in pixellated lines that don't stack & look like someone drew them manually. What gives?

And thanks for Bluerender btw, I've used it quite a lot. A lot has changed since then in the Lego rendering world. Mecabricks (using Blender?) probably has the best renderer out there, I still hate its UI so I'm not gonna try it. I used Bluerender when you released it, then I started using LDDToPOVRay a bit & it was nice, then Stud.io's POVRay renderer, & now Stud.io's new renderer apparently based on Blender's renderer. But Bluerender still makes sense here for renders that don't aim at realism, and mainly model rotations because it's fast enough for that. A smooth anim that can be rendered in 2 hours in Bluerender would take days in others.
Btw, a Lego renderer is pretty much the only Lego-related tool I know I'd pay for, if it was the best out there. (I don't mean paying per render which is another reason why I wouldn't use Mecabricks). Even an LDD-To-Blender tool that would output the best geometry, and ideal lighting that I can still mess with, would be ideal. Right now Stud.io's beta renderer still misses custom lights, camera angle, depth of field and most importantly, primitives substitution.

Have you discussed with Stud.io's makers btw? Perhaps it's more "open" than the LDD? Well I can't imagine it less open. Out of all the editors out there, it's the one that I hate the least. It's obviously no LDD yet, but I can feel the potential for it. It has pretty good part snapping, it's open enough that you can add new parts, only it's full of UI quirks & annoyances that make it far from as fast as the LDD. Sadly those UI/control problems haven't changed for years.
Also I believe Stud.io's future might look as risky as the LDD's future, considering both have been made (or at least released to the public) for similar "wrong" reasons. The LDD to "buy creations online" and we all know how it went. Stud.io for Bricklink integration and "buy your creation online".. which has more chances to work than the LDD (since Bricklink has everything "in stock", something that Lego can't do), but I still don't much believe in that (simply for a matter of pricing).

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4 hours ago, msx80 said:

-cut out-

Sorry everybody for the lack of updates, i wish i could do more but it's not always possible :)

Any chance when you have the time can you take a look at my private message?

Anyway i still use your blueprint to make all my builds (Either own builds or instructions i bought from other people to redo them in higher resolution for personal use)
Thank you for all the hard work anyhow!

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@anothergol I don't know what Mecabricks and I did to you but sharing your hate of this software everywhere on the web seems to be something you really like doing. After trashing a post dedicated to online rendering on Mecabricks a few months ago here on eurobricks, then posting the same type of comments on the stud.io forum, you keep going on here... By the way for your information, the new renderer of stud.io is nothing new despite what they try to make you believe. It is simply Cycles from Blender repackaged. I actually found some of my work in their configuration files so who knows what else from my add-ons they use compiled in their code.

Sorry for being off topic here.

Edited by Scrubs

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38 minutes ago, Scrubs said:

@anothergol I don't know what Mecabricks and I did to you but sharing your hate of this software everywhere on the web seems to be something you really like doing. After trashing a post dedicated to online rendering on Mecabricks a few months ago here on eurobricks, then posting the same type of comments on the stud.io forum, you keep going on here... By the way for your information, the new renderer of stud.io is nothing new despite what they try to make you believe. It is simply Cycles from Blender repackaged. I actually found some of my work in their configuration files so who knows what else from my add-ons they use compiled in their code.

Sorry for being off topic here.

I'm not "sharing my hate for your software" everywhere for the fun of it, in the middle of a discussion about tools & renderers I can either pretend that Mecabricks doesn't exist, or share my thoughts about it. It has the best renderer and a (IMHO) bad UI workflow, it's already half a compliment. Most other tools have neither good workflow nor good rendering (or rendering at all).

And I also did write "& now Stud.io's new renderer apparently based on Blender's renderer". They're not hiding it (even though they say "their own engine" in places, which indeed sucks), I learnt that from themselves. And yeah I'm pretty sure a lot of what makes good rendering are in settings themselves, so.. good work, if they stole your stuff.

I was gonna add, I'm pretty sure they could have just improved the settings on the POVRay renderer as well, but now I'm reading POV doesn't have ambient occlusion, which seems to be what Cycles overdoes & what makes the biggest difference (or is it just not enough radiosity? gonna make some tests).

Edited by anothergol

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@Scrubs @anothergol Please keep the discussion here about Blueprint. If you really want, you can discuss further via PM or in a more appropriate topic. Thank you.

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On 8/9/2018 at 5:35 PM, anothergol said:

that sounds pretty overkill (are you really printing it to paper?) while you could export a PDF from LDD that you'd just view on a smartphone or cheap tablet

I have an iPad that I use. As mentioned by others, LDD's PDF will be complete nonsense for anything greater than about 100 parts. It can't think for itself and wont allow you to think for it, Blueprint does. :D 

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Blueprint is awesome! I just generated my first instruction! thanks for the great software to make it happen!

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Are you interested in bug reports for bricks being added to the instructions in an order that's physically impossible to do (eg bricks added in one step, the part that attaches them to the model in a subsequent one, or a brick not being added until others that surround it completely have been added) in a large (>5k bricks) MoC without any submodules, or does their lack make it a case of my doing it wrong?

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@DanNeely: Blueprint is an instruction editor, emphasis on editor.  Its algorithm is simple, it just tries to build bottom-up.  And its aim isn’t to provide full and perfect instructions from the get-go, it’s only a bootstrap to start the instructions.  You still need to edit them afterwards.  Furthermore, yes, not using groups on a more than five thousands bricks MoC surely doesn’t help.

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How in the world do you not have groups in 5000 pieces surely there is at least one repeated assembly? 

Sylvain is correct tho, BluePrint is a starting point only, you will have to go thru and edit each step one by one to get something that builds in a correct order. I know for myself that doing a 750 part Star Warts ship to about 5 hours and 3 iterations to get it right. If you just need to bash something together then you could probably do it in less. 

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7 hours ago, supertruper1988 said:

How in the world do you not have groups in 5000 pieces surely there is at least one repeated assembly? 

Sylvain is correct tho, BluePrint is a starting point only, you will have to go thru and edit each step one by one to get something that builds in a correct order. I know for myself that doing a 750 part Star Warts ship to about 5 hours and 3 iterations to get it right. If you just need to bash something together then you could probably do it in less. 

I was well over 4k before I even knew the feature existed, and copy/paste worked quite well thank you.  What's left on my todo list is almost entirely tweaking existing copy/pasta to add unique elements.

 

Creating directions was never part of my original plans.  I was asked about possibly putting them out along with an LDD when I was done; so I've taken a look at what's available out of the box.  However scope creep and underestimating what I was getting myself into has put me so over my time budget that any sort of major additional work to support doing so is out of the question in the short/medium term.

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I've just discovered this, this seems awesome! When I buy my new computer, this will be a Day 1 download, same for yours @Chris Rae!

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Hi there. I've just finished over 700 pieces project in step design. I try to generate instructions but unfortunately I can not do it. I hit the button "(Re) Generate from steps" but nothing happens :/ . When importing a new model from lxd file everything works just fine. Any ideas about the reason?

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9 hours ago, barneius said:

Hi there. I've just finished over 700 pieces project in step design. I try to generate instructions but unfortunately I can not do it. I hit the button "(Re) Generate from steps" but nothing happens :/ . When importing a new model from lxd file everything works just fine. Any ideas about the reason?

What does the cmd window says? Maybe something out of memory or something?

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