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I have just read the following saddening message from Megan Rothrock (Author of the The LEGO Adventure Books) on facebook:

"Sadly a digital builders era has come to an end with the recent decision by LEGO to stop supporting the most brilliant LEGO Digital Designer Program. It has been such a great LEGO building tool. Portable LEGO bricks for on-the-fly design has been priceless! Thank you to all of the brilliant LDD Team for all of their hard work and ingenuity over the years. From LEGO Factory, LEGO Universe Development, to Design by Me, this tool has been wonderful to work with, and I'm very glad to have been involved in some of that. If only there were a way to keep it alive....

Long live LDD!"

Are there any updates on this? Is there a possibility for the source to be released?

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What does that mean "digital builders era has come to an end"? I am an active digital builder and I do not like being discarded as a part of "passed era". =\

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First, here is original post from Kevin Hinkle:

Good Afternoon everyone, I've just touched base with one of our Digital Product Specialists within the Consumer Services team. A business decision has been made to no longer allocate resources towards the LDD program / initiative. For now, the program will continue to be offered to anyone interested in utilizing it but please do not expect any updates regarding functionality, the adding of new LEGO elements or glitch fixes. We have decided to pursue other digital experiences. Although this may not be the answer you were hoping for, I hope this information will be of use to your RLUG members. Thank you for your time and continued support for the LEGO Brand & hobby.

And here is responso from LCE Team manager Tanja Friberg which was given after a lot of negative reactions to that news (after she had meeting with persons in charge):

Dear Ambassadors, I hope this will help clarify a bit of the confusion and misunderstanding from our end regarding LDD. TLG will remain committed to digital building going forward, in regards to LDD, this means that we will continue to support the current functionality. We will not be doing automatic updates on elements, however elements will continue to be added from time to time. Unfortunately we cannot ensure that all elements are made available. I can see that the message has spread widely in the community since Kevin’s statement and I hope that you will assist us in spreading this message as well. Thank you!

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I posted this in the other topic, but it pretty quickly gets buried there.

Ehm, sorry to tell you BUT YOU ARE WRONG: it is not simple XML - xml only stores some important variables/constants BUT actual bricks (3D) are in LDD own .g format for which there is no publicly available editor and most probably will never be so please stop that nonsense about LDD bricks are just some xml files cos that is not true, my friend and it is much more complicated than that. :wink:

On the other hand I agree with some previous commenters that in case TLG would decide to stop LDD development/support (which we now know is not true thanx to @Cwetqo) then it would most probably end up being "cracked" in some way so some ppl with adequate knowledge would be able working on LDD updates alone.

As a side note: I guess talking about this stuff (cracking/disassembling/editing) of LDD internal files was/is not allowed here on EuroBricks forums, isn't it?

Moderator comment: Yes...your're right. :classic: I've edited this post slightly and hid other post.

Thanks for your understanding

Edited by Superkalle

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As a hobbyist programmer, I am sure there is a way to decompile LDD (break it down into its source components). This way the fan community could have control over it, making it Open Source (anyone can modify it) rather than Closed-Source. […]

Two main problems with that:

First, legally, you don’t have any right to disassemble a program or study its operations (except for interoperability purposes, in some countries), even less modify it and even even less redistribute it.

You know, copyright and pattent laws, and that EULA thing you accepted when you downloaded it?

Second, disassembling doesn’t give you the source code, it gives you the assembly code.

When the source code says something like “benefits = revenues - expenses,” the assembly will say something like “take the value in memory cell #23445 and put it in register A, take the value in memory cell #34566 and put in register B, substract registers A and B, put the result in memory cell #45624.”

Now imagine that for something as complex as LDD…. (And I won’t even talk about obfuscation techniques that make all that even less understandable.)

Even if tools can help you see some assemblies (blocks, parts), you lose too much information.

Disassembling a program like LDD is like exploding the Eiffel Tower into bolts and beams, or rather, it’s like having a million “there is a 3001 brick in red at coordinates X,Y,Z and rotated this and that” instead of a nicely printed 10000-pages instruction manual :wink: .

A better thing to do is mimic the program: understand the file formats and use them, and get inspired by the UI (but beware round corners pattents :wink:)

So, adding LXF support (if legally possible) or part-snapping or collisions in existing Lego CAD programs (LDraw-compatible or not) or improving their UI would be an easier and quicker path.

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION

May I kindly ask you not to discuss the specific process or tools for extracting data from LDD here at EB. There are a couple of reasons for this:

First, it is against the EULA of the program. Secondly, we have a great relationship with the LDD Team in the forum which has given us a lot through the years (for example many of the special or legacy bricks the brickset updates), and it's a unique co-operation we want to maintain. Thirdly, it is pretty meaningless to hack or extract data from LDD, since it will always be a shady business and you can't build a genuine community platform on it. Fourthly, if you want to edit, add or manipulate bricks, there is always Ldraw which is an excellent platform.

I hope for your understanding in this.

Note, you are certainly allowed to discuss about how great it would be to get your hands on the LDD data, or problems associated with it, but please don't post links to tools which only purpose is to extract LIF-data.

I can also comment about some questions I've gotten about how LDD2PovRay and BlueRender can be allowed to access LDD resources. In the case of LDD2PovRay, it has been deemed OK since the used brick geometries are protected by a virtual file system (the "driver" that is installed with the program). In the case of BlueRender, the used geometries are hidden from users and only used for the render engine.

Hope that clarifies things.

More important information

If you follow this thread you already know, but let me summarize the events the past couple of days:

1. Yesterday it was posted in the Ambassadors forum (at LEGO, not the one here at EB) about the end of LDD support which caused a wide-spread discussion here and on other AFOL forums about the end of LDD.

2. Today this was reversed, and it was communicated that LDD maintenance is continued on the same basis as previous years, i.e. with updates on a semi-regular basis (without guarantees for when or what content). Yes, it's been a long while since the last update so naturally we are getting worried, but let's still hope for an update in the not to long future.

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION

If you follow this thread you already know, but let me summarize the events the past couple of days:

1. Yesterday it was posted in the Ambassadors forum (at LEGO, not the one here at EB) about the end of LDD support which caused a wide-spread discussion here and on other AFOL forums about the end of LDD.

2. Today this was reversed, and it was communicated that LDD maintenance is continued on the same basis as previous years, i.e. with updates on a semi-regular basis (without guarantees for when or what content). Yes, it's been a long while since the last update so naturally we are getting worried, but let's still hope for an update in the not to long future.

Would I be right in assuming that someone, somewhere had hold of the wrong end of the information stick and then someone else, somewhere else took hold of the correct end and as a result all's as it was before their game of tug of war? :classic:

Edited by grum64

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Two main problems with that:

First, legally, you don’t have any right to disassemble a program or study its operations (except for interoperability purposes, in some countries), even less modify it and even even less redistribute it.

You know, copyright and pattent laws, and that EULA thing you accepted when you downloaded it?

EULA's are pointless, no one reads them so they can be filled with stuff that aren't necessarily legal.

I'm pretty sure that, in Europe, disassembling on your own side for studying is legal, and that yes, making tools to work on the DATA wouldn't be illegal.

I think that the only problem would be that the new parts you'd add to the database, have been protected. But I'd say who cares, since they're made available in other tools.

But before caring about laws, IMHO better ask yourself the main question, would Lego not be ok about that & want to fight against it? I'd be Lego, I'd be happy about the community maintaining a tool I chose to discontinue. Plus, Lego is still a family-owned company, not the kind to let lawyers attack anything when they're bored.

All this said, I'm a programmer but I've kinda moved to other things and I wouldn't bother myself doing this. Figuring out data formats is something I had to do a lot before the internet was there, and it's quite boring & time-consuming - not something I wanna do again.

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EULA's are pointless, no one reads them so they can be filled with stuff that aren't necessarily legal.

Which doesn’t make copyright and pattents laws disappear.

I'm pretty sure that, in Europe, disassembling on your own side for studying is legal, and that yes, making tools to work on the DATA wouldn't be illegal.

Which is what I meant by “except for interoperability purposes, in some countries.

The original comment has been hidden, but it talked about disassembling, modifying and redistributing a program, which is totally illegal, anywhere (unless expressly/explicitely stated in the licence).

Nevertheless, the second point (difficulty) was my main point.

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I just want other modelling programs to have the collision and snap-to connection features, as well as the overall polish that LDD has compared to its third-party competitors. The ease of use is what allows me to quickly throw something together to see if I like the shape, as opposed to doing so in LDraw (which looks like it came out of the 90s still!).

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EULA's are pointless, no one reads them so they can be filled with stuff that aren't necessarily legal.

I'm pretty sure that, in Europe, disassembling on your own side for studying is legal, and that yes, making tools to work on the DATA wouldn't be illegal.

I think that the only problem would be that the new parts you'd add to the database, have been protected. But I'd say who cares, since they're made available in other tools.

Well guess what, TLG have an entire legal department and I am sure that whomever would have mindset such as your will end up dealing with them. And good luck with that.

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Well guess what, TLG have an entire legal department and I am sure that whomever would have mindset such as your will end up dealing with them. And good luck with that.

I'm not seeing Lego suing the other tools, while they could for the same reasons. Lawyers would sue the world to justify their existence/salary, but there are people above lawyers.

I just want other modelling programs to have the collision and snap-to connection features, as well as the overall polish that LDD has compared to its third-party competitors. The ease of use is what allows me to quickly throw something together to see if I like the shape, as opposed to doing so in LDraw (which looks like it came out of the 90s still!).

I agree about the ease of use, nothing beats the LDD.

Collision detection however is so unreliable in the LDD that you have to check manually anyway. In fact, this is where a third-party maintained database would be useful, there could be an optional high-polygon database for those who have good graphic cards or are ok with a slower display, because quite often I've wondered if 2 parts were colliding because the low-poly parts weren't showing it clearly.

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I'm not seeing Lego suing the other tools, while they could for the same reasons. Lawyers would sue the world to justify their existence/salary, but there are people above lawyers.

Because they are not trying to dissect LDD which is legally protected? Look, if you are eager to risk your neck - be my guest. Otherwise all we do here is blow air, and at least I do not claim to be "above lawyers". =\

Edited by Crash Sanders

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Because they are not trying to dissect LDD which is legally protected?

They have parts in their inventory that were created by Lego. IF Lego wanted to get them in trouble, they certainly could. But it's not a company's best interest to sue the world.

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I don't really foresee Lego suing anyone for digging into or modifying LDD's assets, unless it was to create a competing software or physical clone bricks that would be sold for money.

That said, I can't think of a better reason for Lego to give up any pretenses of keeping the program updated than AFOLs breaking the license agreement to either co-opt LDD's assets for other programs or give LDD capabilities it was never meant to have. Lego did not intend for part files to be modified or analyzed by end users and they certainly aren't going to try and make it easier for them by continuing to deliver up-to-date parts.

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Yeah, good point, but after the design by me stuff was discontinued, LDD ceased to be a revenue generator, and instead would just bleed money.

Going forward, I'd like to see Lego do something like create an add on for something like Autodesk Inventor or another CAD program, and market it as an education tool to introduce students to CAD, and at the same time gain a far more powerful render engine.

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Yeah, good point, but after the design by me stuff was discontinued, LDD ceased to be a revenue generator, and instead would just bleed money.

I'd say LDD still generates significant additional revenue. Lots of folks will buy sets after first building them on LDD; sets which they might otherwise never have purchased. Plus all the folks who build models designed on LDD by ordering bricks from third parties are creating additional demand which ultimately gets translated into more sales; all the bricks ultimately come from Lego.

If Lego continue to keep the parts list up to date, so that the sets currently on the shelves can be modelled, I'm sure they'll sell more of those sets.

Edited by That Lego Chap

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Well if they put more into LDD it would be one application I would happily pay money for even (and I don't normally say this about an application) pay an annual subscription for. It's such a great tool and That Lego Chap was right, I've purchased bricks to build mocs I've made in LDD there just isn't a way for TLG to measure this. Using GPU, inbuilt rendering PoV Ray quality, all those options people have wanted all rolled into one program in the age of technology we live in is a revenue right there.

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I'd say LDD still generates significant additional revenue. Lots of folks will buy sets after first building them on LDD; sets which they might otherwise never have purchased. Plus all the folks who build models designed on LDD by ordering bricks from third parties are creating additional demand which ultimately gets translated into more sales; all the bricks ultimately come from Lego.

If Lego continue to keep the parts list up to date, so that the sets currently on the shelves can be modelled, I'm sure they'll sell more of those sets.

The trouble with that sort of revenue generation is that it's pretty much impossible to actually quantify. As a business, Lego deals in hard numbers, and there's just no way to reliably tell how many sets or parts people were inspired to buy as a direct or indirect result of building on LDD. And unless you can quantify that, or create a quantifiable revenue stream, you'd have a very hard time actually convincing Lego that the program is worth the time, effort, and cost it takes to develop.

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The trouble with that sort of revenue generation is that it's pretty much impossible to actually quantify. As a business, Lego deals in hard numbers, and there's just no way to reliably tell how many sets or parts people were inspired to buy as a direct or indirect result of building on LDD. And unless you can quantify that, or create a quantifiable revenue stream, you'd have a very hard time actually convincing Lego that the program is worth the time, effort, and cost it takes to develop.

How do you quantify advertisement? Why do companies invest in commercials if there's no way to ever find out how exactly this results in sales? LDD is an advertisement of sorts and all TLG had to do was to simply keep the database up to date. It was (and still is) a free application with lots of bugs and everything, but it got really popular among Lego fans. Let's face it: LDD isn't that good to pay for it. But it's a really nice commercial and I guess it'll have its effect when it's completely dead.

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Doesn't LDD "phone home" to check for new bricks each time you launch it? Theoretically, LEGO could check and count those calls to see how many unique Internet addresses are using LDD and how often it is being used. From that they can get an idea of the size of the LDD user population. They can also see if usage is increasing or decreasing over time. There could be a way to cross reference with Shop@Home shopping data if S@H also tracks the IP address where an order came from. Then determine what percentage of online sales LDD users make up.

A more direct way is to put a LDD question in their surveys that go out each time you buy something from. How much did LDD influence your recent purchase? :classic:

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Well that's a relief!

It was indeed confusing information about the "end of LDD".

But apparently it just meant they would continue albeit at a lower pace and less updates.

I am really thankful for that. Everything I come up with I first design in LDD and that works great. And no stress about changing to another programme.

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Two main problems with that:

First, legally, you don’t have any right to disassemble a program or study its operations (except for interoperability purposes, in some countries), even less modify it and even even less redistribute it.

In privacy of your home you can do whatever you want, disassembling programs included. Of cause, you can't distribute modified copyrighted stuff, be it book, program and so on.

Second, disassembling doesn’t give you the source code, it gives you the assembly code.

When the source code says something like “benefits = revenues - expenses,” the assembly will say something like “take the value in memory cell #23445 and put it in register A, take the value in memory cell #34566 and put in register B, substract registers A and B, put the result in memory cell #45624.”

That is only true for disassembling native machine code. In case of run-on-VM languages, like Java, .NET and similar you may get actual human-readable source code. Even identifiers will be preserved in some cases. In your example, “benefits = revenues - expenses” can be disassembled to MoneyModule.var1 = MoneyModule.var2 - MoneyModule.var3.

A better thing to do is mimic the program: understand the file formats and use them

Data which accompanying the program is copyrighted in same was as a program itself. Meaning, that if you understand .DOC format, it doesn't mean you can (legally) reuse Microsoft's templates coming with Office install.

So, while .G format is pretty simple, reverse engineering of it will bring no actual benefit beyond academic exercise.

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That is only true for disassembling native machine code. In case of run-on-VM languages, like Java, .NET and similar you may get actual human-readable source code. Even identifiers will be preserved in some cases. In your example, “benefits = revenues - expenses” can be disassembled to MoneyModule.var1 = MoneyModule.var2 - MoneyModule.var3.

I was simplifying to better expose the difficulty. Even with native machine code, what you (can) really get is “var1 = var2 - var3.” Tools can also easily reconstruct the functions and data models.

But, actually, even with the source code, without any other documentation, it’s very difficult to understand a program of that size (been there, done that, don’t want another tee-shirt).

Data which accompanying the program is copyrighted in same was as a program itself. Meaning, that if you understand .DOC format, it doesn't mean you can (legally) reuse Microsoft's templates coming with Office install.

So, while .G format is pretty simple, reverse engineering of it will bring no actual benefit beyond academic exercise.

With “use them,” I meant “use the file formats” = be able to read them, which, generally, you can do without problems (that’s called “interoperability”).

For LDD’s bricks (.g), LDD2POVRay and Bluerender already do that.

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TLG nerfed themselves right from the start. "Design by me" was aimed at children and only worked on a limited selection of bricks. The biggest piece of the pie are people like you and me contributing to this forum. Look at the gaming industry, the average gamer is 35 and they are people who work who can afford expensive pre orders and shiny goodness. You give LDD this ability to people who will actually use it (AFOL), taking advantage of all the extended mode has to offer and to people who can afford it and see where this leads. Lego is not about $$ to me but TLG is a business and DBM is a way to measure. Wouldn't be hard to link it to pick a brick etc.

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