|Function(s)||Train & Town layouts|
|Platform(s)||XP, Vista, Win7, Linux, MacOS|
BlueBrick, by Alban Nanty, is a free, open source software for designing LEGO Train and Town layouts and is an actively supported alternative for programs such as Track Designer and TrackDraw. It runs on most of the current operating systems (MS Windows systems or other systems that can support .net 2.0) and it is available in 7 languages.
The current 1.5.1 version is compatible, in both directions, with the standard Track Designer libraries and layout format, as well as supporting .ldr and .mpd file types. Full support of the extended Track Designer libraries will be provided from Version 1.6. BlueBrick is not compatible with TrackDraw Layouts.
Track and road elements have connecting points which provide accurate and easy assembly. An adjustable snap to grid provides additional flexibility when needed. The use of a layer paradigm enables different elements such as tables, baseplates, tracks etc. to be placed on separate layers. This feature is especially useful for large, complex layouts like those seen at LUG events.
Much of the support comes from the BlueBrick users themselves who report bugs, suggest improvements and provide contents for the ever expanding library of Lego parts and sets contained within the program. Most of these contributions come through the BlueBrick thread at Eurobricks
BlueBrick is currently compatible with: Windows 2000/XP, Windows Vista (32 and 64 bit), Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit), Linux and Mac. The installation is a straight forward procedure completed by downloading the executable setup file. Windows 2000 and XP will require the Microsoft .net framework to be installed.
The navigation consists of three window panes for the layout, parts, and layers. Users who are familiar with MLCad will recognize the controls used for viewing the layout. A three button mouse is recommended for this although all viewing commands are also available through short cut keys.
Track and road parts are linked together automatically through their connection points eliminating the need for manual allignment. There is an adjustable a snap-to grid as well as rotation step angles that provide more flexibility and allow for precise adjustments. The latter is useful when you need to make sure a layout will fit in a limited space.
Users familiar with Photoshop and similar tools will recognize the layer feature which enables you to place tables, track, base plates, texts etc. on separate layers. These layers can be put in any order and can be hidden individually when needed.
Dedicated text and colored area layers help to identify various zones in and outside the layout. This could include the planning of an area around the layout needed for spectators, integrating the layout of another Lego User Group or visualizing sections of the layout which can not be represented by the available GIFs.
BlueBrick has a detailed, integrated help file as well as YouTube based video tutorials which guide you from the most basic features to creating your own GIF and XML files for the file library. The help file is currently available in English and Dutch, while the videos are available in English, French, German, Dutch and Portuguese.
|Edition for 4.5V, 12V, 9V, monorail, road with connectivity||yes||yes||yes|
|Extendable Brick Library||yes||yes||yes|
|Shortcut keys to add parts||yes||yes||yes|
|Report (part list and layout area)||yes||yes||yes|
|Support TDL format||yes||yes||no|
|View Zooming||Smooth||4 levels||Smooth|
|Part Rotation||any angle||predefined angles||any angle|
|Grid Snapping/Connectivity Snapping||yes||no||yes|
|Support LDraw Format||yes||no||yes (export)|
|Electrical short-circuit check||no||yes||yes|
- *Elevations can be set in the .ldr file.
- ** With copy and paste between layouts
- Alban's site for more information.
- BlueBrick discussion and contribution thread on Eurobricks.com.
- BlueBrick contribution and features index on Eurobricks.com.
- Video Tutorials on YouTube.
- The RailBricks site, issue three has a review and a writeup of what was determined about the Track Designer format