Kean Walmsley

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May 28, 2008

Generating fractals inside AutoCAD using F#

Some of you may remember my interest in fractals from these two previous posts. Well, while researching a problem in F# (related to the conversion of the last post's code to F#), I stumbled across this post from Luke Hoban, which contains some neat, recursive F# code to generate the Mandelbrot set, sending the result to the console as ASCII text. I couldn't resist modifying the code to generate Solids (filled shapes with 3 or 4 sides, as opposed to Solid3d objects) inside AutoCAD.

Here's the F# code:


module Mandelbrot

#I @"C:\Program Files\Autodesk\AutoCAD 2009"

#r "acdbmgd.dll"

#r "acmgd.dll"

#nowarn "57"

open Autodesk.AutoCAD.Runtime

open Autodesk.AutoCAD.ApplicationServices

open Autodesk.AutoCAD.EditorInput

open Autodesk.AutoCAD.DatabaseServices

open Autodesk.AutoCAD.Geometry

open System

open Microsoft.FSharp.Math

let maxIteration = 50

let granularity = 400

let modSquared (c : Complex) = c.r * c.r + c.i * c.i

type MandelbrotResult =

    | DidNotEscape

    | Escaped of int

let mandelbrot c =

  let rec mandelbrotInner z iterations =

    if(modSquared z >= 4.0)

      then Escaped iterations

    elif iterations = maxIteration

      then DidNotEscape

    else mandelbrotInner ((z * z) + c) (iterations + 1)

  mandelbrotInner c 0


let drawMandelbrot () =

  let doc =


  let ed = doc.Editor

  let db = doc.Database

  let tm = doc.TransactionManager

  use tr =


  // Get appropriately-typed BlockTable and BTR

  let bt =



    :?> BlockTable

  let ms =




    :?> BlockTableRecord

  // Now let's create our geometry

  let xgran = 1.0 / Int32.to_float granularity

  let ygran = 1.0 / Int32.to_float granularity

  for y in [-1.0..xgran..1.0] do

    for x in [-2.0..ygran..1.0] do

      match mandelbrot (Complex.Create (x, y)) with

      | DidNotEscape ->

        let pt =

          new Solid

            (new Point3d(x,y,0.0),

             new Point3d(x+xgran,y,0.0),

             new Point3d(x,y+ygran,0.0),

             new Point3d(x+xgran,y+ygran,0.0))

        ms.AppendEntity(pt) |> ignore

        tr.AddNewlyCreatedDBObject(pt, true)

      | Escaped _ -> ()





And here's what happens when we run the MB command:


Here's a zoomed in area, so you can see the pixelation effect of using square Solids:

Mandelbrot - zoomed

You can, of course, vary the maxIteration and granularity parameters in the code, if you want to play around with the results (or even modify the code to ask for the values at the command-line, to save rebuilding the app all the time).

A quick note: at first the app was running slowly and causing memory issues, before I enabled the 3Gb switch on my Vista machine. Now things are much better, but then that could also be because I've just rebooted. :-)


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