Boundary Representation

Boundary representation (Brep) support is realized in COMPAS using its plugin system. The expected interface for Brep related classes is defined in the compas.geometry.brep module whereas the actual implementation is context dependent and implemented using plugins.

Brep Basics

Brep is a data structure used to describe a shape by means of recording topological and geometrical information of the shape’s boundaries. Some topological properties are associated with an underlying geometry, while others are purely topological.

A Brep is comprised of the following:





3D Point

The most basic element of a Brep, geometrically described as a point in 3D space.


3D Curve

An edge has a start vertex and an end vertex. The underlying 3D curve describes the geometry of the edge (Line, Circle etc.). Closed edges feature start_vertex == end_vertex.



A collection of trims which define the inner or outer boundary of a face.



Defines the geometry of one of the shape’s faces using a surface. Associated with at least one loop which describes the trimmed outer boundary of the surface. Inner loops are referred to as holes in the face.


2D Curve

A 2D curve which trims a face. Trims are associated with a corresponding edge.

Getting Started with COMPAS Brep

To create an empty Brep

>>> from compas.geometry import Brep
>>> brep = Brep()

Notice that the type of the actual instance created by Brep() will differ depending on the currently available backend. For example, when in Rhino

>>> type(brep)

Every backend is expected to implement some alternative constructors

>>> from compas.geometry import Box
>>> from compas.geometry import Brep
>>> ...
>>> box = Box.from_width_height_depth(5., 5., 5.)
>>> brep_box = Brep.from_box(box)

Brep can also be instantiated from an instance of a backend native Brep

>>> import Rhino
>>> from compas.geometry import Brep
>>> ...
>>> Brep.from_brep(Rhino.Geometry.Brep())

Brep operations

Trimming a Brep in Grasshopper

from compas.geometry import Frame
from compas.geometry import Point
from compas.geometry import Brep

box = Box.from_width_height_depth(5, 5, 10)

brep = Brep.from_box(box)
cutting_plane = Frame(Point(0, 2.5, 0), [1, 0, 0], [0, 1, 1.5])


pic1 pic2

Splitting a Brep in Grasshopper

from compas.geometry import Brep, Box, Frame, Translation

brep = Brep.from_box(Box.from_width_height_depth(5,5,5))
cutter = Brep.from_box(Box.from_width_height_depth(1, 6, 6))

a, b, c = brep.split(cutter)

world_xy = Frame.worldXY()
translated_frame = Frame((0, 0, 1.), world_xy.xaxis, world_xy.yaxis)
t = Translation.from_frame_to_frame(world_xy, translated_frame)

result = [x.native_brep for x in [a, b, c]]

Implementing a new backend

If you wish to create an additional backend to Brep in your package, this can be done using the plugin system of COMPAS.

Create a Brep type in your package which inherits from compas.geometry.Brep and override the __new__ dundle as follows:

from compas.geometry import Brep

class OccBrep(Brep):

    def __new__(cls, *args, **kwargs):
        # This breaks the endless recursion when calling `compas.geometry.Brep()` and allows
        # having Brep here as the parent class. Otherwise OccBrep() calls Brep.__new__()
        # which calls OccBrep() and so on...
        return object.__new__(cls, *args, **kwargs)

Whenever instantiating compas.geometry.Brep, the actual instantiation is delegated to the available factory plugin

@plugin(category="factories", requires=["OCC"])
def new_brep(*args, **kwargs):
    # Note: this is called inside Brep.__new__, thus Brep.__init__ will be ran by the interpreter
    # upon returning from __new__. This means any fully initialized instance returned here will be overwritten!
    return object.__new__(OccBrep, *args, **kwargs)

Now, a call to compas.geometry.Brep() will result in an instance of your.package.OccBrep, given that the plugin is available and loaded. OccBrep encapsulates the native Brep object available by the underlying implementation. If necessary, it can be accessed using occ_brep_instance.native_brep.

Implementing the interface

A powerful feature of this approach is to be able to serialize a Brep created in one backend and de-serialize it using another. For that, it is required that your.package.OccBrep implements the interface and follows the unified serialization protocol.