Dynamo for design

I don’t know of any offices who leverage only ArchiCAD end to end, just as I don’t see many carpenters who only own a hammer. As Dan stated: tools are tools, use the right one for the task at hand.

People designing parts for a vacuum very rarely use one tool either - in fact you would be surprised at the number of tools used in most manufacturing processes. It’s usually an order of magnitude worse than the Form Making tool > Rendering tool > BIM Documentation tool > Construction Administration tool which proliferates AEC.

The good news is that the Autodesk development teams are hard at work on this for both industries, and will continue to be so. Your vision of ‘easier process overall’ is a part of what they are after too (check the public roadmaps on this one if you would like). It may not ever be ‘one tool end to end’, but ‘one simple process with no replication of work’ is a likely outcome. And I think many tools which do the one task really well is a good thing - after all if the carpenter only needs to hang the pre-fabricated siding which was factory cut to shape, he’ll work much faster carrying just the hammer and leaving the saw in his truck.


Maybe try this for a year.
It will change your mind on what tools can do if you use them, i know i did, and it was fun


I see you are passionate about Dynamo being the tool you want it to be, and that’s fine… and yeah, we can all agree that Revit really isn’t amazing for the adventurous architects, but same boat for the Engineering/MEP technicians that work with those crazy visionaries… we all have to do some geometric wizardry that Revit struggles with. Which is why most of us use Rhino/GH or whatever tool that does it well.

For example, when we get a geometrically complex job, I generally opt for a workflow that begins with Rhino/GH (usually because the arch is working in it also) and I stick with this while in the fluid design stages, then when design is more stable, I move to Revit (like the rest of the design team… usually) for documentation and other bits. Then for Vis we take it to 3DS Max (as that is what it is good at), then if we really wanna go to town for our client, perhaps to Unity. Instead of Revit/Dynamo being what it isn’t, I would prefer the interop be as seamless as possible.

If you are putting your hand up to lead the charge in community content creation for designers that would be great! :slight_smile: I praise all the community content creators, as without them, all these apps would be far less than they are now. Also, thank the devs that made the software that we can build on and make our jobs easier or we’d still be on drawing boards. :clap:

Because a major feature of Revit is its pretty awesome documentation tools. You don’t have much BIM or Documentation features in Rhino/GH… should we demand that they make it more like Revit/Dynamo. Maybe… but I don’t use Rhino for documentation, I use Revit as that’s what it’s good at. Just like I don’t use Revit for complex geometry, I use Rhino. You can see my point, let each software do what they do best and manage the best way to interop (which there are lots of ways now… I had to make my own tools a decade ago to get GH to Revit just like everyone else, now we have it built-in… marvelous!).

Ha! I wish I could say the same for engineering. :laughing:

You make it sound like you don’t have a voice and nobody is listening, but you do… and I’m sure Autodesk are listening… at least now they are… you know… after that thing that happened with your exact sentiments but mostly towards Revit and by architects. Hey, but I work for an engineering firm so we get all the things right? Ha! I wish!

But why do Autodesk need to match GH like for like? If they did, all they would do is just remake GH at great expense and brand it Dynamo and people would probably still use GH anyway as that is what they are used to and has a lot more plugins they know. If GH if that much a better tool for designing, then use it. Also, like I said and you agree with, GH is as good as it is because of the community but also the software is sits on is perfect for that type of “Design” work that people use it for…that’s its function after all and GH just enhances that, just like Dynamo enhances the Revit users workflow. Just tools at the end of the day. You don’t try cut bread with a spoon just like you don’t eat cereal with a knife… or at least I hope nobody does! :slight_smile:


Agree, But I’m not advocating for a one-stop-shop. For me, schedules in Revit don’t need to have the same advanced tools like excel, but it would be nice. 3d renderings shouldn’t have to be as realistic as in 3ds max, but it would be nice. What it should have is at the very least a complete advanced set of modeling tools. It is after all a 3d building information modeling tool. And it is just that where most Revit users spend and lose their time in. Is that too much to ask to have a set of better modeling tools after 20 years of the existence of Revit? By the same token, why should all other Autodesk tools that have different purposes have far better modeling tools than Revit? Even Autocad has better modeling tools Than Revit while most users use it as a drafting tool?

As you said, the carpenter needs a hammer and probably a cordless drill to hang the pre-fabricated sliding. His was he can leave in his truck. But how effective would he be if he can only use a Dewalt drill for slotted screws and a separate Black & Decker for Phillips screws?

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You seem to be stuck on modeling, and while form is a factor, geometry is a very small part of the design process. Don’t over think it - geometry is just another type of information, which Revit can process quite well. This can come from the adaptive and massing environments or Rhino or FormIt or Blender or FormZ or POVRay or anywhere you’d like. That is the beauty of the system.


Because the modeling tools in Revit are extremely limited even though it’s a 3d (BI) modeling tool.

Love this analogy. But how would you feel if that expensive knife can only cut white bread, but you need another knife to cut whole wheat bread?

It is, but for the Revit guy at the office who spends eight hours a day behind his computer, it’s a different story. Besides, regardless of your position at the firm, the core business of an architecture firm is creating prototypes of the reality.

So what is your take on Fusion, Inventor, Alias, 3ds max, Maya? All Autodesk products but serve different purposes. Do you think that a mechanical engineer, cg animator, a visualizer, an industrial designer is far more entitled to have the whole spectrum of design tools within one software than an architect or structural engineer?

Ah, that’s simple, I’d just eat white bread forever and I’d chuck the whole wheat one into my neighbours garden for the pigeons to munch on. I get my monies worth and I get to watch my neighbour shoo pigeons away for an hour.


If i may add a quick timbits (hits to Canadian here).

This thread reminds me of the “we don’t do spaghetti building” one and i think it relates to it.

As @JacobSmall mention, geometry is a small part of the design process (nonetheless important part) that i’m totally ok with Revit not being awesome at it. When you look at the design phases of a project you realize that we spend more time documenting said geometry then creating it. Do i want to have to run Revit, Rhino and GH to document a project…

I will stick to the geometry part and i will ask any of you here to show us some building shapes that you we’re unable to model in Revit (+ Dynamo) so that you had to turn to Rhino.
When you realize what most firms are building there is no major geometry flaws in Revit that you cannot overcome with Dynamo.
Not saying there’s none, just saying that it’s such a small percentage of our industry that i’m ok with Autodesk not focusing on it (could they improve it? of course, but so can they improve so many other things)

On the Rhino Inside topic… it does talk to several designers out there. Sadly, like so many of them, they have no idea how a building is put together so… we end up with what they call mullions as walls. This turns out to be a disaster for the rest of the project where guess what? Once we got the “shape” ok we remodel in Revit because it’s unsable.

So again, not blaming Rhino, Rhino inside or Revit but IT ALWAYS comes back to users. Educate, nurture and train people is the best investment a firm can act. And once in a while throw a party to make sure they stick around :slight_smile:


This is why architects are the least respected and paid profession of all science. While all industries always push the envelope on technology, we pride ourselves on creating off-the-shelf brick colonial that hasn’t changed for over a century and categorizes contemporary innovative architecture as so-called “spaghetti buildings”. That being said, there is a huge difference between practices in the USA and abroad. In Europe and Asia, new buildings tend to be more contemporary where people spend a larger amount of time modeling, remodeling, analyzing, testing, etc. in the design phase compared to the USA. So in that sense, I do understand the notion that we spend a fraction of the time modeling and design compared to the documentation if you just look at the US. BTW, its the European firms who send an open letter to Autodesk complaining about this problem.

But if we should just focus on the USA and look at other industries, the same can be concluded for other industries. An industrial design will probably spend more time documenting than modeling. Why is it necessary that they get a complete set of modeling tools (Fusion 360, Invenstor) while the AEC gets a fraction? What is the logic behind that? And btw, their end products are usually far less complex and cheaper on average than what we as architects create.

If indeed Revit was built solely for documentation and Dynamo is a tool to assist users to expand the capabilities in Revit, specifically simplifying the Revit API, and for design, you should look elsewhere, why did Autodesk created FormIt and tied Dynamo to it? Do you understand how it could get a bit confusing for many?

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Ok, I looked elsewhere and found almost nothing that I would struggle to create with Dynamo. Some might take more effort and expertise, but almost nothing is beyond Dynamo.

Assuming we consider ‘spaghetti buildings’ are contemporary innovative architecture I wouldn’t consider reproducing more of them as pushing the envelope. Dynamo and Grasshopper are both tools that aid a similar style of computational design. Shouldn’t progressive designers look to truly push the envelope by exploring other potential technologies?

As on every other occasion that you’ve raised this issue, I’ll again request you to post examples of the perceived shortcomings. Your frustrations are probably justified more often than not, but challenges (with some effort to bypass the ''do my work for me" rule) might keep some jobless Dynamo enthusiasts like me occupied for a while :slight_smile:

In doing so you just might help remedy the perception that Dynamo is an inferior modeling tool.


That’s a bit dramatic. :joy:

That’s not what was said. Revit was originally built around documentation and that’s where its strengths lie, but it absolutely supports design, massing/geometry, calculation/analysis, and more.

Not quite what was said either however I can understand where the confusion comes from. Dynamo is usually discussed in terms of Revit, but Dynamo is just visual programming built for automation. It’s a standalone application. Dynamo for Revit is the flavor that integrates directly with Revit and the Revit API.

FormIt has its own local version of Dynamo that integrates with the application as well. Dynamo Core is what’s in the standalone application and available to all “flavors”. Many applications then have specific flavors that integrate with their API and processes to better fit the intended use of that specific application.


Design as a verb is the act of making and recording decisions. It doesn’t matter if you’re designing a container for people (building), a container for a person (clothing) or a container for soda (can). You seem to agree that Revit is great for documentation - I agree. The change here is a change there, nearly limitless views of the design, and ability to tie data into the objects makes it ideal. You don’t seem to think it’s good for the decision making aspect of design. Decisions are made in one of two processes - either logical or emotional.
We need 10 desks. With this layout we can only fit 8. 8 is less than 10. Let’s look at other options.
The view from these 8 desks will be amazing and worth sacrificing some in the break room to ensure we obtain that.

One of these is much more ‘ingrained’ in our brain - the emotional aspect. Those decisions are made blindingly fast - from an evolutionary aspect this ensures we knew to not approach the animal bearing it’s teeth. As such your brain is wired to go quickly here, and every instant you spend asking ‘how do I communicate that decision’ degrades the emotional value, which requires designers to ‘hold that thought’ while they communicate it to the world by documenting it. The more you know your tool (be it Rhino, Revit, or a Pencil) the less time you have to ‘hold’ and the more decisions you can make in a hurry.

Revit is quite good at assisting in the logical decision making - ie: if the area of the room is under N sq units, highlight it red. But any tool for documenting the emotionally driven decision is only as good as the user of the tool. If it takes you 2 hours to draw a wall in your tool, than you’re going to struggle with the decision making process. If you struggle with that in Revit and Dynamo, it’s likely that you don’t know how to use that aspect of the tool as well as you know another one. And that is good - in fact i would say that’s ideal. Everyone thanks differently, so everyone’s ideal tool for making and recording those emotional decisions is a good thing.

So if doing stuff by hand sketching, marking up a PDF, making a video, or singing a song allows you to quickly make and document the many decisions required to produce a building, then you should do that. The benefit of Dynamo integrating into FormIt, Revit, Alias, Advance Steel, Civil 3D, and all the things is that it helps ensure that the decisions made and documented at stage n carry over more directly to stage n+1, and enable designers to move from tool A to tool B as the decisions are fine tuned and re-documented.

So if the loose sketching environment of FormIt is ideal from a ‘starting point’ you can use Dynamo there to help expedite the process. If you’re further along and you need to start producing more detailed documentation in Revit to convey content to fabricators and the general contractor, you can use Dynamo to help expedite the process. If you need to accurately convey the layout of the building in the context of the larger neighborhood and topography in Civil 3D, you can use Dynamo to help expedite the process. If you’re really far along and have detailed steel fabrication work to do in Advance Steel you can use the Dynamo to expedite the process. Many integrations built from a common core helps users move to the tool of their choice for the design task at hand. It’s no different than our design ancestors moving from fat tip sharpie, to sign pen, to lead holder, to mircon pens. Any individual office may use a different tool at any given stage, but there is always an evolution and a common point of expression (hand). Dynamo is the ‘hand’ of computational design in this larger toolset.

PS: The above is a loose synopsis of the first half of a proposal I am considering submitting for AU. Sorry if it results in spoilers for anyone at a later date. Feedback is always welcome.


Thanks for your feedback on FormIt and Dynamo. FormIt’s recent roadmap has been focused on interoperability with other products - especially Revit and Dynamo.While we haven’t been focused on modeling capabilities, we have added a plug-in for filleting, advanced modeling tools like Cover and Shell, and the ability to convert between meshes and objects without losing data.
Within the AEC Division, there are ongoing projects strengthening the connection between Inventor and Revit because we know customers need to use the right tool for the right job. As Product Manager for FormIt, I’d like to make sure that FormIt can handle geometry coming from other products like Inventor, Fusion and other external products.
Please add any wishlist items you have to the FormIt Forum: https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/formit/ct-p/141


Dynamo as a design tool enables (and encourages) attempts to quantify the ‘emotional’ in pursuit of a completely data driven design where every design decision (logical and emotional) is backed by data.

My two bits :slight_smile:


I really like this @Vikram_Subbaiah. I may have to steal it. :upside_down_face:


Glad to post examples of shortcomings within Dynamo.

One of the biggest issues is that NURBS surfaces can only be created with sets of 4 points. This means you can’t create a smooth surface from a non-rectagular plane or profile. I’ve posted this a few years back and no one could actually recreate the surface.

Here is another example. Now, you can obviously cheat by lofting several curves with a small curve on both ends. But it wouldn’t give you the same end results.

I\ll be posting some more images later on.


Be sure to post to the wishlist as well - the dev team is not ensured to see these but will absolutely see posts there.

I would try this with DynaShape and

lets see

Seems like a base profile cut out from a Nurbs Surface

Possible with just nodes too, but I prefer Design Script

pt1 = Point.ByCoordinates((-50..75..2)<1>,(-30..30..2)<2>);
at1 = Point.ByCoordinates(-18,0,10);
ds1 = 1/Math.Pow(pt1.DistanceTo(at1),0.25)*150;
pt2 = pt1.Translate(Vector.ZAxis(),ds1-(List.MinimumItem(List.Flatten(ds1,-1))));
at2 = Point.ByCoordinates(40,-5,10);
ds2 = 1/Math.Pow(pt2.DistanceTo(at2),0.25)*50;
pt3 = pt2.Translate(Vector.ZAxis(),ds2-(List.MinimumItem(List.Flatten(ds2,-1))));
ns1 = NurbsSurface.ByPoints(pt3);

nc1 = NurbsCurve.ByControlPoints(Point.ByCoordinates([-19,-18,-15,0,17,30,17,0,-15,-18],[0,5,10,2,15,0,-15,-2,-10,-5]),3,true).Scale(2);
nc2 = PolyCurve.ByJoinedCurves(nc1.PullOntoSurface(ns1));
ns2 = ns1.TrimWithEdgeLoops(nc2);

May I suggest starting a new post for each ‘challenge’ :slight_smile: