Group or Layer (or Shade) Baked to Alias Geometry

Hey everybody,

I use Dynamo at work together with Alias on automotive projects.
I’m having some success, but am missing some Quality of Life features, one of them being a way to sort or categorize geometry created by Dynamo when it has been baked back to Alias. In Alias, I can easily “pick” (aka “select”) Geometry by one of several characteristics:

  • if it sits on a layer (pick by layer)
  • if it is grouped (which turns the group of items into an “Object” in Alias-lingo, then I can pick by Object)
  • if it is shaded with a specific shader (pick by shader)

I haven’t found a way to use any of these possibilities in a workflow, which leaves me picking hundreds of surfaces by hand sometimes. Have I overlooked anything? Is there a way to apply any of the characteristics/hierarchies to geometry that is being baked from Dynamo to Alias? Coding or Nodes are both fine.
Thanks in advance!


FYI @vfongwm

Hi Johannes,
I actually ran into the same question. Unfortunately there is no way currently, but it should be rather cheap to implement this. What would be your preferred way of working? Grouping all elements of per “bake” note in Dynamo? Or the ability to create a layer, respectively add to one if the name already exists?

Hey Michael,
thank you for getting back to me this quickly!
Ideally both options would be nice to have, as there would be some more consistency with the concepts that Alias offers already - I say this not having an idea of how much effort this entails.

If it had to be either/or, to me, a group per bake-node makes a lot of sense, and then the geometry could be created on the active layer in Alias (as everything else is when using tools in the software). I wouldn’t want some more layers out of nowhere (aka a layer created by Dynamo without user-control), they are to me the more static hierarchical concept in Alias. This could be up to the individual modellers workflow though.

Another question that just came up… if you guys keep working on Dynamo all year round and incorporating some of the changes suggested by the community, is there any way for me to update my version other that the “official” Autodesk software upgrade cycle? That thought actually could deserve its own new topic.

I just realized, that the option to detect and change groups in Dynamo would actually open up a whole new set of automation possibilities.
When we deliver data to our OEM customers, we often spend some time sorting our data into layers, grouping and applying shaders. If I could load files into Dynamo and have it group everything that’s sitting on a layer into a single group and a apply a predefined shader on a per layer base as well, maybe even unify the “visual” normals in preparation for visualisation work, that would often safe time. (Also this is a pretty stupid task for a human to do.)

Hi Johannes,

I will take your points one by one. First point: allow grouping of elements created in Dynamo, before they are baked back into Alias. I entered ALS-7758 for that.

Let’s start with that, and see how to go from there.


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Hi Johannes,

Point 2: the main code changes happen in Alias, therefore I don’t think you will get around an Alias update to get requested bugfixes or enhancement requests. It would also be kind of complicated to have Dynamo updates seperated from Alias, as this would require more compatibility tests as we would like to handle.

I will look at your point 3 (layer handling) later this week, pretty busy at the moment.


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has there been any development regarding this yet? Dynamo could really be the macro-engine for Alias. I very often have to do repetitive tasks, like trimming a piece with another one. Then after a week or two one of them changes, and I have to invest the 4 minutes inanely trimming everything again, when it would be easy do it once in Dynamo and have it regenerated every time. If I could have it sorted into groups or layers

Hi Johannes,
Sorry I dropped the ball here two years ago. As you can hopefully see, we are progressing with Dynamo in Alias (see the Dynamo Player in 2021.2 and later releases, as well as the sample scripts).
On first thought I agreed with you in regards of Dynamo doing what you are asking here. But on a second thought, I don’t think it’s the best way to proceed.
Let me explain why:
To be able to execute things like grouping or shader assignment on layer basis, Dynamo would need to have access to the top level of the data. So you would kind of have to send the complete wire file to Dynamo, to let it control and execute the wanted actions.
While this would be a powerful extension on our Dynamo approach, it would also be a very big change, which requires a lot of work and strategic planning. It is also worth noting that the math core in Dynamo is different than the one in Alias. So the trim results might not have the same quality as the trimming in Alias (but yes, accessing Alias tools in Dynamo is a known requirement, but very hard to do).
Wouldn’t a command stepper extension / improvement be the better way to go here?
Let me know what you think.

I’ll weigh in here even though this wasn’t asked to me.

  • Is the knowledge required for entry as low as it is with Dynamo?
  • Are these as easy to customize between jobs as a Dynamo graph?
  • Do these have access to external tools as well, like reading an external DWG, or leverage more complex modules such as computer vision tools as a Dynamo does?
  • Can these be shared with other individuals so that things can be easily reused, and tweaked?
  • Can the tool built there be ported over to work with FormIt, Revit, Civil 3D, or others?
  • Is the degree of technical debt added on the customer end higher than ‘update the package for the new version’?

Add-ins and ‘in product’ customization is great, but the adoption of visual coding tools at the scale we have seen shows that there is significant value in expanding the capacity of the tool.