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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Why I Learned Dynamo and The Two Things I Discovered During the Process...




Last week, I discussed the number one reason (based on a survey of Revit Kid readers) Revit users have not used/learned Dynamo: Time.

There have been some great comments and dialogue born out of last week’s post. This week, I’d like to talk about the second reason Revit Kid readers stated they have not learned Dynamo yet and tell a short story about why I eventually took the plunge.

The second most common reason Revit Kid readers have not learned/used Dynamo (again, based on a survey I held here on the blog) was “no practical use” or “haven’t found a need”....

Continue reading to hear about my Dynamo journey and how I was thinking the exact same thing...





My Dynamo Story


Like many of you I heard of Dynamo and saw it being used long before I started using it myself. Like you, I had the same reasons for not learning it yet; there was no time and I couldn’t find a practical use.

I saw the value and potential of the visual programming interface and the ability to access Revit’s API (having attempted coding my own add-ins without much success, Dynamo appeared to make it easier). But, by the time Dynamo graduated from the crazy concept being touted around by Zach and Matt and became a fully functioning user interface with thousands of users I had taken a job at Turner Construction (a construction management company).

When I first saw Dynamo I immediately thought about all of the repetitive tasks I had to do while create large sets of construction documents at my previous employer (an architecture and engineering firm). Things I hated to do like duplicate views, make part plans, creating sheets, and re-number doors/rooms could be automated using Dynamo. But, I wasn’t doing that anymore (not on such a large scale at least). Therefore, Dynamo took the back seat on my priority list.

Fast-forward to 2015. I attended Revit Technology Conference North America 2015 and I couldn’t escape Dynamo if I tried. One class, in particular, marked the official start of my Dynamo journey.

Adam Sheather hosted a session in which he demonstrated a custom package he created for Dynamo called “DynaWorks”. DynaWorks consists of a set of Dynamo nodes that allow a user to gain access to Navisworks files and data.

Now, working for a construction manager, a major pain point for me was describing/finding the location of clashed elements in Revit (the model authoring tool) when the clash report and viewpoints were in Navisworks (the model aggregate tool). Anyone who has seen a Navisworks clash report knows how unhelpful they are in actually finding clashes in your authoring tool (see below):


Navisworks Clash Detection Report ...


When I saw Adam demonstrate his custom nodes and the ability to bring “clash points” from a Navisworks file into Revit I was sold…





I found my reason to learn Dynamo (even at a construction management company)!



The Two Things I Discovered While Learning Dynamo


Now that I found my reason to learn Dynamo (even if it was to just write that one script mentioned above) I did not know where to begin... So I just dove in...

Looking back on it now, there are two things I discovered over the last few years using Dynamo. If I had known the following two pieces of information I would have started my Dynamo journey much sooner.

1. Dynamo is not as difficult as it looks…


The first thing I discovered when learning Dynamo is that Dynamo isn’t really that hard. When compared to learning Revit, for example, Dynamo has a relatively low barrier to entry. Sure, you can make some incredibly complex scripts in Dynamo, but you can also create some extremely powerful scripts with only a few nodes (I’ll show you an example of this in the next post).

Additionally, when learning Dynamo you have the ability to slowly build your knowledge base over time and still be very effective. I did not spend 12, 24, or 36 hours diving into every single node, operator, and custom package when I started using Dynamo.


What did I do?


I learned on a “need-to-know” basis. When a problem arose in Revit that I thought Dynamo may be able to solve I researched online, tried similar scripts I found on the Dynamo forum, and modified them (or attempted to) to suit my needs.

Little did I know that with each new problem I was solving I was also adding to my Dynamo knowledge base. This is a key factor to consider for those of you who mentioned you did not have time to learn Dynamo. As I will illustrate next week, you only need a few minutes to get started and then the “learning” process will go on for years!

2. There were lots of ways I could use Dynamo!


The second thing I discovered while learning Dynamo is the amount of problems I could solve with Dynamo that I hadn’t thought of before. When you start to build your Dynamo knowledge base (as mentioned before, this could span years) you will begin solving one problem or creating one automation and realizing a small tweak to the script could solve different problem.

I call this “peripheral Dynamo”.

It’s real, and you will see exactly what I mean when you begin your Dynamo journey.

A personal example of “peripheral Dynamo” took place while I worked through a script that automatically placed a construction fence that followed topography (this was before Revit 2018 let us host railing to topography...).






My immediate goal was to make the arduous process of modeling fence that followed topography less arduous… At the same time, I was tasked with modeling some simple utility pipes on another project. The utility pipes had to follow existing contours but sit 36” below grade. Well, with a small tweak to the construction fencing script I was working on (and creation of a simple adaptive component “pipe” family) I solved two problems in one (almost)!






So, How Can You Start?



Next week, I am going to bring it all together and give you a glimpse into exactly how I started Dynamo, what script I wrote, and the must-know concepts.

The best way to jump into Dynamo is to find a problem or process that is a current pain in your workflow.  Then, look to solve it!

For this week, I want you to think of what problem or process Dynamo can help you with right now. We all have something that we wish Revit could do or we spend WAY too much time doing… What is yours!? Comment below and let’s discuss!  



Still Interested? DIY Dynamo is Coming Soon!





Thanks for reading this far down the post!  I know this one was a bit more text than normal for me but I felt the information was important based on many conversations I have had with you all!  

Don't forget to get in line and be the first to be notified when DIY Dynamo opens enrollment for the first time!  I am in the final stretch of the course materials and cannot wait to share them with you!  DIY Dynamo will be straight forward, to the point, and get your started in Dynamo quicker than you could imagine!