Sunday, July 13, 2014

Migrating my LunchBox to Dynamo 0.7

Dynamo has been undergoing some significant transformations as of late.  The yellow/orange color is gone, there are some nice UI/UX enhancements, and... most significantly, the program has been completely refactored to support new geometry and workflows.

So where does that leave my custom tools from the previous version..?  Well those, too, needed a complete overhaul to keep up with these new developments.  As of right now, LunchBox is at about 80% of what it was from Dynamo 0.6.  The biggest challenge for me is that there has also been some seismic shifts with how Dynamo interfaces with Revit.  These have made migration much more challenging than anticipated.  For now there are a few Revit-based nodes that are only partially working but this will hopefully get ironed out in a future update...

For the adventurous users out there, new version compatible with Dynamo for 0.7 has been pushed up to the package manager.*

Go ahead and try it out!

*If you need versions compatible with 0.6, they are still there as older builds...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

LunchBox for Dynamo: Bring your BIM into your Algorithm

Memorial Day weekend is upon us here in the US.  If you have some free time this holiday weekend, be sure to check out the latest version LunchBox now available through the Dynamo Package Manager

The LunchBox package contains 30 new nodes to aid in your Revit workflow.  The nodes are completely free with the Python script source fully accessible.

The most notable recent additions are "Element Collector" nodes which allow you to reference different element types (families, rooms, curtain wall, etc.) into Dynamo.  This workflow makes it easy to reference key element geometry and mine your Revit model for information.

The Structural Framing collector allows you to reference existing Revit structural elements into Dynamo.
LunchBox for Dynamo currently features 27 nodes... and growing.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

LunchBox for Grasshopper Update

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo... here's a modest update to LunchBox for Grasshopper!

The plug-in has not been updated in almost a year and a half so it was about time to ensure the code remained in alignment with the latest Grasshopper versions (0.90075).  The biggest update comes by way of some new Excel components which are leaner, meaner, and faster.

Here is a list of the updates:
  • New installer...  be sure you uninstall older versions of LunchBox first!
  • General code update for the most recent versions of Grasshopper.
  • NEW Excel components for reading and writing workbooks.
  • NEW Deconstruct Wireframe to create node-centerline table definition
  • Fixed a small bug with the Flatness Check component.

Excel Components

Excel components seem to be quite pervasive in various plug-in packages.  The goal here is the keep them lean and fast.   The new Excel tools allow you to quickly read and write data to multiple workbooks and worksheets at once.  They are also SCREAMING fast and will help you push and pull entire tables of data into Grasshopper with ease.  In addition, I have provided a data viewer for the Excel components. If you right-click on the nodes, you will have the option to preview the tables you are reading and writing.

*If you were a fan of the older components, they are still there :)

Reading Excel table data from a worksheet with a table preview.
Writing multiple worksheets to Excel with a table preview.
Deconstruct Wireframe

This is a simple utility for taking centerline models and deconstructing them into a node list (points) and centerline definition (start/end node index).  I have found this type of tool to be useful for formatting model information for structural analysis.

Deconstructing a structural wireframe into a node definition.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Enough with the fools... let's look at some tools!

CASE Grasshopper tools and workflows to facilitate the energy analysis process.
While many of the tools from this month's CASE announcement showed a lot of promise it may be some time before we ever see renewed interest in t-squares and drafting tables.  But April fools aside, certainly readers of this blog can all agree that information has been at the core of what we do for a very long time...  the tools for leveraging it has just evolved into something far more sophisticated than a red pen (which is still pretty damn powerful!) 

At CASE, we have continued to build tools that are helping us seize new opportunities for leveraging building information.  We build internal tools to help us deliver better services, we build custom apps that meet a client's specific needs, and we build purpose-built workflows for projects.  Interoperability continues to be a serious process concern for designers, building performance is a hot topic for engineers and architects, and computational design continues to blend together with BIM to blur the perceived lines between design and production.

Our growing stockpile of custom digital ammunition has helped us to be agile in our approach and deliver better service to our AECO clients.  Among the many software development efforts, in the past year we have created over 50 new Grasshopper components for interoperability, advanced data management, modeling workflow, and analysis.  In the past 4 months, I  have authored over 42 new nodes for Dynamo.... many of which are available for download right now as LunchBox and Slingshot packages.

On the boards...

Data visualization workflow of daily heating and cooling per zone.

So what's on the drawing boards?  For one... energy.

Energy analysis is a critical task for both architects and engineers during the design process.  As a consultant, I have observed many firms struggle with laborious, time-consuming workflows for transitioning design models into analysis models.  Worse still, reliable analysis models often get constructed towards the tail end of a process when it has become too late to change the design based on the information.  As such, a truly performance-driven process remains an elusive goal for the building industry.

This year, Alan Jackson and I embarked on a process of developing a code base for energy analysis and data visualization tools for iterative design.  We will be presenting this work at the upcoming ASHRAE/IBPSA-USA Building Simulation Conference in September.

 Here are our main interests at the moment...
  1. Early-Stage Models:  Analysis isn't very helpful if you can't use them to help inform your thinking.  We want to make it easier for a design professional to create iterative energy models to inform conceptual thinking and early design.
  2. Interoperability:  There are many common file types present in the design and analysis process.  We want to design straightforward processes for consuming and exporting energy model data so it can be used in many different environments.
  3. Data Visualization:  Analysis is more than a spreadsheet data dump.  We are designing tools and workflows to make it easy to visualize and make sense of analysis results.
Here's a preview of what we're up to... as always, feel free to reach out if you have interest in working with us to evolve the process :)

CASE components for preparing a conceptual multi-zone analysis model.
CASE nodes for charting make it easy to visualize analysis results inside of Grasshopper.
Comparing results between parametric iterations of single and multi-story volumes.
Reading a GBXML created with Autodesk Revit and exporting it as an IDF for EnergyPlus

A short tour of some general analysis workflows...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New CASE Building Suite has landed! #CASEbs

After many late nights of hardcore research, development, ping pong, CoD, and energy drinks, we have finally released our own set of tools for the building industry!  We are set to transform how architects and engineers design, analyze, and collaborate with our new Building Suite!!!

...Visit our site to learn more about CASE Building Suite!...