The top 5 reasons to use Dynamo

What is Dynamo?

Dynamo is a visual programming tool that works with Revit. Dynamo extends the power of Revit by providing access to the Revit API (Application Programming Interface) in a more accessible manner. Rather than typing code, with Dynamo programs can be created by manipulating graphic elements called “nodes”. It is an approach to programming better suited for visually oriented types, like architects, designers, and engineers.

In Dynamo, each node performs a specific task. Nodes have inputs and outputs. The outputs from one node are connected to inputs on another using “wires”. The program or “graph” flows from node to node through the network of wires. The result is a graphic representation of the steps required to achieve the end design.

One of the strengths of visual programming and Dynamo, in particular, is ready access to a library of nodes. Instead of having to remember the exact type code needed to perform a certain task, in Dynamo the library can simply be browsed to find the node needed. Likewise, a contributing factor to Dynamo’s success is its user community. In addition to providing help on its forum, Dynamo users can also create node libraries or “packages” and upload them to a central repository. This repository can be searched directly from inside of Dynamo. To install the package, simply click the download button and it will install directly into Dynamo.

User-created packages often have the advantage of solving very specific problems – There are nodes for processes such as renumbering rooms according to a particular sequence or creating ducts from lines.
Why Dynamo should be used

Five ways you will benefit from incorporating Dynamo into your daily workflow:

1. Automate repetitive tasks:

Revit entails many repetitive tasks, which are made easy to accomplish through the user interface, but a lot of time is taken up if that task needs to be repeated 10, 20, 100 times.

Creating sheets is a perfect example: a very simple task merely consisting of a right-click, a left-click, and a little bit of typing. Fortunately, Dynamo allows sheets to be created directly from views in the model, or from an Excel file – thus completing a task that would have taken over an hour in a few seconds.

There are hundreds of tasks Dynamo can automate: A good rule of thumb is that if a task needs to be performed more than five times a day and takes more than a minute to accomplish, it’s ripe for automation.

Here are some suggested applications:

Once these Dynamo tools have been created they can be accessed directly from Revit using the Dynamo Player (Revit 2017 and up).

There’s no need to even open Dynamo to automate these tasks.

2. Access your building data

A big part of BIM in general and Revit, in particular, is all that data. Revit falls short on many data-specific tasks such as combining data from different categories and calculating specific values.
However, Dynamo makes this process much easier as it allows a two-way link creation between the Revit model and Excel:

3. Explore multiple design options

As good as it is automating tasks and exporting and importing data, Dynamo is also a powerful design tool through its ability to explicitly define generative design rules.

It encodes rules in a computation framework, enabling the possibility to generate hundreds, if not thousands of options using these rules.

The options are never ending: A tool generating restroom designs based on a series of four walls can be created. Let’s be honest, most restrooms are pretty similar. If a firm’s standard design is encoded into a Dynamo graph, a number of options can easily be generated to meet a firm’s specified criteria. Automating mundane tasks allows professionals to spend their design time on the parts of the building that are more interesting.

Likewise, Dynamo can be used to generate random glazing patterns on curtain walls, layout mechanical rooms, or layout furniture in a typical classroom. There are a ton of design-related applications for Dynamo, all that’s needed is a little know-how and some creativity.

4. Test Performance

Knowing whether a design is going to perform in real life like it does on paper can be approached by either waiting until the building is built (and crossing fingers) or testing it during the design stage, when it’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to make changes. Dynamo makes it easier to simulate building performance throughout the design process. As an example: a tool can be created to measure how much daylight you can expect on a partially cloudy day in March.

While simulation data is no substitute for actual, real-life data, it does provide a way to evaluate designs based on objective criteria – quickly determining which design performs better helps guide the way towards an optimum solution. Computational design tools like Dynamo provide a means for making this determination throughout the design process and not just when the building is finished.
Performance is not just limited to the building design either but can also be applied to a Revit model’s performance:

This information is useful when troubleshooting performance issues or doing quality control.

5. Think Computationally

Lastly, Dynamo requires a systematic approach to working through logical thinking a step-by-step manner. Most architects rely on intuition and creativity to solve problems, which doesn’t always fit into a computational process. Encoding this intuition can be achieved by looking at each step and really understanding what makes it work – that design logic can be reused and improve it over time.

The design or the workflow will be encoded by using a computational process. Each step becomes a series of instructions that can be evaluated, revised, and improved. Likewise, each step requires specific parameters. By thinking through all the steps of the problem and considering all the inputs and outputs, a process that can be understood and, best of all, repeated is created, leaving one less problem to solve resulting in more time for the important work.

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