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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Autodesk announces new conceptual design tools

June 19th, 2013 by Susan Smith

Matt Jezyk, senior industry strategy manager and Angi Izzi, senior industry strategy manager of AEC Building Design at Autodesk talked about their new announcement of FormIt 4.0 and Dynamo to be featured at AIA this week.

FormIt 4.0

These conceptual design tools enable creation of early design ideas for those who generate solutions, and iterate resulting ideas that they want to communicate very clearly. They revolve around sketching, modeling and analysis.

Behind these tools  are the following industry trends:

–       a growing interest in complex shapes

–       the growing use of Autodesk conceptual design products in schools.

FormIt supports fast fluid model creation on the iPad, with 3D data that feeds into Vasari, the desktop version of Revit. The two products are connected through Autodesk 360 which supports login, file conversion storage, metering, analysis and rendering.  Autodesk considers it the first architectural form modeler for the iPad. FormIt was introduced at AIA last year, but the current version, FormIt 4.0 for the Web is expanded to be browser-based.


Dynamo is a visual programming open source environment for BIM attached to Revit and Vasari, that extends those products with extractive data and a logic environment.

The capabilities found in these two products include the following:

Autodesk FormIt 4.0

– Allows users to send screen shots to library and via email

– Arrows can now be assigned

– Users may generate their own material library.

– Materials may be assigned transparency

– Allow for import and export of SAT and OBJ files


-Placement of smart, complex BIM components

– Powerful data management capabilities

– Rapid visualization of geometry

– Persistent relationship of computational graph and BIM

– Enhanced usability with a new look and searchable interface

– Greater stability than the earlier beta

Jezyk said, “we need a variety of tools that all fit together in an ecosystem. On one end of the spectrum we have FormIt, an iPad push pull, using the idea and interrogating it, and see how shadows work on a particular location on that device. We can take that information downstream into something like Revit, or Autodesk Vasari.”

On the desktop Autodesk has a parametric focus on architecture, a high level of integration with various analytical tools, and what holds them all together is Autodesk 360 in the cloud that has a variety of services under that umbrella.  Users can make a FormIt model very quickly that is automatically synced to the cloud and turned into a Revit model that can be taken downstream.

The same 3D modeling options that are available from Autodesk are now available by going to a website.

Dynamo offers the visual and scripting interface that runs on Revit and Vasari, and is a very powerful way to add rules and logic, and adding nodes and connectors without having to write any code. “It extends the type of project you can do,” said Jezyk. “We’re seeing trends in the industry around push pull modeling on one end of the spectrum, computational design on another end, and bringing it more closely aligned with the BIM process.”

FormIt mobile provides sketching line, rich graphical representation, multiple levels of image support,and increased the fidelity of the models. With the really new FormIt Web, you can enter a URL and get into the same project environment, and access the same modeling with Firefox or Chrome. “There’s no plug in and no other download required, so this is a pretty powerful way to do this,” said Izzi. You can make a fairly detailed model complete with architectural details using these tools and save it from the cloud back to Autodesk 360.

Dynamo, a visual programming and scripting environment, allows you to work inside the BIM process, and customize, and extract relevant information from the model. “A lot of customers have specialized needs, and if they don’t have a way to customize the app it becomes less useful,” said Jezyk. This allows them to customize Revit.  “We are making these relationships more explicit and graphical.”

To sum up, the two tools each offer a part of the picture of computational design: FormIt allows you to design a form; Dynamo allows you to design a system. In FormIt you create a specific solution for a specific problem; in Dynamo you make a rule to solve many problems.

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Categories: AEC, architecture, AutoCAD, Autodesk, BIM, building information modeling, Cloud

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