the year after dynamo…

image by archi-lab

Last year around this time I did an “end of the year post”, and it pretty much turned out to be an ode to Dynamo. Yeah, I know, that sounds horribly boring, but truth be told I had a lot of fun being one of the early Dynamo adopters and really getting a lot of people infected with the bug. It was a lot of fun watching others get “Dynamo rabies”, run around and sing praises for Dynamo wherever they went, and went they everywhere. Speaking of going places, it turns out that travel was a big part of 2015 for me as well.

First, I had an opportunity to attend RTC in Washington, DC. It was my first time at RTC and…it was F.U.N. It was not only that I was able to meet all these crazy Australian fuckers – yeah Adam, Quac, Stephen, Dominic and rest of you whiskey guzzling bastards that kept me pumped up full of alcohol for three straight days. I might be an organ donor but after hanging out with you I doubt anyone will ever have any use for my liver. :-) Now, in all seriousness, it was fun but it was also great to meet all of you and most of all it was good to learn from you all. It was during that RTC event that I was handed one of the best gifts ever – no it wasn’t the toy drone – it was an opportunity to go to Adam’s and Harry’s Dynamo and Revit API classes. Oh yeah, that sounds a little nerdy, but it was exactly what I needed to take my game to the next level. I learned just enough Visual Studio, Dynamo and Revit to really dive into a little more serious developments. For that, I salut you all!

IMG_1715Last year I was also invited to co-teach a Dynamo workshop at ACADIA. Nate Holland and I spent three (3) days preaching the gospel of Dynamo to those 11 or 12 poor souls that signed up for it. It was fun, it was hard and tiring at times, but at the end of the day it was gratifying to see that our students were happy to be there. I met some great people at ACADIA, too many to name them all, but most importantly I was able to have some epic dinner table conversations with people like Ana, Elcin, Mostapha, Brian, David, Nate, Shane, Chris and many more. Overall, I have to say that ACADIA was pretty nerd and animal (mostly penguin) friendly and I would recommend it to everyone.

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Other than those two large events I was also part of some smaller, one or two day things that were fun. Most notable I was part of NYC AEC Hackathon, then AEC Symposium and Hackathon organized by TT and finally a Grimshaw Hackathon Lite co-organized by Grimshaw Architects and Pratt’s Digital Futures. They were all cool and unique with, personally for me, varying outcomes. I might have not produced much of anything during Grimshaw Hackathon Lite, but it was good for me to be amongst students again. It definitely reassured me that I made the right choice not pursuing my Masters in Architecture. Oh yeah, I am pretty sure that I felt my brain overheat just from listening to all of the new words invented during this event. If only I could understand any of them, I am sure I would have been able to help at least some of them.

On to the nice things…development was the name of the game for me in 2015. It started out by working with Brian Washburn and developing some interesting automation tools for Revit and GIS Tools using Mantis Shrimp:

topo tools for dynamo and building shape tools for dynamo

Then I did a quick one for Image Exporting and View by Room creation in Revit using Dynamo:

image exporter for dynamo and create view by room with dynamo

This was all driven by a bigger workflow that I was working at the time, developing some neat Room Data Sheet stuff. I ended up scrapping it and going in a different direction, but Image Exporter and that Floor Plan by Room node remained relatively useful.

After that I went on to release Bumblebee for Dynamo – an Excel and Dynamo interop plug-in. This was a big one for me. It was developed based on original Bumblebee developed by David Mans, and I was able to (or at least I hope) improve it a little bit while giving it some of my personal touch.


I also did quite a few workflows that were developed specifically for other people. This printing PDFs with dynamo workflow was developed for a colleague of mine at Grimshaw – but I guess this is my job so I am not sure this counts. Mhmmm…anyways, this framing model checker with dynamo was a wish granted to Marcello, if I remember correctly while this spaces and space tags with dynamo was developed for a Polish dude located in Germany by the name of Michal. I also did a couple of smaller workflows around revision and image management in Dynamo with these two posts: image management with dynamo and revisions on sheet with dynamo.

As you can see I was quite busy around Dynamo community, but this wasn’t the best thing about 2015. As a matter of fact the best part of 2015 was that I got hooked on working in Visual Studio and writing in C#. I got hooked on learning a new language and a new way of working. Once I realized that as great as Dynamo is, I am still having a hard time convincing my end users (designers in the office) to use these great Dynamo workflows. It was just too steep of a learning curve for most of them to simply jump into Dynamo and start using workflows that I have developed. I am not sure if its lack of time, or Dynamo’s relative user un-friendliness compared to tools like Grasshopper, but for the love of God, I could not get enough traction in the office to make a real difference. Instead of hitting my head against the proverbial wall, I decided to educate myself, since its hard to educate others. I started learning C# and developing tools for Revit via External Commands. These ended up being a lot more successful, and it has also quickly became my preferred way of working.

You can see that in couple of the last few posts that I have made on my blog: revit beyond macros – building your tools as external commandscreate your own tab and buttons in revit as well as a series of hands on tutorials: building revit plug-ins with visual studio: part 1-3. These were pretty much a culmination of work that I have been doing for Grimshaw in the last few months, developing Revit add-inns.


On another note this past year 2015 have been an interesting year for couple other reasons as well. I saw my first project get built: my first completed project… and I got engaged to this pretty lady:


Yeah, I know…we both like over-sized, yellow animal sculptures. If Polish people like them, it must be normal. :-)

I also visited Poland for the first time in 12 years, or pretty much since I left. It hasn’t changed much, except maybe that everyone got older. Oh well, at least I stayed pretty much the same age. :-P Thanks to these pretty ladies for keeping me company during my visit to this old/new world that I left so long ago.


Finally, I became an uncle and as Lebron James would say: Not once, not twice…well actually only twice. Congrats to two of my awesome sisters for extending the Sobon bloodline – there is still chance that we will rule the world one day…in 2016?

Ps. I am not sure who this guy is, but I met him in Venice and took a picture of him, for him. Does that make sense? Probably not, long story short, this poor chap was standing there with his selfie stick and wasting such a could be decent image with his Samsung phone camera. I promised to email this to him when I got home, but of course lost his email address. If anyone happens to know him, please let me know. I don’t want to anger any gods before 2016.




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  1. Ted says:

    I have really enjoyed the dynamo workflows you have developed so far, it’s interesting that the dynamo workflows aren’t picking up traction in your office, I have had the opposite experience, I started learning C# plugins, then found the dynamo more easily implementable on the fly for different team needs.

    I had an idea recently about Mantis Shrimp and was wondering if you think this would be feasable. Mantis Shrimp takes Rhino geometry and converts it to Revit elements, and I know it can send data back to Rhino but I am not as familiar with this. My question is, do you think it’s possible to reverse the process, change a revit nurbs curve to rhino in a python script, then since Mantis Shrimp sort of piggy backs off of the Python node within grasshopper, could I also load the ghcomps library for “node in code” run the converted revit-to-rhino element through that and then convert it back to a revit element? Sort of creating a rhino in revit interoperability workflow instead of a rhino-to-revit workflow. I’d be curious to hear what you think.

    • I have no idea what you are talking about. It’s pretty convoluted, but sounds like you want to run a live pipe between Revit and Rhino directly skipping Dynamo/Grasshopper? Is that what it is?

      • Ted says:

        Essentially through a long, and yes, convoluted chain within Python, I’m theorizing it might be possible to run the Rhino/Grasshopper engine inside of Dynamo, in a limited capacity. Think I’m probably getting ahead of myself a bit, and I am not articulate enough in talking about coding to explain properly, it’s probably best to just ignore my comment.

        • Ted,

          Now that I think about it, it might not be such a far fetched idea. I think that what you are asking about is to run a “session” of Rhino from Revit which is possible to a certain extent given that Rhino has a COM interop. Again, geometry in Revit would be relatively easy transferable to Rhino but since Rhino has a lot more advanced geometry engine it would be hard to bring them back as anything other than some sort of import. Does that sound about right?

          • Ted says:

            Yes, that’s exactly what I am talking about! I know that certain things like a trimmed surface would not translate very well, but I think it would still be very useful. I came up with the idea when I was in need of offsetting a NURBS curve in dynamo and I couldn’t quite get the offset I wanted and I kept thinking why can’t I just use the grasshopper offset. The same thing for some list managment tools, and the fact that there is not a good way to do something as simple as pipe a curve in dynamo. Do you have any advice on where to find info on the COM interop you were talking about? I’m eager to learn, but I definitely know that this is more than I currently know how to do.

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