Computational Design in FormIt

FormIt for Windows features Dynamo built-in to enable computational design workflows.

What's New With FormIt + Dynamo

New Ways to Dynamo

Curve + Surface Faceting

    • FormIt v18 includes the ability to customize the faceting quality for 2D and 3D objects imported from Dynamo. 

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Getting Started

First Time Setup

    • First time using FormIt + Dynamo? You may need to configure your system first, in order to see the 3D canvas in Dynamo.

The Dynamo Panel

    • Use the Dynamo panel to launch Dynamo, place Dynamo Groups, and edit Dynamo graphs:

Adding and Managing Local Dynamo Directories

    • The Dynamo panel works just like the Content Library, allowing you to link and manage local directories containing Dynamo files.
    • Click the "Link Directory" button in the Dynamo panel, and then click (+) again in the Preferences dialog to select a directory to link to FormIt:

    • Switch between linked directories using the drop-down:

Switch between linked directories

    • You'll only be able to view .dyn files and subfolders through the Dynamo panel.
    • Use the Filter bar to filter out Dynamo files and subfolders so you can easily find what you need:

Filter for the items or folders you want.



Different Ways to Dynamo

Learn about the many ways to use Dynamo in FormIt to suit your needs.


Launch a New Dynamo Window

    • In FormIt 2021 and newer, clicking the Launch Dynamo button in the Dynamo panel will start a connected session with FormIt automatically.
    • This opens a graph template in Dynamo, and will automatically generate the template geometry (a cube) in FormIt.
    • The resulting cube will appear in a new Group, at the origin of the current Group editing context. It's best to be in the desired Group context before starting Dynamo. 
    • The template includes both FormIt nodes, and some example geometry. Adjusting the sliders will adjust the cube's size in both applications.
    • From here, you can open different Dynamo graphs, or build something new using these basic components in the template and Save As in Dynamo to a new location.

Bake Geometry to FormIt

    • Click the thumbnail of the Dynamo graph you want to run. You can use the built-in samples, or link a library of your own Dynamo files.
    • Placing the geometry into FormIt will embed a copy of the Dynamo graph into the FormIt file.
      • To generate geometry, a BakeToFormIt node needs to be attached to output geometry nodes in the graph.
    • The geometry from the BakeToFormIt node will be available on your cursor for placement.
      • When the graph has SelectFromFormIt nodes marked as Is Input, FormIt will ask first for the selection (each selection node in vertical order), then generate the geometry in the correct place relative to the selection.
    • A copy of the original Dynamo file is now embedded into the FormIt Group and is independent of the source graph.
    • On placement, the Properties panel will automatically toggle to reveal the available parameters.

Modify Parameters

    • After placing a Dynamo Group, select it, and switch to the Properties panel, or simply double-click the Group to automatically switch to Properties.
    • Any input nodes marked as "Is Input" in Dynamo will be listed here.
      • SelectFromFormIt input nodes will show up as buttons at the top, and can be used to update the selection that's used to drive the graph.
      • Dynamo inputs supported: Number Sliders, Integer Sliders, Boolean Toggles, and Number/String fields.
    • Make changes to the inputs in FormIt, then click Run. The button will turn blue to indicate parameters have been modified, and the graph needs to be run.
      • Dynamo will run in the background to process the changes and return updated geometry in FormIt.
      • You can continue using FormIt for other tasks while this is happening. 
    • Note that all geometry inside this Group will be deleted and replaced when the Dynamo graph runs.

Edit Embedded + Source Graphs

Existing Dynamo graphs can be edited in two distinct ways: by editing Embedded Graphs that have already been placed in FormIt, or by editing the Source Graph that's saved on your computer.

Embedded Graphs

After placing a Dynamo object into FormIt, its underlying graph is copied and embedded into the current FormIt file. Editing this in Dynamo happens through the Edit Embedded Graph button.

    • Select the Dynamo Group and switch to the Properties panel, or simply double-click the Group to automatically switch to Properties.
    • Click the Edit Embedded Graph button.
    • In Dynamo, you'll notice the file name at the top will now contain "(FormIt)", which means you're editing a graph that is embedded in this FormIt file, and not modifying the Source Graph.
    • Make sure your BakeToFormIt node is connected to the geometry you want to send to FormIt.
    • FormIt will display updates to the geometry in realtime as you adjust the graph.
    • If you don't save changes in Dynamo, FormIt will roll back to the last-saved version of the Dynamo graph.
    • Note that all geometry inside this Group will be deleted and replaced when the Dynamo graph runs.

Source Graphs

Source Graphs are displayed in the Dynamo panel after linking local directories. These graphs are stored on your computer, and can be edited in Dynamo by clicking the Edit Source Graph button.

    • Link a directory containing Dynamo files to the Dynamo Panel, then navigate to that location in the panel. 
    • Click the arrow next to the thumbnail of the Dynamo graph you want to edit, and click the Edit Source Graph button.
    • Dynamo will launch with the requested graph opened, and in FormIt, you'll see the geometry from the graph's final output appear.
      • For graphs that use one or more SelectFromFormIt nodes as an input, you may not see the resulting geometry until the SelectFromFormIt nodes are populated with selections.
    • The resulting geometry will appear in a new Group, at the origin of the current Group editing context. It's best to be in the desired Group context before clicking Edit Source Graph.
    • When finished editing, save and close Dynamo. In FormIt, a copy of the Source Graph has been made, and it is now embedded in the FormIt file.
      • If you need to make more edits to the Source Graph, delete the embedded copy, and follow these steps again.

Control Curve + Surface Faceting

    • Starting with FormIt v18.0, the quality of curves and surfaces imported from Dynamo is now customizable.
    • After adjusting the faceting quality in Edit -> Preferences, you can now click "Run Graph" in the Properties panel without making any parameter changes, to re-generate the Dynamo geometry with the new faceting settings.
    • Learn more about curve and surface faceting settings in FormIt.

Dynamo + FormIt Groups

Selecting Groups

    • When selecting geometry for a SelectFromFormIt node, we recommend storing the geometry in a FormIt Group, and selecting the Group.
    • Doing so gives you the flexibility to change the entire contents of the FormIt Group, then simply re-run the Embedded Graph from the Properties panel to get an updated result.
    • If you decide to select raw geometry instead, topologic changes to that geometry may result in FormIt asking you to re-select the geometry the next time the graph is run.

Baking Groups

    • When you generate a Dynamo object in FormIt, its geometry is automatically contained in a Group. This is called Baking, and allows FormIt to associate a Dynamo grap with its results.
    • This Group will contain all the geometry plugged into the BakeToFormIt node, as well as a copy of the original Dynamo graph, so parameters and logic can be edited later.
    • All geometry inside the Group is deleted and regenerated whenever the Dynamo graph is executed again.
      • Use caution when modifying geometry or painting surfaces inside the Group, as those changes will be lost when the Dynamo graph runs next.
      • You can also paint the Dynamo Group with a Material (from outside the Group), and that change will persist between Dynamo runs, since the Material is not contained inside the Group.
    • Otherwise, Dynamo Groups in FormIt operate by the same rules as other Groups:
      • Placing a new Dynamo object from the Dynamo panel makes a Unique Group, and will not affect any instances of the same object already placed in the sketch.
      • Copying and pasting Dynamo Groups keeps them identical. Any changes made to one copy's Dynamo graph will also update the geometry in its identical instances.
      • You can make Dynamo Groups Unique with shortcut MU or through the Context Menu:

Make a Dynamo Group Unique



FormIt Nodes

Use the FormIt nodes in the Dynamo Library to communicate between Dynamo and FormIt.

The SelectFromFormIt Node

    • FormIt 2021 and newer offers the ability to select geometry from FormIt, for use as inputs in Dynamo graphs:

    • The name of the SelectFromFormIt node will be used for prompts in FormIt, so you should name in a way that describes what type of FormIt geometry should be selected:

    • When the Select From FormIt button is clicked from the Dynamo graph editor or the Properties panel, FormIt will start a selection wizard mode to walk you through selecting geometry.

    • When a SelectFromFormIt node is marked Is Input, it will be used when running the graph from FormIt. 
      • The Dynamo panel thumbnail for a graph saved with SelectFromFormit nodes marked Is Input will indicate that a selection is required:

      • When running the graph, the FormIt selection wizard will appear to get selections for each node, starting at the top of the graph.
      • After generating the first time, you'll see a button for each SelectFromFormIt node in the FormIt Properties panel.

      • Clicking these will start the selection wizard, so you can change the selection used to generate the final geometry. The graph will re-run automatically after re-selecting.

    • Some notes about using the SelectFromFormIt node:
      • When FormIt geometry is sent to Dynamo, any attributes, Materials, or nested Groups will be lost when returning geometry back into FormIt. 
      • When selecting in FormIt, the active Selection Filter is applied. For example, if you want to select FormIt vertices, you'll have to enable that in the Selection Filter.

      • Once a Dynamo graph using selection is baked to FormIt, it's best not to move the resulting Group without its accompanying selection.
        • Instead, simply move the selection geometry, then re-run the graph, which will pick up on the updated selection geometry and reposition itself appropriately.
        • If you do need to move the resulting Dynamo Group (or change its Group hierarchy), it's best to Group the Dynamo results and the selection, then move the containing Group.
        • After moving, if results end up in an unexpected location, it's often best to delete the Dynamo Group and re-generate it using the updated selections.
      • When editing a graph in the Dynamo graph editor, if you move the selected FormIt geometry, the graph won't respond to the moved geometry.
        • You'll have to re-select the geometry using the SelectFromFormIt node. We'll improve this in a future update.

    • Tips and tricks:
      • The SelectFromFormIt node will accept any FormIt geometry type: vertices, edges, faces, solids, Meshes, and Groups. 
        • Name the SelectFromFormIt to indicate what type of geometry is expected, and for what. 
      • Use Groups to contain selection geometry, and then select the Group instead of the raw geometry.
        • This allows the contents of the Groups to change, and when re-running the graph, it will automatically get the latest geometry from inside the Group.
        • Otherwise, if the original selection is raw geometry, and it changes (it's been redrawn, deleted, or split), you'll have to re-select the geometry.

The BakeToFormIt Node

    • To generate Dynamo geometry in FormIt, you'll need to connect desired geometry node outputs to a BakeToFormIt node:

    • If you have multiple objects to bake at once, you can use a List.Create node to join them:


Important Notes

System Preparation

    • To use Dynamo in FormIt, you'll need FormIt for Windows v17.0 or later.
    • If you have a system with an NVIDIA or AMD graphics card, or multiple cards, you may need to set FormIt and Dynamo to use your high-powered GPU:
      • If you have an NVIDIA card, ensure you have the NVIDIA Control Panel installed
      • Use the NVIDIA or AMD control panels to set the following applications to use your discrete graphics card:
        •  C:/Program Files/Autodesk/FormIt/FormIt.exe
        •  C:/Program Files/Autodesk/FormIt/DynamoSandbox/FormItDynamoSandbox.exe


Future Improvements

    • The ability to use display nodes like Display.ByGeometryColor is currently unavailable, but will return in the future.


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