My First Dynamo Experience

My First Dynamo Experience

Last year I left AU 2015 really excited to get into Dynamo. Since then, we’ve made a few more advancements in Dynamo, continuing to improve our usage all the time. For many, it can be pretty daunting to get started so I wanted to share how I finally sat down to figure it out.

After watching a few live demos of pretty basic uses at AU 2015, I felt confident jumping in with both feet. A week or two after coming back I was presented with a common challenge in our office: numbering tilt up panels in order with a given start point and following a clockwise pattern.  This sounds fairly simple and it is something we do regularly. It’s also common to renumber them after the initial numbering. This clearly seemed like a great opportunity to give Dynamo a try.

My initial thoughts were that I wanted to make the solution as automated as possible so my first attempt used element positioning. This method presented a few challenges that I wasn’t quite ready to deal with at the time. I was never able to get it to function exactly as needed, I could number the walls in order but I couldn’t tell the program where to start or which direction to go, which didn’t accomplish the goal. Moving on, I drew a polyline in the general direction I wanted to number but ran into another set of fun challenges. This time using the proximity of elements to a line caused some hiccups when I got into situations that were not uniform and I had no control to make adjustments. So I was left scratching my head a little bit.

I’ve seen some demos about numbering rooms based on drawing a spline (a smooth curve through or near some control points) through them in the order you want them to be numbered. I decided to use this method to at least get something working. Drawing a continuous spline through all of the walls seemed cumbersome so I  attempted to auto-generate a spline that would pick up all the walls. This actually worked but I wasn’t able to specify the starting point or the direction I wanted to number it. All the walls were numbered in order but the starting point and direction were also important for this exercise to work. In the interest of time I settled on using the polyline method for now. It still saves a lot of time and makes the numbering process very straightforward but still not quite as automated as we would want.

For my total first attempt at Dynamo, I’m happy with the results. I didn’t end up with exactly what I wanted but I came up with a functional script and learned a lot about working with Dynamo. I was also able to break through the “I really want to get started with Dynamo” barrier and get involved with it which is a huge step. Reading information and watching videos can be a great way to get ideas but there really is only one way to really get started  and that is to jump in and get to it. There are a lot of resources online to help you get started so what are you waiting for?

Resources I used:

matt sweeney, bim managerAuthor: Matt Sweeney, PE

Matt is our BIM Program Manager; his focus is to provide BIM production support, internal Revit training, research and development of BIM strategies for future business services, and to support BIM marketing and business development initiatives. Matt has over 15 years of experience in structural engineering design and consulting for public and private clients on wide array projects types ranging from education facilities to retail facilities.

Matt can be reached at