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FormZ 9 wish list...

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Quote from Jon Moore: 'The reason I digress is that I see FormZ as a wonderful hybrid between CAD and DCC package. And the thing I like most about FormZ is the fluidity of it's modelling workflow in the viewport. But I do think there are ways to provide greater levels of parametric control without it getting in the way (in much the same manner as 3DS Max and C4D manage). So if the AutoDesSys dev team are able to create more freedom without breaking fluidity, that can only be a good thing.

 

A Grasshopper like fully parametric playground as a separate plugin would also be welcome. Grasshopper and Houdini share a lot of parallels but the great thing about Grasshoper is that it's a separate entity that plugs into Rhino; that way it doesn't obscure the core Rhino workflow. With Houdini, even simple transform operations become obscured by the fully parametric node tree.

 

I've wandered far from the OP's original request for history to be retained across extrusion and rounding operations but that seemingly simple request is fundamentally about construction history and parametric control so hopefully it's no too much of a digression.'

 

Sounds good, Jon.

I think it is worth mentioning some useful features in Solid Edge. It is able to recognise entities intelligently as they continue to enhance their 'Synchronous Technology' - even bringing intelligence into those objects which have been created in other packages, recognising likely relationships between them, especially in their new feature: 'Like me, pattern recognition'. This is something which I would welcome in FormZ and could be useful to overcome need to maintain some history aspects, and keep FormZ flexible to general manipulation. Some form of pattern recognition would add additional uses in any case if it can be done without infringing on patents. I appreciate I am bringing an example from a much more expensive design product and one which is more geared to engineering.

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 I appreciate I am bringing an example from a much more expensive design product and one which is more geared to engineering.

 

 

All good Alan. I think it's good to discuss workflow influences from a raft of 3d technologies be they CAD or DCC, high end specialist or low end generalist. It's all food for thought. 

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These kinds of operations are not possible without construction history (which is a huge resource hog). SolidThinking Evolve works in this manner but has none of the fluidity of FormZ.

 

http://solidthinking.com/evolve2015.html

 

I'm not even sure that it would be possible for AutoDesSys to create a construction history based workflow without a core rewrite. Never say never though; construction history has been requested on multiple occasions over the years.

 

I personally think FormZ strikes a good balance between editable parametric workflows and the fluidity you get with destructive workflows. I think I'd prefer to see the AutoDesSys team create a Grasshopper type parametric tool (something which has long been promised) that works as a plugin in much the same manner that Grasshopper works with Rhino. That way neither workflow compromises the other.

You are absolutely right, but I totally disagree with you regarding the balance between fluid work flow and edibility. A program that is aimed at designers can't ignore the fact, that designers need to explore their design and during that process, we need to be able to edit models that are more complex then a primitive object or extrude or lath etc. Also, modern 3D programs found ways to do so without sacrificing fluidity. They do that by direct feature manipulation, similar to Form-Z push pull tools.

 

Dan 

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You are absolutely right, but I totally disagree with you regarding the balance between fluid work flow and edibility. A program that is aimed at designers can't ignore the fact, that designers need to explore their design and during that process, we need to be able to edit models that are more complex then a primitive object or extrude or lath etc. Also, modern 3D programs found ways to do so without sacrificing fluidity. They do that by direct feature manipulation, similar to Form-Z push pull tools.

 

Dan 

 

The are many industrial design specialists that use a destructive polygonal modeller such as Modo in tandem with a specialist CAD toolset specifically because of the fluidity of the workflow. When modelling concepts you're not worried about manufacturing level accuracies so a workflow akin to working with real world prototyping tools such as clay, wood etc can be a great way to rapidly explore design ideas. If you go through the posts on http://www.solidsmack.com, they rave as much about a destructive tool like Modo as they do CAD design software featuring construction history and such like. And I'd say the folk at SolidSmack are pretty well respected in the CAD world.

 

Construction history has nothing to do with how modern a piece of software is (it's been around as long as CAD software has been around). It's inclusion of lack of is more a matter of the design strategy the software designers are working too. SketchUp is modern software but it has none of the rich toolset of FormZ or construction history for that matter but it's still successfully used across a wide range of design disciplines. Archicad, Revit, Vectorworks & Bently dominate the architectural sector yet none of them have construction history (although Archicad, Revit and Bently are heavily skewed towards parametric tool-sets and Vectorworks introduced a bunch of parametric tools in its latest version)

 

If you're adamant that you want construction history there are plenty of software suites on the market that offer construction history. However I'm not sure it's entirely fair to label FormZ in some way archaic because it lacks construction history. It's just that it's lack of construction history doesn't meet your specific needs. FormZ has always been centred around direct modelling interactions, long before the introduction of the SketchUp like Reshape tool in v7 (and Bonzai before that). Many of the construction history based CAD software suites are playing catchup here. Most of them introduced these direct modelling tools in an attempt to attract SketchUp users who've become frustrated with SU's parred back toolset (yet again a purposeful design strategy on the part of Google/Trimble and not necessarily a weakness per se).

 

I'm not against construction history, I think it offers many possibilities but it will require very creative thinking on the part of the AutoDesSys development team to introduce it in a manner that doesn't disrupt current workflows, it will probably necessitate a core rewrite (which would take many years) and it may not even be up for discussion because it goes against the fundamental design philosophy of FormZ.

Edited by jonmoore

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Well it's not up me to solve for ADS technological issues regarding possible solutions. And personally I don't think that classical construction history is the right solution for a program like FZ. But it's not impossible to make the program more parametric then it is right now. I'm not talking about a full parametric program such as solidworks (which I also use) but some level of freedom to edit a bit more complex object by extending direct editing to more then polygons. If other industrial designers use Modo, well that's their problem. I believe based upon more then 20 years of experience that design workflow must include file exchange between CAID and CAD programs.

You mentioned "design philosophy of FormZ" can you explain what it is exactly?

 

Dan

Edited by DanM

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Well it's not up me to solve for ADS technological issues regarding possible solutions. And personally I don't think that classical construction history is the right solution for a program like FZ. But it's not impossible to make the program more parametric then it is right now. I'm not talking about a full parametric program such as solidworks (which I also use) but some level of freedom to edit a bit more complex object by extending direct editing to more then polygons. If other industrial designers use Modo, well that's their problem. I believe based upon more then 20 years of experience that design workflow must include file exchange between CAID and CAD programs.

You mentioned "design philosophy of FormZ" can you explain what it is exactly?

 

Dan

 

Dan, from the sounds of things your experienced with CAD software and I likewise have approximately 35 years esperience in various 

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Apologies Dan, my last response was submitted without me even finishing my first sentence. I then attempted to edit it and lost a three paragraph response as the forum software timed out on me.

 

I consult for a range of creative studios in the UK on creative software technologies. My clients include IDEO, WPP, Publicis Group and Mother as well as a number smaller full service design studios and architectural specialists. I was a creative partner in an independent agency called Lateral and looked after Levi's design work across multiple disciplines for over 10 years.

 

My interest in FormZ is that I have a number of clients that own licenses on my recommendation.

Edited by jonmoore

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You mentioned "design philosophy of FormZ" can you explain what it is exactly?

 

Dan

 

All I mean by 'design philosophy' is that good software developers usually work to a set of guiding principles (no different to any design discipline). If they don't have a clear set of guiding principles they end up with a product mired with feature creep and a set of features designed by committee.

 

I have no idea as to the specifics of the guiding principles behind FormZ but I suspect that fluidity, simplicity and abstraction of technicalities are central tenets. I also believe that remaining as generalist as possible is also important to AutoDesSys. The main customer segments seem to be architectural, interior & set design, and exhibition design (there are of course product designers and furniture designers that use FormZ too). It's for this reason I believe that AutoDesSys aim to create a balanced user experience that can be used by all customer segments and the feature set is also balanced so that it doesn't become skewed to any particular specialist discipline.

 

At no point of the conversation thread did I say that a greater level of parametric design or a deeper level of construction history wouldn't be welcome. I just stated that it's a difficult challenge to do this without impacting the fluidity of the UX. I also suspect that providing these features may require a core rewrite (which would take a number of years) so it may be a challenge to see them in v9.

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All I mean by 'design philosophy' is that good software developers usually work to a set of guiding principles (no different to any design discipline). If they don't have a clear set of guiding principles they end up with a product mired with feature creep and a set of features designed by committee.

 

I have no idea as to the specifics of the guiding principles behind FormZ but I suspect that fluidity, simplicity and abstraction of technicalities are central tenets. I also believe that remaining as generalist as possible is also important to AutoDesSys. The main customer segments seem to be architectural, interior & set design, and exhibition design (there are of course product designers and furniture designers that use FormZ too). It's for this reason I believe that AutoDesSys aim to create a balanced user experience that can be used by all customer segments and the feature set is also balanced so that it doesn't become skewed to any particular specialist discipline.

 

At no point of the conversation thread did I say that a greater level of parametric design or a deeper level of construction history wouldn't be welcome. I just stated that it's a difficult challenge to do this without impacting the fluidity of the UX. I also suspect that providing these features may require a core rewrite (which would take a number of years) so it may be a challenge to see them in v9.

 

I agree with Jon for the main reason which first attracted me to FormZ, which is the topological control. What other program offers such simplistic control of solids at the specific levels of object, faces, segments and points, with ability by a simple switch to lock or unlock components and groups? This complete set of controls is special to FormZ I think, and specifically makes parametric design history too challenging to achieve without compromising at least some of these controls. As I mentioned earlier I think pattern recognition could work though in this softwear, to give a certain amount of intelligent parametric-like adjustments.

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I agree with Jon for the main reason which first attracted me to FormZ, which is the topological control. What other program offers such simplistic control of solids at the specific levels of object, faces, segments and points, with ability by a simple switch to lock or unlock components and groups? This complete set of controls is special to FormZ I think, and specifically makes parametric design history too challenging to achieve without compromising at least some of these controls. As I mentioned earlier I think pattern recognition could work though in this softwear, to give a certain amount of intelligent parametric-like adjustments.

Topological level control isn't unique to FZ, All polygonal modellers have such tools (C4D, Maya, 3DS Max, Modo) Also, topological level controls are limited to polygonal objects or faces. If you're an Architect that might be just fine for you but if you model something a bit more organic, topological level controls become useless very quickly.

For instans, construct a Sphere and punch a hole in it. Now let's try something simple like moving the hole a bit, or changing the Sphere radius.

As I wrote before, I'm not looking for a full paramedic modelling inside FZ, I already have it in SolidWorks and in OnShape and In Fusion 360. I want to extend direct editing capabilities to more then just flat faces and that the program will not drop so quickly objects controls, I don't see how this will effect in any way topological level manipulations.

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Dan, thank you for enlightening me, I am not experienced with the programs you mention. It would indeed be nice to accomplish the example you give, from parametric history, especially in such a basic situation of a hole in a sphere. Also welcome would be intelligent recognition similar to our own human abilities for recognition of shapes, patterns and potential connections which we identify in and between entities so appropriate controls can be introduced even if parametric history has been lost somehow.

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This blog piece links to some great discussions regarding the complexities of the unification of parametric and direct solid modelling techniques.

 

As I've said before DanM, I'm not discounting the value of your request just highlighting that it's not as simple as it sounds.

 

http://www.cloud-invent.com/blog/article/2

Edited by jonmoore

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This blog piece links to some great discussions regarding the complexities of the unification of parametric and direct solid modelling techniques.

 

As I've said before DanM, I'm not discounting the value of your request just highlighting that it's not as simple as it sounds.

 

http://www.cloud-invent.com/blog/article/2

I'm sure it's not a simple task but, ADS proved in past, that they can develop complex features, such as animation, SubD modelling, NURBZ, Smooth objects 

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I'm sure it's not a simple task but, ADS proved in past, that they can develop complex features, such as animation, SubD modelling, NURBZ, Smooth objects 

 

Not quite correct. many of the features in FormZ are derived from the Spatial ACIS engine. And providing the features that you want would probably necessitate a major change in ACIS (which may be something Spatial are developing or have been developing for some time).

 

One of the delights of of FormZ is the manner in which it allows a user to so seamlessly move between, Solids, Nurbs Surfaces,  Polygonal and SubD techniques and all the while abstracting the underlying technology from the user. But this delight is a bit of an Achilles Heel too as it's sometimes hard for users to understand e.g. why they don't have the same level of topological control on Solids and they do with Meshes (and they often don't know that the Solid geometry has automatically been converted to a Mesh behind the scenes). 

 

Providing historic parametric control that works across the third party Spatial ACIS engine and the bespoke AutoDesSys developed modules in a manner that doesn't slow the user experience will be a tough nut to crack. 

 

But 'live boolean control' might be a good start point. You seem to be familiar with Polygonal modelers, so you'll be aware of the huge impact MeshFusion has had with its live boolean toolset. It started as a plugin, became integrated into Modo and now all the main DCC players have a version of their own. Booleans are central to many FormZ user's workflow so it might be more achievable to target greater parametric control over boolean operations rather than building parametric history across the whole of the FormZ. And in much the same manner as in a Polygonal package there will come a point where you freeze your geometry and loose the parametric history.

 

FormZ already provides this kind of 'semi parametric operation in the form of the C-Round tool'. And this type of approach might be more in keeping with the existing FormZ user experience and what's achievable considering the underlying technology within FormZ.

 

I took a look through some of your previous posts and can see that 'Construction History' is something you've been requesting for a long time so I fully understand the passion and gusto you show when discussing this feature.

Edited by jonmoore

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Simple color over-ride.

Especially for text and dimensions in various display modes.

This is because it can be fiddly to achieve a combination of color display as desired, due to the various settings of color for object, layer, display options, material. Material color may or may not be desirable for the model objects, depending on circumstances, but not for the dimensions, notes and labels, which may be desired to be treated differently. For this reason, a simple over-ride to display a selection in a chosen color would save time fiddling around. The plentiful controls we have is good, but sometimes we just need to achieve a particular result quickly and the currently required combination of controls can be a tad overwhelming and time consuming to adjust.

Suggested implementation of this:

Make a selection, choose color from color over-ride palette. The selection turns into that color. Preferably the color over-ride palette would also offer: layer color.

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The first post in this wishlist, by Asone, included:

"Select by Criteria palette:  update the material option.  Currently with only 8 small materials showing it is VERY hard to find the materials I want."

I fully echo this request, and have done in the past already well before 8.5 was released, but still waiting. All it needs is to have the option to list by name, or popup displaying material name when hovering over a material in the select by criteria, material palette. When you have many similar looking materials it renders the current select by criteria, material virtually useless. I feel justified to nag about this one.

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'Select similar geometry.'

To work at whatever topological level which is active.

Select an entity, other similar entities in visible space become highlighted in a different color, move a sensitivity slider to fine-tune the degree of 'similar' which selects additional items or deselects some. Offer option to add original [example] selection.

Perhaps this is a dream too far, but maybe worth a mention, as it could have connections to a pattern recognition facility for some parametric operations involving symmetrical adjustments etc.

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I value design freedom which serves differing philosophies and differing strategies. 

 
Purported construction histories seems far too limiting, in various ways.  Where histories may branch into separated work sequences.  
 
Therefore i have always preferred a variation of strategy which we could call fast-sequenced-saves (of a projects). That combined with isolated part file saves, in addition to main project files.   From there, copy-paste pieces together to change the “now”, (present time project).  Trash what is not needed in the long run. Keep what is useful.  Develop the routine and stay with it.   I even changed the regular “Save” shortcut to use another modifier key, (so as to preserve the original file in progress, for it’s own undo list).  The regular default Save shortcut here becomes “Save As” instead. Save-As demands a descriptive name, where i scribble in the latest fork in the road of shifting strategy. Thus one can have separate streams of “undos”.
 
Edited by Bo Atkinson

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There was very interresting chat about construction history.

 

Fusion 360 has a good approach for construction history based modelling. I know that the Fusion 360 team is very aware of limitations of different kind of modelling practices. So that's why you can choose how you'll construct your model even during your working session. 

 

History based modeling is only one possibility. Direct Modeling is a another way to model. Feature based method is also available. And you can mix all of them quite successfully in Fusion 360.

 

Fusion 360 has also many limitations but there is very ”healthy” and clean philosophy behind of it. For architectural designing it is now a bit awkward but it would be nice to see the basic engine applied to different modelling sectors - especially for BIM.

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+1 for JonMoore, Asone, Exocubic,

"By jolly, there be three of us annoyed the click, wait, click again shenanigans."

 

...And me too.

 

And make a copy of a layer. Why not Layer_1 Layer_2 etc.

Edited by Hugo

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There was very interresting chat about construction history.

 

Fusion 360 has a good approach for construction history based modelling. I know that the Fusion 360 team is very aware of limitations of different kind of modelling practices. So that's why you can choose how you'll construct your model even during your working session. 

 

History based modeling is only one possibility. Direct Modeling is a another way to model. Feature based method is also available. And you can mix all of them quite successfully in Fusion 360.

 

Fusion 360 has also many limitations but there is very ”healthy” and clean philosophy behind of it. For architectural designing it is now a bit awkward but it would be nice to see the basic engine applied to different modelling sectors - especially for BIM.

 

Interesting perspective on Fusion 360. I've always seen it as very specific to mechanical design. I'll have to dig a little deeper and see how it's toolset could be applied to more generalist tasks.

 

I'd be interested to hear Evan Troxel's view too as I know he swaps between Revit and FormZ for many of his projects. I'd imagine the Revit feels like treading water in treacle after a FormZ session.

 

I'm sure the AutoDesSys team hate this description. But I've always introduced FormZ as 'SketchUp on Steroids' to potential new users. I find it ideal for sketching out forms then adding detail as you go along. The workflow is so quick that you don't worry if you have to blow down a few metaphorical houses before rebuilding them and this is a more pleasurable experience for me than getting locked into a parametric history workflow (especially when concepting).

 

With regards to BIM, my view is that Bentley, Archicad and Revit already have BIM nailed so what I'd like to see in FormZ is something more akin to SketchUp and Vectorworks approach to BIM (having the ability to add IFC data to your scenes but not to be restricted by IFC workflows).

 

Definitely agree that the whole construction history/parametric control is a rich vein of discussion,

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I find working in Revit completely fine most of the time for construction documents. It's definitely not as fluid as FormZ for conceptual modeling (or any other more detailed work either) but I generally start the project fresh in Revit once it's been through a certain level of design in fZ. "Fluid" really is the best word I can use to describe the difference between the 2 apps. Revit is not. It is much more mechanical in nature and it forces me to make decisions about how a building will actually get built very early on in the process so I avoid that (semi-completely) when working in fZ. I love working in fZ, and I don't love working in Revit. It's fine though, really. This is probably because I'm a designer to the core, and not a person that is in love with producing construction documents for architecture. I'm sure lots of people actually love Revit because of how it's changed the process. I certainly would never go back to normal CAD willingly.

 

I do have to re-build model elements using Revit's tools to get the best results - and there are some things that Revit just can't make that are fairly simple to do in FormZ (especially the organic stuff), but for the most part if that happens I just import the FormZ geometry and leave it in place as a referenced DWG. The benefit of rebuilding things in Revit is that it then knows how to represent them when cutting section views through them - thickened lines at the edges and hatch patterns within. Any geometry that can't be rebuilt in Revit will be presented generically meaning we don't get any nice graphic representation options for it.

 

Both programs use the ACIS modeling kernel as far as I know, and therefor swapping models between them is pretty seamless. Unfortunately materials don't transfer that way, as Revit relies on FBX for that kind of thing.

 

Probably the best thing Revit has to offer is that almost everything remains parametric forever. There are no hard booleans - they are simply solids and voids that can interact with each other. For instance, you never 'Union' anything together. You can however 'Join' objects, and when you do the intersecting lines just clean up and present you with a unified object. As such, you may also 'Unjoin' objects back apart to make them separate again (although you don't have to do that to make adjustments). I like this approach because it is so easy to modify things later. There is no messing with 'Ghosted' objects. This makes the need for any kind of Construction History unnecessary. The downside is that there are many tools that can't be replicated in Revit that exist in fZ like intersection, slice with line, Slice with surface, split, un-stitch, etc. Obviously there is a lot of stuff going on under the hood for Revit to keep track of all this, and it is happening at the object level. While there is no such thing as a 'Layer' in Revit, there are Worksets which help control visibility on a larger scale. Objects belong to categories as well for some extra fine tuning of how they are displayed graphically.

 

Probably the most difficult thing I had to get my head wrapped around was the completely different way of working, but that goes for any two programs I think. Revit is very much, but not completely, a 'work in 2d and see the results in 3d' kind of environment. This is something I think they are making strides in changing, but it really doesn't compare to fZ, and I think this is where the fluidity lies in any modern 3d modeling application versus what is really, for the time being, strictly a construction documentation tool. But add on top of that I can have around 6 people working in the same model file at the same time every day without crashing, and there's something really powerful about that.

 

 

Interesting perspective on Fusion 360. I've always seen it as very specific to mechanical design. I'll have to dig a little deeper and see how it's toolset could be applied to more generalist tasks.

 

I'd be interested to hear Evan Troxel's view too as I know he swaps between Revit and FormZ for many of his projects. I'd imagine the Revit feels like treading water in treacle after a FormZ session.

 

I'm sure the AutoDesSys team hate this description. But I've always introduced FormZ as 'SketchUp on Steroids' to potential new users. I find it ideal for sketching out forms then adding detail as you go along. The workflow is so quick that you don't worry if you have to blow down a few metaphorical houses before rebuilding them and this is a more pleasurable experience for me than getting locked into a parametric history workflow (especially when concepting).

 

With regards to BIM, my view is that Bentley, Archicad and Revit already have BIM nailed so what I'd like to see in FormZ is something more akin to SketchUp and Vectorworks approach to BIM (having the ability to add IFC data to your scenes but not to be restricted by IFC workflows).

 

Definitely agree that the whole construction history/parametric control is a rich vein of discussion,

 

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