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Showing posts from August, 2010

Getting along with Grasshopper on a mac

I have slowly began to learn Grasshopper (and Rhino with it). But as a Mac user, it is a bit cumbersome to launch Parallels and wait several minutes before the whole systems is operational and responsive. Once it it fully launched, it is workable. But I have a conceptual issue with Grasshopper. I am experienced with programming in code (C++, php, Java, VBA and a tiny bit of Ruby and Python). There are so many things that I can easily write in a one or two lines of code that take a lot of nodes in Grasshopper to do so. And the whole thing becomes a mess... But replacing this with a scripted node will make the whole thing hardly legible. I guess I need more practice: e.g. learn how to use the remote control, to put independent groups of nodes apart, so they don't overlap. I also try to use groups, but did not find how to ungroup or how to add new nodes into an existing group. And I still don't get how to combine several nodes into a smaller unit, to make it more reusable. Now

PixelLight Open Source graphics engine

On you can find an Open Source cross-platform (Windows+Linux) programming library that combines C++ and OpenGL into a complete framework for graphics applications, such as visualization and games. Not that there aren't any of those engines available, but the best ones are not free nor Open Source, so this could be an option.

vSwarm : Free Render Farm

Taking Open Source concepts and Cloud computing together, vSwarm is promising a free-to-access Render Farm. Currently they target the Blender and LuxRender software. You can do mainly two things to participate: use the Render Farm to process your renderings install a Client software to contribute CPU power to the farm (you'll need to install a VMWare-powered client system, which is currently only available for Windows, but Linux and OSX support are planned). More info on

ARES Commander Edition : CAD for Windows, OSX and Linux

Graebert ( ) is a CAD Developer who have released their ARES Commander Edition software for the three major platforms: Windows, OSX and Linux (in beta). It uses the Qt toolkit to make their GUI (and probably some other aspects) work on all platforms. The software is generic CAD, with 2D drafting and 3D Modeling features, such as reference files, ACIS solid modeling, programming (Lisp, C++, ARX-like, DRX), plotting/layouts, ... Some Windows-specific features (ActiveX, OLE, COM, VSTA) are obviously not supported in the OSX and Linux versions. Compatible with DWG files and similar commands to AutoCAD. It is commercial software, but currently, the introductory price is about €500 till the end of September 2010. There is a free trial version, which does not print or save, unless you register it and then it is a time-limited watermarked demo.

WeaverBird : topological transformations for Grasshopper

WeaverBird 0.3 is the new alpha plug-in for topological transformations in Rhino 4.0 and Grasshopper 0.6.0059. A new build is now available for Grasshopper 0.7.0030. It helps smoothing, modifying and preparing meshes for rapid manufacturing technologies.

Developing Processing applets on an iPad or Android?

Just when you thought everything is getting tied into specific platforms, someone started to let the JavaScript version of Processing work on some of the current "hot" devices, such as the iPad and the Android. Programming on a computer for a handheld device suddenly seems cumbersome. (with thanks to Andrea Graziano from whom I read about this)

Tying Grasshopper to Excel

If you go to , you can download some Visual Basic components which can be used to link Excel to Grasshopper more efficiently. These vb Components for Grasshopper, adapted from work by Damian Alamar of , allows for the streaming in and out of data from Excel to Grasshopper with parametric control of not only data placement but also general formatting. If you are a Mac user, it is a bit frightening to hear that the connection of these technologies is tied to a particular platform: Rhino for Windows (Mac version is evolving nicely), Grasshopper to .NET (Mono might be an option, but only after Rhino 5 for Windows is ready will they look at it seriously) and then VBscript, which is also tied to Microsoft libraries.

GrabCAD : free online sharing of engineering CAD models

Maybe not directly usable by architects, this online sharing platform aims to become a community where engineers can freely share CAD models with other engineers, regardless of platform and filetype.

GECO : Grasshopper to Ecotect

A free plugin for Rhino and Grasshopper allows the exchange of Grasshopper-powered Rhino models with Autodesk Ecotect, an energy and building performance analysis software, targeted at early design evaluation. Read about it on: When going over to the actual blog where the software is shared ( ) you can read that the software is shared with a Creative Commons license (CC-NC-BY-SA). So free to use and share, but only non-commercial and shared under the same license.

Export your blog as a PDF book

Through the web service, you can create a full PDF book from your blog (if powered by Wordpress, Blogger or LiveJournal. Without reading the details, it seems like the Atom export you can create is managed and formatted into LaTeX sources and rendered into PDF. At least, from the looks of the pages, it screams LaTeX. This brings back memories of my PhD , which was also created in that system. It is nice to know that, so far, I have produced a book of almost 100 pages, with this blog (including TOC and title page). Not directly fit for publishing, though. There is no need to present you the link for the PDF as the web-service erases everything afterwards. Should you really want the PDF, contact me.

Autodesk Home Styler

The free online Autodesk Homestyler is currently in beta on . It works directly inside the browser and requires the Flash Player to be installed. It is simple enough to use directly and, frankly, is faster for a quick and simple modeling of your current room than typical CAD and BIM software. You can drag and drop colors, textures, furniture etc and the dimension features are basic but usable (and you can use metric units too! not bad for a US application). I just tried to recreate our office room on my Mac, browsing in Safari and had no problems whatsoever. However, as indicated by the "beta" sign, there are still issues to resolve. So far I had following strange behaviors: inserting a wall extension into a wall that had a window created a strange corner in the wall and it was not properly aligned anymore; the generic table is stretchable (nice) but can not be stretched wide enough for our office tables; placing four sofas around a coffee table wa

Plastic Animation Paper : 2D animation now free

As announced on , the Windows-only "Plastic Animation Paper (PAP)" has become free. It was originally an in-house custom tool for the creation of traditional hand-drawn (read: tablet) animation which could then be coloured and composited in other software. The creators have decided to make the latest version of the software free, no strings attached. This is not related to 3D or CAD but is purely a digital approach to the traditional cartoon animation by hand. You would need to use a tablet and spend time configuring a custom interface to have it work optimally.

From point clouds to Geometry with AutoCAD 2011

As mentioned on the "Between the Lines" blog, you can add the possibility to AutoCAD (2011 only) to generate geometry from point-clouds, which are typically created using Laser scanning equipment.


DIVA (short for Design Iterate Validate Adapt) is a plugin for Rhinoceros3D to assist with design evaluation for sustainability. It is only working for the Windows-version of Rhino and uses Radiance/Daysim for all evaluation tasks. DIVA-FOR-RHINO consists of a series of compiled RHINO and native GRASSHOPPER scripts that are accessible within the RHINOCEROS NURBS for Windows modeler via a dedicated toolbar. DIVA-FOR-RHINO uses the following third party software: Radiance ( ) Evalglare ( ) GenCumulativeSky (developed by Darren Robinson at EPFL ) Daysim ( )

Free video tutorials for Rhino & Digital Project

This is a nice collection of video tutorials for Rhinoceros3D and for Digital Project. As much as I like to create our CAAD tutorials myself, there is only so much time and I have realized that it is worthwhile to focus on the topics that you know best and only create new tutorials when needed: When you want to have the foundation level clear for your classes. When you focus on a particular subject, e.g. how to go from Application X to Application Z to get to a particular result Most other themes and topics are adequately explained in the product documentation, help files, online tutorials and, not to underestimate, have already been created by other teachers. So I tend to link more to external educational content and do not have any objection that other people link to our course material. But to be fair, ensure that you link to the content rather than copy it verbatim. That is the only correct way of paying tribute to the