Dynamo Barrel Vault Brace 06

Dynamo Barrel Vault Brace 06

We should be ready to start adding nodes and making connections now.  If you are just arriving at this blog for the first time, I’ve been doing a series of posts on Autodesk Dynamo.  You can catchup by clicking the links below, when you’re caught up we’ll proceed.

Open the Adaptive Component Placement.rfa family

Launch Dynamo and click New to create a new dynamo graph or workspace.

When you’re working in Dynamo, its helpful to work backwards from what you want to build to what you need to drive it.  In this case, we want to place adaptive components along a series of points running along the top and bottom of our trusses.  So right off the bat, I know that I’ll need some node to place the adaptive component by points, and a way to select the curves containing the points.

Alright with those two elements in mind we’ll take advantage of the search tool.  If you remember from previous posts, the search tool is at the top of the library list along the left side of the dynamo main window.  Move your mouse there and begin typing “adaptive..”  Did you notice that the list was immediately filtered to only show you nodes that contained the word adaptive?  See if you can find the AdaptiveComponents.ByPoints node.



Good, you found it, so let’s click it to have one added to our graph

It probably came in a little big, so click anywhere in the graph window and roll your mouse wheel to zoom out drag the node off to the left side of your graph window.  It usually places these new nodes at the center of the graph.  Remember this when your graph gets really complex.  This node will represent the “end condition” of our project.  As this node receives points from our graph, it will place the brace family aligning each ac point in the family with a point located on one of our curves. Notice the inputs (along the left of the node) and outputs (located along the right side), we have an input connector for points, an input connector for a familysymbol (think family type) and an output value of “AdaptiveComponent”.


Still working backward, let’s return to the search bar and enter “family types”.  Find the “Family Types” node under Revit -> Selection -> and click it to add one to the graph.  Did you notice that the library is not only filtering the options based on your search input, but is also providing a list of the “Top Results”.  Those guys at the factory sure make things easy for us don’t they!

With the family types node in our graph, let’s create a pipeline for our data from one node to the other. We do this by clicking first on output connector or port of the Family Types node and then click on the “familysymbol” input connector or port of the AdaptiveComponent.ByPoints node.  As seen in the graphic, the “data pipeline” is represented by a dashed line when the connection is incomplete and by a solid line when the connection has been made at both ends.  From now on, I’ll just say to connect “this port” to “that port” and you’ll know what I mean!


Did you know? – You can make disconnections too, by simply clicking again on port and then simply clicking on empty space.  We’ll connect and reconnect frequently as we work in dynamo.

Click on the display toggle (hollow or filled square at the lower right corner of the AdaptiveComponent.ByPoints node.  Notice that it displays “null”.  This is because we haven’t run our graph yet.  This will soon change, we’ll revisit this when we have made some other connections.


So, as I mentioned earlier, we frequently work backwards in Dynamo from the result to our initial step as we layout out the logic for our dynamo graph.  Looking at the AdaptiveComponent.ByPoints node, we see that there is another connection to be made.  The points port indicates that it wants to receive a list of points.   While we could just create a list of points, it would be better if we could pull the points from our truss chords.  We’ve already drawn the curve lines to represent the chords by tracing our dwg import, so let’s jump to the other end of the task and add some dynamo selection nodes to pick the curves we’ve already drawn.

Click the search tool and begin typing “Select” without the quotation marks.



Find the tool Select Model elements and click on it in the library list area. This will add it to our workspace.  Notice that it has a yellowish background and the result indicator displays “Nothing selected.”  Don’t be alarmed, we’ll select something soon, and Dynamo will remember the selection for us by displaying the Element ID in text.  Yes, it is the same element id as Revit.

Since we will have four connection points per brace and because we are bracing between the top and bottom chords of two adjacent trusses, it goes without saying that we will need four “Select Model Element” nodes. You can click the library 3 more times or select the inserted node and copy to the clipboard and then paste 3 times.  Your choice, but sometimes it is faster to copy paste when your deep in a graph and don’t want to keep using the “search” area.


Your workspace or graph should look something like the image above at this point.  Since we’ve been at this for a while, it is probably a good time to save our work.  Click the save icon on the Quikc Access Options bar and save your graph as “Dynamo_Barrel_Vault_Truss_AC_Placement.dyn” or whatever name you choose.

Note: It is always best to be descriptive when you are sharing with others or picking items from a list, which happens frequently in Revit.

Let’s Run our project and begin selecting our model splines.  Configure your screen so you can see both the dynamo editor and the Revit environment and while you’re at it, let’s select that dwg import and temporarily hide it in Revit to make our model element selection easier.


If your screen looks similar to the image above, click the the “Run” button and starting with the top “Select Model Element” node perform the following actions:

Click Select (inside the node)

Move your mouse into the Revit drawing window and select the bottom chord spline of the Left Truss .

Notice that the element id of the spline curve is indicated in the node display.

Working your way from bottom to top and left to right, make your selections of all the splines, one spline per select model element node.  Click Run, you should see the approximate curves displayed in the Dynamo Geometry window.  You can zoom to fit to see the results if you are zoomed in too far. Click the Geom toggle in the lower right corner of the graph window, then right click your mouse and choose rotate.  With your left mouse button depressed, move your mouse until you have a similar view of the dynamo geometry.  Hit CTRL + G to exit the geometry mode.


The select model Element nodes will pass the spline object as a curve to the next node we add.  Rather than collecting and passing each selection as a single element, lets build a list of the selections and pass the list.  We can do this by choosing the List.Create node from our library. You can find this node by searching or by clicking directly to it under “Core” -> “List” -> “Create” or by typing in the search box “core.” Then looking for create.  Did you know the dot operator worked in Dynamo to identify particular nodes within packages?  Now you do.

When the list.create node is displayed it has an index0 input and a list output port.  Click the plus sign (+) three more times to create an index port for each of your splines and connect them up.  It’s worth noting that arrays or list items in Dynamo always start with 0.  So the index item number will always be one less than the total number of items.

list of curves

Click Run to see the resulting list of curves get built using the display toggle.  Note that it indicates null before the Run button is clicked and a list of curve by points after Run is completed.

list of curves apres run

It is our goal to divide the curves into a series of points to feed into our AdaptiveComponent placement node, so we need to do some division.  Return to our friend the search box and type in divide.  Find the DividedPath.ByCurveAndDivisions and add it to the graph.  While we are there, lets add a query to identify the points created by the division.


Also pick Points under Query and then we’ll connect the graph so it looks like the image below. We’re almost done. Aren’t you excited?  Before you click run to see the results, lets add a node to allow us to enter the number of divisions.  We could do this with a number input node, but then we’d have to manually type in the value everytime we wanted to change it.  Much easier to type “slider” in the search box and add the “Integer Slider” node to our graph.  Connect it up to the divisions input port and set the value to a number between the min and max of the integer slider range.  (Click the circle icon to display the Min and Max value input fields.).

Okay, hit Run now and look at the results.


Notice the points displayed along our graph geometry and the resulting lists in the display toggle of the DividedPath.Points node we added earlier..

Okay, so far so good, we’ve got the curves and we’re splitting them into equal divisions generating points along the way…now we need to marry up each lines index item with the rest of the curves.  In other words, the first points on each curve should be grouped together in an organized fashion.  We can do this with a transpose node.  It will take the output from a row and swap it with a column.  So rather than four lists of x number of points, now we’ll have x number of lists, each containing four points.  This is just what we need to place our bracing family.

Use search to locate the List.Transpose node and add it to the graph.  Connect the output of the DividedPath.Points node to the input “lists” port of the List.Transpose node and click run.  Compare the lists generated.


Now we are ready to connect our resulting points list, transposed from the original curve list, into our adaptive point placement.  Click on the Transpose.List output port and click on the points input port of the AdaptiveComponent.ByPoints node.


If you toggled on the “Run Automatically, you should have the results by now.  Do they look like this image?


Congratulations!  You are now a “Visual Programmer”!  Return here for the next post as we connect our material and radius size parameters to our brace family and control them with Dynamo too!

Grab a copy of the graph here


Dynamo Barrel Vault Brace 05

Dynamo Barrel Vault Brace 05

We’ve built all the necessary components, an adaptive component profile family, an adaptive component brace family with four adaptive placement points, and an adaptive family containing the profile curves that run along the inside edges of the barrel vault trusses that hold up the roof of our project file. It’s time to begin building the Dynamo graph that will give us a flexible solution to place the brace along the curves.

I hope you’ve been following along and creating your families along the way. If not, then take some time to work through the previous posts linked below:

  1. Dynamo Barrel Vault Brace 01
  2. Dynamo Barrel Vault Brace 02
  3. Dynamo Barrel Vault Brace 03
  4. Dynamo Barrel Vault Brace 04

The placement family we built in the last post is available directly at the link below:

Adaptive Component Placement

By the way, this solution was built in Revit 2015 using Dynamo 07.5. You can use one of the newer daily builds if you want, but the screen captures will look slightly different. Before we launch dynamo let’s load the parts we need:

  • open the adaptive component placement family and click the insert Ribbon tab.
  • Click the load family tool and load the 4 point AC Brace family created in post 3 and 4 of this series.

Load Family

With that prep work done, we are ready for spaghetti…sorry couldn’t resist.  Let’s get started with Dynamo.  Let’s launch Dynamo. You’ll find the Dynamo launcher on the Addins tab.


Before we connect our first nodes let’s get familiar with the Dynamo interface. First up is the welcome or startup screen


You can use the File menu area at the top or the Files area on the welcome screen labeled in blue above. Directly below the I/O area is the recent files area, which presents a quick way to click back into your latest graph. When you’re ready to learn more, you can visit the source links to view example files by either clicking the link directly or clicking the “Show Samples in Folder” link to browse using windows file manager. The learning continues in the area highlighted in purple where you can find links to the discussion area, tutorials, video tutorials, and more samples. Lastly, the Code area has links to the source code for Dynamo itself, as well as a link to submit bugs.

  • Click New

When the Dynamo editor is displayed look around the interface as we learn how it works.


Across the top of the editor screen, you’ll find the menu bar. In the menu bar as in most applications, you’ll find following menu items: File, Edit, View, Packages, Settings, Help.

  • File Menu – This pulldown contains the standard input and output tools like New, Open, Save and Saveas. There is also an option to import a Library, Export your workspace as an image, Export dynamo geometry as an STL file, a recent files list, and an option to exit the program.


  • Edit Menu – , an edit pull down containing the expected undo, redo, and copy/paste tools, You can create notes to accompany your graph nodes, an option to bundle up a selection of nodes into a custom Node, Select all, delete, Align Selection to organize your nodes horizontally and vertically, and an automatic option to cleanup the node layout (might result in criss crossed lines)


  • View Menu – this area contains navigation tools for zooming, panning, options to change the node connector types and visibility, as well as visibility options for Revit geometry and dynamo geometry toggles.


  • Packages Menu – this pulldown allows you to search for packages others users have uploaded, manage the packages and versions you’ve downloaded, and publish your own creations in the form of nodes, packages, and workspaces.


  • The Settings Menu – contains feedback settings for the Dynamo team to assist them in improving this great tool, precision settings for length, area, volume, and numeric input and display as well as Rendering precision. Click the about option under help to see the type of data and identification that is sent back to the Dynamo team.


  • The Help Menu – This contains links to the wiki, project website, the source folder for the examples, the start page, bug reporting, and links that open the learning samples directly


  • Directly below the menu bar is a Quick Access Options Area containing new, open, save, undo, and redo options on the left and an update notification cloud and snapshot tool on the right. Notice the green cloud indicating an available update to Dynamo is now available, you can click the cloud to install the update.


  • Along the left side of the screen below the menu bar and Quick Access Options area is a search tool and the list of node categories or packages that are installed.


  • At the bottom left of the Dynamo window, you’ll find the application Run options, allowing you to Run Dynamo automatically as connections and nodes are added if you choose. A manual Run option is available as well.


  • At the bottom right of the graph window, you’ll find toggles to switch between adjusting the display of the nodes and/or 3D geometry inside Dynamo. You can also use CTRL+G to switch back and forth


  • In the upper right corner of the Dynamo graph window are a few final tools. The triple row icon below the camera icon, allows you to switch between the graphs currently open in the editor. Directly below that are three zoom controls: zoom centered (fit to screen), zoom in, zoom out. The zoom centered option will perform a zoom extents if no nodes are selected, if a node is pre-selected, that node will be centered and a slight zoom will be performed. Below the zoom tools is the pan tool.


  • The final menu/interface element is the right click menu which changes based on your context and if an object is selected. When no nodes are selected, the right click menu offers options to Align nodes, create new nodes, toggle the geometry/node visibility, pan and fit to screen.


  • When a system or built in node is selected the right click options include Delete, preview, preview upstream, show labels (never seen this enabled), rename node, and a help function that will display the node type, description, category, inputs and outputs available for that node.


  • When a custom node is selected an additional group of right click options are displayed allowing you enter the custom node, change the node properties, or publish the custom node. If you continue right clicking on the nested nodes, you can get to the Python script editor where the real power is!


That’s it for this post, in the next installment, we’ll create our script and run it through its paces.

Dynamo Barrel Vault Brace 04

Today, we’ll make one more adaptive component family.  We’ll do this one by opening the central model and isolating the Barrel Vault Trusses…actually, we’ll isolate two of them since they are identical throughout the length of the space and our aim is to use dynamo to generate the braces used to stiffen the roof truss system.

If you are just joining this series, take a moment to view the previous 3 posts:

If you didn’t do the homework from the last session, you can download the family created here:

4 Point AC Brace

Create the AC Family for Brace Placement:

  • Open the Central model and activate a 3D isometric view
  • Use the temporary isolate to isolate two  of the barrell vault trusses adjacent to each other


  • Export the geometry to DWG format


  • Keep the temporary mode active during the export


The above steps are useful to reuse Revit geometry from a project context when you intend to model a component in the family editor.  I’ve done the export for you, you’ll find the 3D cad file at this link.

3D CAD Truss

  • New Family – Generic Model Adaptive


  • Click the insert ribbon and choose import cad formats dwg and locate the halltec_main_truss drawing that you just downloaded.


  • Bring it in using Origin to Origin
  • Toggle off the “Do Not Select Pinned Objects” control


  • Select the Cad import and move it to the origin of the family.
  • Choose the snap point as the inside face of the truss and align with the Center Front/Back reference plane in your family.


  • Pin the dwg file
  • Click the Center Front/Back reference plane, hold the CTRL key down while you drag a copy to align with the other inside face of the adjacent truss in a top down or plan view.


  • Reselect the Center Front/Back Ref Plane to activate it as a work plane

Activate WorkPlane

  • Switch to the front elevation view
  • Add Reference planes as snap intersections for the splines you will draw


  • Click the Spline through points tool and draw a 3 pt spline using the intersection and midpoint snaps along the top chord of the truss while the Center Front/Back reference plane is the active workplane


  • Repeat the sketch process for the bottom chord while the Center Front/Back reference plane is the active work plane.


  • Switch to the 3D view and window select the two splines and associated points.
  • Use the filter tool to eliminate any other elements you might select using the window method.


  • Once the splines and points are selected, copy them using the end points of the ref planes in a top down 3D view.
  • Your family should look similar to the image below.

chords complete

  • Open your 4 Point AC Brace family and load it into this placement family.
  • Save your family as Adaptive Component Placement.rfa


We’re finally ready for Dynamo. That’s all for this post. See you next time as we begin to create the Dynamo graph.

Dynamo Barrel Vault Brace 03

Dynamo Barrel Vault Brace 03

Welcome back, today’s post will complete the Barrel Vault Brace family.  If you’re just finding this post today, look at the previous posts to start at the beginning. If you’ve been following along and doing your homework, you should be ready to begin. The best way to learn is to do the work yourself, but if you ran into problems or just haven’t had the time, you can download the catchup file here.

Now that we’ve created the top and bottom chords, its time to add the diagonal bracing members. You did flex the family right? It’s important at each step, to be sure the pipe radius behaves and moves with the adaptive points. If you haven’t flexed it, please do. Did your pipes remain consistent from end to end? If you got a bulge anywhere in the pipe, you must not have constrained the profile shape to the ends. If your family is good, then its time to work on the diagonal bracing. Let’s make it easy on ourselves, select the two diagonal reference lines and isolate them temporarily.

IsolateLet’s get started!

  • Click the component tool and use the type selector to set the family and type to Circle_Profile_AC:BraceRadius
  • Hover over the adaptive point at the bottom left of the brace, tab until the end point option is selected and the working plane is perpendicular to diagonal reference line.


  • Place the BraceRadius and while still selected, Add a family type parameter labeled BraceRadius and associate it to the BraceRadius radius parameter.


Repeat this process at the other end of the diagonal reference line.

  • Change the value of the BraceRadius parameter in each type and flex it. Do the profile family circles get larger? Good.

endptandorientation FlexDiag

  • Create the form element by selecting the reference line and the two profile family insertions. Click Create form.
  • Now flex the resulting geometry. Does the brace form element behave? Good, add the remaining diagonal elements by repeating steps 3 ,4, & 5. Flex the family. Do both diagonal elements flex properly?
  • Click your temporary visibility tool (sunglasses) and Reset temporary hide/isolate visibility. Select each of your adaptive points and move them using the ucs gizmo. Do the form elements follow and flex properly?


  • Add a material property and assign it to diagonal brace form element.
  • Repeat this process for the other diagonal vector.
  • Flex your family again and ensure it behaves. Did you add different materials to your test types?


Does your family look like the above image?  We’re almost ready for Dynamo.  See you next post, when we’ll create our insertion adaptive family and begin working in Dynamo.