I bought an iPad recently, and I started playing around with Autodesk’s new, free conceptual modeling program, FormIt. I first saw FormIt on the iPad about a year ago, and while I am really impressed with the ability to model 3D geometry through a touch-only interface—it’s also really fun—I never owned an iPad before two weeks ago, and I felt left out. But besides the good news that I just got a new toy, FormIt on iOS (on the App Store) now has some attractive cousins; it’s now on Android (on the Play Store) and on the web (http://beta.autodeskFormIt.com). FormIt is positioned as “conceptual BIM” because the conceptual mass-modeler is an intuitive and easy-to-use entry point to the building design process and more heavy-duty platforms like Revit.
So how can I use FormIt with Dynamo and Revit? Here’s what I’ve found out.
First, FormIt is awesome. It’s a conceptual mass modeler fully-controlled by your fingers if you’re on an iPad or on an Android tablet (or by a mouse if you’re on the web). It’s capabilities are not nearly as extensive as Dynamo’s, say, but that’s not the point. It’s about as intuitive as it gets for modeling 3D geometry, and all the basics are there like push/pull extrusions, drawing on surfaces, and solid booleans. I also started making fair use of the copy-many-times feature.
I had a very long flight last week, and I used part of my time to play—maybe that made me the perfect target for this app—and I made a model of my favorite building. Know it!? I guess the title of the sketch is a dead-giveaway; it’s OMA’s Maison Bordeaux outside Bordeaux, France.
“Look Mom, no mouse!”
Now for getting this into Dynamo. The various incarnations of FormIt mobile talk to each other through Autodesk 360, also free, which offers easy cloud storage and file transfer among other things. You don’t have to have an Autodesk 360 account to use FormIt on a standalone device, but the seamless file transfer capabilities between versions of FormIt or from FormIt to anything else are far too useful to ignore. This is what the repository of FormIt files on a colleague’s A360 account looks like:
Every time you save a FormIt file (extension .axm) in your Autodesk 360 account, it also saves a Revit file (.rvt) in a folder called FormIt. Basically, you just open that file in Revit from your A360 folder, synced to the Cloud, and the various pieces of the model import as conceptual masses. It’s just as if you had made it all directly in Revit. At the worst, if you’ve done something really crazy, the geometry might import as an in-place mass, and the faces will be selectable for hosting walls and roofs.