What FormIt wants?

What has informally been dubbed the “SketchUp Killer“, hasn’t quite delivered up to its full potential. Certainly within our office, Trimble SketchUp users that dictate early schematic design workflow have casually rejected the threat.

The ease of modeling that the designers enjoy, frustrates those that are working further downstream. The SketchUp model cannot be used effectively and remodeling efforts undoubtedly occur. This is true the reverse direction, when the updated Revit model is imported back for further iteration within SketchUp. There is no-live linking within SketchUp or sharing of efforts. Even materials do not talk to one another.



SketchUp design model


SketchUp model linked into Revit – where did the materials go?


Linked SketchUp model does not cut in plan?


So why is SketchUp still a market force? It has been around a grand old time, over ten years in my career, which in software terms is a lifetime. It has had multiple development cycles and the financial support of Google. What makes is so compelling is the ease of use, even my father of 79 years is a keen user! However things shift and newer kids on the block want in. My 10 year old son every morning fires up Autodesk FormIt on my aging iPad. Tweaks and builds his fantasy baseball stadium at Rat Field. Even his 6 year old younger brother is competing, modelling his police cars and bus stops, although scale can still be somewhat of an issue!

For me, I want an intuitive and efficient workflow that really talks to Revit, our tool for documenting and modelling our designs. It should maintain parametric data and interoperability, not wasting effort in remodeling or sharing assets. If this can be done on a mobile, non complex application that can create forms that make designers happy, we have hit the jackpot. We may not be there yet, but not having to think of file format or be restricted by what the tool can and cannot do, is something we should ask software developers in the AEC industry to produce.

I think FormIt has potential. I really do. It is no Rhino for modeling or SketchUp for intuition and speed, but it does provide a cheaper, nimble, efficient, mobile, analytical, iterative (combined with Dynamo Studio) platform that in someway can inter-operate with Revit. It is relatively young and needs some work to be a mainstream architectural application. For that to occur, FormIt needs to seamlessly work with its mature uncle: linking between one another and sharing the same resources.


A potential FormIt workflow to Revit?

I don’t think it is too much to ask to have our multi-generational teams work in the same sandbox, never having to remodel, work in isolation or be dictated to by the tool’s functionality.

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