by Roopinder Tara, Tenlinks.com
After seeing wondrous projects at Smart Geometry 2011, I wanted to know more about how Generative Components worked so I tracked down Huw Roberts, Bentley’s global marketing director, to answer a few questions. As you might guess from Huw’s title, generative components is just a small piece of Huw’s world, “but an important one.”
Even after the conference was over, I had trouble categorizing generative components. Was it a technology? A module? An application? A programming language? A development kit? A what?
It’s an application, says Huw. It’s also an environment. Luckily, he was able to explain.
“You can elect to work with generative components in three ways. One is in a graphical environment, with models, like a CAD program. Or you can work with just the script. Generative components also generate a graph or flow chart, which is the third way. Each can drive the other. A change in the model will change the flow chart. You can drive the model by changing the script.”
Changing the script to change the model is somewhat similar to parametric modeling. Any comparison between generative components and parametric modelers, such as Revit?
“Oh, it’s so much more, “says Huw. Sure, programs like Revit have rules and constraints, but generative component scripting is far more versatile. “For example, try to put a window in a roof in Revit and call it a skylight. Good luck.” Generative components allow you to be much freer in your design, more creative. Certainly those sorts of applications are great for floor plans, basic layouts, BIM, but with generative components you can do things like size your windows to the results of a thermal analysis.
Generative components is offered free to one and all. You don’t even have to be a Bentley subscriber. What’s in it for Bentley? Why would a for-profit company be so generous, not only in the distribution of the software, but also sponsoring annual conferences, schools, etc.?
“We feel that getting generative components out to a wide audience will result in a better technology,” says Huw. “Of course, Bentley does benefit in using the technology in its applications.”
I have to ask about Grasshopper, very much in evidence at the Generative Components conference, even though it appears to compete with generative components. “A lot of people do use Grasshopper,” concedes Huw. “It is also free. But many Grasshopper users will find limits to it, and then use generative components. They find it more robust, and that it works better with professional applications.” So, generative components is positioned more as an industrial-strength solution that users graduate to? “You could say that,” says Huw.
Bentley’s largesse is also apparent in their decision to make generative components standalone, allowing it to work with not only Bentley software, but also with programs from Autodesk by virtue of its DWG output.
[Reprinted with the permission of CAD Insider.]