After seeing wondrous projects at Smart Geometry 2011 in Copenhagen, I wanted to know more about how GenerativeComponents 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, GenerativeComponents is just a small piece of Huw’s world “but an important one.”
Even after the conference was over, I had trouble categorizing GenerativeComponents. Was it a technology? A module? An application? A programming language? A development kit? What?
It’s an application, says Huw. It’s also an environment. Luckily, he was able to explain.
“You can elect to work with GenerativeComponents is three ways. One is in a graphical environment, with models. Like a CAD program. Or you can work with just the script. GenerativeComponents also generates 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 somewhat similar to parametric modeling. Any comparison between GenerativeComponents and parametric modelers, such as Revit?
“Oh, it’s so much more, “says Huw. Sure programs like Revit have rules and constraints, but GenerativeComponents scripting is far more versatile. “For example, try to put a window in a roof in Revit and call it a skylight. Good luck.” GenerativeComponents 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 GenerativeComponents you can do things like size your windows to the results of a thermal analysis.
GenerativeComponents 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 GenerativeComponents 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 GenerativeComponents conference, even though it appears to compete with GenerativeComponents. “A lot of people do use Grasshopper,” concedes Huw. “It is also free. However, it only works with Rhino, which you have to buy. Also, many Grasshopper users will find limits and then use GenerativeComponents. They find it more robust and it works better with professional applications.” So GenerativeComponents is positioned more as industrial strength solution that users graduate to? “You could say that,” says Huw.
Bentley’s largesse is also apparent in their decision to make GenerativeComponents stand alone, allowing it to work with not only Bentley apps, but Autodesk apps by virtue of DWG output.
For more information and to download GenerativeComponents, go to www.generativecomponents.com.