About tvollaro

I am a User Experience designer working on building design products at Autodesk.

A FormIt Success Story from a-lab

The best part of my job is speaking to our users. Even when someone is frustrated, it means I have an opportunity to listen and hopefully make it better by guiding our development process. Even after almost a decade dedicated to designing tools for architects, I am still constantly impressed by what our users can produce with our tools. During a recent interview with a-lab, a 43 person firm in Norway, I was once again blown away by not only the quality of the design, but also the sophisticated use of multiple Autodesk tools to create a high quality design in, what seemed to me, an insane time constraint!

Angie Arroyo Mendez, the BIM Manager and the rest of the folks at a-lab were gracious enough to allow me to share the story and the images. The firm had entered a competition for a mid-sized housing block – and had two weeks to generate a proposal. Odd Klev, the lead design principal had recently discovered FormIt and had fallen in love with it as a design tool. Angie imported the terrain model as an OBJ into FormIt and Odd spent a few days at home generating up to 20 plus options. Odd used the full FormIt feature set of to generate the options. This included the satellite imagery, imported OBJ files, materials, simple modeling tools, shadow studies, and the space-tracking feature to ensure he was staying within the program constraints.

The team quickly narrowed down the options and began focusing on a design with multiple free-standing structures to optimize open space, views and access to light. These options were imported into Autodesk Revit where Angie began to turn the FormIt massing model into a more detailed BIM. The team then brought the Revit file into Autodesk 3ds Max to create a number of high quality renderings. At the final client presentation, they used Autodesk InfraWorks to display live views of the sight lines from the surrounding park. The best part of all this, they won the competition! Congratulations!

Check out theses images, courtesy of a-lab, that illustrate the FormIt > Revit > 3DS Max > Infraworks workflow.

New update for FormIt for Android

Our Android client has just gotten much closer to true feature parity with the iOS client. A new update went live on the Google Play Store today. Here are the significant updates in the update:
  • Real-time tracking of gross area and floor area ratio
  • Import and edit image layers (transparency, vertical order)
  • Save images of your sketch to your device photo gallery
  • Import existing 3D models (OBJ) from other programs into the sketch
  • Save OBJ files to Autodesk 360 so that you can share them with others
  • Editable dimensions to create more precise geometry
  • Fixed bugs in gallery and in sketch area

Check out the videos highlighting the new features. And as always, follow us on Twitter @FormIt3D and post any bugs or requests at our GetSatisfaction site.

Weather data comes to FormIt

We are happy to announce an exciting update for our iOS client. We continue to invest in leveraging our unique and powerful cloud solutions to  building performance analysis tools to FormIt. We started at Autodesk University last year with the Energy Cost Range. Now, we are happy to announce that the same rich weather data that is available in Revit and Vasari is now available in FormIt on iOS. When you access the map interface to set location, you will now see weather stations populate your map! Just tap on a station to view the prevailing wind and annual temperature graphs. The Building Performance Analysis blog has some more detail on what is under the hood. This functionality is coming to the web and Android clients soon.

And for all of you Android users out there, we have not forgotten about you! We have a new update almost ready to go. Just a few more bugs to squash first. Stay tuned!

Practical Design with FormIt

Let’s face it. Design is not always sexy. Sometimes you just need to get the outhouse built. Markus Bonn, one of the Principal Software Engineers (and former architect) on our team used FormIt to design and build this very practical piece of architecture. It is interesting to note that he used OBJ import feature to bring in some elements from another 3D modeling app that he is very familiar with.

Outhouse Design

The first ever outhouse designed with FormIt (that we know of)

Finished Outhouse

That is going to be a chilly user experience!

An end-to-end FormIt workflow

I know many of you have already caught the FormIt bug. But if you find yourself trying to explain the value of FormIt to colleagues and friends, maybe this video will help. I created this to present to our internal sales teams and I thought I would share it with you. Its a bit long, but it steps through an entire FormIt workflow and shows off its value.

New updates for FormIt

We released new updates to FormIt yesterday. First, the Android version has a complete user interface overhaul with user-defined materials, multi-select, and other new features.

the iOS version has some bug fixes and a new feature which allows you to export OBJ files along with texture maps! You use the Send To menu, choose Export to OBJ and then a zip file will appear in your Autodesk 360 account with the OBJ, MTL and any relevant PNG textures.

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And last, but surely not least, we have been incrementally updating the web beta with a lot of new functionality and a new look and feel.

FormIt Web Start up Screen

The new FormIt Web startup screen

We look forward to hearing your feedback!

FormIt and Revit, Beautiful Together

Here is a video showing the Villa Savoye model I have been working on to highlight our interop with Revit. Here is a copy of the model. Download the AXM file and load it into the FormIt folder in your Autodesk 360 drive and refresh your gallery in FormIt to load it.

The wonderful Revit model of Villa Savoye at the end was created by Autodesk Technical Sales Specialist, Samuel Macalister. He has been creating some fantastic cross-product workflow models using FormIt, Revit, 3DS Max and more over at the BIM Toolbox - including the “1 Hour Tower”. All of his models can be download from his Behance page.

Villa Savoye – buit in Revit and rendered in Autodesk 360 Rendering. By Samuel Macalister.

Autodesk University 2013

After a weekend of recuperation, I can now reflect a bit on the past week at Autodesk University. Overall, it was an exhausting yet rewarding few days. I had many conversations with people either learning about – or already passionate about – FormIt! I am amazed by the breadth of ideas for the future of the FormIt platform. Everything from private clouds for government charrettes to structural steel layout tools to construction pre-modeling! I came away from AU thinking of FormIt more as a platform and not just a collection of products. It is going to be an interesting year. Keep an eye out for many more classes on FormIt next year…

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New version of FormIt available today!

After a ton of work by our wonderful development team spread out all over the globe, we have our biggest updates yet!  So here is what we have in the iOS update:

  • Complete overhaul of the user interface to fit the new iOS 7 look and feel.
  • Swipe to the left of the right screen edge to access object properties and the materials library.
  • The Building Program provides key design information used to provide a range of potential annual energy cost based on climate zone, building type, and target building area. See the Building Performance Analysis Group’s blog for more detail on this exciting new feature!
  • Draw more curvilinear forms with the spline tool.
  • Rotate the grid by tapping and holding on the grid.
  • Swipe on a thumbnail in the gallery to delete, duplicate or access sketch properties.
  • Share images of your work on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Print images of your work directly to AirPrint enabled printers.
  • Share FormIt sketches with others using AirDrop enabled iPads.

Note: iOS 7 is required for this update.

And our Android version has also been updated! We have added the material library – your most requested feature. Custom materials and many more updates are coming soon.

Watch our new slate of help videos in our Playlist:

All gussied up for iOS 7

Greetings FormIteers! The blog has been quiet of late (I really need to grow a new set of hands so I can blog and tweet WHILE getting a new version ready for release!) I am happy to announce we have submitted our new version to Apple and are eagerly awaiting approval. Here is a short video outlining some of thew new goodies.