Adventures in GDL – guest blogger Kristian Bursell shares the origins of CADSwift
I officially entered the building design realm through the Architecture and Environmental Design course at the University of Canberra. After constantly being told that my ideals were that of a dreamer I became unsure of myself and decided the safe option was to follow the notions of friends, family and university Lecturer’s on “what life is”. However I felt nothing when I reached the milestones they said would bring fulfilment; and in the space of two weeks all I was told to aim for crumbled, and I found myself in a deep dark hole. So I threw their notions to the wind, clawed my way out of the hole and began beating my own path. Lesson 1; follow your heart not your head, because others will fill it with rubbish that does not apply to you.
Within my first year in the industry I had taught myself ArchiCAD and was already much faster than the experienced ArchiCAD users around me. My deeper understanding of the program meant that I was relied upon for maintaining and developing ArchiCAD systems within every company I worked for.
While delving into the capabilities of ArchiCAD I began to explore the wonderful world of parametric objects. I then began teaching myself all the nuances of ArchiCAD’s GDL scripting language. GDL, at its peak, is a very well organized series of geometric equations with a maze of variables. I discovered that creating parametric GDL objects gave me a great deal of satisfaction.
There is something very fulfilling about seeing parametric 3D objects come to life through mathematical equations. Perhaps it’s that overwhelming urge to create and understand form that many of us from the non-child-bearing gender experience. Whatever it is, I knew I had found my calling.
When I moved to Brisbane the head and the heart battled again; I was running out of money and my head was telling me to take one of the many jobs I was offered, but my heart, for no apparent reason, was set on working for Cottee Parker Architects. A couple days before my funds ran dry the call from CPA finally came and I was hired before the job interview was over.
My heart new best; the 3 years I worked for CPA was the best opportunity I could have to develop my skills. I spent the first year in CPA’s Brisbane office assisting with the development of their impeccable ArchiCAD template. Working on large scale projects taught me more about exploiting ArchiCAD’s full potential. I was also relied on to develop a series of intelligent parametric GDL library parts.
Being a small town boy at heart, one year in the big smoke was all I could bear. Also, my ArchiCAD development work for CPA was still only, at best, 50% of my workload; my speed made me far too useful as a documenter. These two factors prompted me to move from Brisbane back to a small coastal town. However, when I discussed this with Robert Cottee he asked me to continue doing ArchiCAD development work for CPA from wherever I planned to move to. I jump at the opportunity and for the next two years I worked as a remote ArchiCAD manager, developer and trainer for CPA.
Two solid years of GDL scripting was a great opportunity to learn what is possible with ArchiCAD library parts. It helped me to isolate the best scripting methods to ensure the parts I create are of the highest standard. When my role with CPA was terminated in October 2008 due to the Global Financial Crisis, I began working on my advanced set of GDL Library Parts.
In the last few years I have consulted to a large number of small, medium and large architectural firms, optimizing their ArchiCAD systems. I have discovered that the majority of people, and companies, do not use ArchiCAD very well.
My goal with ArchiCAD is the same as it was in the beginning; to automate as many processes as possible simply by modelling building elements. The only way to do this effectively is through GDL Library Parts. You are not working efficiently if you use a tool to model an element and then have to add in lines and text and other manual 2D information to complete the representation of that element in all views and schedules. Modelling will be tedious if you have to use a boring parameter list to configure each aspect of the modeled element. With moveable hotspots in 2D and 3D and polished user interfaces, my library parts bring joy and speed back into modelling.
The idea of BIM is information in a model, the idea of Swift library parts is enjoying modelling every building element and having ALL required information in the modeled element. I will continue to develop intelligent design tools through GDL and help everyone enjoy the BIM process as much as possible. Visit CADSwift to learn more.