4 practical examples where Visual Scripting helps BIM designers

Xinling Xu, Product Owner at ALLPLAN, describes some common situations where visual scripting in Allplan can help and what you can do with it

No-code systems, such as Allplan’s visual scripting tool, are becoming increasingly popular due to the wide range of possibilities they offer. But what are the benefits of Visual Scripting and why should designers use it?

Some common situations that BIM designers face may include:

  • Repetitive modeling tasks, such as creating similar – but slightly different – objects over and over again, or recreating objects from scratch because they require certain modifications.
  • Wanting to automate a process but not knowing how. Maybe you need to modify a large number of objects at the same time or in a similar way or you want to run a specific workflow every time data is received from an external party.
  • Need to determine if an object meets construction standards but want to speed up and automate the process.
  • Wanting to create custom objects or automatic processes, without learning a programming language or setting up a programming environment.

Visual Scripting is useful for all of these scenarios and can help make these tasks easier and faster, as well as more accurate.

Repetitive Modeling: Create a Custom Parametric Object

A common problem with modeling is that sometimes if a designer wants to modify the object that was just created, they have to reshape it again from scratch. For example, this can happen when there are many similar pipes, but with different diameters or openings. Or perhaps a client or contractor requested a design change for budget or availability reasons. Remodeling objects from scratch is time-consuming, error-prone, and boring.

With Visual Scripting, however, a designer can create custom parametric objects that are easy to modify by modifying the parameters. For example, creating a trench by extruding a shape along a path, in Allplan. If it changes, the designer can normally modify the object using the Stretch Entities tool, but this does not always give the required result.

Instead, with Visual Scripting, by adding four nodes (a reference point, a cross section, an axis, and a sweep), a designer can set all the necessary parameters with the first three nodes and create the trench at using the scan function. Then, if there are changes in the future, changing the trench is as simple as double-clicking on it, modifying the reference point, axis or section and confirming the changes. The trench updates automatically and there is no need to reshape it again from scratch. This could potentially save five to 10 minutes each time this object needs to be changed, which can add up over the course of a project.

Process Automation: Use rule-based editing

Sometimes a designer may wish to modify many objects at once, but doing so individually can be extremely time consuming. For example, when importing data, the visual representation of architectural elements, such as columns and walls, may be incorrect. Rules-based editing with Visual Scripting can help overcome this problem quickly and easily.

Using the Edit Architectural Properties function in Allplan would be the usual way to approach this problem. The problem is that a user cannot see the attribute value of the elements while applying these changes, so there is a high risk of errors during this process.

There is already an example for this scenario integrated in the Allplan example library under Attributes. The sample script looks for predefined rules in a .CSV file. This file can contain information such as material type, face style, layer, color or others, which are the rules to apply to the objects. After checking that they are correct and running the script, Allplan will then automatically modify the existing elements according to these rules. This not only saves a lot of time; it also helps to minimize errors in the model.

visual script

Smart Objects: Perform automatic buildability checks

Checking whether each component conforms to the relevant building standards or guidelines used to be a manual exercise – which, while very important, also means it is time consuming and prone to error. In this scenario, Visual Scripting can help by automatically providing feedback indicating whether the component is standards compliant or not.

This can be achieved by using a parametric object with an attribute assigned for the standards that need to be followed. For example, a parametric bridge can be created with an attribute that specifies a certain range of angles for the axes of the bridge. Then, if the horizontal or vertical alignment of the bridge has been repositioned, this attribute could be highlighted when the bridge is no longer compliant. The color of the bridge could also change to visually indicate that the standards are not being met. Constructability is improved and checks are fast and accurate.

visual script

Custom scripts: no programming knowledge required

The Python programming language is what Allplan uses for Visual Scripting and other automation functions. Allplan even includes a library of PythonParts, which are basically smart, pre-designed parametric objects. They can be modified like a custom parametric object, but without the need to model them from scratch.

However, a designer may need an object that is not already in the library or may want to create a script to run reports or other processes unique to their workflow.

Using the Python language to achieve these results is entirely possible, but it requires a deep understanding of programming, as well as the Allplan Python API. It is much more flexible and powerful, but this option is aimed more at developers than at architects and engineers. Visual Scripting is a way to provide these powerful tools in Allplan, without the need for programming knowledge. To learn more about how Visual Scripting works, check out our previous Visual Scripting blog post, which also has a video of the process.

Xinling Xu

The power of Visual Scripting in Allplan

Visual Scripting was designed to be as user-friendly as possible and to provide architects and engineers with the tools they need to optimize their daily work. With the help of Visual Scripting, they can leverage the benefits of automation to create efficiencies and improve quality by removing manual tasks.

*Please note: This is a commercial profile

Briana R. Cross