CumInCAD is a Cumulative Index about publications in Computer Aided Architectural Design
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id cf2011_p075
authors Janssen, Patrick; Chen Kian Wee
year 2011
title Visual Dataflow Modelling: A Comparison of Three Systems
source Computer Aided Architectural Design Futures 2011 [Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Computer Aided Architectural Design Futures / ISBN 9782874561429] Liege (Belgium) 4-8 July 2011, pp. 801-816.
summary Visual programming languages enable users to create computer programs by manipulating graphical elements rather than by entering text. The difference between textual languages and visual languages is that most textual languages use a procedural programming model, while most visual languages use a dataflow programming model. When visual programming is applied to design, it results in a new modelling approach that we refer to 'visual dataflow modelling' (VDM). Recently, VDM has becoming increasingly popular within the design community, as it can accelerate the iterative design process, thereby allowing larger numbers of design possibilities to be explored. Furthermore, it is now also becoming an important tool in performance-based design approaches, since it may potentially enable the closing of the loop between design development and design evaluation. A number of CAD systems now provide VDM interfaces, allowing designers to define form generating procedures without having to resort to scripting or programming. However, these environments have certain weaknesses that limit their usability. This paper will analyse these weaknesses by comparing and contrasting three VDM environments: McNeel Grasshopper, Bentley Generative Components, and Sidefx Houdini. The paper will focus on five key areas: * Conditional logic allow rules to be applied to geometric entities that control how they behave. Such rules will typically be defined as if-then-else conditions, where an action will be executed if a particular condition is true. A more advanced version of this is the while loop, where the action within the loop will be repeatedly executed while a certain condition remains true. * Local coordinate systems allow geometric entities to be manipulated relative to some convenient local point of reference. These systems may be either two-dimensional or three-dimensional, using either Cartesian, cylindrical, or spherical systems. Techniques for mapping geometric entities from one coordinate system to another also need to be considered. * Duplication includes three types: simple duplication, endogenous duplication, and exogenous duplication. Simple duplication consists of copying some geometric entity a certain number of times, producing identical copies of the original. Endogenous duplication consist of copying some geometric entity by applying a set of transformations that are defined as part of the duplication process. Lastly, exogenous duplication consists of copying some geometric entity by applying a set of transformations that are defined by some other external geometry. * Part-whole relationships allow geometric entities to be grouped in various ways, based on the fundamental set-theoretic concept that entities can be members of sets, and sets can be members of other sets. Ways of aggregating data into both hierarchical and non-hierarchical structures, and ways of filtering data based on these structures need to be considered. * Spatial queries include relationships between geometric entities such as touching, crossing, overlapping, or containing. More advanced spatial queries include various distance based queries and various sorting queries (e.g. sorting all entities based on position) and filtering queries (e.g. finding all entities with a certain distance from a point). For each of these five areas, a simple benchmarking test case has been developed. For example, for conditional logic, the test case consists of a simple room with a single window with a condition: the window should always be in the longest north-facing wall. If the room is rotated or its dimensions changed, then the window must re-evaluate itself and possibly change position to a different wall. For each benchmarking test-case, visual programs are implemented in each of the three VDM environments. The visual programs are then compared and contrasted, focusing on two areas. First, the type of constructs used in each of these environments are compared and contrasted. Second, the cognitive complexity of the visual programming task in each of these environments are compared and contrasted.
keywords visual, dataflow, programming, parametric, modelling
series CAAD Futures
email patrick@janssen.name
full text file.pdf (1,217,557 bytes)
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