What’s in my Dynamo course and why is it different?
I’ve been teaching Dynamo in person for about 2 years now and I’ve been helping people on the Dynamo forum for about 4 (I was quite active there for some time, but not anymore, unfortunately) and I’ve done scripts for companies and people who approached me through this website, or LinkedIn.
I’m still working as a BIM coordinator/manager so all these things I did in my spare time. Which is actually the way I learnt those skills initially.
When I started learning Revit I was a poor student in Bulgaria studying architecture and trying to support myself. The program of the university back then was pretty much the same as it was 40 years ago. We did have a course for AutoCAD for 1 semester though.
I paid for a 2 weeks Revit course about the same amount as my Dynamo course costs now.
But for me back then this was a lot of money and I was kinda disappointed. The course was 10 days for 3 hours a day. A beginner’s course. How to create a wall, how to create a roof.
It wasn’t a bad course, but it was definitely way too slow. Partly because some people in the group were constantly asking questions with answers obvious for me, partly because the tutor went around all 12 of us to check if everybody’s done it. We were definitely losing time and even back then I thought to myself if this was a video course I would have finished already. I was also a bit disappointed when I asked the tutor how can we make a building like the Gherkin in Revit, he told me it’s not possible, which is not true, of course, he just didn’t know how.
Sometime later I was attending a French course - I wanted to learn French and to go to France as an exchange student, which I eventually did.
On that course, I had a different problem. It was too fast for me. I couldn’t keep up with the pace of the group, so when something wasn’t clear to me I didn’t ask because I thought I would embarrass myself. I didn’t want to be the guy who never gets it. I didn’t want people to think I’m dumb. And I thought I would be better off with private lessons, but I couldn’t afford them. Maybe a video course would allow me to repeat sections that are not clear until I get it.
Fast forward 10 years and here I am standing in front of an audience with a projector displaying my screen. I’m teaching Dynamo in front of a small group of people. I noticed the same thing happening in my course.
There is that one person who is always behind, there is the person who is constantly asking questions and there is always one who looks at me with a face saying “Move forward, I already got it”.
That’s when I realised I should do a video course teaching the same thing. And I didn’t do the course for 2 years after that first Idea.
The thing is I thought there are other courses out there. And I personally learnt everything I know about Dynamo on my own. There were just no resources in 2013-2014 apart from the Dynamo forum which was back then an amazing community. The people who built Dynamo and its packages were the ones to reply to my questions. Now, unfortunately, it’s a bit different there.
So I was thinking there are already courses and YouTube videos and materials if I’m going to create a video course it has to be something that can provide more value than what’s already out there. Otherwise, it’s just going to be a waste of time. If it is a bad course I would also get bad reviews, so I better do something good.
First I thought that it would need to be 20 hours to fit my on-site course. But then I realised the course took in person 20 hours because it was in person. Because apart from me explaining Dynamo I had to make sure everyone follows, everyone understands, If there was a bug or something I needed to take care of it or if someone thought there was a bug, but it was actually there mistake. I had to answer questions.
Which brought me to the next problem.
People like to be taught in person because they can ask questions. Can I solve this in my course?
And my solution was one of two parts. First - in the course talk about common bugs and problems. Dynamo is definitely not a tool without its problems, and I noticed other people, other courses are just trying to hide that, to make things smoother. Yes, but then when the student gets that error they don’t know what to do.
I deliberately left these in the course, and I’m teaching how to think to create workarounds. If something doesn’t just work and you have to do it ASAP how to come with a quick workaround.
And second: The Facebook group. I decided I’m gonna give everyone enrolled in the course access to a closed Facebook group which would serve as a placeholder for all questions. I’ll answer individual questions there or if there are more I can go Live once a week to cover them.
The other thing I noticed about existing courses was that most of them are too short - 1.5 to 3.5 hours and are either a course that shows a how-to for a specific problem or are the complete basics.
I wanted to create a course that would leave you capable of managing to drive home from a busy city centre if I may use this comparison to a driving course.
So what’s in my course?
Be sure to go and check the full curriculum and see some previews here:
I teach the basics the way I see them: after the introduction the first section teaches you thinking and working with lists. It is probably the most boring part of the course and it’s the first one. But this is the fundamental you need to do anything in Dynamo. This has been the tripping point for pretty much everyone that I know who comes from an architectural/engineering background and puts their hands on computational tools.
We are just so accustomed to work one element at a time in Revit, that working with lists is completely outside the way we’ve been doing it for so long. Once you get this right, everything else is easier.
There is an excellent exercise that shows visually how the lists and lacing works.
Then we move on to Geometry. I’m showing you how to use Dynamo to create geometry and how to use that geometry in Revit. Differences between the Revit tools and Dynamo nodes for geometry and the arguably most interesting part: using maths to create geometry.
Throughout the course, I’m using different examples and you have access to the files of course.
Then we go through different ways of using Dynamo to place and modify Revit families: windows and doors, furniture, structural elements, floors, walls, adaptive components and panels.
We also go through ways of managing sheets and views and renaming/renumbering them with Dynamo.
The last section is something I don’t think exists in any other course and this is my problem-solving technique.
I’m breaking down some complex Dynamo graphs that I’ve created for real projects and I’m talking about how to use the things we learnt and combine them to create a complex solution. And what does it mean to have a complex solution? Is one big and cumbersome graph better than 3 simpler?
You can see the full program of the course here: