The Ultimate Guide to Autodesk Dynamo

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What is Autodesk Dynamo?

Autodesk Dynamo is a programming environment that requires no programming experience.

Dynamo enables designers to create visual logic so they can explore a wide range of parametric conceptual designs using logic, simple data and analysis without the need to create a physical prototype. Dynamo also automates repetitive design tasks so designers can use their productive time more wisely.

There are two versions of Dynamo. 

1. Dynamo Studio

Dynamo Studio, considered the lightweight version, can be used as a standalone product or alongside Revit. It helps make BIM-connected computational design workflows fluid and efficient because even collaborators without Revit can participate on a model. Collaboration takes place live in a shared environment – no need for exports. Geometry can be analyzed inside Dynamo Studio without any separate applications.

Dynamo Studio does not have the Revit API connection and cannot directly communicate with Revit. Instead, it relies on the geometry it can create and import, and it does not need to use or manipulate geometry directly from Revit. Because Dynamo Studio operates as a standalone design tool, geometry is analyzed inside Dynamo Studio without a separate application like Revit. Parametric geometry can also translate into Revit families.

Standalone Dynamo Studio is available on Autodesk Subscription.

2. Dynamo Revit

“Dynamo” is typically a reference to the version that now ships with Revit that has access to the Revit API for performing operations within Revit, including the ability to use Revit elements for their properties and geometry. It works interactively with Revit for computational building information modeling (BIM) and does not function as a standalone product.

Both versions allow for data manipulation.

Dynamo ships with Revit, so you get it for free if you have a Revit license.

In summary, both versions enable designers to develop a simple, real-time workflow for
importing and exporting data to and from:

  • Excel
  • CSV
  • Image formats
  • DWG and other modeling applications

The term “programming” may cause certain things to automatically spring to mind, like Java, Python, C#, Visual Basic, Swift. But programming with Dynamo is different. Using Dynamo does not require previous programming experience. The software offers open source graphical programming that employs a simple scripting interface that is easy to use. It is complementary to Revit, enabling BIM-connected computational design. Designers can analyze and visualize projects using surface and solid geometry. The behavior of the design model can be “tested,” complex design challenges can be addressed, and geometric problems can be visualized using graphical logic.

The fact that no programming experience is required makes Dynamo an important tool in bridging the gap between highly trained senior staff and junior staff with technical skills but little industry experience.

Main Benefits

  • Generation of sophisticated designs using simple data, logic, and analysis
  • Rapid testing and iteration of designs
  • Solutions to complex geometric problems
  • Automation of repetitive tasks
  • Realistic risk studies
  • Communication with Revit, Robot, Rhinocerous, Navisworks, Excel, Google Sheets, SAP2000

The opportunities are many for Dynamo to help engineers, designers and detailers in their daily work. Dynamo can help get things done faster and with minimal effort by automating repetitive tasks. This in turn speeds design processes and improves efficiency. Designs can be extended into interoperable workflows for documentation, analysis, coordination, and fabrication. In this Autodesk video below, Dynamo for Structure is demonstrated.

Christopher Riddell explains the far-reaching possibilities of using Dynamo in this “Bridging the Gap Episode on Dynamo.”

With no previous programming experience, you can go from solving simple problems to exploring complex designs quickly in Dynamo. You can capture the parameters of multidimensional design using the visual logic of Dynamo to automate workflows. The exploration process alone can save you hours, days or weeks, depending on the complexity of your project.

Applied Software Applications Developer Carlo Licea says, “Dynamo is certainly an application that is easiest to understand visually or through interaction.”

System Requirements



Operating System Microsoft Windows 8 64-bit:


Windows 8 Enterprise, Pro, or Windows 8

Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit:
Windows 8.1 Enterprise, Pro, or Windows 8.1Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit:

Windows 10 Enterprise, Pro, or Windows 10

CPU Single- or Multi-Core Intel® Pentium®, Xeon®, or i-Series processor or AMD® equivalent with SSE2 technology. Highest affordable CPU speed rating recommended.
Memory 4 GB RAM usually sufficient for typical editing session, based on internal testing and customer reports. Individual models will vary in use of computer resources and performance characteristics. For higher performance, use 8 GB or 16 GB RAM.
Video Display 1,920 x 1,080 with true color or higher
Video Adapter Basic graphics:
Display adapter capable of 24-bit colorAdvanced graphics:
3D graphics in Dynamo Studio require Windows 7 or Windows 8 with a DirectX 10 compatible GPU. Parallels on the Mac are supported with Hardware Acceleration enabled. Software rendering is supported using WARP (available in Windows 8).
Disk Space 1 GB or more free disk space based on preference
Media Download or installation from DVD9 or USB key
Pointing Device MS-Mouse or compliant
Browser Connectivity Any supported browser
Internet connection needed for license registration and component downloads.

From Autodesk Knowledge Network.

Using Dynamo

Generative Design

Almost everything about manufacturing automation is already expensive, causing theindustry as a whole to cast an optimistic eye toward generative design. The scope of generative design is expanding to include new manufacturing processes that will work with
established manufacturing capabilities.

At the annual NXTBLD conference in June 2019, emerging technologies for the built environment were explored. Naturally, generative design was one of those up and coming technologies. Rabi Sidawi took a look at the possibilities in “NXTBLD: The Architect’s Role on Mars.” These technology advancements have been referred to as disruptive. And, although the term “disruptive” may sound negative, it is in fact frequently far from it. The article, “Harnessing Disruptive BIM Technologies,” makes the point that most leaps forward in history have been the result of disruptive technology.

Design automation enables designers to use specific rules and instructions to script computational processes that reflect the creative and analytical methods of human-driven design.

In December 2018, Autodesk released an initial version of Refinery, a Dynamo Generative Design package that works with Dynamo version 2.02 and is mainly used with Revit 2019 and Revit 2020. See the blog article, “Generative Design with Dynamo Refinery” for a description of how generative design works through Dynamo. In fact, Refinery has been a new buzz word around Dynamo Generative Design. It has created a lot of interest in the AEC community, especially regarding its usefulness. Will generative design replace the job of architects? In “BIM Generative Design with Dynamo Refinery” you can decide for yourself if that’s probable.

Dynamo works great for design automation in architecture and engineering. Using Dynamo, designers can create visual and graphical logic to explore conceptual Revit designs that update parametrically. Projects can be visualized using precision surface and solid geometry, and iterations can be explored and analyzed faster. Developer Carlo Licea explains how you can take the manual process of design and get a computer to help you do it faster in “The AE Climb: Manual Design to Automated Design to Generative Design.”

Faced with a skilled labor shortage in the construction industry, companies are looking for ways to reengage industry-savvy professionals without requiring them to learn new software. Could a visual programming tool like Autodesk Dynamo possibly be the answer? The article, “Dynamo: The Answer to the Knowledge Gap,” explores this potential.

Why should construction sites be scanned weekly? This video shows how critical reality capture is in the AEC process: “Why UAVs and Mixed Reality Are Critical to AEC.”

The Autodesk 2020 products have features that will streamline your design process, saving you and your firm precious time. We asked our industry-trained technical experts what new features they appreciated most, and here’s the short list. Over Three Dozen Features We Are Excited About in Autodesk 2020 Releases.

The Revit 2021 release was one of the most significant Revit releases in years. There is a litany of new features for all the AEC disciplines, many that impart meaningful improvements to existing workflows and enable new workflows. Revit 2021: A Few of My Favorite New Things.

Cloud “credits” are the unit of measurement required to perform certain tasks, such as creating a rendering, running a simulation or setting up a generative study in a cloud environment using Autodesk cloud services. Although it’s a little dated, engineering.com published an article, “When Do You Render in the Cloud?” with helpful tips about how to decide if/when rendering in the cloud is right for you. For a short history of cloud computing and hints about managing cloud credits, check out “I Look at Clouds from Both Sides Now.” The vague locations of these remote data centers – kept secret to foil hackers – likely inspired the moniker “cloud.”


In Autodesk Fabrication CADmep, the command SL1 was previously used to isolate a service. Following is a download script for an isolation command, written with Dynamo, for Revit. You can get the script at Fabrication Services in Revit, and there is a companion video at: https://youtu.be/yKr6b7W0QEg.

The technical team reports that users sometimes discover the Fabrication database appears to lose the GUID for no apparent reason. To recover the GUID, use the following link: “Recover Fabrication GUID with Dynamo.” The companion video is at: https://youtu.be/kARo1sihy8M.

If you’ve installed the latest Revit 2017 software updates, especially Dynamo Revit or Dynamo Studio, you may encounter an error when trying to install Revit 2018. Check out the article, “Error installing Revit 2018: a newer version of Dynamo is already installed” for more information.

Civil Engineering

The updated features of Autodesk 2020 products benefit both you and your firm by streamlining your design process. Saving time and expense producing a project not only improves your firm’s bottom line, it makes you increasingly more valuable as a member – even a leader – of the team. See what Dynamo features were new in Civil 3D 2020 in “Look smarter around the watering hole: 8 stats about 2020 C3D and InfraWorks.”


Dynamo is a visual programming add-in for Autodesk Revit. Dynamo provides open source graphical programming, which enables custom computational design and automation processes for the building information modeling (BIM) process. Dynamo is more than a modeling interface. It includes smooth visual programming and scripting. Users can manipulate data, relational structures and geometric control. Custom user objects can be created and published by connecting node-based programs. Operating Dynamo is simplified by the use of menus, drop-downs and search fields. Rather than containing actual objects, Dynamo files contain a set of instructions for Revit to automate tasks and routines. The article, “How to keep your job using Revit – less is more,” takes a look at using the Dynamo Excel spreadsheet.

You can start Dynamo for Revit by having a Revit project open and then launching Dynamo. You will create your home workspace from there. If you have a sample Dynamo for Revit file (graph/workspace), it would typically work with a Revit project. After opening the Revit project, launch Dynamo. Your Dynamo graph may start to run automatically, or it can be started manually by clicking the Run button near the bottom left of the screen. Jeff Yao explains in “Dynamo “Blows” Your Mind.”

Because of its companion functionality with Revit, Dynamo is mentioned in the Applied Software Guide to Revit.


See the Applied Software calendar for Dynamo for Revit training in a LiveLab Learning setting. You can get the same high-quality expert-led training that’s taught at Autodesk Certified Training Centers from the comfort of your own office. Request a syllabus of the class here.

You’ll find more practical information on using Dynamo within the collection of presentation slides and videos of breakout sessions and classes that were taught at the 2018 Applied Software MEP Force fabrication event: “MEP Force presentations 2.”

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Dynamo Studio is available as a standalone, single-user license with monthly or annual terms. It is also one of the entitlement products included in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Collection of industry-relevant products. In a Collection, each entitlement product can be downloaded and installed separately.

Contact Applied Software today to learn more about Dynamo or Dynamo Studio.

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