Representational Research at the University of Virginia School of Architecture

The Taming of the Grasshopper

Finding Information:
– Try something new, experiment. First attempts are the only way to find questions and challenges that you can pass along to your TA, your classmates, your teacher, the Grasshopper Forum, or the Primer. So many resources!
– Use the primer as a reference, not necessarily as something to study. (It can be quite wordy and overwhelming.)
Here is a set of tutorials, including the primer. The video tutorials can be useful but sometimes overly simplified.
– Right click a component, choose help to find the Grasshopper Help menu about that component. This will tell you what it wants, what it does, and what it returns.
– Use the preview tool to decipher how a definition is built.

Navigation in the land of the Grasshopper:
– Set up your screen as a two-part view. Grasshopper window on the right, Rhino at full extension below. Use a 3view layout in Rhino to see a perspective, plan and section simultaneously. This will help you understand how things are being built in 3d space.
– Double-click the grasshopper menu bar to hide the GH canvas and vice versa.
– Use the View menu to adjust properties of the view such as Draw Icons and Remote Control Panel.
– Toggle preview from the beginning of a definition to see how it was constructed.
– Use the toolbar to navigate and organize your canvas:
toolbar– Hover over components, inputs, outputs, etc. to discover what kind of information being given and received.
Use the Panel component (sticky note-looking icon) found under Params>Special to view information from outputs.

Useful Utilities:
– Analyzing tree and list structures can be tricky, but have no fear, there are some resources: The Secret Life of Branches, Analyze a List Structure, Rearranging Branches…
Again, the primer has a chapter that explains tree structure.
– Use the list item component with a slider attached to determine the order of a list:

From Robin: The definitions that we have posted on the weblog can at first seem overwhelming but this need not be the case.  I would suggest a strategy of starting with the first module on the right of the canvas to see what it is actually doing.  Since GH advances its actions on prior actions by copying the prior module and then moving it, rotating, etc., you are always left with the initial module hanging around and getting in the way. The remedy is to click on the center of the module and uncheck the PREVIEW command.  This keeps the command active computationally but removes it from view.  So when you are looking at a definition you would need to do the reverse (turn on the preview) in order to understand what you are looking at.  So if you simply move one by one through the chain of modules, turning on and off the preview so see what happens, then by the time you arrive at the conclusion you have a good sense of what went on. This is an excellent way to learn from the work of others.  Of course during this process you also might decide to make an intervention to see what happens.  This is encouraged.
I cannot over emphasize the value of the sketch diagram that shows the relationships you are hoping to achieve.  A series of these describing a sequence of action can help you then relate your intentions to the more obscure operations of the various GH components. As part of this you might try to describe your hoped for outcomes in terms of actions that will ultimately relate to those GH components.

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