Architect Alan Woodwell Talks Graphical Scripting

Posted by Joanna Weedlun on 5/4/17 9:44 AM  |  3 min read time

Alan Woodwell is an architectural designer in Sydney, Australia for Playoust Churcher Architects. Since late December of 2015, the self-described “young 63-year-old” has spent his free time learning how to design using Marionette, our integrated graphical scripting tool that lets you use personalized or repurposed scripts to iteratively design without learning how to program.

“It’s a bit-by-bit thing,” says Woodwell. “First you learn the basics of the tool, and then you try your hand at creating something. It’s the sort of learning that inspires you and others to continue learning. For example, I’ll get inspired by seeing another user create a string of lights, and then all of a sudden I’m creating my own string of lights and teaching others how to do it, too.”



Woodwell, whose background is in drafting and construction documentation, took an interest in this tool after seeing a colleague use Marionette to generate gutters. With his curiosity piqued, he decided to take on his new hobby and “open-ended learning challenge” in search for other uses of the tool.

“When I first started out with Marionette, it was a struggle to understand how to implement the nodes, and the main problem I had was finding a practical use for it that would improve my current workflows,” reflects Woodwell. “Well, all of a sudden I can see the huge value in Marionette after a recent project where I created networks to produce a building from a simple polygon, which saved a lot of time. It’s a simple start, but I now see how I could sketch a plan and develop it quickly with curtain walls. For apartments, I see the importance of having a series of symbols for standard kitchens and bathrooms to generate a series of different layouts quickly.”

Alan Woodwell 1 Office building concept generated by Woodwell using Marionette.

As for the ease of picking up Marionette, Woodwell assures that you do not have to be a programmer to start using the tool. While Woodwell got his start with Marionette without having any programming experience, as a voracious learner, he decided to study a bit of Python in order to better understand nodes for his own interest. “The more I understand the node, the more I can work with it,” says Woodwell. “I don’t want to become a programmer — and I don’t have to — I just wanted to learn more about how it works.”

With all of the resources out there to learn, Woodwell argues that Marionette is only limited by your imagination. “My dad used to say, ‘If you can’t do something, you’re not thinking hard enough,’ and this is one of those types of challenges,” says Woodwell. “It’s an exciting challenge because you keep pushing yourself to learn, and then you can teach someone else how it’s done.” Which is exactly what Woodwell does. Whether answering questions in forums on the Vectorworks Community Board or creating tutorial videos on YouTube, Woodwell certainly demonstrates his passion for feeding his, and others’, curiosity.



Woodwell’s advice to anyone thinking about picking up Marionette: “Get into it. It’s infectious.” If you want to get started on your journey with Marionette, check out the webinar training series on our Inspiration page beginning with “Marionette Training Part 1: The Basics,” worth 1 AIA LU.

Topics: Events, BIM (Architecture), Tech Tips and Workflows

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