Grasshopper

algorithmic modeling for Rhino

When will Grasshopper 1.0 be finished? What happens next?

Grasshopper has been in wip-development for over 5 years and we're nearing the 1.0 mark. At some point within the next few months we'll decide that we've written all the features needed to go into beta and we'll stop adding new stuff. At this point the Grasshopper version will be rolled to 1.0 Beta 1 and we'll keep on fixing serious bugs, resulting in Grasshopper 1.0 Beta 2 etc. etc. until the product is stable enough to be treated as a commercially viable product.

This does not mean Grasshopper will no longer be free. Robert McNeel & Associates (who develop and own the copyrights to Grasshopper) haven't decided yet whether or not to sell Grasshopper or whether to keep it as a free plug-in for Rhino customers.

As soon as Grasshopper 1.0 goes into beta, all development (apart from the odd bug-fix) stops and we start typing on Grasshopper 2.0. It will probably be a few months until the first 2.0 WIP version is released but basically the whole process starts over.

What are we looking to accomplish for 1.0 and which things are planned for 2.0 and beyond? The only major feature still missing in 1.0 is the Remote Control Panel. This feature was removed at some point and has been partially rewritten since then. Once it's finished, we consider the 1.0 feature set to be complete.

To be honest we've made very few concrete plans yet concerning 2.0, however it's clear that some things need to be at least seriously considered and researched. Here follows a list in no particular order:

  • Documentation System. This is one of the things we know we're going to do as we've already started. The Grasshopper help system will need to be rewritten and a lot of help topics need to be typed up. We have a pretty good idea what it is we want to accomplish with the new help and how we're going to go about it.
  • Vocabulary. Along with new documentation we'll critically analyse the current terminology and vocabulary of Grasshopper. We'll probably come up with glossaries and style sheets. We want to use words that are —at best— self documenting and —at worst— non ambiguous.
  • SDK and core library cleanup/improvement. Grasshopper was the first large scale product I ever developed and a lot of mistakes were made in the SDK design. A lot of functions and classes have been marked obsolete over time and many operations are not properly bottlenecked. I also want to add a lot more events so it's easier for code to keep close tabs on what's going on at any given moment.
  • GUI platform. At the moment Grasshopper is pure .NET winforms using GDI+ for all the interface drawing. There are certain performance issues with using large GDI+ surfaces and certain limitations on what we can and cannot draw. We will be investigating other graphics pipelines such as WPF, OpenGL, DirectX, OpenTK and whatever else seems promising.
  • Multi-threading. It is clear that some components are embarrassingly parallel, and since almost every single laptop and desktop has at least 4 cores these days it would be a shame not to use them. We will investigate what it takes to implement multi-threading as a standard feature.
  • Large file support. Grasshopper becomes awkward to use when a document contains more than a hundred or so components. We need to both improve the interface to provide methods for layering or grouping sub-algorithms and also add ways to reduce memory and computational overhead.

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David Rutten

david@mcneel.com

Poprad, Slovakia

Views: 6615

Replies to This Discussion

Cant say I have with rhino. Good to know.
If not free, what kind of limitation to the trial version?

I really have no idea.

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David Rutten

david@mcneel.com

Poprad, Slovakia

Just my thoughts:

I find the current McNeel licensing model to be a good start.

Full price licenses for the first step on the ladder for commercial users and concessions for students.  

Reduced price licenses for upgrades.

Those with valid licenses have access to the next version of the software whilst it is in WIP>Beta>RC

Limited number of saves for evaluation version.

I don't like the Rhino 5 Evaluation version not running plug-ins. what if you were looking for a trial of Rhino/Grasshopper/VRay but were only going to base you decision on all in conjunction with each other?

Similarly what if you were recommended Grasshopper as a means for using Kangaroo (for example), you would want to evaluate Rhino>Grasshopper>Kangaroo in your situation before recommending the company parts with its cash.

But the issue I see at the moment is If I have a problem with Rhino (which we pay for) and need support I either contact McNeel through email or possibly on the forum. Usually a dedicated member of staff who deals with that particular area gets in touch and the support is outstanding.

With Grasshopper there is a different support structure... it's us... which doesn't make it a good model for paying customers. 

There's also the issue of what are the competition doing. GC changed their licensing model from pay for the extra, to you get this for free in a stand alone version. Which at the time seemed to be a reaction to McNeel's methods. So it would seem strange for Grasshopper to go the other way.

McNeel has a reasonable leverage as it is for encouraging payment for Grasshopper through the back door and that is all the future versions of GH will only work on Rhino 5. Personally I would eventually relent to buying Rhino 5 if everyone banged on about "you could do this so easily in the latest version" otherwise you are stuck. If there was no meaningful support for older users I'm sure they would soon move with the times and therefore McNeel gets its dime.

EDIT: That doesn't mean that the support from David directly isn't outstanding I would just prefer him to have time to develop GH and let the rest of us deflect the LINEs of this world

Hello David,

Multi-threading and Large file support ... sounds all very promising.

Is there also a plan for the Three-dimensional GUI of the MD Slider?

Best,

Martin.

Hi Martin,

things like 3D MD slider is small time stuff, it doesn't deserve a spot in a long term plan. Obviously we'll keep on developing more components and more data types and we'll also keep on trying to improve and simplify existing stuff.

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David Rutten

david@mcneel.com

Poprad, Slovakia

Good to know that treatments from the past will remain after the release of Grasshopper 1.0 :)

Help system > I'd suggest to make it as self contained as possible: add the help directly linked to the components as much as possible.

GUI > please, please consider a cross-platform solution from the beginning, so that it would eventually run inside the OSX version. One of the last 'serious' applications that I still need Windows for (alongside Revit).

Licensing > I am still stumbled that it has been totally free till now. I expect a fair proposition, taking educational usage into account.

Keep up the good work!

Concerning GUI, yes, we will have to pick something which will transfer to Mac OS. However, it is possible to abstract the drawing logic to such an extend that we can implement it natively on each platform separately. This would be a little bit of extra work, but not all that bad.

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David Rutten

david@mcneel.com

Poprad, Slovakia

I agree with this statements about Grasshopper remaining free. There has been a trend in software business models that "free" software (with a paid advancements or side products) are actually doing better than paid products. (For those of you who are gamers refer to the League of Legends' successes). Right now the Rhino Grasshopper package is currently the most cost-effective design software on the market (next to sketchup pro) and is the most powerful. Because of its reasonable price range it has the best chance of getting in to the hands of students and teachers, which ensures that the next generations will be reliant on it. (If McNeel states charging for these addons they will be forced to offer free student copies if they want to continue to compete with Autodesk) If you start charging for grasshopper it will force many of the other plugins for grasshopper to start charging as well. This will probably arrest the lightning speed development with which this is developing.

I would strongly encourage McNeel to continue the course which they have set as a reasonably priced design platform of quality and integrity, which is supported by plethora of open source materials.

As long as it doesn't cost what Evolute Tools Pro (plugin for rhino)...  o_o

I know, I know, it's a highly technical program with cutting edge technology and it still cost less than Autocad. It's price is pretty reasonable taking into account that it's used for big budged projects and it's large corporations that buy it. 

But for a normal user it's cost is a bit shocking at first. 

Many plug-ins cost more than the base Rhino software, like most CAM software...

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