Let’s talk layouts.
I’ve done quite a few tests of Rhino Layout < > Illustrator and shared with @pascal. Layout is an area where it would be great to see some more ambitious workflow and export improvements.
The low hanging fruit is creating a multi-page PDF export of all your layout pages with layer support (PDF supports layers and other illustrator capabilities). The advantage of adding full illustrator editability to PDFs is that you can also open those multi-page PDFs in Indesign, or PowerPoint (Adobe Acrobat exports PDFs to PowerPoint and works really well). So you can create entire presentations/documents in Rhino with live geometry and export/publish to a 2D documentation package when you are done.
Made some model changes? No problem! All your layout pages in Rhino will be live updated. So export again and you are done. …if you were creating screenshots and making your documents elsewhere all your screenshots are now obsolete and you have to manually redo everything. This is an absolute waste of time. And this is the wasteful way we spend our days many of us. And it doesn’t have to be this way.
More ambitious/complete workflow:
Rhino layout needs a few more tools for this workflow to make sense, but many pieces are there and this is something that would benefit all users, at all experience levels, in all industries. So I don’t see this as a 5% tool, like some of the other improvements being discussed in this forum. Especially because people don’t need to learn to craft multi-page documents in things like indesign, deal with PowerPoint and obsolete model screenshots that constantly need to be updated, or try to make a document layout of text/images/callouts in Word (a difficult task and a nightmare UX). Also imagine the possibilities of saving/recalling all model states in one ‘living document’:
Curve Shutlining on/off (important for design variations)
Active clipping planes/Section views
Active foreground/background images
Grasshopper configuration states
I’ve shown live presentations with only half of this things being recalled using the old script NameViewManager (broken again in current V5/V6); and the fast iteration/recalling of states drew more interest than the work being shown!
With these tools not only you can do a one-shot export of the entire 3D document as a shareable 2D document (PDF, word, PowerPoint) but you can also package each ‘layout viewport’ as a separate 3D file for RP/fabrication output. Example: you have one Rhino+Grasshopper file with 15 states that you would like to build. You create a multi-page layout document. And you export a ‘package’, this package includes a document with views/text/callouts of all your 15 states, and also 15 .stl (or whatever format you choose) files matching the names of each of those states/layout viewports. You have now a build document (PDF), and the 3D files needed for a service bureau to build your models.
We could also have options for make2D at export time. So you can work with live 3D models creating all your views, fully editable, nothing becomes obsolete; then flatten&vectorize them at the last minute in one shot.
Don’t need vectors, but you where using make2D just to have crisp lines? Maybe we can have an export setting that lets you choose what resolution to bake all your technical view layout viewports at. So the can be as high-res/antialiased and you need.
Want some/all view as photorealistic renderings? Just export the entire document as ‘render at export’. So now your entire document (all the needed views) will be rendered and assembled in the background while you are not on the computer. You can maybe even package this document and send it to a render farm or a colleague with a faster machine, and let them ‘bake it’ for you for a fee/a case of beers.
This would be a great 2017 project. Maybe as a plugin so it can be iterated faster than a Rhino build.
If you like the idea tell @bobmcneel. @RhinoFabStudio and I have been nagging him for a few years on this, we have him almost convinced. It might take a few more years or a bunch of people voting this up to give it priority.