Rhino or Grasshopper for Structural FEA program interaction

I am going to try and create a plugin to allow me to interact in both directions with my structural FEA software which saves the geometry, loads, boundary conditions, etc. in an XML-like file format. I would need to customize an existing XML file reader or create from scratch. I am a beginner at GH and an intermediate Rhino user.

I am wondering if I should write this as a Rhino plugin or a Grasshopper plugin. I don’t know the pros and cons of each for my case. I envision importing my structural FEA data into Rhino to visualize the geometry, and have it update in Rhino if I change the data in the FEA program and vice versa. Some sort of file hot loading?

I want to create a database of steel sections for Rhino to be able to design a structure and export it to my structural FEA program for analysis on the fly. It seems all of this live interactivity would be better in GH?

It’s a hobby project, and a way to create a workflow for some engineering and visualization work I do.

So my main starter questions are:
GH plugin vs. Rhino development or plugin?
A way to achieve interactivity across programs - file hot loading, etc.?

Thank you!

Why not both? If you put the functionality in a shared .NET dll, you could make a rhino command and a grasshopper component, that both use the shared dll. We do this for almost all our custom built workflows.

Sounds like a good start! Thank you.

Do you know if the back-and-forth interactivity between Rhino and an external program like my structural FEA software is possible in live manner, or simply an import-export-import cycle?

Assigning geometry and section properties to Rhino curves within Rhino or by updating a hot-loaded file for visualization and connection design should be fairly easy, but then going back to the FEA to run an analysis based on any section or member changes seems tricky to me. I am not familiar with how live updating might work.

Edit: I’d like use F# vs. C# if this is equally available.

Hi @Robert_Herman ,
Which structural software is in question?
Thank you for the reply.

I originally was using RISA when at an engineering firm, but now I play with LISA, a sort of copy of RISA.

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Hey Robert, you might be interested in the integration between Sofistik and Grasshopper, or even just with Rhino, because then you have your back and forth connection. While I don’t have extensive experience in this area, I believe it should be quite similar to what RISA offers. Additionally, Sofistik provides free student licenses.