(by marcsyp)
Bifocals ends the age-old debate of Icon Display vs. Text.  No matter what your preference, your students or tutorial watchers can follow along with clear, full name labels.
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NBBJ Digital Practice is happy to release Bifocals, ending the age-old debate of Icon Display vs. Text.  No matter what your preference, your tutorial watchers or students can follow along with clear, full name labels over every component you place on the canvas.


The Backstory

I personally prefer icons, because they are visually communicative, unambiguous, and more compact. They are also scientifically proven to carry a lower cognitive load (pictures vs. text). David has done a fantastic job of creating really clear, concise pictograms that communicate the functionality of each component surprisingly well. I encourage all of my students to learn in icon mode.

Unfortunately, most people were railroaded into learning Grasshopper with text labels, for a number of reasons -- primarily, I posit, because it has always been the Default option and the vast majority of early learning resources were created in Text mode, which created a self-perpetuating paradigm. Moreover, despite overwhelming brain science evidence that icons are preferable to butchered text fragments, I'm told that through constant reinforcement there are large numbers of Grasshopper users that are now more comfortable in Text mode. And apparently some people actually enjoy it!

This makes my teaching difficult, because despite my enjoyment of writing code in a text editor, my brain refuses to operate in text mode in Grasshopper, and it makes life more difficult for my students to be in icon mode.

Bifocals solves this problem by labeling every component that you place on the canvas in real time, with the component's full name. As a student, no matter what mode you are in, you can look at the professor's component label, double-click on your canvas, type in the name, and be right on track in a matter of seconds, with no need to stop the instructor and ask "what component is that?"

Moreover, this is even useful if you are teaching in Text mode, because beginner Grasshopper users are easily confused by following text labels in real time -- after all, the text labels are opaque and ambiguous, and students have often not fully internalized them yet.

Icons vs. Text is one of those age old arguments -- mac vs. pc, republican vs. democrat -- with battle lines drawn deep.  Some of my best friends are Text people. But now we can coexist. We can all come together with Bifocals. 

-- Marc Syp



Thanks to Andrew Heumann for sharing random C# wzrdry at a moment's notice.

Please note:

You will get some kooky (but non-destructive) behavior if you place more than one Bifocals labeling component on the canvas.  I recommend using only one bifocals component at any one time. This issue will be fixed in an upcoming release.


To install:

  • Run installer
  • Restart Rhino and Grasshopper
  • License Type:
License Cost:
For instructions on installing Grasshopper Add-Ons, please see FAQ for details.
Bifocals Installer
Grasshopper for Rhino 4 & 5 for Win
Bifocals GHA
Grasshopper for Rhino 4 & 5 for Win
Grasshopper for Rhino 5 Mac