30 Jun 2023

Use the open Forma API to add custom extensions and contextual data

Forma developer

Earlier this year we released our first offering of Autodesk Forma, and revealed our long term vision to develop an industry cloud that connects workflows across the entire AECO (Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operations) industry. We knew from the outset that this ambitious plan meant creating a platform that is open and extendable – and we are now able to enable this through the Forma API, currently in public beta.  

There are many exciting ways developers can benefit from the Forma API. Read on to see some ways you can start conceiving and creating custom extensions and new solutions for the industry. 


What is Autodesk Forma? 

Forma on the screen
Comparing analyses in Autodesk Forma

Forma’s initial set of capabilities target early-stage planning and design, with capabilities that simplify the exploration of design concepts, offload repetitive tasks, and help users evaluate environmental qualities surrounding a building site. Users can evaluate an array of factors - from sunlight, wind patterns, and noise levels - providing a comprehensive perspective for projects. With Forma, computational tasks become effortless, as we handle the heavy lifting in the cloud. Plus, our fluid integration with Revit provides easier ways to add Forma into existing workflows. Users can unlock new possibilities, maximize efficiency, and redefine their design process with Forma. 

Furthermore, Forma is included in the Autodesk AEC Collection, meaning that a huge swath of architects and urban planners can immediately benefit from adding powerful automations and predictive analytics into their existing workflows. 

But this is just the start. Over time, Autodesk Forma will become the industry cloud that unifies workflows across teams that design, construct, and operate the built environment, allowing data to flow fluidly, so the right details get to the right people at the right time.  

To realize this vision, Autodesk Forma was designed to be extendable. Third parties can create solutions by implementing them directly into Forma, creating new ways to enrich workflows.  


Build and add your own extensions 

While it is usually a protracted and time-consuming process for developers to integrate capabilities and technologies with another product, Autodesk has – with the Forma application programming interface (API) – created an open, accessible, and fast route for others to extend the functionality of the Forma industry cloud. 

The Forma API offers an opportunity for developers (whether within architecture practices or software companies) to create new solutions that enrich AEC workflows. It’s up to you whether you want to build a tool that benefits your own practice or develop new opportunities for your business by exposing your solution to Forma’s entire audience to pave the way for monetization opportunities in the future.  

Shapediver using Forma
ShapeDiver created a simple interface within Forma to deploy Grasshopper tools


The opportunities of the Forma API 

The Forma API provides a number of great opportunities to software developers. With the public beta release, developers can deliver solutions that increase productivity by creating custom modeling/automation authoring tools. Developers are already taking notice and adding their own extensions that create design geometry within Forma: 

  • ShapeDiver created a simple interface within Forma to deploy Grasshopper tools. Users can generate design intent using their own custom Grasshopper logic.  

  • TestFit built a custom application that instantly generates parking layouts within the Forma UI, complete with dynamically updated statistics. 

The TestFit extension generates parking layouts within the Forma UI

These examples demonstrate what this is all about: being able to co-create this environment and making the technology work for users. The Forma API provides an accessible route for developers to create extensions that plug into Forma, either to extend the reach of your own offering or to integrate with Forma’s offering to deliver new capabilities to your business. 


What's next for the Forma API? 

There is much more to come. Autodesk is exploring new APIs to offer in the future, as well as ways in which developers can monetize their solutions directly via Forma. 

For instance, Forma will allow developers and architects to solve users' needs by adding new analyses, combining analysis results in new ways and supporting local verification and visualization requirements. 

Developers can offer contextual data to Forma users, such as terrain, road data, flood maps, regulations, and more. These capabilities will help companies turn their unique data into a revenue stream. We believe that by welcoming and enabling third parties to bring their own analyses to Forma we can collectively deliver best in class decision support, for more outcomes, faster. You can find more information on this initiative here.  

Another area of focus is the collaboration with desktop applications, with much more coming down the pipeline. 

This is only the beginning of this journey, and developers with unlimited imagination can play a role in shaping the future of Autodesk Forma and the industry as a whole. 


Get started with the Forma API today 

Be part of Autodesk Forma’s journey to connect data, teams, and workflows. For developers interested in using the Forma API, post in the Autodesk Forma forum or fill in this contact form. You can also read our available documentation here. 

Related Article