Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holidays 2008

I intend to take a low profile and do little if any posting during the holidays.

I wish everyone who visits my little corner in cyberspace a great holiday season and may you each enjoy the company of family and friends. Cheers!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Room Name - Full or Abbreviation

Sometimes a name is just too much, too long, it just doesn't fit in a room. The stock Name parameter for a room is easy, it's already there waiting for us to us. When we use abbreviations in this parameter we end up with some full names and some abbreviations. An abbreviation of "T." for Toilet might be fine on a plan view but it is less than stellar in a schedule. We could use another stock parameter like comments to store an abbreviation instead but that subverts its usefulness for actual comments.

Shared Parameters to the rescue!

I've written several posts about shared parameters in the past so I won't go into making them again in this post (see bottom). This is what you need to do to get a new parameter working in a project.

Create a shared parameter (called Abbreviation for example)

Create a room tag family that uses your shared parameter, save the Family and load the family into your project

Add a Project Parameter (Settings > Project Parameter) using your shared parameter too. Assign the parameter to the Room Category

Use the parameter in your rooms, set-up a schedule and tag your rooms with the appropriate tag.

This gives the best of both worlds. Supply abbreviations for names that are unruly and don't bother for reasonable names. A schedule will make it easy to define either and those that don't have abbreviations don't "need" them. Just make sure you use the correct tag to display the value you really want people to see.

I've posted a revised copy of my Egress Example project that contains a working example of the shared parameter, tag and schedule.

This post Shared Parameter File: A Little Clarification provides a full list of the posts I've made in the past on the subject of Shared Parameters.

Friday, December 12, 2008

News at 9:48 - Revit Rock-n-Roller donates Hair

Steve Shell the "Rock-n-Roll" Architect, famous for not only his membership at AUGI but his rock-n-rolling ways as a guitar player in Shell Shock has decided to donate some of his "locks" to a deserving fellow Reviteer, Jim Balding (at right). Jim, who says he "lives up to his name" Balding was attending Autodesk University last year when Steve (at left) suggested that he could help with his "problem".

A schedule for the transplant has yet to be defined but Jim was quoted as saying he already plans to learn how to play the bass and join a band as soon as possible.

About the Author, Freddy Latherdon:
Revit OpEd's ace reporter, Freddy recently moved to Wapakoneta, Ohio to get away from the LA party scene. Brittany, Lindsay and the "others" were just too "out there" and he needed a break. He has a one bedroom studio apartment now that he shares with his three "Lavender" Retrievers, don't even try to tell him they are Labrador Retrievers...he'll get mad and punch you. The judge gave him one more chance to deal with his anger issues or he'll do some real time. Might account for why he's been so quiet as this is his first story in quite some time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Schedules and Data Entry

I often think that Revit users ought to spend a few days getting acquainted with database use, like with Microsoft's Access for example. If more users had such experience then they would probably find Revit's scheduling to be more "obvious"...maybe.

One of the more overlooked capabilities of scheduling is to supply a new value or change a value for many items with a single entry. Many schedules that people use list every instance within the project. This means you have to find some other way to update all those families quickly. Unless you revisit the sorting criteria of a schedule.

Let's take a simple example a room schedule. I have a number of rooms that need to change, they are all lower case instead of upper case (The Change Case tool from Avatech makes this easier still). I also need to supply a department value for each room.

When a schedule lists every instance of the rooms we get a nice long list of each room. Like this one...not nearly as long as most real schedules though.

If we change the sorting/grouping criteria to use Name instead and un-check the option "Itemize Every Instance" we'll get a different result.

Like This...(I added a count column to show how they've been condensed according to the same "name").

Edit the Name and Department parameters and the values will be applied to each instance of the multiple rooms, like this...(removed the sorting change and restored the sort by number and "Itemize every instance").

Typing EXAM in the Name field supplied the value to all seven of the rooms using that name. The same is true for the SERVICES department name. The same is true for the other repeated values.

In the future, to use this, just remember that you need to sort a schedule by THE value that needs alteration AND you need to un-check "Itemize every Instance".

Remember too, there is nothing wrong with having a schedule that makes your daily work life easier and one that your clients/readers see, a quality assurance schedule and the final "report". Happy "reporting"!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tongue Twister

Said by me during a training session discussing making families...

"a Famula" as in a Family & a Formula are a "Famula".

Structural Column - Quick and "Evil"

I was checking out the new Mastering Revit Structure book by Tom, Jamie, David and Eric (yes...too lazy to spell out their whole names but then I wrote this instead, hmmm). On page 144 is a grey section that describes the following tip, written here in my own way.

Need a Structural column that leans, quick? Don't want to make a column family first? You could use a wall? BIM purists, cover your ears and eyes..."you know where to put the cork" ("The Who" fans quiver with recognition). You can use a wall and then edit its profile to create the appearance of a leaning column in about the same time as it takes to choose the correct family template first.

Naturally this assumes that we are talking about concrete, it doesn't work quite as well for steel shapes.

Just a little "out of the box" thinking courtesy of the four RST "muskateers", check out the book!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Echo Dept. of Echo - Zooming in Dialogs

David Light posted this bit waaaay back in November, before AU and I thought I'd echo it here too. He observed that we can actually zoom in and out of some dialogs by using CTRL + Middle Scroll Wheel. The link above is for his follow up post which tells us that this works in the following dialogs: managed links, view templates, element properties, view properties, worksets and export layers.

Thanks for being observant David!

TurboSquid Contest - Revit Content

Warning...Sales "pitchish"...

TurboSquid is a popular site for 3D content that is branching out into the Revit Family realm. In partnership with Autodesk, they just opened up their "Revit Market", a marketplace especially for user-generated Revit families. "Revit Market" is designed to complement Autodesk Seek.

To encourage users to publish Revit families for sale, TurboSquid is holding a Revit Contest with cash prizes up to $2500. Deadline is Jan. 31, 2009.

A little bit about them clipped from their site:

TurboSquid is:

The largest library of 3D products for sale in the world.
A clearinghouse for digital artists to make money selling their content.
A place to find premium plug-ins for 3D software applications.
A forum for 3D professionals to exchange ideas.
A service accessible by a traditional website as well as our free, downloadable client applications for PC and Mac.
A production tool to help digital artists more rapidly find, preview and acquire essential content.

The TurboSquid Mission:

Our goal is to revolutionize the way that 3D products are bought, sold and delivered by creating a new and focused digital marketplace designed to offer large selections of affordable products while providing maximum returns to intellectual property owners. We strive to provide unmatched value and support to our partners, content creators and customers while creating a stimulating and exciting environment to accomplish our plans.

EDIT: They've started a blog called Revit Market.

Monday, December 08, 2008

RME - Connectors and their "Arrow"

This is referring to the arrow that appears on a duct or pipe connector icon in the family editor. This arrow indicates where the pipe or duct must point toward the connecting pipe or duct. You can flip this easily when you place a connector on a face but not as easily when using the work plane option.
Connectors placed on a "work plane" define their "arrow" orientation based on the "positive" side of the Reference Plane used. The positive side of a Reference Plane is the left side of the "head", where the name appears (when you assign a name parameter to the ref plane). This is true for Reference Planes we add to a family. The stock reference planes that you find in the template behave the opposite way, go figure...positive is to the right side of the "head".

I suppose the connection arrow is just there to tease you in this instance. When the connector is applied to a "face" the "flip" arrow works. Remember the connection arrow represents the duct/ should point toward the connecting duct/pipe. Actual Flow direction is defined inside the properties dialog of the connector.

Oh...if the arrow is "wrong"...flip the reference plane, drag the end control grip at one end over the other, don't mirror because Revit will want to delete the connector.

Another worthy tip, brought to us by AUGI member Truevis aka Eric, is to use the "Split Face" tool on a face to define a portion of the surface to contain a connector as opposed to adding another solid to do so which you'll find in many of the stock families. May you "connect" well!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

AU 2008 - Day Seven - Saturday

Seven days of AU? You probably didn't realize it was that long? Well this was my travel day home. I drove to AU and therefore...drove home. At the valet I waited and waited...then a valet shows up with a piece of paper in his hand, uh oh! I'm thinking it was stolen, or damaged or...I'm not sure...

He says, "The battery is completely dead and this paper needs a signature for him to "jump the battery"". Oh is that all...sigh of relief... signed and I got my car back. I topped of the gas tank and left the car running, just in case. I drove four hours, even...home at last! I was very pleased that the several serious traffic jambs that I saw on the South bound lane of I-15 last Sunday were not to be found on this particular day.

The reason for my "panic" is that two weeks earlier this same car was vandalized while I was teaching a class. Someone with some pent up anger decided that the paint job needed some alterations. They scratched up the hood, the trunk, the passenger door and passenger rear quarter panel. They also etched a frequently used four letter word on the hood too, nice touch!

They apparently lacked the time or skill to write the accompanying "You" and just left a "u" instead. I was angry at the time, frustrated now that the car will need to be painted completely to fix it. The lease ends in a few months so we may just work something out with the dealer... I don't think I've made anyone mad enough to do this so I'm inclined to think it was just a random act of stupidity.

Revit is so much easier than real life!

AU 2008 – Day Six – Friday

I began my day as a lab assistant for Paul Aubin's Family Editor session. I got their early and discovered a few pc's with “problems”. The other two assistants from DC Cadd were able to get a couple up and running but two pc's had no pc...a much harder issue to overcome. Autodesk scrambled to get them sorted out but we ended up without one of them for the duration. We were able to keep these from delaying the class at least.

The session maintained a comfortable pace and everyone did their best to keep up. Paul planned more material than fit in the time slot but that's pretty easy to do, I did it every time I did a lab too. Better more than too little eh? In a quick thank you email Paul wrote that the class survey results were very good with a pretty high ranking, congrats!

When that wrapped I rushed to make my lunch meeting with Cyril Verley and his gang of trainers for CDV Systems. We seldom have a chance other than AU to all be in the same room so it was both nice and necessary to get together. I left the meeting early to have another AUGI session, an AU wrap up meeting. At 4:20 I bailed from that meeting in order to catch the ride to the CDV dinner and show that Cyril's “right arm”, Carolyn, arranged. We enjoyed Tenderloin at the Luxor followed by the Chris Angel “Believe” show. Very nice end to AU! Thanks Cyril and Carolyn!

AU 2008 - Day Five - Thursday

I managed to steal some Revit time for myself and attended two Un-Plugged sessions sponsored by Robert and Krista Manna, a husband and wife team that work for different firms but whose sessions dovetailed together pretty well. In fact two other sessions by two Scott's (Brown and Womack) did as well but I couldn't attend them, my loss. Each of the four presenters are AUGI members naturally!

AU Party featured the conclusion of the AU Design Slam where various participants designed either building or products using Autodesk software in a short amount of time. The event began the night before and AUGI member and blogger Craig Barbieri won the design portion from Wednesday night.

I was disappointed in the audio during the party, too tinny and very difficult to understand Lynn Allen at all. Fortunately the comedic talent's of Don McMillan were able to transcend the poor audio. Don is a gifted story teller and his somewhat distorted view of things as an engineer turned comedian contribute to a laugh riot. If he didn't pause now and then his audience could become physically ill from continuous laughter.

I got to spend a little time (too little) with my friend Bruce Gow (BeeGee at AUGI) from Brisbane. I managed to miss each of his classes this year, oh well. I hope to see some more of him in Melbourne in June 2009 at the Revit Technology Conference. His cohorts from Karelcad, Shane and Adam...among others were also present and they are always fun to hang around with.

Later I traded text messages with Wesley Benn trying to find each other in the hall during Don's show. Funny how hard it can be until he realized that the columns are numbered...we wrapped up the night with a stop at the Grand Lux, the all purpose "diner" at the Venetian.

AU 2008 - Day Four - Wednesday

AUGI all day. We met with all the international members who make up the chapter leadership for each of AUGI's Country Chapters. At first it seemed as though we were an organization divided in direction and mission. Quickly however we all began to realize that we are not divided, that we share the same goals, ideals and mission. At the close of the day we shared a solidarity that felt both good and invigorating.

At five the AUGI General Meeting opened. Lynn Allen, designated AUGI Sweetheart, began the session and she turned over the mike to President, Mark Kiker. We delivered Wishlists for AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Inventor and Revit. Buzz Kross (Inventor) showed his counterparts how to accept a wishlist by upping the ante with a prepared video showing the features that were directly from the wishlist he was just handed. Nice!

Mark and the board presented the outgoing board members (me and Chris Lindner) with a nice plaque thanking us for our service. He also announced the voting is now open for the next board, and open through the 14th.

He wrapped the meeting with the anticipated “It's Beer Time”...the annual AUGI Beer Bash. Everyone grabbed their AUGI beer mug and headed to the trade show hall for food AND Beer or at least a beverage of their choice!

I attended the Avatech party at Tao on the coat tails of RTKL staff, primarily Hiroshi Jacobs. We ran into each other at the Beer Bash and decided to head to Tao (head to toe?) afterward. Too loud at Tao, such that you have to yell at each other to be heard...definitely strained my voice that night. We closed up the party hanging out with Beau Turner (Avatech and Will Render for food blog). When they asked us to leave so they could open up to the public again I ran into Willem from the publisher Wiley/Sybex and Eddie Krygiel (Wiley/Sybex author). At this point I decided for reasons of self preservation to go back to my room and sleep!

AU 2008 - Day Three - Tuesday

Started out the morning in the Managing Large Projects session hosted by Lonnie Cumpton of Friedmutter Group. He went through a list of key items first and then started a Q/A session. No real surprises from my perspective but I'm sure other attendees who haven't yet wrestled with a large project yet were quite happy to be listening in. Lonnie assembled a panel for the Q/A consisting of Bill Debevc, Friedmutter, Lance Kirby, Autodesk Consulting and Beau Turner, Avatech Solutions. The good news is that there are some options when dealing with large projects, not without cost, but options.

At this point my Day Three at AU started to change hands from what I wanted or intended to do to what I ended up doing. I had intended to take in the session for interiors projects but only managed to catch the tail end. I also started to see Kyle Bernhardt's class for Revit MEP but had to leave early in this case.

I spent the evening in the AUGI booth on the trade show floor. Much of the time was helping members find their log in information again and signing up new members. I stole what time I could to visit with friends and other attendees.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

AU 2008 – Day Two – Monday

[Obviously the following didn't get posted on day two, apologies]

Morning came quickly today but it didn't seem like it because the room has drapery that literally cuts out any evidence of exterior light.

We started out with a board meeting (AUGI) at 10 AM, mostly a planning session for AU events and activities. After a brief lunch in the food court we had a very long session called the Leadership Conference. I say very long because it went from 1-6 pm according to the schedule, it actually concluded a little after 6:30 pm. The purpose of the meeting was to provide people that run user groups and or user communities, like AUGI user groups or the AREA with a lot of information that will hopefully help them start a group or just manage their existing one better.

I personally found the last two presenters the most interesting while I'm sure the majority of the attendees found value in all of the presenters information. John Morgan, AUGI board member, discussed the “best practices” of starting/running a user group. Though compressed into much too little time he covered a wealth of ideas. Then Shaun Hendricks with Autodesk and the manager for The Area spoke about their three versions of the site and what they've learned, all very insightful!

After the LC wrapped up I made a “quick” trip up to the room, (definitely not quick) and then joined the line to attend the AEC Mixer. I never made it to the food because each time I turned around or changed location I ran into another Revit user/friend. It was fun to catch up with everyone and I regret not managing to find time to chat with more people.

Last but not least, “dinner” at the new Grand Lux in the Palazzo portion of the Venetian. A little name dropping...Jim Balding, Doug Williams & Scott Brown (WATG), Matt Jezyk and his wife (Autodesk), Greg Demchak (Autodesk), Wesley Benn (Benn Design) and last but not least the “Rock-n-Roll” architect – Steve Shell. Always a fun happy bunch to share a meal with, thanks for including me!

Lights out!

AU 2008 Day One – Sunday for Me

I left home on Sunday afternoon and arrived in Vegas at about 5:30 pm. I parked the car at the Valet, checked in and made the veeerrry long walk to the registration area. It is about as far away from the hotel rooms as it could be and still be part of the Venetian complex.

I met with a few members of the AUGI board that were also either registered or just finished doing so. We then separated briefly so we could all regroup for a dinner at Dal Toro (Lamborghini). It was really quite good but surprisingly quiet, the calm before the AU storm of attendees I suppose. I was told by another attendee that their taxi driver told him that it has been a “ghost town” lately though, evidence of the currently economic situation I suppose.

After dinner I ran into Pat and Todd with HNTB (and we met up with Jim Balding, WATG) and we passed a couple hours chatting about stuff, well in fact a lot of it was Revit stuff...which isn't really that surprising is it?