Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dept. of Moved Cheese: Orient > By Plane

In Revit 2009 the View Cube and Steering Wheel were added to our "tool chest". After all this time I admit that I still barely use the Steering Wheel. I also tend to forget about the View Cube because I'm so used to using the Shift key combined with the mouse scroll wheel button to orbit. However, I definitely use the View Cube for the view Orientation options because I really like the view separation in the Orient to View tools.

Even though they added the "Cube and Wheel" to Revit 2009 it still had the View menu which offered us the following menu items, including the topic of this post, Orient > By Plane.

They also added this to the Steering Wheel, calling it "Orient to a Plane", but not to the View Cube. Confused? Me too, add to both maybe, but just the Steering Wheel? Okay?? I'm just as likely to want to have access to the tool via the View Cube because it's already visible and I have to turn on the Steering Wheel to access it there.

In 2010 they've got a View Ribbon tab but the view orientation options are gone, my cheese wasn't "moved" it was "eaten". My first instinct was that I'd find it on the View tab. Then I thought it might be on the Home tab since the Work Plane panel is there for Set and Show Work Plane, Reference Plane and Line etc. Nope the cheese is just gone...

I also thought maybe I'd find them on the new Navigation Bar which if I could just remember is there I'd use more too! But no, not there either!

I'm still not sure that this "sense of loss" or "sadness" is borne of knowing where my "cheese" was and not finding it there or that it is because I don't find it where my instincts tell me it ought to be? My instincts are either wrong or strongly biased by what I've been doing in Revit for a long time now.

I see some logic for putting it on the navigation tools but I really don't understand why it isn't on the View Cube too. I'd like a 3D Orientation panel on the View Ribbon that offers all the "old" tools from the View menu show earlier. This way they'd be discoverable on the Ribbon and we could have Keyboard Shortcuts for them again too.

I miss my "cheese"!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Echo - IE8 and Revit = Not Good

David posted this on his blog after bumping into the issue himself and discussing it with support.

“Thank you for choosing Autodesk Support.

Internet Explorer 8 is not recommended to be installed when used with Revit 2009 64 bit. There is a known issue with the recent files screen. The Recent Files menu is an HTML based window and uses Internet Explorer and has not been designed to be used with IE8.

IE8 is also not recommended to be used with Revit 2010 as it has not been designed or tested with it. The same problem does not exist with the recent files screen in the same way but it is apparent that if you have the recent files window up and TAB+CTRL between your windows while using 64 bit and IE8, it will crash. You can use IE8 if you do not have the recent files window open.”

I know that I really don't care what IE is doing because I've been using either Google Chrome or Firefox for quite some time. The only time I have to use IE these days is when some embedded IE/Autodesk feature doesn't work in them. I hope that it doesn't become an installation requirement at some point to use it in order to use Revit etc.

Save Interval - Who Keeps Changing It?

You do! You do so by accident though, with your innocent mouse and scroll wheel.

Here's what happens. Let's imagine you are starting a new floor, or roof or wall, something, and Revit pops up a Save Reminder. It always does when are starting something time consuming doesn't it? You also happen to decide to zoom in or out using the scroll wheel on your mouse.

Timing is everything!!

At the same time you do this, the save reminder shows up. The focus shifts to the Drop Down list of time intervals. Since you are spinning your wheel expecting to zoom you don't notice that you momentarily altered the interval!

Users of Revit MEP have changed their selected pipe or duct for a similar reason. I mentioned this in another POST.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Backups: Save As is a Local File

With Worksets and Central/Local Files there are two options to restore from a Backup; Save As and Roll Back. I'm focusing on the first. To use it you have to open the backups folder of the project you are working on via the File menu > Backups...

Now you select the previous version and choose Save As: (yeah this image only has one previous version...I was lazy)

When you use Save As you are NOT creating a NEW Central File as might be expected. You are actually creating a NEW LOCAL FILE according to the conditions of the project at the time of that Saved Back Up. This means using Save to Central is NOT a good idea!

In order to protect the integrity of the current project file you should immediately use the File menu > Save As, provide a new name and folder location, Click Options and check the "Make this a Central file after Save" option, Click OK, Click OK.

Regarding 2010 there are some subtle changes. First there is a new location for the newly renamed "Restore Backup" feature.

There is a slightly different File Save Options dialog too:

The result of choosing the Specify option means that when a user makes a Local File the Specify Worksets dialog will appear, which enhances the new procedure available for making local files. Whichever selection is made is the one that Local file each user creates will exhibit.

Oh and Save to Central (STC) is now called Synchronize with Central (SWC).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Where Did Render Go? - Can I offer you some Tea?

The 2010 release is a bloggers dream or curse. There are so many things that one can write about. In previous releases there was a Render tab on design bar. with Revit 2009 this design bar got really simple, just one button (it is also a Teapot on the View Control Shortcut bar as mentioned in a comment, forgot to say that here before).

With 2010 there is no Design Bar and Render does not appear on any Ribbon tab or panel. If you want to render you can only render in 3D views so the single button that appeared on the Design Bar tab that is no still appears on the View Control Bar instead, just in a revised icon in the form of a little Teapot. Max users might find this one quicker than others since their icon for Render has been a Teapot for a number of years.

Here's where you'll find it now!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Central File Naming

I've always recommended appending the word "Central" to the file name of a project that is using Worksets. I've done this because I want to make the file "special" or distinctive to users. With the new Local File process I described in yesterday's post I find myself rethinking this habit.

Revit will append the username to the Local File for us so we don't have to worry about the Central and Local files having the same name (technically Revit doesn't care about this though). We do have to acknowledge that putting "Central" in the file name will remain in the file name plus the username, for Local Files.

A couple examples would help?

Using my established recommendation:
Our Big Project-central.rvt [Central File on server]
Our Big Project-central_username.rvt [Local File on local pc]
Our Big Project-central_username_ddmmyyyy_hhmmss.rvt [additional files]

Abandoning my recommendation:
Our Big Project.rvt [Central File on server]
Our Big Project_username.rvt [Local File on local pc]
Our Big Project_username_ddmmyyyy_hhmmss.rvt [additional files]

I offer this as something to consider. If most of your projects have Worksets enabled anyway then perhaps making the file name "distinctive" isn't as important as it might seem?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Revit 2010 - Local Files

I've been writing about Worksets for a long time now. Revit 2010 provides a new process for creating Local Files (for projects using Worksets). When you attempt to open a project in 2010 Revit detects whether it is a central, local or stand-alone project file.

Central File - Option to create a local file is checked
Local File - Option to create a local file is disabled
Stand-alone File - Option to create a local file is disabled

Revit will place the local file in the location defined here, Default Path for User Files

Revit will append the username to the file initially. If you attempt to create another local file and Revit finds another with the same name it offers this dialog.
As you can see it gives you an opportunity to either overwrite the existing or append a time stamp to the file instead.

For what it is worth...a grain of salt perhaps...a little background, from my perspective.

The formal recommendation from Autodesk has always been to create local files by using File menu > Open, open the the Central File followed by using File menu > Save As to save your Local File (literally a copy of the Central File) on your local PC. This was both time consuming (two open sequences essentially) and "dangerous" (user's routinely/habitually opening the Central File).

To counter this process what we started doing with local files (essentially some version of copy/paste/rename) a long long time ago now has turned into a "cottage industry" of local file creation/management techniques and tools/software. Autodesk has distilled it into a "simple" and better process than what was before, which wasn't really an appropriate process at all.

I use three fundamental criteria for local files and process.

Use methods that ensure users do NOT...

...develop a habit of opening central files their local files anywhere they please
...use the same local file endlessly

As far as the software is concerned where the local file is located is technically immaterial. In my opinion, as long as it is on the local pc and in a folder that isn't only accessible to one user then it's "good".

I completely understand and can relate to the motivation to define where they go and how they go but we don't have to keep these files for the long term so in a sense some of us are getting a bit carried away.

This new Autodesk solution meets each of my long standing criteria more reliably than before, though honestly, anything would since it didn't at all before. It will be easier to teach users what to do. I'd prefer that they didn't have to browse to "touch" the central file at all but as long as they don't un-check the option Create new local they'll be fine.

Ideally Worksets and all its sundry baggage of language and rules should continue to become less intrusive, less confusing and as efficient as possible. This is a good step in this direction. For the next release the developers would do well to provide a few more options for folder locations and file naming rules.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Options Dialog - Alternative Path

One of the first items people are struggling to find is the Options dialog. We used to find it using the Settings menu > Options. With Ribbonized software it is lurking under the Application Menu, the big "R" button in the upper left corner.

It just so happens that you can also get to this dialog if you use the Manage Ribbon tab. Look at the Macros panel and click Macro Security...Options dialog opens with the focus on the Macros tab, just click a different tab. Not a "better" way to get there just another if you happen to think "Manage" when you think of "Options" and have already clicked to open the Manage Ribbon tab.

Similarly you can Right Click on the View Cube in a 3D view and choose Options, change to the Tab you want.

Hope these help you get comfortable during the transition?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Autodesk Revit Utilities from Biggest Brains

If you are interested in:

* Comparing Shared Parameter files
* Merging Shared Parameter files
* Deleting backup files (optionally recursively)
* Copying CSV files created for Type Catalog usage for easy change testing
* Reporting the versions of Revit used to create family files

If yes, then you will be interested in visiting this SITE. This is the personal (off hours)work of David VanSlyke who happens to work for McQuay, which has been providing Revit MEP content for awhile now too. This is a screen capture of the application, focus on the Delete Backup Files tab, note the others.

Check it out!

[Added: 4/24/09 - David wrote to me mentioning that he is waffling about the name because he hadn't noticed the other "Utilities" offerings from Avatech at the time. If you have some ideas for naming you can post a comment here.]

Keynote Editor = New Cool Application

I must have been sleeping under a rock when this one surfaced back on March 13, 2009 in a POST at AUGI. Steve Faust with emc2 has made a Keynote Manager application whose goal is improving the lot of the person(s) who deals with Revit's keynote feature. Here's a screen capture.

You can download the FILE HERE!

Local File Generator - Another Option

Paul Kirill, a Revit MEP user with HCYU and Associates created a new tool to create local files and the firm has decided to make it available to anyone else that is interested. I tried it out this morning and it is pretty slick. Here's a screen shot.

It is "branded" by including their firm name but that is a small price to get the work for free? If you want your own branding I'm sure they'd be open to some arrangement. Just give them a shout.

You're probably interested in getting a look at it by now? They've shared it on the Richmond AutoCAD Manifest user group website (RAM). DOWNLOAD IT HERE! or visit the WEB PAGE.

Paul also posted an announcement at AUGI in THIS THREAD.

What I find compelling about this solution is its small "footprint" doesn't require much from the user other than installing it and making a few setting choices. The other solutions, I've mentioned before or this ONE, using Auto Hot Key are cool too but they do require a bit more "effort" from us.

Here's the Local File Options dialog:

A dialog to define Revit versions.

Another example of a resourceful Revit user/firm sharing "wot they dun". Thanks!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's with the Year in the Name??

Revit 2010 released in 2009, Revit 2009 released in 2008 and so on. It boils down to this, Autodesk's fiscal year is currently 2010 so therefore is the software it makes. I guess it is kind-a-sort-a like the car industry, selling a 2009 model in the fall of 2008??

At least it is better than trying to make sense of the Revit compatibility between the previous naming scheme; Revit Building 9.0, Revit Structure 3.0 and Revit Systems 2.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Revit 2010 - Unresolved References

When Revit opens a project and can't find files it has always told us so. The dialog that it presented in the past and now are different. With 2010 we get this instead.

The language used is better and provides a bit more information. If you click on the Show Details button you get a much more readable listing of the offending files (refrained from that screen capture to protect the "guilty"). The addition of the option to immediately deal with them is also welcome though I suspect most users will just defer that to someone else?

[Added: 4/23/09] For more discussion on the subject of this Task Dialog you can visit a post that was apparently inspired by this post.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Form Follows Function

Walls, floors, ceilings and roofs all permit us to define multiple layers to represent a system of parts that define the whole. One part of this is the Function of a layer. I'm referring to these as shown in this image of the layers in a wall type.

There are Five numbered/bracketed functions and a placeholder that doesn't really contribute to the wall (or other elements) thickness...yet. I can be hopeful can't I?

What do they mean and what do they do?

First...notice the numbers? Why are they numbered? The number represents a pecking order, the order that they occur during construction.

[1] Structure - last time I checked the structure of a building comes first so it is numero uno!

[2] Substrate - Yes plywood gets applied to the exterior side of a wood framed house next, similar for other substrates.

[3] Thermal/Air Layer - Insulation goes in now, on the face of CMU and in the stud cavities.

[4] Finish 1 - This is EXTERIOR, yes exterior so make your wall types with this and only use it for the exterior side of EXTERIOR wall types. Don't use it for your interior walls types.

[5] Finish 2 - This must be for INTERIOR finishes, YES, use it for interior partitions. Yes it is okay to use this function both on the "exterior" side and the "interior" side of INTERIOR partitions. It IS important to define which side is "exterior" on your partitions.

For example a shaft wall that has two layers of finish material on one side and a single layer of another on the inside. Which side should get the double layer? Exterior...interior? You decide and then stick to it, don't waffle, waver, equivocate or prevaricate!

[ ] Membrane - Poor membrane, doesn't rate a number but this is for Tyvek and others. In many cases it goes on both sides, vapor barrier on one side and air barrier on the other. I can never remember which so I'm sure somewhere a house is sweating when it should be breathing!?!?

[1] Structural Deck - It shares the number one with Structure because it is special. Floors have this one which is just teasing Revit Architecture (RAC) users, more on that in a bit. For Revit Structure (RST) users it is no tease. This allows you to have a pretty accurate representation of concrete over metal deck. You know, the profile is "real" and actually has "flutes" and the concrete fills the "flutes" and doesn't involve adding repeating details to sections and details.

They also play a role in how these layers in various walls relate to one another when they meet at an intersection. We don't really want a finish layer to punch through a structural layer. It ought to stop and respect the boundary of the structure, cannot pass GO, do not collect $200. If you are careless with these you may end up with some interesting wall cleanup conditions.

As for Roofs I don't typically encourage people to build up multiple layer families for these. I've come to realize that most of these are better as individual elements so they can have different extents, imagine a Spanish tile roof for example. The tile nearly always finishes a bit forward of the roof rafter tails and substrate below. Separate elements means I can create a better representation of the roof.

No, these images are not the same roof. The first is from a project I was involved in a long time ago now and the second is just quick mock-up of two roofs with a separate offset for the upper "layer". I used join geometry to "blend" them together.

I have the same opinion for floors. I really like to encourage the RST team (everyone has a structural consultant using RST now right?!) to create the structural slab because the poor RAC user can't create the metal deck profile themselves, only the RST software can. RAC can show it however if it was built in RST. This way the RST firm "owns" the structural slab and I model the finishes with RAC. Now we can do material schedules for floor finishes easily and not worry about the extra layers in the floors. I do have to communicate with the RST firm about openings/depressions and the like but I should have been doing that all along anyway. Now I have a bit more motivation?

Having written this I have no objection to compound roofs and floors during schematic design. They actually shine then because you can create basic sections of the building and these preliminary roofs and floors define that "untouchable" space for structure and plenum which helps us plan our floor to floor relationships better.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Where did my Mass go?

More than one Revit user has started a project with massing, saved and closed the file, moved on to something else for awhile only to return and suffer a brief scary moment when they see nothing in their model!! No mass!! Did I forget to save my work? Did Revit kill my work? Panic begins to set in...oh wait!! Show Mass!! Aaahhh...calm begins to return.

You can also find it under the View menu > Show Mass.

When you first use the massing tools Revit displays this message.

It boils down to this, Revit is saying, "Steve, the massing category is not on, you can't see it!! So I'll turn massing on for you globally (all views) without you having to manually turn massing on in every view using visibility/Graphics overrides. Okay?"

The alternative is to use Visibility/Graphic overrides in each view to turn on the mass category. By default it is off in each view.

The message also tells that you'll have to do this in order to print/export your massing work. Revit 2010 you'll find things the same only different. Instead of a menu or toolbar button you'll find a "Menoolbar"...I'm sorry I meant Ribbon tab called Massing & Site.

Instead of the little message I got earlier from Revit I get this one.

Says the "same" thing only differently. Of course the massing capabilities have changed significantly with 2010 but that's a different post...or many posts.

Next time...don't panic!!...and remember your towel!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Where to Start? Revit 2010

Since Revit 2010 has been formally released and began shipping over the last couple days it makes sense to begin addressing it formally here too. I've held off doing so to honor the disclosure requirements I agreed to with Autodesk even though numerous others have managed to skirt them for sometime now.

The first thing that will "hit you" obviously is the new graphical user interface (GUI). You'll want to visit the Help documentation and there are several items of interest there.

Skipping over the first item, Help, check out the "User Interface Overview".

It is a "mouse over" document where you move your cursor over the numbered portions of the interface and a description appears. It lacks descriptions for a couple contextual items that appear from time to time. For instance there is a Draw/Pick Gallery that appears when you are working with a feature that permits sketching, like walls, lines etc.

Subtle yes but it is useful to learn their terminology too.

I also highlighted a document you'll definitely want to get familiar with too. It is called, not surprisingly, "Where is my Command?".

This is organized around the original menu structure and provides a description that explains where this "missing" command can now be found. Here's an example that will cause a little stress initially unless you are already quite indoctrinated by other "wibbonized" applications. Where did they hide Settings menu > Options? Sorry, that was a trick question, they don't tell you where it is!! It is found here.

Initially I expected to find it on the Manage Ribbon tab however I soon remembered that in other applications the Options or User Settings are configured under the Application menu. This is the BIG round button in the upper left corner of the application. In Revit's case, the BIG "R".

If you are interested in some background on the rationale for the new interface design you can check out the new Autodesk blog "Inside the Factory". There are also quite a few videos posted on youtube and other sites. Some critical of it and others just a demonstration. It's amazing how much stuff "we" create on the "internets".

Just be sure to check out the available information lurking under Help!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Key Tips - Revit 2010

A few people have commented on a "new" feature in Revit 2010, called Key Tips. They display when you press the ALT key on the keyboard. They make it possible to use the keyboard to access Ribbon tabs and panel items while working feverishly.

While they are displayed differently are they really "new"? Windows has always supported this technique to access menu items. The premise for them was, "what if your mouse stopped working or worse, you don't have a mouse?". These gave us a way to save and gracefully get out of an application without a pointing device. Literally a hold over from DOS pre-mouse computing.

Yes Key Tips are a good thing...but "new"? What is the saying? "Everything old is new again"?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Conditional Formatting - was unfair!

Too good to wait to till tomorrow to share!

In the past I commented about the fact that Revit MEP has conditional formatting while Revit Architecture and Structure do not. That is still technically true but... fast forward to now...

David Baldacchino and I were exchanging some emails about work arounds and I was lamenting about the conditional formatting again. He remembered that he discovered a real good trick!

When you are creating/editing a schedule and select a value that can be formatted, like Area or a Number value for example, are you listening? Press the ALT & N keys at the same time and this dialog appears. Yes in Revit Architecture and Structure!

Conditional Formatting in schedules regardless of the version of Revit still does not show up when a schedule is added to a sheet however. This means the tool is useful primarily for internal checking or as an analysis tool but fails to deliver for presenting the information to others. Always leave us wanting more do they?

P.S. This works in Revit 2009 and 2010. Keep in mind that undocumented finds like these may mean that the factory didn't know it was possible and therefore it is technically unsupported. Use it at your own peril?

Revit 2010 Fixes Floor Void Issue

I'm happy to report that an earlier post that I made about floors and void elements is no longer an issue with the new release of Revit Architecture 2010 and the other versions too.

In the new release a floor will show a reduction in volume when an in-place void, a face based void family or a floor based void family is used. An undocumented fix that is welcome! Thanks!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Family Editor: Bones, Muscle & Skin

I have heard the term "bones" and phrase "build the bones" used in the context of the family editor in the past. In fact some of the earlier Revit Technology Corporation (RTC) and Autodesk Family Editor documents have used the term too, perhaps for the first time even. Lately over the last year or two I've been expanding on the metaphor.

Bones = Reference Planes
Muscle = Dimensions, Labels/Parameters, Automatic Sketch Dimensions
Skin = Solids/Voids and Symbolic Linework

If you properly define the "bones" first and then connect the "muscle(s)" to them you'll find that your "skin", once anchored to the bones, will go wherever the muscle tell the bones to go. I just picture my arm and in fact I usually hold it up and move it at the elbow while I mention it in classes. A properly defined family will behave as consistently as your arm does, unless you manage to do it harm skiing?

Too clinical? Squeamish? Sorry!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

H E "double hockey sticks" Freezes Over

According to Gregory Arkin's blog, Bim Boom Autodesk has just announced the end of ADT/ACA. Autodesk will no longer continue to produce it as a stand-alone product.

I remember distinctly fearing exactly the opposite when Autodesk bought my "beloved" Revit back in 2002, worried instead that it would vanish. Times change, though I guess we could say that the writing was "on the wall".

Not good news to ADT/ACA fans worldwide and I can empathize with their concerns. I'm glad I bet on the "correct horse", for once.

P.S. Did you notice the date...again? A mean but good one, Greg!

Mr. OpEd Retires

This is Freddy Latherdon, Mr. OpEd's ace reporter. I have received word today, that in a sudden decision, he has elected to stop consulting and writing Revit OpEd. Yes I know, very sudden!!

While working in Abu Dhabi he received an offer to purchase several franchise locations of Subway, the sandwich shop familiar to many people, a frequent lunch stop for him. In addition to that he met a few folks who run a ballooning operation and he now intends to plan and train for a round the world balloon adventure to begin sometime next September.

This came as shock to me, not to mention his wife and children, as I'm sure it does for some of his readers. I know that I'll miss his contributions here and perhaps, with his permission I can try to keep it running somehow though I really don't know Revit that well myself. Perhaps with some help from others I can do it.

Effective today - no more Revit OpEd, unless I can ressurect it somehow! Sorry folks!

P.S. What day is today? gotcha?