Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dept. of Workarounds - Inspiration

I saw this picture on There I Fixed It, an amazing collection of odd things and solutions to problems.

It made me think that I should use it as my "mascot" for Dept. of Workarounds.

2011 Subscription Advantage Pack posted at Autodesk Subscription

I could have prepped this message in advance but I wasn't positive it would be released on the date they hinted at on Monday. The hint was accurate. This means that you can visit the Autodesk Subscription site to download the Subscription Advantage Pack for 2011 Revit Architecture, Structure and MEP.

Quite a few other bloggers have announced this already so I hope this isn't reaching you for the first time now. Robert Manna (don't think: Do Revit) mentioned some information I've not seen repeated so I'm echoing it now.

Autodesk is working on a beta Wiki

Robert's post included links to three different topics of the wiki, they are:

Revit Server Installation
Revit Server Administration
Conceptual Energy Analysis (This link isn't working yet)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Revit Web Update 2 Posted - Build 20100903_2115

The web updates for each Revit version became available while I was "winging" it back to the west coast. The Revit Clinic made the announcement initially and several other blogs are echoing the announcement to get the word out. Me too! Note that this is NOT the Subscription Advantage Pack I was writing about over the last couple days. That is still forthcoming. See the notes at the end of this post.

Click these to visit the download pages, choose your language.
Revit Architecture
Revit Structure
Revit MEP

  • Web Update 1 (WU1) is included with Web Update 2 (WU2) - It is not necessary to install WU1 first, WU2 will take care of it.
  • The Subscription Advantage Pack (SAP) that is imminent will require WU2 so there is no redundancy to install WU2 now and then the SAP when it goes live.
  • It will be necessary to visit the Subscription site to get the SAP when it becomes available.

Revit Server

I've been patiently waiting for some real information on this concept since I first heard a little birdie mention it at the end of last year. In my previous post I listed the bullet points I saw during our presentation but I didn't really explain the problem that this feature is intended to solve.

Fundamentally a firm with more than one office is at the mercy of their internet connection between offices when attempting to collaborate on a single project file. The existing methodology for Central and Local files passes too much data back and forth to be practical. As a result many firms have invested in server computer and hardware based WAN acceleration like offered by Riverbed. This technology does improve the situation and in many cases turning an unacceptable situation into a viable one. Revit Server is both a server computer based application and optimization within Revit itself to improve the project file relationship further.

Do you need Riverbed? Maybe. If you already have it you are primed for further improvement. If you don't you could evaluate it (Revit Server) and then decide whether investing in Riverbed is warranted, it may still be beneficial. The bandwidth available between offices is the critical variable.
  • The first hurdle, if your firm doesn't have a server this solution won't help you. Hopefully a firm with more than one office isn't in this situation?
  • The second hurdle, the imminent release is limited to your intranet/domain which rules out collaboration with external project teams that can't be permitted access to your domain. EyeTee talk for allowing other people in other firms to access your project folder(s) from outside your computer network. This rules out multi-firm collaboration unless you can work with EyeTee to provide a common domain for the whole team. Remember this is the first release and they clearly understand the desire to accomplish the broader collaboration between external firms
The user interaction is described well on David Light's blog because he captured images of various dialog boxes. From the user's point of view there isn't much difference. They create a local file just like before but they choose a project from the Revit Server instead. This is exposed via a drop down option on the Collaborate ribbon's Synchronize panel.

On the management side the firm must choose a dedicated server (choose an office location) for Central Files and the Revit Server software is installed on this server. The Revit Server Administrator application provides access to the Central files for each project as well as other maintenance items. If you browse the network using Windows Explorer it won't see the Central Files on Revit Server. They will only be accessible via the Revit Server Administrator application.

I wrote earlier about Globalscape's WAFS application and to me they seem quite similar. The most notable difference is that a company with active Autodesk subscription for Revit gets Revit Server for the subscription fee (or if you prefer to think of it as "free" additional money). Globalscape's solution will cost about 3K for each agent software initially with a yearly subscription fee thereafter. You'd need two agents to accomplish sharing between two offices, more agents for more offices naturally.

Robert Manna and David Light both shared network charts that explain the relationship between computers. They both have had the benefit of using the technology during early testing. I mentioned earlier that Robert is conducting an AU Virtual session about their implementation on an ongoing project.

Part of the technology includes a reworking of the user permissions that used to be collected into individual files (eperms). A new database is now used to manage user borrowing to provide a more robust monitoring and control system.

Back to workflow, all changes made to your local file are saved to a central file that is on a server located in the same office as your local. The changes to this central file are passed to the central file that exists on Revit Server. Changes made by others are also passed to Revit Server and these changes are passed to each other's local files via the Central files that are on their own office's servers. During the presentation yesterday it was stated that 100 milliseconds seems to be the threshold at which synchronization delays are perceived by a user so that is the threshold they are seeking to avoid, faster not slower than 100ms.

Some observations:

  • Language is going to be a difficult transition, the word server, central and local all get used in an overlapping manner. For example, I'm saving my local file, it synchronizes with the "local" server which synchronizes with changes at the Revit Server installed on the master project server.
  • If your firm has servers but doesn't have dedicated EyeTee staff this may seem "hard".
  • The minimum requirements (see previous post) may deter your EyeTee staff if they are not ready to deal with the implications of deploying a server operating system that is newer than your current domain is using.
  • It has always been a good idea to use a dedicated Revit server but getting that budget approved if it isn't already set up this way may be another hurdle.
  • Spontaneously deciding to put a project at a specific office because the majority of the staff is in that office might contradict the single Revit Server location chosen. For example a project using teams in Phoenix and Tuscon might not enjoy the best results if the Revit Server is located in the Dallas office. It is technically possible to provide a Revit Server in multiple locations but each is blind to the other and teams can only access one at a time. The simplest implementation at this time is to focus on a single location to use Revit Server and this location provides access for all other offices.
  • Worksharing monitor will be replaced with a Autodesk Bluestreak based solution that requires users to join this additional Autodesk technology and that might be a deterrent.

I encourage you to read both David's post and Robert's post as they have been using this tool for awhile now. They both offer worthy insight that should help you decide how well it will meet your needs. Keep in mind that this, like many other developments, are a stepping stone toward further developments in worksharing.

Added: Lachmi Khemlani's AECBytes has a new article based on an interview with Autodesk and Robert Manna. You can read it HERE. The article also discusses the new Conceptual Energy Analysis tool.

[Added March 30, 2011] Jame Wong has a couple videos on his blog to guide you along with installing and setting up Revit Server.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blogger Day - When??

So when will this stuff become available? The Autodesk folks here advise us to visit our subscription site frequently as it will become available quite soon. Marketing will begin in earnest Wednesday-ish.

Blogger Day - Feature Focus 3 - Structural Enhancements

Here's a slide of the three items getting presented.

Blogger Day - Feature Focus 2 - Conceptual Energy Analysis

This feature set allows us to study different designs with energy analysis in mind. Which form provides better results than another? Quickly! This post is a bit sparse on this one but more info to follow, here's the slide of the workflow (linked from Robert Manna's blog).

Blogger Day - Feature Focus 1 - Revit Server

Quick Overview of Revit Server:

It is a software solution that takes advantage of server technology (hopefully existing in your firm)
  • Uses a Central Project server and Local Project Servers
  • User experience is simple - select a project file from a Revit Server list of projects
  • Performance - data borrowing speed goal is 100ms or less
  • SWC Process
  • #1 Reload latest is from Local Server if data has been prefetched from thetrnal server
  • # Model Update - This is a function of Revit on the local machine. Revit Server project will not affect this.
  • #3 Save - Data needs to migrate to the central project server
There can only be ONE central server (technically possible to create multiple but teams are limited to one at a time) This means it is WAN/Domain exclusive or in other words, limited to inside the firewall, all teams must share the same domain. Daily users provide the Central server name or IP address to connect

Technical Requirements:
  • One Server per location (exception as mentioned earlier about one server)
  • Windows Server 2008 (64 bit OS)
  • Internet Information Server 7.0
  • Web Services
  • Silverlight plug-in for revit Server Administrator
  • Minor configuration changes (~ 5 IIS settings)
  • Prefer a project server that doesn't have office email exchange server and other web heavy applications
  • End users cannot delete, rename or move central and folders on Revit central servers using revit client, but they can do that using Revit Server Administrator
  • Disabled features: Editing requests and Rollback
  • No longer possible to work at risk
  • Worksharing monitor does not function with Revit server but will be replaced by a Bluestreak add-in monitoring worksharing activity
Revit Server Administrator: (highlights)
  • Any user can type the server name in browser window (access controlled by IT permissions)
  • Based on Microsoft Silverlight tech. Must install plug-in
  • Create, delete, rename and move folders and cntral models on central server
  • lock/unlock central models for backup and restoration
  • View submission history for any model

Robert Manna with Burt Hill has been working with this technology quietly behind the scenes. He shared a nice graphic relationship diagram on his post a few minutes ago.

He disclosed that he's doing a AU Virtual class on this subject, you'll want to check it out!
I can also finally admit that my AUv course "Virtually" There: Using Revit with Geographically Dispersed Teams: AB22-1R" is intended to primarily focus on Revit Server, implementing it, and our experience using it on a real project team involving multiple offices and an external consultant.

Opening Slide at Blogger Day

Let the webcast and blogging of blogger day begin! We are going to discuss the new Conceptual Energy Analysis tools and Revit Server technology.

Dept. of Subtle - Flipping a Fitting Replaces Other Fitting

This is a follow up to last Friday's post about sloping pipe. After using the Slope tool you might have noticed that a couple fittings were reversed. When I used the "flip arrow" to fix them I realized that another fitting nearby was affected too. A fitting getting flipped is effectively changing the slope of the pipe slightly because the origin of the fitting is altered slightly. The larger the fitting and the more eccentric the shape the more it can affect the piping. I created a second VIDEO to explain it further.

Revit Blogger Day at Trapelo Road

I alluded to this in my post yesterday. I'm outside Boston at Autodesk's Trapelo Road office attending a Blogger Day event. We've started out our morning together when David Mills welcomed us and introduced us to fellow Autodeskers, Angela Chan and Lilli Smith. Matt Jezyk tuned in from afar via conference call. Bloggers attending are David Harrington, Jeffrey Pinheiro, David Light, David Baldacchino, Laura Handler, Krista Manna, Robert Manna and me. Buildz blogger Zach Kron and Autodesker crashed our meeting too.

A formal blogger webcast begins at 12:30 PM (EST) so we can't reveal what is discussed just yet. Keep an eye on the bloggersphere and Twitter.

In the picture: (clockwise starting at left lower corner) David Light, David Baldacchino, Laura Handler, David Mills, Angela Chan, Lilli Smith, David Harrington, and Jeffery Pinheiro., Robert and Krista Manna.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dept. of Off Topic - Hotel Thoughts

I caught a red eye flight from LAX on United courtesy of Autodesk Saturday night so that I can attend "Blogger Day" at the Trapelo Road office, near Boston. A webcast for bloggers starts up at 12:30 PM EST Monday, September 27th so hopefully you'll be hearing quite a bit about the substance of the event from bloggers during and shortly thereafter.

I've been joined here (so far) at Aloft (A Vision of W Hotels) in Lexington by Robert and Krista Manna, David Light, David Baldacchino and David Harrington. What is it about the name David and blogging about Revit?? I also learned too late that Jeffery Pinheiro (The Revit Kid) is also attending and we didn't know to look for him while hanging out at the WXYZ Lounge tonight.

There is evidence in the picture above that HVAC engineers do use flat oval duct! Nice that 2011 provides for such ducts!

I wrote about my visit to Aloft the last time I was here. This time I was pleased to see that a couple of the things that I found curious were not still curious. For example I found that there was an outlet available for my phone charger this time. The roller shades both fit in their tracks properly and extend to the base of the window sill.

The entrance slider doors haven't changed (not too surprised though) and I took a picture of David Baldacchino rushing out of the building in an emergency and running into the fixed panel of the second slider.

Well, off to bed to dream about new features for Revit! Be sure to check your news reader at lunch and after, Twitter too!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dept. of Subtle - Sloping Pipe Creates New Pipe

I guess I've never paid close enough attention. When you use the Slope tool in Revit MEP the resulting sloped pipe is really new pipe. Revit recalculates what is necessary to create the slope and reassembles new pipe into the configuration.

I realized this when I was discussing a few options for displaying vent piping differently from the sanitary piping. One technique is to just use the Comment parameter (or some other custom one) to add a "vent" comment. A filter is used to isolate pipes, fittings and accessories that contain the criteria "vent". Pretty straight forward unless you decide to slope the pipe afterward. The sloped pipe loses the comment because it is new pipe and the code that rebuilds the pipe doesn't capture the Comment parameter value. I've posted a VIDEO to help explain this.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dept. of Subtle - Single Duct VAV and Linked Connectors

The stock Single Duct VAV family has its supply in and out connectors linked. It turns out that this link is causing an error message when you use the Check Ducts tool.

Air terminals use connectors that have their Flow Configuration parameter assigned to "Preset". This means that the user assigns a specific flow value, such as 150 cfm.

The VAV needs to have the connector that supplies air to the air terminals (diffuser) set to a Flow Configuration value of "Calculated". This allows all connected air terminals flow settings to accrue to the VAV. The Single Duct VAV family has the correct Flow Configuration settings but the connectors are linked.

If the link is removed, no more warning! Here's a VIDEO to help see it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dept. of Duh - Deleting a System the Easy Way

Okay I'm not the sharpest tack at times. Using Revit MEP, I was asked how best to delete a system, like a circuit or supply air system. I started to suggest it was easy using the System Browser. One of the students then said, "Why don't you just use the delete key?". Uh...well that works too! It isn't obvious, at least it wasn't to me, but you can select your system and hit the DELETE key, gone it is! You can also activate the Modify Ribbon to click on the Delete button (Red X). It's pretty effective eh?? Here's a VIDEO just in case this text is mumbo jumbo.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dept. of Quirky - Copy Monitor Fixtures

I observed that rotating a fixture using the Space Bar doesn't cause Revit to consider the fixture moved when using the Copy Monitor feature. If the fixture is moved then it generates a coordination warning. This means you can't just rely on the software to let you know a change occurred that needs to be dealt with. It can't do everything for us but I'd have thought this sort of change would get trapped at least. Here's a VIDEO that explains it visually.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dept. of Woe - Delete Checked

A short post while hoping power is restored in my hotel. A sad yet amusing tale with sympathy... Our intrepid "victim" was dutifully reviewing warnings and was thoughtfully deleting said warnings once read. His thinking was, "I'm deleting the warning not actual elements, why would Revit do that?" I admit I laughed when he said this and then realized he was sharing a painful experience. How kind of me! He finished by saying he found out a little later how wrong his thinking was.

I often wonder why the brute force response to all offenses, DELETE the offender!, "off with its head! Revit could use a kinder gentler approach. How about, "Hi Steve, you've made a fine mess of your project, would you like me to renumber all these elements that share the same irrelevant mark value?" "Shall I turn on leaders for all these poor room/space/area tags that have wandered outside their yard?" "Shall I open the Pod Bay door Steve?" "Yes Hal (Revit), open the Pod Bay door please.

Be careful! It's dangerous out there!

Friday, September 17, 2010

RTC USA 2011 - Web Page Now Ready

We just turned on the initial page ready for RTC USA site. We were just working out a couple kinks. I'm writing because the page will has a button to indicate how interested you are in the event.
Naturally we hope that everyone will want to attend, but we probably won't have room for everyone. Keep an eye on the RTC site, it is live now. Clicking the "buttons" now will just take you to the site.

Amended: It's up now!

Dept. of Off Topic - Are You a Target?

Ever feel like you are this guy? I hope not! Thanks to my friend Bruce for making me aware of the image. I found it on Scrape TV, don't know if credit belongs elsewhere.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dept. of Subtle - Face Based Families and Schedule Level

Face based families are a bit awkward when you place them because they infer a relationship with a level that often doesn't match your intentions. The correct level assignment is created when you place them in a plan view because the associated level is explicit and unchangeable. It is a different story in elevation and section views though. As you'll see in the VIDEO the Schedule Level parameter appears in the properties palette for these families. The parameter name is a bit ironic since the parameter does not appear in schedules!! Schedules have a nice Level parameter but we can't change it within the schedule view.

When you place face based families just remember to check the Schedule Level parameter so that it will have the correct Level assignment in your schedules.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dept. of Echo - Revit MEP - Invalid Duct Fitting K-Factor Database

I've written about this issue a couple times in the past. A post appeared today on The Revit Clinic and Inside The System that deals with it occurring in Revit MEP 2011 now too. Here's the text of the "fix":
Recently, we have had several reports of this error happening in 2011, and in most cases, neither of these recommendations have fixed the problem. Generally, this error is a result of a 3rd-party DLL not being registered properly when installing Revit MEP 2011.

These are the steps to manually register the DLL, which should clear the above error:

  1. Click on Start…Run
  2. Type regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit MEP 2011\Program\ASHRAEDUCTDLL.dll" in the window
  3. Click OK

A dialog box indicating that the DLL was registered successfully should appear. If not, please proceed to the steps below.

  1. Click on Start…Programs..Accessories
  2. Right-click on Command Prompt
  3. Select Run as…
  4. Select Administrator
  5. In the command prompt, type CD \ to get back to the root of C:
  6. Type cd Program Files\Autodesk\Revit MEP 2011\Program
  7. Type regsvr32 “ASHRAEDUCTDLL.dll"

After confirming that the DLL registered successfully, launch Revit MEP to confirm that the error no longer appears.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Call for Abstracts - RTC Gold Coast Australia

The Australian Revit Technology Conference will be held at Jupiters Gold Coast, Queensland, between the 26th and 28th of May, 2011.The online abstract submission site is now open, and will close on Friday October 22nd, 2010.

We are now seeking abstracts from individuals interested in speaking at the event. Increase your profile in the industry - speak at RTC 2011. This is your opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise with other Revit Users.

Submitted abstracts will be double-blind refereed by the RTC Committee. Abstracts will be approved on their merit, within the conference’s time and resource constraints. Successful applicants will present in either a 55 minute or 80 minute session or a 90 minute lab. Applicants should indicate the preferred length of their planned session. Sessions can take the form of labs, technical presentations, or facilitated forums. Case studies demonstrating innovative or well-developed practice are welcomed. Abstracts should be classified as Intermediate, Advanced or All Levels in the following streams:
  • Architecture
  • Structure
  • MEP
  • BIM Management & Collaboration
  • Sustainability
  • Owners / Facility Managers
  • Visualisation and Presentation
  • General
  • Principals
Please note that this current call for abstracts is for the Australian event only, and a second call for abstracts will be made in relation to RTC USA, to be held in Orange County, California 6 weeks later. You are free to submit abstracts for either event, or for both, once the US abstract site has opened.

You can follow the events on Twitter now.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Dept. of Subtle - Moving Fields in a Schedule

As you probably already know, moving schedule fields around is limited to a Move Up and Move Down button in the Schedule properties dialog. A schedule with many fields has a list longer than the space in the dialog allows for. Revit introduces a vertical scroll bar to help us out. The list doesn't follow the movement of a field as you move it up and down though which means you lose track of where it is as soon as you raise it above the top of the displayed list or drop it below the bottom of the displayed list. We get to play a little game of "click, click, click, scroll, click, click, click, scroll" until we find it in the correct location.

It is this annoying issue that caused me to realize that I could just select everything else I want to move under or above a given field instead. One click of the Move Down or Up would put it exactly where I wanted it to be. It is a bit of reverse thinking, do the opposite of what you want, to get what you want. I figured a VIDEO would help this post so I made MADE ONE. Hope it helps!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

AUGI | AEC EDGE - Seeking Department Editors

There are two departments in AUGI's eZine AUGI | AEC EDGE called; Inside Track and Heads UP. We'd like to find two people that are interested in taking these departments over, one person for each or one person to take over both depending on your interest.

Your task is to compile information that will be useful and interesting to our members and readers as time passes between issues and compile this information into each department's space for each issue. Ideally with some passion and effort you could make it a lot better than I've been doing. This means you need to stay plugged in to what's going on around us to help us stay informed (and not just in the Revit "sphere").

  • Inside Track is intended for recent developments, interesting products, Autodesk Lab items etc.
  • Heads UP - bugs, recent known issues other red flag items for Autodesk software that might get missed and worth echoing. It can also be culled from recent member posts advising of an issue that has yet to be acknowledged.

If you are interested please send me an EMAIL