Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In Search of a Side Door Managing Links

I wrote about the Manage Links dialog yesterday. Something else has been bugging me about it so here's another post. I'd love a side door to Import a file from the Manage Links dialog!!! It would be nice to be able to click Import File when I've realized that I need to do that instead of closing the dialog and then clicking the front door buttons for the task. Each tab could have its own side door for the appropriate file type. Crazy?


There are other precedents like the Materials browse button in the Edit Assembly dialog for walls, floors, roofs, ceilings. Another precedent, the browse button for accessing Assembly Code data?


See, not so crazy me thinks!!

Dept. of Off Topic - Ideal Workstation

Just something to shoot for. I know we can't all work in this luxury!!



My temporary situation while sorting out some interior things and I thought it was the perfect compact workstation, ha! It is a drag that I can't have the Space Navigator or Wacom Intous fired up...temporary...it's temporary... Oh, look closely and you'll see Project Spark installing!

When I bought this Dell they didn't send me a mouse pad which is odd because every for other Dell I bought (and I've been responsible for buying a lot over the years) they did. So as "punishment" I always use the HP mouse pad. Sad...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wacom Inkling - Cool!

Interesting morning...echoing a couple other blogs, I already enjoy Wacom products but this one is cooler still! Video is better than my words!


I like how they picked a color for the video that compliments my blog color scheme? Yeah, I'm sure they did it for that reason...

Autodesk Labs Preview - Project Spark

Project Spark is a brand new technology preview. Okay I'll get it over with a Revit Lite, sort of.


From the site:

Project Spark is a technology preview of a simplified 3D building information modeling (BIM) solution. Using Project Spark, building professionals can create designs efficiently with real-world building objects, produce more reliable documentation faster, and share files with consultants using Revit or AutoCAD-based products.

Project Spark is not intended to support conceptual design, analysis, rendering, advanced collaboration, and API.


You can DOWNLOAD it now to check it out!

How about some screen captures?? Sure? This one is the most visually "obvious" or different from regular Revit.


Massing and the sample model in view:


Exporting and the sample model in view:


Autodesk University - Early Registration Open Now

Just got an email announcement. If you are planning to attend the "tickets" are on sale now!


From the email: AU members are invited to register now, one week ahead of general registration. Take advantage of early registration to secure your spot today in the classes you want.

Managing Point Cloud Files

I've been working with a bit more than 200 point cloud files lately. That means I've been negotiating with the Manage Links dialog a fair bit. It's fun...

First of all, there is no way to import multiple point cloud files once. I've already mentioned previously that Revit shifts the first point cloud import (index to .pcg format) so that the overall z,y,z extents are centered at the origin of the project file. This means you need to carefully sort that out before you go nuts modelling.

Next, the Manage Links dialog doesn't sort the files alpha/numerically, it keeps them in the order that you import them. That might be nice if I were concerned about "when" I imported something. This before that I suppose? Practically speaking it's a pain in the bottom to "find" a scan later. In the video I show five. Imagine scrolling a bit.

Which brings me to re-sizing the dialog. They've been diligently fixing these over the last few releases. The Manage Links dialog does re-size (stretch/contract) and all the tabs information within does too, except...you guessed it...the Point Clouds data frame. This just adds insult to injury when I'm hunting for a scan and they aren't "in order"...and the frame I'm hunting in is a fixed size.


I find that making sure I've got something is easier in the Visibility/Graphics dialog instead.


That's stretchy and the order is sorted!! Oh, Mr. application specialist or product designer, please don't take that as an opportunity to leave the Manage Dialog the way it is...PLEASE!

Last item of frustration...for now, the file location of a point cloud doesn't have the option for absolute OR relative. It's just absolute. So pass a file along to someone else and they've got to fix the path of every point cloud file. It was so much fun to do the first time, I've got to SHARE!!

Okay you know I'm frustrated if I bother to MAKE a VIDEO too right?



Yes, it occurs to me that they didn't expect me to load 200+ .pcg files into a project file. If you are working with a few files, no big deal. If Revit let me load and position the files reliably/repeatably I would have been willing to work with a smaller data set and load/unload as I needed things. As such, once I got a point cloud in place I was really reticent to risk it getting out of whack again.

From a performance standpoint Revit is rather ambivalent about it all surprisingly. Each scan (.pcg) file was created from a FARO .fls file that contained between 25-50 million points (ish) and weighed in at about 1 MB each. The .pcg files ended up about twice as large as the original .fls files (roughly). Fwiw, I did assemble them into a separate project file and linked it to help resolve the positioning issues I had. Also to keep them out of the main project file.

So if you are one of the few that noticed my tweet ten days ago about my personal outlook being cloudy, now you know.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Calculations Galore via BIM Productivity

I meant to write this the day after I wrote about the Electrical Productivity Pack post but got side tracked. Jake Boen shared some of his cleverness with a Autodesk University lab I did a few years ago. For that session he created families that provided calculations that don't necessarily derive their results from actual model information, using annotation symbol families.


He decided to make some of these things (calculation minded solutions) available commercially on his new site BIM Productivity.

Some of his offerings are:
Point to Point Fault Calculation
Mechanical Ventilation per 2006 IMC
IECC Allowable Watts per Square foot
IBC 2006 Minimum Plumbing Facilities
IBC 2006 Area Modifications

Check them out!

Avoiding Revit? BIM? Change?

I enjoy how Seth Godin puts things plainly.

This morning he wrote this: (I only included five of the thirteen questions he listed, check his blog out!)
    When confronted with a new idea, do you:
    • Consider the cost of switching before you consider the benefits?
    • Fight to retain benefits and status earned only through tenure and longevity?
    • Slow implementation and decision making down instead of speeding it up?
    • Imagine that your competition is going to be as afraid of change as you are? Even the competition that hasn't entered the market yet and has nothing to lose...
    • Compare the best of what you have now with the possible worst of what a change might bring?
    Calling it out when you see it might give your team the strength to make a leap.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dept. of Echo - Type Catalog Formatting

Quick echo - David at Do U Revit? took the time to document how to format various parameters for inclusion in Type Catalogs. Nice effort, too nice not to echo!!

Check it out!

Here's a couple screen grabs of his charts.



Friday, August 26, 2011

RTCUSA 2011 - Speaker Ranking

RTC just released a newsletter, arrived via email tonight. Here's the top 10 speakers with a tie for first!

Congratulations to the following speakers who provided the top 10 presentations at the conference according to our respondents:

  1. Paul Aubin (Still Not Sharing Your Coordinates?)
  2. Brian Mackey (LAB: Nesting Families)
  3. Thomas Weir (LAB: BIM for Wood Structures)
  4. Robert Manna (Panelize This! Techniques for Designing and Documenting Panelized Wall Systems in Revit)
  5. Paul Aubin (Detailing in Autodesk Revit Architecture)
  6. Marcello Sgambelluri (LAB: A Special Application of the Adaptive Component Family: Changing Family Parameter Values Using Only Mouse Drag or the Arrow Keys )
  7. Solomon Smith (Revit for Residential Design)
  8. David Haynes (Revit + Ecotect - A Green Relationship)
  9. Scott Davis (Whats New in Revit 2012)
  10. Steven Shell (Revit Graphic Tips, Tricks and Techniques to Help Make Your Drawings Look and Communicate Better)

Congratulations to Paul Aubin and Brian Mackey who took out equal first position. 100% of respondents in their classes rated their sessions as 'Excellent'.

Still no final say on the next location - still hunting for the right place that also has the available dates we need. - Stay tuned...

Location, Location and Location

The age old real estate advice this is not...

When you use separate site and building files to manage your project, it is possible to become confused between defining the Project Location (such as Wapakoneta, Ohio versus Amstelveen, Holland) and the Location related to Shared Coordinates. One is not the other. It is possible to also assume that setting the Project Location and then using Acquire Coordinates will pass along the location to the other project file (linked .rvt file). That is also not true, won't happen.

Project Location is unrelated to shared coordinates, at least as far as Revit is concerned. Location as defined in the Project Information dialog is used for solar/energy analysis (gbXML too), shadows and the like. Shared coordinates are used to align different files and information contained in potentially different file formats.

When "you" assign the location for a "site" file you are helping Revit understand that file's real world location but not the link. If you show shadows or render a view in the host file you'll get shadows based on that location, assuming the orientation of everything is correct (true north).

When you open the building file (linked) it understands the site coordinates for alignment purposes (accomplished through using acquire/publish coordinates) but it doesn't inherit the location setting because they are not truly connected together in Revit. The coordinates used do not necessarily define a "real world location" because of various methods (surveying requirements) that could be used to locate the building on site.

Short answer, assign the project location in both files or at least the building file if you want to show shadows and/or render there. Both if you want that option in both. The shared coordinate part is done once, from one or the other file.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Curtain Wall Panel - Edit in Place - Update

I added a short video discussing what I did to create the "dog-leg" mullion in the panel because of a comment for the original post.

Revit Forum.org Funding

There's been a thread at the RevitForum.org site lately discussing the manner in which they should fund the forum. Klaus started the forum originally in response to AUGI's own forum issues late last year. Over the last ninth months the group has grown to over 3,000 members and sees a goodly number of posts each day now. This morning I noticed the following at the main page of the site.


It's a nice (and transparent) way to show how the donation process is going. Kind of like those telethons and their "thermometer". With donations Klaus won't have to bear the cost of hosting and software updates etc himself. Bandwidth is the big unknown and lately the group has been "burning" through theirs and increasing it regularly has been dipping into his wallet. Growing pains that every organization must endure...if it actually grows!

Anyone who remembers the Revit Forums at Zoogdesign.com will likely remember when that group was considering merging with AUGI that bandwidth was always a concern for Mr. Zoog too. It was a strong contributing factor to joining AUGI.

You can help ensure that RevitForum.org is always there for you and your co-workers by donating to the cause. As several members mention there, don't think of it as a donation...more an investment in something good and useful. If you can't afford something personally, maybe your company will recognize the value and do so on your behalf?

Dept. of Secret Sauce - Level Dragging Behavior

This is an echo of Ryan Duell's contribution to the The Revit Clinic this morning. Too subtle and tasty to pass up the echo...(extra credit/thanks to Steve Bianco for the background data to post the article)

Read the post

You try to drag a level and find that it "snaps" back to some preferred spot in the view, say an elevation. It boils down to this:
    This occurs related to the shape and orientation of the specific Level. Because a Level in Revit is actually a rectangular plane, if a Level is added in a view [such as a section or elevation] not parallel to the N/S or E/W axis, Revit is essentially looking at a rotated rectangle in other views.
They provided this nice image to help explain what's happening. I've experienced this a couple times recently. I got past it by turning snaps off temporarily (keyboard shortcut "SO"). In my case there was a point cloud providing way too many things to snap to.


They also created a video to see it in action.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

FARO Point Cloud Indexing

Note to self: Remember to install the 32bit version of the FARO SDK (software developer kit) so that indexing a .fls point cloud source file will work.

When AutoCAD 2012 shipped (it ships a little earlier than Revit does each year) it apparently used a slightly older version of the FARO SDK so when I tried to use it to index some .fls files it failed with a somewhat useless message. Turns out that I installed the 64bit version of the SDK and it's the 32bit version that is needed and works. Once I installed that one it worked as expected. Revit supposedly doesn't suffer from this issue (the timing of the version used) but it too failed with an error message until I installed the 32bit SDK. If you see failure indexing in Revit, trying downloading and installing the 32bit version and see if it sets you right?

Download the SDK from FARO.
Download the SDK from Autodesk.

Btw, indexing in Revit "arbitrarily" places the cloud according to "center to center" (X,Y AND Zed), not origin. I believe this occurs because of the intention to keep the "model" near the Revit project origin. Once the first indexed file is loaded other files are supposed to use the same positioning so that they align properly (using the Import option: Same as Last Placed. The end result is point cloud data that is rather difficult to position correctly so that it will align with other software and data. Ugh...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Revit Links as Underlays

From Autodesk Wikihelp for Revit 2012.

Using a Revit link as an underlay can be a common workflow for architects and especially for engineers. A link can be set to Halftone to distinguish it from the main model, but new work (model lines, for example) can still end up being obscured by geometry (walls, etc) in the link--making it difficult to see what you've drawn. Revit 2012 solves this problem:
  • Open your Revit project.
  • In the Insert tab, click Link Revit.
  • Navigate to the Revit model you would like to use as an underlay. Click Open.
  • In the View tab, click Visibility/Graphics (or type the keyboard shortcut “VG”).
  • Click the Revit Links tab.
  • Next to the Revit link that you just inserted, put a check in the Underlay checkbox. Click OK.
  • The geometry in the link will now be halftone, and more importantly, it's a true underlay: the link geometry will not obscure new lines and edges

I have the following comment on this new setting:

Cool but, keep in mind that this does not address the selection order experience we have unfortunately. I'm describing the situation that a linked file is "selected" by the pre-highlighting before native RST or RME elements. This means that Revit "sees" the Architecture model before it sees the RME user's duct (assuming the view is assigned to Hidden Line).

Ideally a link should take a "selection back seat" to elements that are native to the active project file.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Array the Void Instead

Voids and solids interact in a specific order according to when each are created. I wrote another post to describe this in the past (July 2006). When you create an array of solids this can create a problem if your family isn't built with the notion of a maximum number of solids present at design time.

For example imagine slats that provide closure beneath a porch. If you design a family to array the slats you need to decide how many is enough. If you don't and you ask for more slats than your void(s) are able to cut you'll get new slats that aren't altered by the void. As the earlier post explains, this is because voids don't cut (not automatically) solids that get created after they are.

Quite some time ago (May 2005 actually) this came up in the form of a question at AUGI. The inspiration for the thread was Jerry's nicely modelled Queenslander style house and porch detail.


The trick to get this to work is reversing the logic. Since voids can't cut later solids, array the void instead. A new void will cut an existing solid automatically as long as the void and solid intersect when its sketch is finished. This means adding a new void to the array cuts the existing (only) solid, yay!

The "slat" is a single solid "sheet" and the voids array to remove/create the "spaces", to turn the sheet into "slats". There is an arc beneath the slats to carve off the bottom of the slats so they all are cut to create a uniform arc. The arc will flex when the width changes and there is a chord height parameter. It uses a reference line and the first void is created on the flat plane of the reference line. Then the array includes both the void and the reference line.

Here's what it looks like in use.


You can download the proof of concept family at AUGI in the thread or from HERE.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ceiling Grid in Navisworks

Revit doesn't export the grid pattern of ceilings when you export to Navisworks. The grid pattern is really just a "hatch" pattern, fill pattern in Revit lingo. No joy if you want to see the grid in your export to .NWC. I responded to a post at RevitForum.org last week with this approach to get a fairly realistic result in Navisworks.

I'm to inclined to distort the use of Sloped Glazing (roof tool).

The steps are as follows:

  • Create a mullion type that is the dimensions or even the actual profile for the tee.
  • Assign it to the Sloped Glazing roof type.
  • If you want the wall "L" create a different mullion type for that, assign it to the boundaries.
  • Assign the Empty Panel curtain panel type.
  • Pick wall to define the boundaries of the "ceiling grid".
  • Use a regular ceiling without a pattern set to the drop-in tile thickness and let them occupy the same space.

Get a little further carried away and use panels for the ceiling tiles. Put empty panels where non-hosted light fixtures should go in the "holes" for the lights. I used this approach a few years ago to render a room so I could experiment with getting better depth at the tile and tee edges etc.

Looks like the attached images:

Navis 3D view


Type Properties Dialog


Revit 3D View


Friday, August 19, 2011

Introducing Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012 Shipping

I worked with Patrick Davis, Martin Tauer, Charlie Busa and Angela MacDonnell on the update to the previous book. I've been told the "my" copy has been shipped which usually means that it is available for shipping to everyone.


It wasn't just a replace 2011 with 2012 exercise. Each chapter got looked at with fresh editor eyes which in some cases generated some fairly substantial rework/freshening. Naturally there are some new features in 2012 that needed to be covered. The chapters were shuffled and even replaced/added. Bottom line is that it isn't the same old book...retouched and shipped. It's still focused on general knowledge and concepts so it plays well as the "little brother" to Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012.

You can read more about it at the Wiley site as well as ordering it. Naturally you can get it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble too.

Here's the Table of Contents:
1 - The Revit User Interface
2 - Navigations Tools, Views, and View Properties
3 - Constraints and Dimensions
4 - Modeling Basics
5 - Advanced Modeling
6 - Visibility Controls
7 - Introduction to Families
8 - Creating Families
9 - Massing
10 - Groups
11 - Rendering
12 - Working with other files
13 - Rooms and Ares
14 - Tags, Schedules, and Keynotes
15 - Detailing
16 - Sheets
17 - Design Options
18 - Phasing
19 - Revit for Interiors
20 - Worksharing

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dept. of Subtle - Load Type Properties - Linear Force Scale

The Autodesk Wikihelp says that this is for graphic display only yet the Type Properties dialog offers a value to change using a structural unit instead of integer or number data type. It does affect the height of the annotation as suggested by help but the value you enter seems a little odd?


From Wikihelp:

...snip Force Scale The display size parameter; this value visually changes the display of the force symbol. Scale is for display only....snip

Same thing for Moment Scale.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Curtain Wall Panel - Edit in Place

You can edit a system panel in place. Yes that means you can select a curtain wall's system panel like Glass or Solid and then Edit-in-Place. Do you have a quirky design situation somewhere on your curtain wall and want to just make the change right there without creating a new panel family and loading and swapping? You can!

  • Select the panel (unpin if defined by the CW type)
  • Click Edit in Place




  • You'll find you are in Sketch Mode
  • Select and edit the solid form for glass/solid or
  • Create another form/void to design the custom panel
  • Assign Sub-category(ies)
  • Assign Material(s)
  • Finish the modelling
  • Finish the in-place editing

et Voila!


Not the right solution for multiple versions of this but when one (or a few) is all you are dealing with, not bad?!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Revisions on Sheet Dialog

This dialog lets you have some additional control over the visibility of Revisions in the Revision list on a sheet (assuming your title block family uses a Revit revision list).


If you hide a revision cloud in a view using the right-click option "Hide in View > by Element" you'll find that the revision is also removed from the listed revision on the title block. You may not realize it until later if you are hiding them in the view and printing them out later (ouch).

If you do hide them this way then just remember the Revisions on Sheet dialog, you can turn them back on there!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Demo Is Not a Phase

At least in Revit's "world".

This is a common point of confusion when people start using Revit phasing tools, real versus virtual, Revit's "reality" versus real "reality".

Demo is not a phase in "Revit land". It's a phase in "People land" because people do demolition things before some other construction things. Revit however considers demolition to occur during the new work. You have an existing building and then do new work...demolition is no different from erecting a new wall to Revit. The phasing tool is focused on showing things graphically not how we "people" think of managing our construction tasks. I can do demolition in one room while someone is painting new paint on a wall in another.

[Edited 8/16/2011] After a couple of emails I decided to alter this post a bit. To restate my initial premise:
    Revit does not require a separate phase for demolition in order for the phase filters and graphic overrides to work.
It is possible to add a demolition phase and keep things in order. It can be confusing though to be sure the elements are modeled in the correct views, using the correct phase and phase filter settings. The more complex the requirements are for showing the contrasting phases of work are the more peculiar things can get.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dept. of Subtle - Views Can't be Blank

Might seem a little picky but you can't put an empty drafting view on a sheet. You get this complaint/warning if you try.


If you had the idea that you could block out a few sheets with placeholder drafting views in your template, sorry...not if they are empty. A little text, or a drafting line, a symbol and it won't be empty though so you can fix it and get nearly what you want!

What if you remove everything from the drafting view after you put it on the sheet? Revit leaves the view on the sheet without a complaint. Tricked!! Add something to the view, put it on a sheet, remove the something from the view...empty drafting view on your sheet. You can even use activate view to remove the something from the view and it won't mind. It's just the initial putting it on a sheet that Revit complains about.

Technically it's true of other view types too. Before you put it on a sheet, try turning everything off in a plan view and then putting it on a sheet, sorry, same warning!

[Added 8/15/2011] Andrea with The Matrix Group, an engineering firm, wrote to let me know how they deal with this. She wrote:

The tactic we use for “blank” views is to place a single reference plane in the drafting view. We never print reference planes, so they won’t show, but will allow a placeholder on sheets.

Good idea!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Point Clouds and Worksets

From the Autodesk Wiki Help site for Revit, regarding using point cloud data and worksharing:

...snip (bold emphasis is mine)
Using point clouds in a worksharing environment: To improve performance and reduce network traffic, the recommended workflow for users who need to work with the same point cloud files is to copy the files locally. As long as the relative path to the local copies of the point cloud files is the same for each user, the link will remain valid when you synchronize with Central. The relative path is displayed as the Saved Path in the Manage Links dialog and is relative to the Point Cloud Root Path specified on the File Locations tab of the Options dialog.
...snip

Said another way, put copies of the point cloud files in the same place as your local files. Have each team member do the same thing, same "place", so they'll seem to be in the same location for each person's local file.

For example if you put your local files in a folder like this one:

C:\RevitProjects\ProjectName

Then put the point cloud files here too.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Projects with Shared Details

These projects typically have "standard/common/shared" details AND "specific/custom" details. It's a pretty common question, "How do I manage the shared details?". In an earlier post I wrote about the Insert Views from File tool that Revit added several years ago. The overall strategy I like boils down to this list:

  • Do all the detailing that they share in "one" project
  • Do all the detailing that is shared in Drafting Views, not model "live" views
  • Use Insert Views from File to pass them to the other projects.
    • This allows for local view referencing of callouts/sections etc
  • Do all shared detailing in the "master" project
  • Only worry about keeping the sheet and detail numbering updated between all sheets
  • Don't bother to update the details in each other project, the views could be blank for that matter (except for a piece of text, has to be something in the view)
  • Print all shared details from the master
    • Strategically use a separate sheet numbering scheme for shared details so they don't compete with project specific details.
    • Only necessary to manage sheet reference and detail numbers during the course of the project and add new shared details if they arise.
    • Easiest when detailing is done in later stages of documentation naturally

I think that it's easy to miss that it isn't really necessary to put "finished" details in all the other project files to keep them "up-to-date". The only thing we need to keep "up-to-date" is the sheet number and detail numbers, assuming that detail sheets are printed from the master project instead of from each individual project. That's why I suggest a separate sheet numbering scheme for these shared details, so they don't compete with the rest of the set.

Revit Electrical Productivity Pack

CTC (CAD Technology Center) teamed up with LHB, the company that Daniel Stine works with, to develop their new offering, a packaged focused on helping a firm bring their electrical engineering process using Revit up to speed quickly.


From their site...

...snip

The template includes many features such as schedules (light fixture, equipment, cost estimating, etc.), legends, sheets, titleblocks and more. The content utilizes shared parameters and contains actual electrical information. When content is placed the appropriate schedules begin to populate; for example, lighting fixtures have information on lens type, number of lamps, ballast, manufacturer, etc... The template also has a Meter Schedule for documenting LEED projects.

This product contains nearly all of the content needed by electrical engineers to create electrical systems that work within Revit MEP. The Electrical Productivity Pack enables you to pass the flow of electrical data from outside of the building, to the inside and throughout. The included content has consistent parameters that enable accurate data transfer of electrical information between equipment and devices.
...snip

They provided an overview in a video (13 minutes) on their site (hosted at You Tube).



The site lists the package at a site-license price of $1,495.00

If this package helps you skip right past the implementation phase of Revit adoption that price seems pretty reasonable compared with building it all from scratch yourself. Even if it falls short in some areas it could be a solid head start? Worth a closer look! Click to DOWNLOAD a PDF Table of contents for the included User Guide documentation. Download a brochure if you want too.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Dept. of Off Topic - openingdesign.com

Ryan Schultz with openingdesign.com has occasionally asked me to offer some feedback on what they are working on. They went live with their site in May. It isn't about Revit, rather collaboration in the A/E/C realm. Here's what their website says:

...snip
OpeningDesign.com is a collaboration platform for A/E/C professionals—offering a real-time sketching and markup tool, and a place building and construction professionals can exchange expertise.
...snip


On their home page it discusses "The Tool" and "The Network". Regarding each it describes a problem and their solution.

The Tool:
...snip The Problem: On the phone, it's often difficult for A/E/C professionals to communicate a ‘visual idea' to another member of the team—whether it be a change to a floor plan, or small amendment to a shop drawing detail....snip

...snip The Solution: SketchSpace is an online tool that allows you to upload a PDF and sketch or mark-it-up, in real-time. If someone draws a circle around a foundation detail in New Orleans, the same circle instantly appears in Chicago, or Singapore for that matter. We like to think SketchSpace is the digital equivalent of having your entire team huddled around a set of CD's. Give it a try... ...snip

It's this SketchSpace you can experiment with now and it's pretty neat. They are looking for feedback to help expand and improve on its current capabilities.

The Network:

...snip The Problem: Unlike larger A/E/C firms, smaller firms do not have the luxury of a broad and deep pool of in-house experts they can consult for help....snip

...snip The Solution: Although it's not quite ready yet, we are currently developing OpeningDesign.com into a community platform where A/E/C professionals can collaborate and share expertise with other fellow building professionals. Whether it's getting help on a building code question, or soliciting feedback on a schematic design idea. Shoot us your email and we'll let you know when its up and running... ...snip

They've got a video on their site to help get a sense of what it's all about.

Revit Machines - Specialized Content


If you are interested in some pretty nice looking construction related content to make your presentation models pop, check out Revit Machines.


As a fan of Peterbuilt trucks I must say the versions they offer are pretty nice looking!


Not free mind you. But for the price, can you model one as nice in less than an hour? It is still early days for them so there isn't a lot of content yet.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Conduit Kick

I got a question via a tweet the other day.

Q: "Is it possible to model a parallel kick conduit run in Revit"

The tweet on its own wasn't enough for me but I also saw the same question at AUGI. Same person or not I find that this sort of thing happens often enough, similar questions percolate up into the internets. The description "kick" was what lost me as I haven't heard that term used before. I've mangled plenty of conduit in my past but apparently didn't get out enough for that.

The description offered up at AUGI helped me get a sense of it though.

It read:
...snip
I have a run of (3)3" and (4)1" conduits parallel to each other. They go up the wall, parallel to the wall, then transition to going across the the ceiling. BUT this is where it gets tricky. If you are looking at the wall, facing the conduits. When the conduits get to the ceiling rather than bending towards you, they actually bend to the right and end up parallel to the ceiling. So each conduit is going to have multiple bends to make this work.
...snip

The responses varied from, "too hard to bother", "why worry about that level of detail", "sure, here's a video" and a couple from me taking advantage of the 2012 "Ignore slope to connect" option. The original post was asking about 2011 and the responses that suggested that it was too hard or not worth doing are closer to the truth perhaps for pre-2012 versions. It is definitely a "labor-of-love" to pull off in 2011.

Here's a few images depicting what I thought was being asked for.




Here's a Video and a Video.



I also ran across some useful installation information at this site when I was curious about the term "kick". After reading through I'm not convinced my images or video are really "on-point" since the vertical conduits use 90 degree angle bends to turn across the ceiling and the "kick" is the bend to change direction parallel to the wall. The layout described on this site would be much easier to accomplish in either Revit 2011 or 2012. We just need to sort out where to start and stop so the angles and layout is neat and consistent with what this site suggests. Perhaps it would look more like this then:

Friday, August 05, 2011

Dept. of Echo - Shared Parameters for Manufacturers

Jose Fandos of Andekan wrote an interesting post yesterday that offers his insight into Shared Parameters and content for manufacturer's. His post is called: Shared Parameter Standards Part 2 - What's a Manufacturer to Do? (You can read his Shared Parameter Standards - Part 1)


His position should be interesting to a variety of folks who have been trying to get some standards developed. Boiled down he writes:

...snip
"manufacturers shouldn't add any shared parameters to their families. Instead they should include family parameters for every piece of information most of their users within the AEC industry might want to use within a project."
...snip

I can relate to his position. All you have to do is sit down with a couple engineers and ask them what should be in a schedule for VAV HVAC equipment or air handlers, or boilers. Doesn't even have to be engineers from different offices...same office will work often enough. The result? Different expectations. Implementation for content at a firm (at least with MEP/F) usually works best if scheduling requirements are defined early. Imagine making/tweaking a lot of content only to find out there is this whole other pile of information we really want to schedule?

So the issue that Jose is digging at is how does a manufacturer get content built now? Considering one firm may not be able to agree on what should be in their schedule, let alone 10 firms agreeing on a "standard". When will this standard be available to them? What about the proprietary information they have that they provide in schedules on "cut-sheets" for product data?

Messy, messy... no wonder it isn't resolved already!?!

Perhaps we should examine why a schedule exists to begin with? Why does an engineer create a schedule of information for a boiler in the first place? To be highly specific or define criteria that contractors need to meet as a minimum design specification? In the competitive bidding process for projects a engineer usually can't even insist on a specific product unless an "or equal" doesn't exist.

Even if HP (horsepower) is a legitimate value to schedule for our boiler's fan and pump what typically happens is manufacturer A uses "HP Fan" and manufacturer B uses "Fan HP" while manufacturer C uses "Fan Horsepower". All three are the "same" information but Revit doesn't see it that way. If they aren't Shared Parameters you can't even use them in a schedule anyway. No mapping strategy to tell Revit they are really the same thing, short of customizing all of them yourself.

Perhaps Autodesk needs to have a fresh look at how all this similar/related data can be assembled together into familiar reporting formats, like schedules so we don't have to? It's complex and we need a solution. Perhaps an external database tool like Codebook is the answer ultimately?

Read his post and weigh in!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Worksharing - Central File is being Accessed

I've been reading a thread at AUGI off and on during this past week regarding several people that have projects that repeatedly run into the "Central file is being accessed by someone else..." errors. These prevent them from successfully syncing with central.

At first the contributions to the thread seem to prove that having computers that use XP and Windows 7 involved in the projects was to blame. That seemed a bit too heavy handed perhaps and seems to have more to do with Revit 2012 than the operating systems.

Toward the end of the thread Dave suggested something else: Adjusting the frequency that Revit checks for worksharing updates. Revit 2012 added some graphic display features to helps us see whats going on with our project and worksharing. It turns out that when a the people that were suffering with this situation change their setting to Manual only they don't encounter the situation anymore.


This setting is found on the General tab of the Options dialog (Application menu > Options)

Might be worth trying if you've run into the issue too. Keep in mind that it will affect the ability of Revit to offer up the new graphic display options for worksharing.

ARCxl - Updates and Changes

I wrote about ARCxl a couple times in the past because they have been working to make detailing work in Revit more efficient and easier.


They recently let me know that the restrictions they imposed in the past have been removed. If you want details for Revit it is now even easier to review their library and download what you need. They've also started providing .dwg and .pdf versions of the details.

Be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Laptop Power Supply and Cable

A quick one and a bit off topic sorry: Did you attend RTC in Huntington Beach this past month? Did you leave a HP power supply and cable in Salon B when you left your session? If so I've got it. Let me know via email, contact details at the very bottom of the right side bar.

Wall Creator by Clark Dietrich

Steve Bennett shared his insight about a new Revit wall tool he's been beta testing recently.


ClarkDietrich publicly asked for some beta testing assistance this past May. I haven't used it myself but Steve seems pretty pleased with what he's experienced using it. Check it out!

Here's a You Tube video from their site:


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Family Type Parameter Gotcha

Two quick items:

Item 1: When you try to create a parameter using the Type of Parameter: Family Type...


you have to choose a category.


If you don't have the family you intend to connect this parameter to yet Revit asks you if you want to load one now.


If you choose Yes you get to go find it and load it. If you choose No Revit bails out and doesn't finish creating the parameter.

Silly. Let me create my parameters please, I can load the other stuff whenever I'm ready.

Item Two: Revit 2012 offers a export option to create a Type Catalog from your existing family content. Just open a family and using the Application Menu > Export > Family Types (remember to scroll down to the bottom).


Bummer though...it doesn't work for the Type of Parameter: Family Types... Thanks to Aaron Maller and RevitForum.org for the heads up on this one!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Massing a Property Boundary

I read a thread at RevitForum.org last week that asked about seeing a property boundary in section views. Property Lines in Revit are just 2D so they don't show up, thus the question. It occurred to me as I read it that massing might fit the bill.

I started with a property boundary using the Property Line tool since it works nicely for that purpose otherwise. I used that as the "control" for the massing form.


Using an in-place mass family I sketched around the property boundary and used a parameter to manage an "offset", just in case I need to push/pull the massing edge. After I created a form from the sketch I did the same to control the top sketch with a separate parameter so I could potentially push/pull it too.


Now this will appear in a section view.


Taken a step further I added a void to remove the portion of the property mass that is "buildable" according to setback parameters. The design had better fit inside that "hole"!


Here's what the Parameters I used are.


I used a Massing sub-category to manage what the massing looked like, line pattern and color, so it would be easier to distinguish as a property boundary...hopefully.