Sunday, May 27, 2012

RTCAUS Wrapped for Another Year

I was busy pretending to be @RTCAUS on Twitter during the conference. I also wrote a few things during the conference on the blog for RTC. Those two alter egos provide ample distraction from this blog unfortunately. Between the attending of sessions, the socializing, committee member roles etc... I just didn't have enough brain cells left over to post here too. I hope to be able to resume being just me again soon!

The conference went very smoothly. Well there was the elevator needing a part from Germany. There was the internet service provider playing havoc with my "mello" but for the most part it really went swimmingly!

Ralph Grabowski attended the conference this year and wrote several articles about the event on his blog "World CAD Access". If you don't follow his blogging I encourage you to consider doing so. He's been deeply involved in following this "biddness" we are in, from a technology perspective at least. All for now, check out Ralph's post for some insight. You can also review the Tweets and the pictures that were part of many of them. I'll be posting pictures and info on the Facebook site in the coming weeks too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

View Reference Origin Location

I observed this the other day which remind me that it bothered me in the past but failed to bring it up before. The View Reference family that we can use in conjunction with Matchlines and now with Revit 2013 to create more general reference to views on sheets has an unpleasant effect on views that they are in.

They are assigned to the View Reference category but fundamentally began as a generic annotation family. When you create one from scratch or just edit the one the comes with Revit templates you'll find something like this.


The Move icon ends up very far away from the symbol itself when it is in view that are using finer scales. In a view that is assigned to something like 1/8"=1'-0" it is closer to the symbol. The downer about this offset is that it increases the "size" of the viewport when the view is added to a sheet. It just creates some unnecessary busy work to adjust views when this happens. If you find a viewport becoming "larger" than it should it might be related to this kind of situation.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Revit Technology Conference AUS 2012 is Underway!

This post is playing time traveler, dropping back in time to Monday (May 22). I was on a United 747-400 heading to Sydney when Monday happened at home in the USA. A curious side effect of travel west to Australia is you lose a day. Sydney is 17 hours ahead of the west coast of the USA. So when I boarded my flight on Sunday night at 9:45 PM it was already 2:45 PM in Sydney, but tomorrow (Monday). By the time I landed in Sydney Monday already turned into Tuesday morning. This means I lost Monday, missed my son Jake's birthday and didn't post anything here. I could have set something up to post while I was traveling but that would mean I was better prepared, I wasn't. I digress...

It's that time of year again, RTC is here. First up is the conference in Wollongong (aka The Gong and 90 minutes SE of Sydney). VisDay is a new event focused on visualization technology. The Chairman is Dan Jurgens and he's worked hard to assemble a quality group of presentations. The RTC conference begins on Thursday May 24th and VisDay is the "warm up" act, to use a concert metaphor. VisDay gathers (gathered) on Wednesday May 23rd. Writing about what will happen when it just happened is a bit odd...

Tonight I'm polishing my presentation about What's New in Revit Architecture 2013. Each year I feel like there isn't enough new stuff to make me happy. Then I write up this presentation and I find it takes a lot of effort to scratch the surface in a modest way. This year is no different. There are some big ticket items that attract attention but there a numerous other and more subtle features that contribute to a fairly long list of things to speak about. That will happen just after lunch on Thursday May 24th (tomorrow as I write this).

The event in Australia is upon us. You can still attend technically, assuming you can (a) get here, (b) make the time and (c) act fast!! Join the 400 or so others revving up for three days of Revit and BIM technical sessions and discussions.

There is just over a month until the RTCUSA starts in Stone Mountain, GA on June 28-30, 2012. Don't miss it!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Revit 2013 - Double Click a View Reference

I wrote about the enhancements to the existing View Reference feature in March when the software first was released.

I didn't mention this other little goody, for people working inside Revit. If you double click on the view reference family Revit will open the view! If you export to DWF and export all the sheets to the same file you'll find they behave just like other annotation for views, CTRL + Click will open the other sheet/view.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Selecting Multiple Saved Selection Sets

Sibilance! I used to work for Syracuse Scenery & Stage Lighting, Co. in Syracuse, NY. It was fun when I had to introduce myself formally starting with, "Hi, I'm Steve Stafford with...". The title of this post reminded me of that, sorry! I was going to lead into it with Dept. of Subtle but that was too many "sssss"... it is really subtle though. Okay I'll get to it then.

Revit 2013 added Saved Selection Sets, a feature that was part of an extension for Revit Structure originally.

The concept is simple, select elements and click a button to save (top button in the image above) them as a set that can be called on later, to do something with or to them again. If that seems likely then it will come in handy. The Save button wakes up when there is something selected. The Load button wakes up after something has been saved as a selection set.


The subtle part of this is that when there are several selection sets to choose from, what if we want to do something to more than one at a time? The dialog doesn't let us select multiple saved sets. Guess we're sunk.

[Edited 5/18/2012 - Gabe pointed out in a comment that CTRL isn't necessary, just running the tool again by clicking Load will allow us to add another selection set, cool! Thanks Gabe! - Disregard the following section]

It doesn't look like it will work but using the CTRL key does work, just not inside the dialog. The trick to this is selecting one and clicking OK to leave the dialog. Then press CTRL and click the Load button again (middle button in the first image), select another saved set, click OK.

Now we've got two saved selection sets selected again. It's easy when you know how!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Apply View Template to all Views

I don't recall when this first showed up but I noticed it first in Revit 2012. Here's what it looks like with a right-click in Revit 2013.


My first reaction was cool! Then I wondered, "When or why would I use it?". Pondered it for a bit and decided that it might be cool if I have a sheet full of details that needed some cleanup. Create a view template and then apply it right quick. Then again I could just select multiple views in the project browser and apply them. With Revit 2013 my view templates will adjust all those details as soon as I change the template, or at least they can if I set it up that way. I suppose this feature might be handy if I forgot to do it and they were all on sheets at this point.

A subtle refinement to process that probably just goes unnoticed? I wonder how many of my readers use it, know about it, care?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Revit 2013 - View Types

It is now possible to create new view types for all views except for area plans and sheet. This means you can create your own versions of floor plans according to discipline or perhaps design phase. We've been able to do this with sections, elevations and detail views for some time. As Revit's features have been merged into the new Building Design Suite "Revit" it became apparent that putting all the tools in one box created some curious view, view template and discipline control issues that had to be sorted out, thus being able to create view types for more views was born.

Further, views can be tied to view templates and have changes to a view template take effect immediately in a view or many views. We can apply a view template like before, just to make a change or we can assign a view template to the view so that it will alter the view without the past extra step of applying the view template. This is the typical assumed behavior that most people where surprised to learn did not happen in the past.

One curious thing that is documented at the WikiHelp site regarding these new view types, changing a view from one type to another does not actually apply the view template change that is assigned (if any) to the view. It is an instance parameter so it's an extra step you've got to take to make sure the view has the correct template assigned.

If you use the Apply View template option on a view assigned to view template already you'll get this message.


It's confirming that you really want to apply a different template's settings to the view. It also says that the only properties that will be altered are those that aren't in conflict with the other template. Hopefully the swapping of view types won't occur much after creating them initially and getting this sorted out. If you do find yourself needing to swap them around, just remember to check the view template assignment.

Tip: They've added View Template to the available fields in View Lists (schedule) so it can be managed there too.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dept. of Echo - Don't use the Basic Ceiling

Originally posted here August 2009 and still true with Revit 2013

When an architect uses the Basic Ceiling-Generic type they are creating a situation for the Revit MEP user they may not be aware of. Face based content does not orient themselves to the correct side or face of this ceiling. For air terminals and others this means they are usually upside-down. I created a short video to demonstrate what I'm writing about.

You can listen and watch below:


Here's an image to convey the issue without watching the video. The left side is a Basic Ceiling and the air terminals are upside down. The right side is the Compound Ceiling and the air terminals are okay.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hide Those Connectors

A recent question at Revitforum.org asked about hiding the connectors in family content for the sake of cleaner previews.

To accomplish this:

  • In the view you want to use as the preview
  • Select the connectors
  • Click Temporary Hide/Isolate
  • Choose Hide Element
  • Save the file
  • Close the file

Thursday, May 10, 2012

BIM Coordinator for Civil 3D and Revit

Autodesk Labs posted an application that was developed by Autodesk Consulting. You can read more information HERE.

It functions as a plug-in that is installed in both applications, Civil 3D and Revit. It allows a Civil 3D user to define the shared coordinate system to be passed on to a Revit project. Running the tool in Civil 3D is based on selecting two points on a reference building footprint file (don't forget paying attention to elevation) and saving the information to a separate file.

Note that it uses a file formatted as ACCSXML (Autodesk Consulting Coordinate System eXtensible Markup Language).

The file is then used in combination with a plug-in tool inside Revit that asks you to pick the same points in Revit and then select the source file. As the project progresses, you can pass model data back and forth easily as long as you export by specifying the correct project units and Shared Coordinates each time.

You can watch a video at You Tube that explains how it works (9:53)


The process described assumes that the person deciding where the building goes is using Civil 3D which in my experience is not necessarily accurate. They'll ultimately be responsible or define it precisely eventually but the building location is often affected by a lot of things and roughed in by designers using an underlay of a survey and civil data.

It is also very important that the person using Civil 3D passes along the two key points on the building. If they get this wrong or we misunderstand them we’ll end up with a discrepancy when we potentially pick slightly different points. Of course this assumes that the civil engineer is not sitting right next to “us”, the architect or structural engineer. Connecting the information between all parties still boils down to someone deciding what building location is "spot on".

Check it out, might help your next project?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Should I Use Revit for this Project?

It isn't a surprising question, it's asked often. I wrote a post before called "Yeah but". That's the kind of response that often comes after answering the question with, "Yeah, you should".

"Yeah but... the architect isn't using Revit, the engineers aren't using Revit, we don't really need 3D for this project, this project doesn't have the margin, this project is fast track, this project isn't big enough, this project is too big"... and so on.

A recent one I heard was, "The architect isn't using Revit, should we use Revit MEP for this project?"

When Revit Systems was released in 2006, the essence of Autodesk's marketing commentary was, "this is new software so it probably doesn't make sense to tackle a project with it unless the architecture team is using Revit too." I don't think it is still true six years later. Sure we benefit from the modelling effort in architecture and structure but we can still benefit from the effort without them.

Is this our first project using Revit? - If yes, then maybe this project isn't the ideal first project.

Otherwise, assuming we are comfortable with Revit, then why not? Is it a valid question for architects? As in, "We aren't going to use Revit because the engineers are not using it." There wasn't a Revit Structure or MEP when Revit was introduced.

There is a lot more to Revit than just 3D. Why assume that there is no value in creating a model of the MEP scope of work even if the architect doesn't use Revit? We will still be able to compare our model against 2D documentation by importing various 2D CAD views into the model. We can still export to 2D files for them to do the same. Why assume that we won't learn anything from doing so? We don't have to assume the burden of modelling the architecture or structure to get something out of the effort. Every project has some, or more often many, surprises. Modeling a project reveals more than doing one in 2D. Just try creating a model using only 2D documents as the guide.

When considering this I think it is important to be careful which measuring stick is being used. Is it measured according to the technical drafting staff, the project engineer or manager, the firm, the project or the owner? If we measure too closely to who performs a single task we lose sight of the bigger picture, the downstream ramifications of our choices. Revit challenges our assumptions and process. More often than not I hear decisions being based on a notion of "us and them" in the equation. Adversarial business relationships don't make it easy to ensure a great result.

Given the chance, I'm betting that using Revit on any project (assuming some responsible preparation is in place) will ultimately prove to have been worthwhile, often in the least anticipated ways. I think this fits, "we don't know what we don't know". I find I stumble into what I don't know more often in 3D than in 2D.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Revit 2013 - Suppress Spaces in Dimensions

Revit 2013 changes the means to reduce the overall size of the text displayed in a dimension string, particularly noticeable to people using imperial units. It was tied to the project units and you had to alter a dimension style to not use the project units settings in order to use it.


This is the new location for the option, found in the Type Properties for a dimension style.


This means your dimension styles can continue to depend on the Project Units as well as suppress the spaces in dimension values. A subtle but more logical approach I think.

However in testing it appears to be broken... The option for Suppress Spaces exists in the the Project Units dialog. If I turn on the feature it affects dimension styles downstream and the option in the dimension style should then work as an option to remove it but it doesn't do anything. Odd...

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Building Design Suite Installation Readme

If you are preparing for installing the 2013 Revit products via the Building Design Suites then you might want to start with the System Requirements PDF documents for each version.

Standard
Premium
Ultimate

You'll also want to read the Installation Overview and FAQ

Revit 2013 - Repeat and Divide Subtlety

For people experimenting with these new concepts and feature... I picked this item up recently.

If you are trying to make things work and running into problems make sure the Adaptive Component (AC) is hosted on nodes of a divided curve or divided surface. It can easily appear like its hosted correctly, but if you look closer you may find it is actually hosted to the curve, not the node. Also, if your AC family contains any Shape handles points, then it won’t repeat. All adaptive points in a family must be Placement points, not Shape Handle points or Reference points.

Read Andy's recent post about experimenting with them.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

VisDay Winner Announced

A post last week at the RTC Blog offered the chance to attend VisDay for free if you took the effort to submit your reason for attending. I mentioned it too, here.

The winner has been announced this morning and the winner is:

Andrew Ness with HASSELL

Andrew wrote that his motivation to attend is: "Real time visualisation using Unreal Engine - Because I want to use this presentation method in my work and learn more about it."

You can read the original post at the RTC Blog too.

Working at Risk

This situation occurs when your Revit session can not find the central file. This could happen through no fault of your own. For example it could happen because the project's server is down, a router is malfunctioning, your network cable was unplugged by the cleaning crew and so on. Of course those would present themselves in other more obvious ways like not being able to get your email, see folders on the server or even log onto the network. It could also be caused by someone deleting the central file, the central file's backup folder, someone saving over the central file or some other nefarious circumstance.

It can also be caused by taking your local file home with you. When you open a Revit project, that has had worksets enabled, Revit "talks" with the central file. If it can't find it you'll get an error message.


That's your first warning that things aren't safe to continue working. At this point I encourage you to stop, see if you can find out what's wrong, assuming you don't already know. If you push forward and try to alter something in the file, using element borrowing, you'll get this message.


That message is preventing you from using element borrowing. If you really want to continue to work at risk you'll need to open the Workset dialog and make the workset the element is assigned to editable, which makes you the Owner of the workset. You won't be able to do this either without getting another warning dialog.


If you click Yes you'll be able to do what you want with any elements assigned to the workset you've made editable (you are the owner of the workset). This is where things will go very wrong. If someone else does this too or still has a valid connection to the central file you are working "at risk". As soon as another person does something that Revit has either given them permission to do or creates a conflict of ownership somehow...the first person to resolve it will win...the rest will lose.

If you must go down this road you need to discuss what you need to do with the other people working on the project so they either stay away long enough for you to get things done or agree to be very careful about what they do. Go slowly, methodically...carefully.

Other Workset Topics to Read

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Five Minutes with a Toposurface

I created a video to describe what happens when Revit contours don't quite match up with the underlying cad file contours that were used to generate a toposurface. The first part of the video explains that the Site Settings usually don't match the contour interval settings of the cad source file. Changing these settings is often enough.


When we want Revit to provide more contours than the source file provides it can but that's where we start getting some distortion of the contour lines we see. The rest of the video shows how to manipulate the contour lines with additional points to help Revit sort it all out.

Keep in mind that Revit creates triangles between points. You can see these if you use Visibility/Graphics to turn them on.


This is what the triangulation looks like before adding an extra point to help Revit draw the contour more accurately.


This is what the triangulation looks like after adding the extra point.

Here's the video embedded or watch it at OpEd Videos or You Tube instead.