Saturday, March 30, 2013

What is Revit and BIM Resource

Alex Gore and his firm F9 Productions have created, as part of their company website, a resource for people that are just getting started with Revit and BIM or those who are still trying to decide what to do.

The site offers these items of interest:

  • A brief description of important modeling concepts
  • A PDF example of a complete Construction Documentation set
  • The Revit file of the above mentioned PDF
  • A 2012 Revit Residential Template to start your own creations
  • Links to tutorials for further help

A skeptic might read this and regard it as purely a marketing move. Alex's primary motive is to share the wealth with the community so to speak. For example a frequent question or concern people have is being able to see a completed set of documents. This is based on their fear, uncertainty or doubt that another software application, that is so intrinsically tied to how they make money, will truly be able to do what they need to do. So at the very least being able to examine their sample project and set may be useful, and if it is then the rest is "gravy". Have a look, see if you find something useful.

Friday, March 29, 2013

3D Printing and Revit STL Files

I recently got an email from a fellow Revit user asking if Revit 2014 changed anything for creating STL files, specifically if we could define inches as the base unit. I haven't had the opportunity to print anything to a 3D printer via a vendor myself yet so I'm clueless.

He shared with me his current frustration which apparently has to do with a fairly automated process that his vendors offer. Apparently it is as simple as: Submit your STL file online and get your automated quote in return. It works great as long as the submitted STL file uses the correct units, which is apparently "inches". If you don't cooperate with the system you end up having to call each vendor and it takes a lot more time than necessary.

He was specifically writing about the STL Exporter for Revit from Autodesk Labs. It exports to the units "Feet" and there is no way to alter that presumption. I've asked about it with a couple friends at Autodesk and it is on their radar so hopefully they can provide an option, in the future, for defining the units of the file output.

Since I have no wisdom to offer him and I know that at least a few readers have experience with this process I'm curious what alternatives he could consider. Can some other application that can edit STL files let him change the units? Perhaps the vendors could make this easier for customers and provide a pricing routine that asks for STL units? Is it more complicated than it seems? Comments are welcome!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Revit 2014 Properties Palette Tabs

If you use Revit MEP you know how little screen space you can end up with if you open up the Properties Palette, Project Browser, System Browser and Reconcile Hosting dialogs at the same time. You can shrink them down pretty small but then they don't function very well. Sure you can close and open them as needed or put them on a second monitor too.

Revit 2014 offers another option, nest them on the Properties Palette and provide tabs for each so you can switch back and forth.

Jury is still out on this for me. I set it up and used it this way for quite awhile but kept forgetting where and which tab was active. One recurring comment was to have the focus or active tab switch to properties when elements are selected but I'm not sure if that worked its way into the final production release.

It is a little tricky at first to get them hosted on the palette, easy once you know how. Just click on the dialog title bar, drag it either to the title bar on the Properties Palette or over the tab(s) at the bottom of the palette. Either way you'll get a ghost of the overlay and a new tab will appear. Don't let go if you don't see the new tab appear, means it isn't going to work.

Love the subtle stuff!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Revit 2014 Selection Features

There are plenty of subtle things that routinely trip people up while they work in Revit. One such trip hazard is that linked files tend to overwhelm a view and are much too easy to select and inadvertently drag out of position. It is one reason people seem to recoil at using Press and Drag. In Revit 2014 a small collection of toggle buttons have been added to the Status Bar, next to the Filter and Element Count features.

The first button, starting at the left, is the option called Select Links. It is either on or off and allows us to control the selection of linked files. This should help alleviate some of the workarounds that have been practiced to avoid messing with a link, such as: Pinning, individual worksets and using Design Options.

The second button is Select Underlay Elements and this will prevent interacting with any elements that are visible because the view has another level assigned as an underlay. The selection window options (crossing and enclosing) have always been blind to underlay information and even elements above or below a view's primary range, and now picking elements individually can too.

If you don't like being able to interact with elements that you've pinned then the third button, Select Pinned Elements is your new friend. It will make it a little harder to delete pinned elements, assuming we turn the option off.

For years we have had to remind others and even ourselves that Revit is fairly blind when it comes to the faces of elements. Try to select a wall, that doesn't have a pattern on its surface, by placing the cursor somewhere on its face and Revit is oblivious. The new fourth button, Select Elements by Face changes all that. We'll be able to decide when and if faces are the easier way to select elements. We've spent years reminding people to select things at edges or boundaries of elements. Now we'll have the option but I suspect we'll still get to remind them of the options and how to change the setting.

The fifth button, Drag Elements on Selection is the renamed Press and Drag feature. Same as it ever was, just with a slightly more obvious name, one that explains its action and result.

The Modify button on the Ribbon now has a new drop down list that provides check boxes for each of these new options so we have a "front and side door" as usual,

Here's to the subtle stuff!

Addendum: As Aaron mentions in his comment, these settings can be captured in the .ini file which means something that you can control during deployment, if that's your particular concern.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

More Detail on Revit 2014 Features

Autodesk's WikiHelp has been updated for 2014 features now too, including installation and deployment info (Revit Server too).

Check it out!

Revit 2014 - Connector by Radius or Diameter

Prior to Revit 2014 we could only create dimensions for the radius of arc and circles and connectors. With 2013's release they added a diameter dimension tool which makes it easier to constrain geometry in the family editor. Round connectors also only could be defined as a radius before. Now in 2014 this subtle parameter gives us the option to choose which makes more sense, radius or diameter.

Love the subtle stuff!

New Stuff in Navisworks 2014

If you happen to use Navisworks as well as Revit then you might want to visit Lee Mullin's post at Beyond Design, another Autodesk blog. Check it out!

Revit Technology Conferences 2013

If you read this blog (regularly) then I think/hope that RTC is no surprise to you. I'm writing this as a reminder to those who already know about it as well as to introduce them to anyone who hasn't already heard about them. After all May and RTC AUS isn't far away now...

These are the events in the order that they occur this year:

RTC Australasia - May 16-18, 2013 - Auckland, NZ
RTC North America - July 11-13, 2013 - Vancouver, Canada
RTC Europe - September 27-28, 2013 - Delft, Holland

Each event gives you an opportunity to listen, learn, talk and mingle with many of the best and brightest people that our planet has to offer, seriously!

I attended my first RTC in 2006 in Australia, where it all started (in 2005). I've been a fan ever since and even became a committee member to help start the first RTC in North America in 2011. It isn't any single thing that made me a fan. It was the whole of the experience.

For example, I knew that every person I saw around me was like me, fascinated by Revit, just Revit then and now by what it has expanded into. I knew that no matter who I listened to, talked with or saw in a hallway that I'd see them a session, in a few minutes or during a break or during dinner and drinks. The value of the social side of the event can't be overstated. People have cultivated great friendships, formed at each event, and these last and prove mutually satisfying for years to come. I can vouch for this personally.

If you struggle with getting your firm to support sending you, or if you are the firm, or if you are trying to justify sending your staff consider just the classes alone. If you or someone in your firm was charged with putting together a class of equal quality, compared with any you'll find at RTC, you can reasonably expect a 10-20 hour commitment. That's time spent preparing themselves, making sure they've covered every angle of Revit knowledge they need, then organizing it all, preparing to share it with other staff and finally actually sharing it with them. It might take longer if it is the first time they've had to do something like this, or they might not be knowledgeable enough yet to tackle it all themselves. If this same person attends RTC and returns home not only with the material from the dozens of sessions they attend but access to all the material for each and every class offered at RTC you'll have a wealth of material for FAR less cash outlay than devoting them to developing the same material in-house.

It isn't just the classes either. It's the interaction, the setting, the focus, the passion and excitement expressed by others and witnessed by everyone. You can't help but feel reinvigorated. You'll recharge your batteries so to speak. When you leave RTC you leave ready, ready for anything and eager to take it all back to the office. It's just a shame that you can't bring your whole office along to experience it for themselves...well you can...just not many offices will dare to. There are a few firms that do send as many as 10-15 staff as they see it as their annual training for key people. Do your best to attend the nearest conference, you and your firm won't regret it!

P.S. If you represent a Local User Group focused on Revit I'd like to help you get the word out to your members. Get in touch with me so I can pass along information that you can use to make it easier to talk about it at your next meeting.

New Stuff in Revit 2014 According to David

Up to his usual "What's New..." summary, read all about it at David Light's blog.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Revit 2014 Features on Autodesk Site

If you visit the Autodesk Revit site you can discern for yourself what new features might be showing up soon.

New for 2014 - Autodesk Presentation

Autodesk will host a presentation tomorrow at 11 AM (EST) via the web. If you'd like to see and hear what they is on offer for 2014 Revit products check it out. Once that's over I expect the blogging and tweeting will begin in earnest.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Reusing the Same Grid Names

A reader saw a post by Brok on the HOK BIM Solutions blog and he wrote to me about this tip. His name is Mr. Smith, yeah uh that's his name, Mr. Smith... Well anyway the tip is this. We can use the right click option to insert unicode control character when editing the grid name parameter.

If we choose one it won't print but it will make Revit think that this grid #1 is different from this other grid #1. Pretty sneaky.

Mr. Smith's name has been changed to Mr. Jones to protect Mr. Smith.

P.S. My 2014 prediction is still that Revit will still be called Revit.

Monday, March 18, 2013

2014 Predictions

It's nearly that time, the time when people starting asking, "When is the next release coming out?" or "What's going to be in the next release"? The LARUG blog announced two meetings next week (one in LA live streamed, the other in OC not) to discuss new features in 2014. That can only mean one thing, that the media blackout on the new Autodesk products is nearly over. Well it could also mean that they are going off the reservation and plan to discuss the new features without the blessing of Autodesk marketing...maybe but probably not.

So get your batteries charged, your reader cleared out because next week sometime Revit 2014 will trend on Twitter. :)

My prediction for 2014? It will still be called Revit.

Revit HotFix for 2012

Recently people reported a Windows update causing the blue annotation symbols and temporary dimensions to change their color in Revit 2012 versions. I saw it too. Autodesk has release a hotfix to resolve the .net version issue that created the situation in the first place. The Revit Clinic wrote about the hotfix earlier today. You can go to the site to check out the ReadME file and download the HOT FIX HERE.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Show Me Wish

Revit offers us the opportunity to "Show" an element when we review warnings, use the Select by ID and fairly often when an error message is generated and we expand the warning.

Choosing Show will often generate a warning that there is no good view to show it in and ask us if we really want to let Revit hunt for a view.

I'd like to be able to specify which kind of views to hunt through before it does its magic. For example I know I want to find a ceiling so don't bother showing me 3D, elevation or section views if I'm really hoping to see just ceiling plan views. Perhaps a new Zoom option: Zoom to Selected that goes to the current element in the view, like Revit will do in a 3D view using the view cube.

Let me help Revit focus on what I'm interested in or think I need. I occasionally have a clue...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Concealing Your Workset Username

Luke recently wrote a post mentioning a technique that AUGI member Navid offered to help lock down certain worksets. We can use a special username like Super Admin to be the owner of a workset to prevent other users from randomly altering the elements assigned to it. The tip offered involves creating a username with a symbol only font which leaves us with a meaningless username that we can't read or pretend we are. In his instructions he takes the username into Microsoft Word and changes the font. He then pastes the newly "encrypted" username into the Revit username parameter (Application menu > Options Dialog).

I'm not sure it is necessary or even good idea if we felt it was necessary. Nevertheless it is possible and there might be a circumstance someday (maybe a troubleshooting issue) where it will come in handy. Filing this in the "someday, but hopefully not" folder. Somewhere Dick Dastardly's dog Mutley is swearing...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Revit MEP Heating and Cooling Loads Results

I received an email from a Revit MEP user asking about results that don't seem to make sense. I'm writing about this because after some experimentation it seems odd to me too. This doesn't involve a complex model, just a simple test they did using a single room. I attempted to mimic their emailed explanation fully realizing that there are myriad possible things I could do differently. Despite the possible variables I was able to reproduce what they were concerned about.

Still Curious?

When they set up a test and then changed one variable (Outdoor Air) the resulting report shifts peak cooling month by one month (their result).

These are the test conditions: Walls surrounding a Space such that it is 100 SF. I placed a floor, ceiling and roof but I don't know that they did that. I used these settings for Occupancy, lighting and power.

These are the energy settings I used for the first report.

These are the energy settings I altered for the second report, only changed the Outdoor Air setting, nothing else.

These are the two reports side by side. Report on the left is the one without Outdoor Air changes and the one on the right is after changing Outdoor Air. Notice the two month advance? There are also subtle Dry and Wet Bulb values.

Their question to me and mine now as well is, "Is it reasonable to expect a so called simple change like this would cause such a jump in the calculation time frame?" I've recommended they reach out to the Autodesk Revit support team so they can examine their dataset first hand. Seems odd to me though.

I should also mention that I changed the Outdoor Air for both the Zone that the space belongs to and the Energy Settings dialog. I didn't seem to matter when I tried changing only one of those for the Outdoor Air.

Comments?? Did I miss something obvious?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Blends have Two Sketches

From the been there done that department I bring you a little reminder, Solid and Void blends have two sketches; a base and a top. It's pretty common to see two sketches in the base and the user wonders why they can't move on to the top sketch. When the blend process starts Revit is thinking "base", regardless of the orientation of the blend you are making. How can you tell? Easy, there is a button for Edit Top.

That can only be appropriate if Revit thinks we are working on the base. There isn't even a button for Edit Base until after you click Edit Top.

Once you have two complete sketches, each in their own "world" (Base and Top), you can Click the Green Check mark for Finish Edit Mode. If you need to revisit one or both of the sketches you'll find you can go straight to the Base or Top Sketch via separate buttons, just have to select the form first.

Remember, two sketches, two, two are better than one or twice as nice.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Closing Worksets with Specify

When you open a Revit project that uses Worksets there is an option to specify which worksets you want to open before Revit goes to the trouble of fulling opening the project. Very handy for big projects, crucial even.

I have occasionally encountered a situation where Revit won't let me open a project with all the worksets closed at first. Why do that? It is the fastest way to get a project open. Sometimes you need to do something like swap out titleblocks. If you load even some of the actual model it will take longer to open sheet views. If what you are doing doesn't depend on seeing the model in the views it is much faster to close the worksets first and the carry out your work.

When this has happened the Open button gets diasabled. If I open at least one workset it becomes enabled again. Revit seems to really want one workset open at least in some files and for others it doesn't care. No, I have no idea why it is fussy about it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Reference Plane Order

This is subtle. When you draw reference planes the order they were created plays a role in how a parameter will move them later. Draw two new vertical parallel reference planes, draw one on the left and then next to the right of the first. Add a dimensions and assign a label (parameter) to the dimensions. Flex the parameter value and watch the reference plane on the right move. If you have a lot of reference planes it can get confusing but this underlying behavior is lurking there.

You can force certain behavior by pinning reference planes, locking dimension or using the EQ constraint to force them to move equally about a center reference line. Like I wrote, it is subtle. Just keep it in mind while you do your family editing.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Trey Suppress Spaces

Okay this is a follow up to redux. Erik pointed out that we can still override the dimension style to ignore the project settings and Suppress Spaces. Here's what a string of dimensions look like with no overrides in play.

Here's what the same string looks like with overridden dimension style and Suppress Spaces on. Notice that the dimensions are tighter (good) and the prefix and suffix are closer too (not a better look though).

This means that we can still get what I though we lost. It seems the Suppress Spaces option is limited to altering the prefix/suffix while the dimension style needs to be overridden to get it.

Since I can put a space in between the prefix and dimension value, same for suffix, I'd prefer that the style could use the more obvious Suppress Spaces option and let the dimension stay connected to project units. I'd be far more likely to use it that way than ever use it to mess with prefix and suffix which I seldom use in conjunction with a real dimension value either, definitely the exception rather than the rule.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Concrete Volume between Slab and Beams

A message via Linked In arrived the other evening asking about the volume of concrete when slabs and beams are involved. The hopeful question hinged on the slab reducing its volume by however much the beam overlapped the slab. The answer is a qualified "yes" because it is aware when Join Geometry is used but in the opposite direction, beam reduces volume not the slab.

Here's a floor slab that is 20'-0" x 20'-0" x 6" thick and a 12" Wide x 24" Deep x 20'-0" long concrete beam reporting a volume of 200 CF and 40 CF respectively, before using Join Geometry (slab properties shown).

Here's the properties of the beam before Join Geometry as well, reporting a volume of 40 CF.

Here's the properties of the beam after Join Geometry, now reporting a volume of 30 CF.

I didn't bother capturing an image of the floor slab, its volume didn't change, still 200 CF. I hope you'll take my word for it. The point of the exercise is to determine how much concrete is really needed, at least in my mind. The floor slab volume is intact (for this particular condition at least) but any beams that are joined with the slab will reduce their volume appropriately.

That means a two schedules, one for slabs and one for beams, should provide a reasonably close total if you look at both schedules together. It might be cool if the slab could inherit the beam volume and report a total that included the beams or the reverse subtract the beams from the slab.

In the field the beam and floor, minus any topping slab, are often poured together so the reinforcing ties it all together. Curiously, the way Revit deals with beam sizes and types is generally in conflict with how engineers think of the beam size as it relates to the slab. It's never simple or easy is it?

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Suppress Spaces Revisited

In Revit 2012 (wrote about this earlier) we had the ability to shrink imperial dimension values a bit.

The upper dimension shows what 2012 did when Suppress Spaces was checked. The bottom shows unchecked. In 2013 we lose that. In my earlier post I missed/forgot that Ryan responded explaining what changed. Rats, I don't like the change, I want my old suppress spaces back by golly! This is what we get now (using my best Craig Ferguson accent, "It makes littul sense tah meee").

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Manage View Templates Button Disabled

If your Manage View Templates button is disabled it means that you've got no view templates to manage. That troublemaker "someone" deleted them all. Time to find that someone? You can start rebuilding from scratch if you just right click on a view name in the Project Browser and choose Create View Template from View.

If you have some great View Templates elsewhere you can usually use Transfer Project Standards to get them. Keep in mind that View Templates can touch a lot of settings, for example linked RVT files. If the project you are bringing outside View Templates into doesn't have equivalent features in play then the templates may not be able to do everything they did in the other project. It might not be a problem for this project but it's probably worth double checking.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

These are not the Warnings You are Looking For

Funny message offered in the Review Warnings dialog.

I had previously selected all the room tags in the model (select all instances in entire project) and then chose the option to Move to Room to fix Revit's complaint regarding some of them. The message displayed changed to the above. Nice that it is confirming there are now no more warnings but I find it amusing that it says "Warning...there aren't any warnings, Warning". Proceed with caution.

Central States Revit Workshop 2013 - Call for Speakers

Last year (September 2012) was the first homespun Central States Revit Workshop. Building on the fun they had last year they've opened up their call for speakers to submit class proposals for the next one, which is August 15th & 16th, 2013 (Thursday and Friday).

Sessions will be 70 minutes in length and can be formatted as a technical presentation, hands-on lab session, or round table/panel discussion. The CSRW Board will review and select presentations based on the number of available presentation slots per category, number of applicants and their respective topic in conjunction with specific focus points predetermined by the Board.

For more details visit the Central States Revit Workshop 2013 SITE.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Access to Feature Redundancy

When we examine the Revit interface we find that we can change the scale of a view at the bottom of the view on what is called the View Control Shortcut Bar. If you happen to keep your Properties Palette open you've probably noticed you can just change the scale value there too? It's the same situation for Detail Level and Model Graphics Style. In the image below the items highlighted in yellow (even some running off the image) are all represented on the View Control Shortcut Bar too.

This can seem a bit odd or redundant to fresh eyes. If you've been staring at Revit for a number of years you probably remember when it was necessary to open a dialog to see those settings. The View Control Shortcut Bar let us change things without opening a bloody dialog box again. Today it seems a bit unnecessary to have some of the view control shortcuts, unless you close the properties palette.

As I've written before, in Revit there are numerous doors you can open to gain access to features, front, back and side doors...even some secret doors. Maybe they are bit redundant but if your cursor is closer to the bottom of the screen you can take the "side door" to scale or detail level instead of hopping on your scooter and driving up to the top of the Properties Palette. With the serious resolutions available on some monitors these days it could be a long ride.