Monday, December 30, 2013

Split a Column Wish

A wall that starts out as a single full height wall, spanning many levels, can be Split (Split Tool) in a section/elevation view at each required level where they change size/type. They'll stay aligned with each other based on their location line if one of them are moved. If we try to change the location line parameter for one of the affected walls we'll get this familiar warning.

For columns it would be handy if we could use the Split Tool and get similar behavior. Unfortunately, the Split Tool doesn't even "see" columns (structural or architectural). If they fixed that, it would be nice if this was possible in Graphical Column Schedules too. To add insult to injury Split works on Beams, just not columns. Oh the inequity, the inequity...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Property Lines without Digital Reference

As a follow up to a related post last week this post describes how we can create a property line when we lack any digital data to use. The survey may be an old hand drawn document provided as part of the deed or it could just be a printed drawing that nobody can find the file for. While we wait for a new survey we can still start with what we have. We've captured some bearing and distance information from my old survey drawing.

When we have a CAD file we can import as a resource the Property Line tool option: Create by Sketching makes it pretty easy. Since that's not an option in this situation we need to choose the other option: Create by entering distances and bearing.

Take a moment to revise the project units so they show the same units as the survey data. It helps to confirm the values we see in the dialog match those we've entered (it's shown that way in the image, not in the video). When we enter values for bearing a space between Degrees, Minutes and Seconds is all that's needed. To advance from one field to another we can use the TAB key to move forward or SHIFT + TAB to move backward in the dialog.

Also note that if the distance and bearing information is accurate enough Revit will report "closed". If the data isn't then it won't be able to report "closed" or show the area of the property. Unlike many sketch based elements Revit will tolerate a Property Line boundary that does not close. I altered the distance for the last segment to show the following error message that appears.

Once the Property Line is completed, click OK and we'll find the element is "stuck" to our cursor expecting us to decide where to place it. We pick an arbitrary spot and then move it so a corner of the Property Line is at a corner of the building. The goal is to make it easy to use Rotate True North and define the angle between the current Project North position of the building and the side of the property we'd like it to line up with.

In this example we've decided that the side of the house needs to be parallel to the East property boundary segment. Now we can use Rotate True North. When the tool starts we need to choose where the Rotation origin should go. In this case we need it to be at the corner of the building, the same corner where the corner of the Property Line is now. The first pick is rotation origin, the second pick is on the building and third pick is on the property line segment.

The task is much easier when we put the Property Line right on top of the building as a frame of reference. It also allows us to define the angle without trying to determine what it actually is.

Now that the orientation is correct we can move the Property Line into the correct location/position. Adding dimensions makes it easier to be accurate. We need to double check the values to make sure the changes to one dimensional direction don't alter other dimensions inappropriately.

This is a video demonstration of the concepts with captions, no audio.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Creating Door Families

Long post warning!

I wrote supporting documents for two presentations I did about using the family editor and creating door families, they are:

Autodesk University 2005 Session BD21-1L: Autodesk Revit Building Family Editor: From the Beginning (using Revit 8.0) - Download It
Central States Revit Workshop 2013: A Door's Life (using Revit 2013) - Download It

I also wrote an earlier post here and shared A Door's Life as a Box embedded document.

I recently responded to questions about the techniques the older handout describes and then, as the thread grew, later criticism at RFO that my second document does not live up to their experience with the original. The following stream of consciousness is, for the most part, my reply there. I have rewritten parts of it so hopefully it makes sense here apart from the thread at RFO.

If you work through each document, or have already, the following describes what I experienced writing the newer version; why I didn't find it practical to just "refresh" the original, though I did start out thinking I could just do that. I started by opening the AU 2005 BD21-1L handout word documents and using Save As. Fwiw, that document was created using Word's Master and Sub-document concept (think Xref's for Word), each section is a separate document linked to a master for formatting, style setting and page numbering.

When I first started pondering (over 18 months earlier) what became "A Door's Life" I was thinking about a session for RTC in Europe. Coincidentally I received two suggestions via email within a couple weeks of each other recommending the AU 2005 handout should be updated. One even said he'd do it and submit it as a class for AU, asking if I'd have any objections. I wrote back that I didn't have any objections. I don't think he did it though, at least not that I'm aware of.

Reviewing the original outline I added the section about nesting hardware because its more common outside the USA to include hardware in door families (thinking about RTC EUR). I decided to remove the section devoted to creating the nested variable lite panel family with voids because, during the eight years of work and travel I've done since the lab at AU, I've never met anyone actually using it (until the thread at RFO). It's a relatively complicated and labor intensive part of the document too.

In its place I described creating two simpler nested panels, one derived from the first since that's how many firms actually end up going through the process. This also meant I could put the more relevant (especially in 2013 than 2005) clearance form (part of the nested swing) and hardware section in without increasing the page count too much. When CSRW submissions were requested I was already restructuring the handout (it is in imperial units) and I decided to use it for their workshop instead and took a different direction with the RTCEUR session. After a bit of reformatting it became a CSRW session and I finished it.

As such, the final form of A Door's Life is based loosely on the CSRW template, I started with it but I took some liberties. The AU 2005 BD21-1L handout is 48 pages and the font is primarily Arial 11 and based on the AU 2005 template. In contrast A Door's Life is 80 pages (3 pages are the Table of Contents, no ToC in AU BD21-1L) and uses the fonts; Calibri 11 and Cambria 10 (for lists). As a result the appearance is certainly different (see next image).

The tips (and additional comments) are a burgundy color to fit the color of the CSRW template graphics (see left image).

Doing the writing and editing I was immediately confronted with images of the Revit Building 8.0 user interface that included the Design Bar, Menu and Toolbars. When I finished the work I'd ended up replacing nearly every image. Even images that didn't need to be looked so out of place against the new interface that I often chose to replace them anyway. It's like remodeling a room that is connected to others. Improvements in the room make the other rooms look shabby.

There are also the feature and language changes from 2005 to 2013. Every instruction and description that referred to Design Bar tab, Menu or Toolbar had to be replaced with references to ribbon tabs, panels, buttons, properties palette, and other subtleties. There are also new, perhaps better, choices for how to offer some instructions, via right click, palette, view control shortcut bar etc.

There are changes in Revit itself like the behavior of the nested swing family. Between 2005 and present day the swing technique described in the 2005 handout doesn't work anymore. It's necessary to constrain it a little differently, the text of the old process had to go. The nested swing in A Door's Life has more features to describe as well. The clearance form section nearly takes up as much space as the panel/void section did in the AU 2005 handout. The clearance form describes a much more valuable lesson, in my opinion, about constraining sketches as well as the whole concept of clearance forms which isn't part of the original at all.

I think its worth mentioning that over eight years I've changed. I've been affected by the people I've met, taught and all the work I've done since. I've learned a lot more about Revit, this business, writing, editing, document formatting etc. I've done technical editing for two Revit books (beginning another now) and contributed chapters to two editions of another. My opinions and approach to writing and describing things has changed, evolved. I'm a different person than I was in 2005 and I learned a LOT from doing that lab too. I find it hard to imagine I could look at work I did eight years ago and be satisfied with "Save As"...and I wasn't. I also did not intend or expect either document to define a singular process to build "your" perfect door family. I hoped to describe the techniques that can be used together or separately to help organize anyone's own door library and all the concepts apply/extend to any other content easily too.

I closed my response in the thread with "I am grateful that you've found the original document useful and worthy of the praise, that it deserves to be updated. I won't hide my disappointment that you find the newer version not as worthy of your praise. I guess what they say about sequels is really true."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Line Styles Dialog

A recent thread that discussed the validity of saying Revit is "poorly written" generate the observation by one member that it boggles the mind why something so little has never been fixed. This is the subtle quirkiness.

Why is it necessary to click the little + sign every time this dialog opens. For that matter why is there a + sign at all. It's not like there are more things to show us?? Notice I used Comic Sans for the text? :)

Member Iru69 wrote:
...Do they leave it that way as some kind of inside joke?

Our office left the Christmas wreath up on the wall until July last year... it just became a running joke - how long before the office manager thinks to take it down? We had an office pool going for the date it would come down (FTR, I wanted to take it down, but I wasn't going to be that guy). I'm starting to think that's what's going on at the Factory with this kind of stuff.

It just adds up and up and up and at the end, I'm like, this just sucks.

I waited until after Christmas to post this one... I'm nice that way. ;)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wall Openings and Room Area

Fwiw, I wrote these related posts: this one in 2005 and this one in 2006. This is ONE Too, it's about creating openings when we use Copy/Monitor (it's still not a good idea unfortunately).

A recent thread at RFO started off by asking which method is best to create openings in walls. There are a few options: Family (like a door, window or generic model opening family), Wall Opening, Wall > Edit Profile, Automatically Embed feature of Curtain Walls or even an in-place wall with a void.

Like anything understanding their differences is important. For example if I need a round hole in a wall I could use a jigsaw, sawzall, Xacto knife, sledgehammer, hole saw, drill bit etc (or dynamite). Depending on the size of the hole I need any of those could provide a hole with varying degrees of accuracy, success and effort.

Revit's Wall Openings, apart from being a bit weird to use, affect room bounding differently than other techniques that cut a wall. In the attached image:
  • Left side of Image: a Wall Opening doesn't respect (alters/affects) the bounding nature of the dividing wall and using Edit Profile affects room bounding of the wall too
  • Center of Image: a opening family does respect the wall's room bounding
  • Right side of Image: A wall opening allows area to extend "into" a host wall where a curtain wall needs to go while a curtain wall (top wall) that uses Automatically Embed (bottom wall) instead does not
  • Added image (right image) shows same conditions but with using Edit Profile on the wall in the left side of the image

Here's what the model looks like in 3D, the view range cut plane for the plan view above is the typical 4'-0" (1200mm ish). If the wall opening comes into contact with the Computation Height of the host level it "affects" the room bounding. Added a wall opening (like a window) to the middle building.

By the way for trivia fans, Jeff Hanson (Autodesk SME, User Experience) wrote: "... the wall opening tool was created specifically for creating a wall opening in a wall that is curved in plan. There is no way to edit the profile of a wall curved in plan..."

Added this image in response to a comment from Rob (1/3/2017). I used Edit Profile and Wall Opening to create the openings and then placed Room Separators to decide which room should get the area between them.

Monday, December 23, 2013

PSA Save the Fluffy Kitten

James Vandezande speaks out against callous violence against fluffy kittens occurring at AEC conferences world wide. Please do your part to stop this madness!

By the way, the movement to abolish the saying of "ATM Machine", whose leader Freddy Latherdon, is jealous of the ground swell of support that opponents of saying "BIM Model" are getting. They hope to get sympathy by using this image, suggesting that saying "ATM Machine" will cause the incoming soda to soak this poor girl.

Getting soaked by that soda will be awful for her but compared to harm coming to a fluffy kitten? Please...

Remember, just don't say "BIM Model", save a kitten.

On Twitter: #fluffykitten
Picture from @MeredithFrost (click the image to see her tweets)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Last Minute Christmas Gift Suggestion - BIM. After. Dark.

Yesterday I mentioned a great last minute Christmas gift, a book called Renaissance Revit by Paul Aubin. I thought I'd mention another last minute suggestion that like Paul's book will help you stretch, get more out Revit.

Jeffrey Pinheiro (aka The Revit Kid and his blog by the same name) has begun a project he's called Bim. After. Dark. His tagline is "Learn how to make your BIM sexy..."

I got a sneak preview of the videos just before he released them on December 10th. I think he's delivered on his promise. If you're just starting out with Revit then you should consider adding this to your learning library too. If you've been frustrated thinking that your Revit project(s) just lack a little presentation Edge then his video may be just what you need to see to open your eyes to what is possible, that your Revit project presentations CAN be sexy...

I particularly liked how he tweaked the stock content and tools to get what he wanted for his presentations. He's clearly got a talent and opinion about documentation style that's worth sharing and worth you taking the time to listen. I also enjoyed his conversational approach to demonstrating his techniques.

Too often a video is too obviously scripted or worse comes off as if the presenter thinks his/her audience is a school child. With Jeffrey you feel like he's just sitting next to you and asking if he can "borrow the mouse" for a moment. In fact I think a few times he gets a bit too excited and rushes his delivery as though he can't wait to tell you this, and this...and oh, this too!

One other reviewer's comment that I agree with is that he left in subtle changes as he presented topics, or "mistakes" if you will. They helped contribute to the conversational feeling and also mimicked the same sort of thing you'd experience while trying to work through an idea. It's all good!

He's offering a simple structure: Buy just videos for $39, buy videos and samples for $79, or buy The Complete Package (you also get videos for Revit to Max to V-Ray and Prezi for Architects) for $129. Several price points for your cost conscious last minute gift shopping. Like I said for Paul's book, you may find it necessary to buy yourself a gift in the process.

Check out his promo video and see what you think. May your Christmas also be "sexy"...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Last Minute Christmas Gift Suggestion - Renaissance Revit

Still looking for one more great unexpected gift for your office library, co-worker, nutty Revit pal, boss, BIM mentor, Revit Family Advisor, brother, sister, "in-law", or in some rare (perhaps dangerous combination) cases your architect spouse?

Let me recommend Paul Aubin's new book, Renaissance Revit: Creating Classical Architecture with modern Software. It's a bit personal spiritual journey as well as his quest for Revit knowledge and enlightenment captured in his newest self published tome. He secured a fine Foreword by Andy Milburn too. I enjoy every post that Andy takes the time to share with us on his blog Shades of Grey. His writing sets a nice tone for the rest of the book.

When you get to read it you'll find you sense how important writing this book was to Paul. Granted he says so in the text but you can also perceive a sense of excitement or energy in his writing in each of the chapters. If you've ever met him and talked about Revit you'd also know that it's been many years in the making, even before he was particularly focused on Revit he was doing things that set the stage for writing this one.

It's offered in two versions; Black & White or Color. Naturally the color version is a bit more expensive to buy (and produce) but for your gift's recipient doesn't color say "I care about you" more than black and white? This is a capture of the Table of Contents from his book's page on his own website.

As a Revit author and blogger I'm both jealous and relieved he wrote this book. Jealous that it's so good I wish I'd written it and relieved that he DID so I don't have to, not that I could communicate his passion for classical architectural forms as he has done. Especially relieved because now I don't have to figure out how to model this from scratch all on my own!

Paul, congratulations for a job well done!!

As for you dear reader, it BELONGS on your shelf (or desk) complete with dog ear'd pages and highlighter smudges. Hmm, maybe that's a special edition version you could buy, rusticated or pre-worn like jeans? Nah, you should wear it out yourself. Come to think of it you should buy two now. One for your collection and one to abuse at work on your desk.

Oh, that's right I was recommending you buy it as a gift for someone else, now you need to buy three!

Railing without a Host

I wrote a post in July 2008 called Railing Over Wall, it was focused on this kind of condition.

This post revisits the same technique with 2014 and a different notion of a host element. The key to doing this is in the properties of the sketched line segments of the railing. This image depicts how three segments were created so they can be altered, each segment numbered 1-3.

These are the segment settings for #1, Slope: Flat and Height Correction: By Type.

These are the segment settings for #2, Slope: Sloped and Height Correction: By Type.

These are the segment settings for #3, Slope: Flat and Height Correction: Custom and 4'-0".

If we don't need a horizontal railing section at the top we can alter the sketch and use different settings for segment #2. If we do that these are the segment settings for #2, Slope: Sloped and Height Correction: Custom and 4'-0".

These are the two different sketch based railings side by side. The lower railing is missing its horizontal starting section. I just made the sketch of the first segment tiny so Revit would know what the starting elevation is. Without it I'd end up with a horizontal railing at 4'-0", aligned with the upper horizontal beam.

The line at the base of the railing is a tiny profile that is needed to host the bottom of the balusters. Without that bottom railing to terminate against they'd go to the lowest elevation of the railing (flat). I could offset the sacrificial railing so that it slips below the surface of the beam but in this case I wasn't worried about it. If you find it distracting this is what doing it looks like, though the balusters not finishing cleanly at the top of the beam may be more distracting.

Btw, the Beam Join tool was used to the get the beams to clean up.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Columns and Paste Aligned

Imagine a project with four levels 0 - 4. In this image there are two columns and a foundation wall that extend from Level 0 up to Level 1.

If we open an elevation or section view, and then use Copy to Clipboard and Paste Aligned to Picked Level to create copies of the columns and foundation wall we'll find that Revit is hard wired to respect the default Depth setting from the height/depth option (Options Bar).

This means that if we pick/choose Level 1 (logical expectation) Revit will put them on Level 1 but use a depth extending down to level 0, resulting in columns in the same place as the existing columns.

To be successful in these views we have to pick one level higher, Level 2 in this example. Using Paste Aligned to Selected Levels in elevation or section views also suffers from this condition.

In contrast, using Copy to Clipboard and Paste Aligned to Selected Levels in a plan view Revit gets the relationship right (true of 2014 at least, I recall it not working in older releases but haven't tested again to be certain) and the columns extend from Level 1 to Level 2. The same is true for Foundation walls.

Be careful with columns (and foundation walls), view selection and using Paste Aligned...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Copy Paste and Structural Floors

The situation this post describes seems like a bug to me. If not then it is certainly confusing least.

When we use Copy to Clipboard and Paste Aligned... to place families on another level or more than one other level the outcome is affected by whether a structural floor slab was present when the families were added. For example consider these floor slabs (see next image), each configured as shown by the screen capture of their properties. There are three desks in the view too, one on each floor. Specifically the floor on the left does not have it's Structural parameter checked, the middle floor has both Structural AND Enable Analytical Model parameters checked, and the floor on the right only has the Structural parameter checked.

If we use the Copy to Clipboard tool on the three desks (one on each floor) and then use Paste Aligned to Selected Levels, choosing Level 2 we get a dialog showing that there are two warnings associated with the desks over the two structural floors. The desk on the left is not involved in the warning.

This is what the end result looks like in elevation. We have a new desk on Level 2 above the floor that is not structural but the other two new desks are in the same location on Level 1.

At this point it appears that it is caused by using the Structural parameter. If it's checked that is BAD for using Copy/Paste. If we create a floor that is not structural the hosting relationship isn't forced on the hosted elements. If at any time we check the structural parameter any elements that you place on that surface will lock out the normal desired Copy/Paste behavior, they'll only be placed on that surface. Deciding to un-check (turn off) the option after it was turned on won't resolve the situation either. The floor can't EVER be structural. If they are/were any families placed on the floor's level will become locked in to that floor.

Said another way, this condition affects families that were originally placed on a floor that is or became Structural before the families were placed. If the families were there before the floor or before the floor was changed to structural they'll work fine with Copy/Paste. In my testing so far this condition also appears to be limited to families that are level based (also referred to as "not" hosted), for example furniture, casework, generic model, plumbing, and specialty equipment. If the families are "Face-Based" they appear to be unaffected, for example a light fixture.

We can avoid this by turning off the Floor category in the view before placing families. Changing the view to use Wireframe instead will not help.

This post is the result of looking at a project shared at RFO that was exhibiting the problem.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Basic Survey and Model Coordination

This post is focused on the notion of a simple project, a single building or house and garage perhaps.

Conceptually Revit expects us to begin by creating a model using Project North, make it easy to put on paper first. That's because we often don't have a reliable survey at first. Once we get a survey we can import it and use it to acquire coordinates which will also define True North. If that process is consistent with yours then it looks like this.

  • Create your initial design using Project North orientation (meaning we aren't positive about orientation yet)
  • Receive the Survey file
  • Open the Site Plan view
  • Change the Orientation parameter to True North
  • Import the survey file using Positioning: Auto - Center to Center
  • Rotate the survey so it is parallel to the boundary you choose (rotating the "world" under the building)
  • Move the survey so it places the building in the correct location (moving the "world" under the building)
  • Manage ribbon > Project Location panel > Coordinates > Acquire Coordinates - select the survey file

Site before acquire coordinates

Site after acquiring coordinates

As soon as you acquire coordinates you should find that Revit reorients the view so that True North is up. If you examine your other plan views you'll see they still show Project North (based on the Orientation parameter for each view).

You'll also probably find that the Survey Point icon disappears off screen as Revit moves it to mark the 0,0 coordinates it acquired from the source file. If you examine the images closely you'll see the paper clip icon that is the Survey Point marker is not clipped. When you click on the icon it either un-clips or clips the icon. It doesn't move to mark the origin when it is unclipped. It just shows the coordinates for the icon relative to the origin instead. Unclip the icon before using Acquire Coordinates if you'd rather use the Survey Point icon to mark something within the site boundary instead.

Other Considerations:
  • What ground floor elevation do you usually show in elevations or sections? (0'-0", 100'-0" or actual elevation)
  • Will you create a toposurface from contours in the survey or placing points yourself? (May need to move the source file up/down depending on previous question)
  • Are there several or many buildings involved? (I recommend a different process using a Master Site model)
  • No CAD survey, just an old hand drawn document? We can enter property data using a table.

There are means to deal with each of the answers to those questions. You can refer to this SUMMARY POST for other related things I've written.

Here's a video demonstration of the steps plus some property and setback lines.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sort Order Revisited

Earlier I wrote THIS POST about sorting nested families so they appear in a logical order when swapping them out in a project via their host family. I've since stumbled on a subtle way to maintain some sense of order. Success will vary depending on the naming conventions used naturally.

Using Insert > Load from Library - I found I can get alphabetical order behavior if I select the last family first and then select the first family after pressing SHIFT to select everything between the first pick and the second pick. If I start at the top of the list and pick the last file Revit won't honor the order.

In my case I was loading panel families from A-W. Picking last first and first last I get A-W in the pull down list. If I pick first and last I get W first followed by A-V (specifically the pull down list inside the properties of a host family that allows me to swap panels). That's probably unique to my particular situation but I found it interesting that the pick order during import affected the outcome. I'd be interested to learn if readers concur with my findings in their own content projects.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Acquiring Coordinates between Trades

Revit's shared coordinate features routinely confuse people. I believe I understand them well but I find the various ways people manage to use them can be quite confusing. I've written about this feature quite a bit, enough that I've created a summary of related posts. I was reading a thread at RFO where a user was describing an error message about Shared Sites.

That message appears when a shared coordinate relationship exists between two files and the linked file involved is moved. The thread at RFO hasn't shared a resolution because the person who wrote the original post hasn't replied to my last round of questions. Their claim is that the situation I've described isn't involved. Without more evidence it's hard to say what is causing their situation.

The point of this post is that they also described how they used Shared Coordinates to adjust the position of their work compared to the other team's project file. I've found with some experimentation of my own that it is effective until (IF) the source file alters its own shared coordinate relationship. If that occurs then its necessary to start over, first using the reset technique listed later in this post and then repeating these steps.

Keep in mind, this approach works if you begin modeling your work before you receive a model to use as a reference. Ideally this wouldn't happen but apparently it does. When you do receive another model it's very likely that it won't align with your work. Take these steps to reconcile the misalignment:
  • Insert ribbon > Link Revit > select a Revit Model
  • Positioning: Auto - Origin to Origin
  • Move their model into alignment with ours
  • Manage ribbon > Coordinates > Acquire Coordinates - select their linked model
  • Delete their linked model (yes, it's counter-intuitive)
  • Insert ribbon > Link Revit > select their model again (this time it IS sharing coordinates)
  • Positioning: by Shared Coordinates
  • Save your work
Our model should now be in sync with theirs until (IF) they alter their shared coordinates. We are using the Shared Coordinates feature to share a common understanding of respective project's shared coordinate origin.

For some background information, Revit projects have a file (reference) origin that does not change, in a way it's like AutoCAD's World Coordinate System (WCS). The shared coordinate concept we are using is similar to using the User Coordinate System (UCS) in AutoCAD to provide an alternate way of seeing the model.

If the team whose model we used to acquire coordinates from revise their shared coordinates in the future we'll have to repeat the process. To do that we'll have to reset the shared coordinates first. We'll also be able to avoid generating the Shared Sites error message above. Revit stores information in our project file about a linked file that it uses to know if a project is sharing coordinates with it or not and we have to break that relationship to reset shared coordinates. This technique uses a separate temporary project file to acquire coordinates from instead. A file can only acquire and share coordinates based on one source file at a time.

We can follow these steps to reset shared coordinates:
  • Create a new blank project file
  • Put a pair of crossing grids in plan so we can see it when it is linked later.
  • Save the project
  • Close the project
  • Open our model
  • Delete the existing linked model (click Remove Link in the warning that appears)
  • Insert ribbon > Link Revit > select our temporary new blank project
  • Positioning: Auto - Origin to Origin
  • Manage ribbon > Coordinates > Acquire Coordinates > select the blank project we imported
  • Save our project - it now thinks it is in sync with this new project instead.
  • Delete the linked project (Remove Link)
  • Save our project - Coordinates are still reset, we can link the real model and acquire coordinates again
Ideally when we link models together we should start with Auto - Origin to Origin because that's all they have as a common reference. Projects usually start with the architect and they establish the coordinate relationship with the site and survey data. Using Auto - Origin to Origin works if at the outset we agree that somebody establishes the site survey relationship and the rest of us all use their model to define our relationship to theirs.

The technique I've describe is using Shared Coordinates to align models instead of using it to align it to the site/survey data. This means that our models will align but exporting to DWG using Shared Coordinates won't necessarily align with the survey data. If this relationship is established after we've aligned our models with this method it is necessary to reset and repeat the process described above to allow our model to acquire the new coordinate relationship.

It's been my observation that Revit's Acquire Coordinates tool does not work well on projects that have VERY large coordinate values (based on survey data). When I write "does not work well" I mean Revit fails to acquire the correct coordinate values. When this occurs I've found that the coordinate values I expected to see were off roughly (less than they should be) by a factor of 10 or 100. In contrast, Revit's Specify Coordinates at Point (SCaP) tool always works when Acquire Coordinates doesn't. It does not define a shared coordinate relationship however. Using SCaP defines what the shared coordinates are at a specific location in the model but it does not store a "relationship" to another file like using Acquire Coordinates does.

I've described one approach to dealing with multi-model multi-discipline sharing of coordinate data HERE. The process described by that post is far more comprehensive and is meant to deal with the entire team. This post is meant to help resolve the relationship between one trade and another. As soon as everyone else gets involved it is important to have one team establish the single source coordinate system to use. A Revit project file can only share a coordinate relationship with one other source file.

Monday, December 09, 2013


While attending Autodesk University last week Elaine with NBBJ mentioned a new product she is familiar with called Fuzor. She said I should check it out on the exhibit floor. Wednesday night I stopped by to have a look.

It's a stand-alone software intended to allow real time rendering and simulation of a Revit model. It also "plugs in" to Revit with its own tools on the ribbon. For example you can use View Sync to update Fuzor as you change your view in Revit. You can initiate changes by selecting elements in Fuzor and using the Edit Selection button on the ribbon in Revit.

Open your project, launch Fuzor, wait for it to load the model and you're off. Elaine opened up a project a team in her office has been working on so it was not a small model, nor just one model. Navigation was simple enough. If you've used the walk feature in Revit or the same concept in Navisworks you know enough to get around.

There is no export from Revit. Just open your project in Revit and then run Fuzor (separate application window). The only time you'll spend waiting is the initial load, about the same as waiting for Revit to load the project initially, perhaps a bit faster. Between the real time visualization and no export it's a pretty compelling option. The closest thing I can think of is the Lux module from M-Six's Veo.

The product is only about six months old at this point and about to become available for evaluation. It's being developed by a team based in San Diego, CA. If you are interested they are asking us to send a request via EMAIL. There is a PDF Manual if you'd like to read it. The price if I recall correctly is about $3,500.00 USD. They will be able to support network licensing as well.

Key Feature Summary
  • Geometry Updates in Fuzor as soon as Revit data changes
  • Select elements in Fuzor first and then edit in Revit
  • Load specific levels (they call them layers) from linked files
  • Materials changes in Revit update Fuzor immediately
  • Camera Synchronization between Revit and Fuzor
  • Correct Time of Day Simulation
  • Weather Conditions: sunny, storm clouds, rain and rain with wind direction
  • Walk and Fly through controls
  • Uses Revit lighting data for interior lighting
I've embedded their intro video, follow THIS LINK for five others.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Two Minutes with Two Kick Conduit Results

I wrote and created a video about this while Revit 2012 was current. A comment on that video asked if it still works for 2014. I find that it does but it appears to matter which direction we sketch the conduit. If we start at a horizontal conduit and sketch down to a vertical conduit we get this result. The transition from vertical to horizontal slopes up to the horizontal conduits.

If we start at a vertical conduit and sketch up to a horizontal conduit we get this result. The transition from vertical to horizontal only slopes at the sweeps of the conduit, remaining horizontal as long as the conduit can.

Your results will likely vary depending on the top elevation of the vertical conduit compared with the location of the ends of the horizontal conduits. You should note that I've assigned a bend radius in my example video. This video just contains captions, no audio. The original video contains audio that explains what I've done if you're interested.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Guide Grids and Positioning Views on Sheet

This video is only about a year old now (originally posted in November 2012). I get asked about lining up views on sheets almost as soon as people begin putting views on sheets. Here it is again.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Curtain Walls and Doors

This is an echo from 2012, not that old but a situation that frequently frustrates new users.

There are two situations that trip up new users when it comes to doors. I wrote about about one of these Reviteristics in April 2010. That post is about Openings and this one is about curtain wall panel doors.

When people first make a curtain wall that is supposed to get a door they quite naturally assume the door tool is the right place to start. Wrong. Curtain walls are special and they are made up of curtain grids, panels and mullions. A curtain wall door is really a curtain wall panel. They are a panel because Revit needs to keep their width and height flexible, to accommodate any changes we might make. A regular door family can vary in size but it can't respond to curtain grids being moved. We can't even put a regular door in a curtain wall. That's not entirely true but I'd have to get into yet another Reviteristic, using other wall types as curtain wall panels.

We need to understand that a door in a curtain wall isn't a "door", at least not to the Door tool. To make matters a bit more confusing Revit treats this curtain wall panel, pretending to be a door, as a door in schedules and in Visibility/Graphics.

    It would be better if we could click on the Door tool and have the option to place a "regular" door or a "curtain panel" door. At least this way it would become immediately apparent that there is a difference!

Curtain wall panel doors are found in the Doors folder within the content library. That seems slightly logical, in the same way that Opening families are found there. When we want to load a curtain wall door family, browse to the door library (stock content location).

Placing a curtain wall door is a bit different than a regular door in a wall. We don't use the Door tool. We have to swap out the panel that should be a door with the curtain wall door family that you loaded. To do this we need to use the TAB key to select the panel and then use the Type Selector to choose the curtain wall door family instead.

Once you do this you'll have to make sure that the curtain grids and mullions are adjusted to report the desired size. If you set the grids and mullions before the door is in place you'll find that the size is not quite the clean numbers you probably wanted. You can resolve this with mullions that use different offset values or just re-position the curtain grids until you get a cleaner door size.

I captured another video in the "Five Minutes with..." theme.

If you want to create a new curtain wall door family you ought to examine and/or reverse engineer the stock one first. You can start from scratch with the family template (Door - Curtain Wall.rft)

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Curved Curtain Wall Edges

This is an echo of my post from October 2011.

I recently responded to a post at when a member asked about creating what sounded to me like a round top window using a curtain wall. I posted a couple screen captures and briefly discussed how they were made. This first one is a curtain wall embedded in a host wall followed by using Edit Profile to alter the sketch of the curtain.

This one is a bit more involved. I started with a single rectangular curtain wall and copied it to clipboard. Then I used Edit Profile to change it's shape. I then used Paste Aligned > Same Place to put the original curtain wall back on top of the first one. Using Edit Profile again allowed me to follow the edge of the first and design the second wall. Repeat the steps for the third and we have a curving set of mullions that are defined by three curtain walls that have complimentary sketches defined using Edit Profile.

I mentioned the use of the parameter Automatically Embed, a feature of curtain wall. The curtain wall types that are present in the stock templates vary but the simplest ones like Curtain Wall1 don't have the feature selected. If you sketch one of these walls over the top of another you'll get an error message.

I posted the following image because I thought it was worthwhile mentioning that the Cut Geometry tool the warning message references allows us do things like this too.

I also created a video that discusses these concepts.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Autodesk University 2013

Today is the first formal day of Autodesk University 2013 (AU). It is Autodesk's premier customer focused training and marketing event. It has expanded in recent years beyond USA's borders. This year there are roughly 9,500 attendees (photo pilfered from @architectmag Tweet).

I realized this morning that it's my 11th AU. I missed the 2002 event after attending my first in 2001. Initially I was fortunate that past employers found value in sending me. Later my work with AUGI and my own consulting work has made it possible to attend ever since.
Typically AU starts with the Keynote but this year it began with one stream of classes at 8 AM. Technically these days AU actually gets started on Monday with specialized sessions, some of which come at an extra cost.  I spent the 8 AM session working as a lab assistant to Paul Aubin's Family Editor class.

The Keynote Presentation began 10:30 AM and kicked off with Penn Gillete excoriating the usual Disclaimer slide, "Well that's BS!" (Photo from @BrokHoward Tweet).

Then Penn AND Teller selected a "volunteer" (Autodesk staffer) from the audience.

They then engaged in a little magic, taking a pair of glasses from the volunteer and making them appear on Teller who is covered by a box. They turned over the stage to Jeff Kowalski (Autodesk CTO). It's the first time in my memory that Lynn Allen didn't serve as MC (later Scott Shepard reminded me later that she only did the keynote wrap-up piece last year).

The keynote theme this year is, "The Answer is Outside". He focused on four topics; Tools, People, Work and Insight. I suggest you read Scott Sheppard's "Inside the Labs" blog post to read his recap of the keynote delivered by Jeff and then followed by Carl Bass.

Of particular interest to me was the display of Bot & Dolly's Iris, a robot. This image is of it in action after the keynote concluded. If you haven't checked out their YouTube video you should. It's a very cool technique they'd used to animate camera and graphic motion for film making.

The new Aston Martin Vanquish was also on hand closer inspection, check out Scott's post for a picture of that!

Signing off for now, off to more classes and the exhibition hall opening this evening.