Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Revit 2016 Update 5

This morning Autodesk Desktop Application (AdA) worked and let me know that an update is available for Revit 2016, Update Release 5 ... and in my case for R2.

AdA installed the update for me. I didn't find any evidence of it on the public facing Autodesk pages but it was listed among the updates I could download from my account management panel at Autodesk, after signing in. Hopefully you'll find AdA works for you too. If you've got to download it to deploy it for your firm then I'd visit the manage portal to download it there.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Autodesk Desktop Application - Again

Boy this app doesn't get much love. I've read a couple of posts elsewhere that are far less charitable than I've been. As I mentioned in the podcast I did with Bill (Grumpy Steve) I think it had a better name before when it was called Autodesk Application Manager. At least then the name suggested what it was meant to accomplish. Now its name is ambiguous at best and meaningless at worst.

A couple comments in response to my last whiny post pointed out that if I'd read the readme file for each update I would have realized that it would be necessary to uninstall the existing versions first.

My reaction? Okay my bad ... but then I thought that's not much of a application manager is it? Tell me there is an update but you need me to go elsewhere to read a document and uninstall the software so I can come back and run the update. I'm imagining that the user experience of applying an update to an app ought to be just a little bit like doing that for an app from the iTunes store?

Then again with its new name...it's not a manager anymore.

This morning a little progress though because I see AdA has started up AND there is another update indicated by the icon in my system tray.

I've already been told this application has an Update quite a few times now. Each time I've attempted to apply it, no success. It just shows up as available again the next time around.

This time I thought I'd listen to the advice offered in the comments I mentioned earlier. I clicked on the Readme link (blue text in the update listing). Instead of taking me to the readme document or the page that has it I find myself looking at the primary BIM 360 product page.

That's not what I expected (implied by the term Readme), nor is it helpful. Okay, I can deal with this. I'm reasonably resourceful (I think). I'll just go chasing after the update via the Knowlege Base. I run a search against each of the four BIM 360 applications listed ... nothing found. Okay?! Since it is for Revit 2015 maybe it's an update that is hiding under Revit 2015? Run a new search against that criteria instead ... yeah, you guessed it ... nothing found.

Yes, I submitted feedback through the built-in comment dialog that AdA has. That it has one built-in should be a clue I suppose.

I think, if AdA is going to tell me there is an update and make it worthwhile, it should do everything necessary to help me actually apply the update. For example, I was told (via comments) that it was necessary to un-install the existing versions of the other apps I was trying to apply an update for. I've since done that and applied the updates, great! The update item in AdA should have been formatted like this for example.

Better still the update should be smart enough to un-install the precedent software first, if it is required. It's not like there isn't a precedent of software updates doing that.

Since my most recent attempt to use the readme link ended with no joy, most likely just the victim of being assigned the wrong URL, it seems reasonable to provide the most important warning related to succeeding with an update, that it will be necessary to take separate action to remove the existing version first. Seems easy enough?

For now I'll just ignore the update since I won't be needing Revit 2015 this week. I'll see if it factors into my situation later, if it ever does.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Tags Dimensions and Linked Files

I've mentioned this subject in the past. I'm writing to bring it up again and to focus on how Revit deals with tags and dimensions differently when we apply them to elements that are in linked files.

First as a reminder, when a linked file changes and a user reloads that link in their Local File other users are not necessarily seeing the same version of the Linked File. That's because reloading a link is a local change, a personal action, that doesn't get passed along to the Central File when we use Synchronize with Central (SwC).

Let's imagine User A has reloaded a linked model and they've placed tags on doors and rooms that they observe are now present in the link. User A uses SwC to share this new tagging effort. Now User B, who already has a Local File open, decides to use Reload Latest or SwC to share something they've done or see what work other users have contributed.

It's important to note that User B did NOT use Reload in Manage Links or via right-click on the linked file in the Project Browser FIRST. As a result User B gets the warning in the next image. Don't be confused by the mention of Coordination Monitor which can be confusing. It can make us think we're dealing with something that has been involved with the Copy/Monitor tools.

The Tags are Orphaned, they've lost their relationship with the linked file's elements they are supposed to identify. You can see one tag is highlighted in orange in the image above. In the next image we can see what the floor plan really looks like in the linked file (and what User A sees). It's not quite the same as what User B thinks it looks like is it?

Let's now imagine that User A continues to work by adding the dimensions you see in the image above too. After they finish doing that they use SwC.

User B now decides to use SwC or Reload Latest, AGAIN without using Reload on the linked file. Their reward is a larger collection of warnings (see next image). The first three warnings are dedicated to the dimensions User A added to their Local File. There are no equivalent elements in the version of the linked file that User B sees so Revit's only recourse is to delete them ... or ... choose Cancel ... which is actually a better choice. If User B cancels and then Reloads the linked file first that will eliminate the warnings entirely.

The remaining warnings are focused on the newly orphaned door and room tags that can't find their parent elements. If we select one of the orphaned tags we can either use Pick New Host or Reconcile Hosting. The former will need us to pick a door to associate the tag with. The latter will open the Reconcile Hosting browser which shows us everything that has been orphaned so far. We can select individual items and right-click to use Pick Host or Delete the tag if that's a better choice.

Keep in mind, once this orphaned status occurs it sticks. Merely reloading a linked file afterward isn't going to fix it. We'll be forced to deal with Reconciling Hosting. In some situations it might be faster to delete the tags and use Tag All to place them all over again.
This might be an opportunity for an enterprising developer to write a routine that looks at orphaned families and picks the closest possible host? Better still...Autodesk?
My recommendation, if you MUST use tags and dimensions on linked files?

Develop the habit of reloading the necessary linked files BEFORE using SwC or Reload Latest.

If you get the warning messages in the images above, use CANCEL. Make a note of the elements the warning(s) is(are) focused on. Most likely the warnings are being issued because you need to use Reload on the linked files first.

I'd also consider a moratorium on applying tags or dimensions to linked elements while the link is being changed aggressively. For example, if we know that the link is going to undergo some massive redesign we should just agree to stay away from tags and dimensions until it settles down again.

It's also a good idea to let other people know that you have changed an integral linked file so they can all use Reload (link) to catch up together.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Create New Local is Disabled

I've written about this in the past, like THIS ONE. Today I noticed another circumstance where the option is disabled even though it shouldn't be. When we browse to open a project we can click on a file listed among the contents of a folder. If we do that then Create New Local is enabled and checked by default. At least that's true if other circumstances are not preventing it, like those described in my other post.

What I saw today is that if I choose to type some of the file name in the file name field Windows will supply me with a list of file names that begin with those letters, cool Windows behavior. If I select the correct file using that list then Create New Local sleeps through the effort and fails to become enabled.

Want to see it happen?

Monday, May 16, 2016

My Ongoing Saga of Autodesk Desktop Application

This poor half blind, lame in one-leg, incontinent piece of software continues to amuse and aggravate me. Twice in the last two weeks it has let me know I'm missing some updates.

Amusingly and aggravatingly ... they've all been installed already.

So I indulge it and try to install them again thinking that will help it see better. Nope ... sure enough ...the application that needs the update figures out it is installed already.

Typical response for all four items...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Wish - Revit Safe Mode

I'm echoing something I heard David Baldacchino suggest, good idea Dave. Revit will crash from time to time. Sometime it isn't because of something I've done, it tracks back to an add-in I've got installed. It can be a bit of a hassle to disable add-ins to rule them out.

It would be handy if there were a way to start-up Revit in safe mode - add-in free so to speak so it can run on its own and help us diagnose an issue.

Speaking of Wishes - Autodesk started a new community forum called Revit Ideas to post this kind of thing. It allows us to Vote Up an idea so those that many of us really like can rise to the top. Potentially this can help them focus on things we really want and are (hopefully) expressed well enough to pursue.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Keyboard Shortcuts

These are the fastest way to start a command or tool in Revit. No amount of user interface customization we can do or Autodesk can give us will beat them. My problem with them is my ability to remember them. Yesterday in a discussion with some other people I did a quick count and came up with 24 that I could remember without any real effort. Today I managed 31 so I'm seven smarter today! Oh, up to 33 if you count the ones I remember have alternates.

How many do you remember??

The Keyboard Shortcuts I remember today (the winners) are...(bold are ones I use constantly, which helps)

ZZ(ZR) (Zoom Region)
ZA (Zoom All to Fit - all open views)
ZF (Zoom to Fit - active view)
ZS (Zoom Sheet Size)
ZO (Zoom out 2x)
WT (Window Tile)
XX (Close Hidden Windows - custom)

SM (midpoint)
SE (endpoint)
SI (intersection)
SO (snaps off)

VG (VV) (Visibility/Graphics)
VR (2017 View Range)
HH (Temp/Hide Hide Element)
HI (Temp/Hide Isolate Element)
HR (Temp/Hide Reset)
IC (Temp/Hide Isolate Category)

CO (Copy)
TR (Trim - Corner)
TS (Trim - Single Element - custom)
SL (Split Element, with Delete Inner Segment option checked a lot)

Creating Stuff
WA (Wall)
DR (Door)
CM (Place Component)

DI (Dimension Aligned)
TG (Tag by Category)

MD (Modify)
RL (Reload Latest - worksets)
CTRL+C (copy to clipboard)
CTRL+V (paste)
CTRL+X (cut to clipboard)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Revit Oped Podcast - Test One Two

Bill Debevc just celebrated his first anniversary of BIM Thoughts. We talked about doing a separate podcast together tied to what I do with this blog in some way. He made sure we actually started it by sending me a meeting invitation. He's doing the heavy lifting of preparing it for me. I get to show up, chat with him for a bit and wander off again.

Last night it was finally listed at iTunes, you can search for it there now using Apple's Podcast app or your other favorite Podcast software.

We've set up a blog site to store episode notes and allow for comments. It's still under development so don't be surprised if it changes over the next month or so. Our first episode is called Hello World!. It is possible to just listen to each episode on the blog site too.

Bill came up with our nice podcast logo.

I asked my daughter to create one and liked her initial design sketch a lot but she's got so much school work I took it off her plate. My son Jake did the intro/outro music for us, thanks!

Bill, thanks for making me do it! We hope people listen and enjoy it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Conferences and Memory Lane - Revit View Reference

Reading tweets about RTC in Australia getting ready to open its doors I also read a thread about View Reference families. I wrote about a quirky move grip location issue four years ago to describe how they were misbehaving for me. Which reminded me about how I like to use them for a slide deck inside Revit.

I thought I'd echo that post here again in the spirit of the 2016 RTC season opening. To those attending RTCAUS, have a great conference in Hunter Valley. I hope to see you (some/many) at RTC this July in Scottsdale, AZ. Here's the post:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Years ago I wrote about using Revit to help me coach my son's soccer team. Since I seem to have an unhealthy focus on using Revit for things that might not make any sense it should be no surprise that I'd find a way to avoid using Power Point. When Revit 2013 came out it expanded on what we could do with the View Reference tool (wrote about that before too).

Well since then, at the last few conferences I've been a presenter for, I've been using the view reference as a way to move forward or back through a "slide deck", a Revity slide projector. I did use Power Point to create the slides since that's what the templates were using already. I used a screen capture of each slide as an image inserted into drafting views.

Here's what my intro slide looks like for my session later today (four years ago) at Autodesk University 2012, it's called "Sharing Work with Worksharing Using Autodesk Revit".

See the little arrows on either side of the image? Those are my back and forward buttons, they are just referencing the previous and next drafting views (slides). Instead of showing the sheet reference information that it would normally show I just added the back and forward facing arrow graphics.

It's just the sort of Power Point that this Revit guy likes!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Revit Viewer and Worksharing

Reading a thread at Autodesk's Revit Community forum David reminded me of the quirky issues related to the Viewer when worksharing is being used. If someone launches Revit Viewer and then tries to open a project that has enabled worksets they'll get this warning.

When the file is opened and they try to print, export or save they'll get this warning even though they haven't DONE anything...but Revit has made changes to the file in order to create a new local file.

Okay, let's follow the instructions in the first warning message. We'll open the project using Detach from Central. Sorry, "Do not pass Go, do not collect $200". That process also changes the file. Still no export, save or print for you!

The ONLY way we can use Revit Viewer to open a project with Worksets enabled is to open the Central File itself, by un-checking the option to Create New Local. This means that user is now working on the real central file with Revit Viewer.

If you do this you will likely encounter several of the messages shown in the first image. The projects I've done this with all have linked files and it seems to pop up for each link (RVT) used and once more if there are any linked/imported DWG files.

To the good, they won't be able to synchronize their work nor will it prompt them to Save when they close the file. They won't be able to edit much of anything though because they can't borrow elements. The notion of using Revit Viewer to poke around the model, do some experimental stuff within the model is off limits to Viewer mode. We are able to print or publish to DWF, because those formats don't create an editable version of the data/model.

It seems to me that the notion of Revit Viewer for workset projects is fundamentally flawed, if we're thinking of it as a way for Project Managers to poke around, do anything other than JUST LOOK at views. If we'd like them to be able to cut a section view or hide things, do anything that requires temporarily borrowing something, that's all off limits to the Viewer.

For that we'll have to show them how to use Detach from Central AND to be careful not to save that file overwriting the original project.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Open Sheet - Equal Rights for Panel Schedules

This new right-click choice exists, within the Project Browser, for views that are on sheets. Views that are real that is. Schedules are special views, they can be placed on more than one sheet (like Legends). Electrical Panel Schedules share this distinction but unlike other schedules they are not nearly as likely to require being placed on more than one sheet. Their schedule-ness makes this right click option invalid for them too.

I realize it probably isn't easy or perhaps even possible to segregate this schedule-ness from Panel Schedules but I would have found it very handy to be able to use the Open Sheet concept for them several times today. In this instance it would have been faster than navigating through a very long list of sheets. I suppose it is also possible that some firms do need to be able to put Panel Schedules on more than one sheet, in which case...bummer for me and my wish...

Friday, May 06, 2016

Create a Local File - How Often

Every time...

I no longer reuse Local Files. My attitude and habits have changed a little over the years. I wrote this POST in 2008 and then THIS on in 2011. I've touched on the subject many times within the context of other workset related posts.

I treat my Local File as ephemeral...temporary... I make use of the Open File option Create New Local each and every time I start working on a project again; yes even if I just stopped working earlier to have lunch or join a conference call.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Getting Started with Collaboration for Revit (C4R)

Below are a couple of links that describe the process for getting your project started using Collaboration for Revit (C4R).

It all begins with creating a project using your A360 account/subscription. Naturally you've got to create an account first so this assumes you've done that. The linked page also explains how to upload your current project to the A360 project if necessary.

If you're responsible for putting your active file on the A360 Project, READ ME, it has a video too.

There is a ton of information lurking at Autodesk, just use your Google-fu.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Revit Viewer

Yes it still exists.

I've been doing some work with Autodesk as a Revit Mentor helping users navigate their 30 day trial. One of the recurring themes is, "I only need Revit to view other peoples models. How do I do that?" In the old days a version of Revit that lacked a license turned into viewer mode. At times that proved a bit dangerous because a user could lose a license (network issues or internet access) while working on a model and find themselves in Viewer Mode and unable to save work they ordinarily could, should be able to.

To counter that situation we now have a separate application that is Revit Viewer. It's installed alongside Revit, wherever you decided to store it on your computer. In my case it's listed like this when I search in Windows 10. FWIW, I don't put any icons on my PC's desktop so that's how I start everything, click on the Window...type a few letters, launch an app. It's the illusion of an uncluttered mind! My actual desk...well that's a different matter...

When you run it you'll be greeted by this message before it will finish opening and let you open a project.

It is worth stressing that the limitations the dialog above describes kick in as soon as ANY change is made. I frequently hear, "I can't print in Viewer mode". That happens when you change the model, to which they reply, "I want to print using a different titleblock, I switched to a different one".

Yeah, that's a change...

It doesn't matter how minor or subtle a change is, the key word is change. If you move a tag, add a dimension, put a view on sheet, change a view's scale, a view's detail level...yeah those are all changes. Trying to print (or save/export) afterward will cause Revit to pop up the dialog above again. If you get the dialog, use Undo until the action you want will work. Most likely you'll have to undo everything you've done just after opening the file.

I should clarify, using Viewer won't allow exporting to formats that can be modified (that is part of the license warning message). That means Viewer can't be used to export to DWG, DXF, IFC etc. We can use Viewer to Print or Publish to DWF.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Autodesk Installation and Updates Exercise Survey

Autodesk staff are reviewing the terms that are used for software installation and applying updates. They are looking for our help by performing a set of exercises that should take less than 15 minutes to complete. Your responses will help them organize and more clearly describe things that are delivered as part of the installation or update process.

Would you like to help? START HERE

Revit 2017 - Text and Character Map Use

I mentioned the other day that a user had shared with me some difficulty using symbols from Character Map (charmap). Autodesk has written a Knowledge Base article about. Hopefully the first service pack (Update Release...whatever they call it this time around) will fix it.

Read the article at Autodesk.

If you'd like to watch an Autodesk Screencast video and the thread at the Autodesk Community Revit forums CLICK ME.

Fwiw, in my testing I'm not having any difficulty with inserting symbols via the ALT codes or copy/paste. There must be a bit more subtlety to the issue.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Autodesk Insight 360 Survey

I have no idea how many readers of this blog are active users of this product. Just in case...

The Autodesk Insight 360 team has put together an industry marketing survey. The survey itself is HERE and THEIR BLOG POST provides more information.

What's in it for you? Take the survey, enter your email address and you’ll be entered to win one of ten (10) $50 Amazon gift cards. The survey closes on the 31st of May.

If this product is part of how you do your work take the survey now so you don't forget. If it isn't then consider taking the survey anyway; offer up your insight regarding why you don't use it now (see what I did there?).

Revit 2017 - Filters and Reference Planes

Filters have been expanded to see Reference Planes.

You're probably aware that Reference Planes don't have many parameters, just these three instance parameters: Scope Box, Name and Subcategory. They don't have any Type Parameters because they aren't defined by types like grids or levels for example. If we examine the Filters dialog and see how those three parameters play out as criteria we'll find they don't.

The More Parameters... or Browse button to its right are tempting but we still can't create parameters associated with Reference Planes.

This makes it rather difficult to actually use a Filter for Reference Planes, criteria based filters anyway. We can select them (Reference Planes) first and create a Filter based on selection but that's not really much different than using Visibility/Graphics to turn them off or override their appearance.

While it makes for an enticing item in the list of what's new it will only serve to frustrate you if you pursue it. It's a shame that we aren't offered at least the Name parameter to use in a filter. It looks like the critical path for this feature wandered into the weeds and got stuck in some quicksand.

I'm sure we'll take good advantage of being able to differentiate them from one another and control their visibility using Visibilty/Graphics and View Templates despite this situation.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Revit 2017 - Calculated Values in Tags

This addition permits us to do the same thing to tags that we've been using in schedules. For example, in a tag I'd like to show the difference between the client required area and the actual area of a room. That wasn't possible without some export/import or Dynamo shenanigans. Now it is possible, right in a tag.

This starts in the Edit Label dialog via a new button, then it is the same as the dialog we've seen in Schedules.

Since these can be used in schedules and tags, and it has to be done separately for each use, it probably makes sense to document all of the formulas we use so they are easily harvested for another project. Build them into a template and there is less need to do that at all. Regardless it wouldn't hurt to have a Drafting View set aside with the text versions of all the formulas we use stored there. That way a simple Copy/Paste operation can harvest a formula to use in a tag or a schedule or both.