Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Freshman

Lately I've been using the stages of development that schools use, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior to discuss the various levels of knowledge required of users to be successful making content for Revit.

For example a Freshman can work productively all day long if the things they need exist in the project template or are available in the content libraries. As soon as something doesn't exist they need to graduate into another level or ask someone who is at a higher level for help. Which level that is will depend on how hard it is to make what they need.

A firm can be quite successful with a majority of Freshman if they have one Senior. They can even be successful without a Senior for quite some time if they sought help to establish a solid library and well defined template(s), assuming the stock content isn't enough or completely acceptable.

Here are some reasonable expectations for each level of development.

This person will routinely place, find, load and when needed, modify existing content to create additional types using existing parameters. They can add information to a family so schedules report the information they need. They will come calling when they need something they can’t find or if a parameter they need doesn't exist in a family.

This level requires the ability to create annotation and symbol content to support a firm’s documentation standards. This is either done based on existing content or from scratch. Additionally they should be able to make basic content that is made from scratch and may not require parametric flexibility. This can be done as 2d/3d objects at the simplest level of graphic representation or at least enough to create a placeholder until a more sophisticated element is prepared. They should also be able to modify existing content to include basic features that do not exist, such as additional information needed for scheduling. This also assumes that the geometry is already present but just needs slight modification.

This person is capable of planning for the behavior of flexible content and creating new content using templates. These families are parametric in at least a couple dimensions to provide modest flexibility and control, for example common windows, doors, furniture and casework. They also understand how to provide additional parameters to make scheduling and tagging content more effective. They understand how to take advantage of visibility controls to manage documentation and graphic quality.

This person completely understands how to model difficult geometry and effectively assemble complex content. They are able to discern the best strategy to deliver graphical quality as well as information for scheduling. They know how to get the information from staff that they will need to provide content with the least amount of rework. They can also mentor or guide the other staff as they become more accomplished and try to advance to higher levels.

Disclaimer Section
This isn't a "one size fits all" observation but in general I find it to "fit" in most of the places I've been. People and their personalities certainly factor in. The Senior isn't always the most patient person or the most capable at communicating to others. In some cases they may resist sharing their knowledge for a variety of reasons.

What is the secret to becoming a Senior? Work...make families, do the tutorials, read/ask questions at AUGI/Revit City/Autodesk NG's/blogs and get training either by hiring a consultant, attending a reseller's class and/or attend Autodesk University. One or more of these can fit your budget.

Last, this can apply to Revit overall too, a freshman can be quite productive when they know how to do the basic things they need to do. Revit is pretty simple when you tackle one feature at a time. It can be a bit daunting when you try to wrap your arms around it all at one time.

Here's to becoming a Senior!


Anonymous said...

When it comes to content creation, I wonder if a lot of users will ever graduate?

I don't think becoming a "senior" is just about experience or training - I think it requires a certain kind of mindset and skillset (independent of Revit) that only certain people have developed (or even have an interest in developing).

The Family Editor is still a mix of a graphical programming language and a dark art... and I think it takes someone who's drawn to that sort of problem solving to become really good at it.

I'll spend eight hours on a Saturday reworking a complex family, optimizing the formulas, ordering the parameters just so, etc. It's like writing little computer programs. In fact, it would be interesting to see if the most successful family content creators have some computer programming background in their past (even as just a highschool hobby).

Steve said...

In a class of Seniors someone graduates "last" in their class *-) I do agree that some (or many) are not drawn (pun intended) toward creating content.

Josh Moore said...

Steve, this is good stuff. I agree with irusun that it seems some people are better at the problem solving than others...I think that's true with a lot of BIM managers though. Anyway, I'd be interested to see you take this a step further and discuss the same "leveling" in the aspect of Revit as a whole.