Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Sketchy Grids"

One of the things that jumped out at me in the book that Eddie Krygiel, Greg Demchak & Tatjana Dzambazova wrote, Introducing Revit Architecture 2008 was an image where they used lines to exaggerate where the perimeter of the building was. It was a nice effect both in plan and 3D. I've attached a couple weak attempts to recreate it from memory. I'm sitting in a hotel without the book so...forgive me if I get it wrong. Check out the book if you haven't and don't forget they've finished the companion book Mastering Revit Architecture 2008.

Here's a plan view:

Here's the 3D view:

Not as sketchy as SketchUp but then my examples don't look as good as the book's examples. Probably because the design of their building is much better than my little quick "house". Check theirs out!

Worksharing Monitor Released

I held off posting about this tool released recently for subscription customers because the release was marred by some technical issues that prevented some customers (me too) from downloading them. All that is fixed now so here it is, my deflection to another blog...

David Light summarized the features nicely in his post about this new tool. I'd say it is a must have for anyone using worksets. Keep in mind if you are using a 64bit OS, it may install but it may not report any worksharing data for projects that are open on a 64bit OS. Some users have reported it to be working while others are not. David has amended his blog to include relevant information help you download the tools

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Do U Revit? and Revit Resource

I'm a bit late to the table mentioning these two relatively new Revit additions to the Revit"sphere".

First David Baldacchino has started a blog called Do U Revit?...I do. He is currently writing about the Revit projects he's taking through construction. I'm sure that you will find it useful to keep tabs on his blog. Welcome to blogging David!

Second is Joe Soliz's blog, called Revit Resource: Blogs by Topic. His approach is a fresh one, he is compiling a list of blog articles arranged by topic, by various bloggers. So consider his site a one stop shop for a topical listing of articles, short of a google search.

Welcome additions!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

AU 2007 Courses - "Survey Says"

I had every intention of writing thoughts down about this past Autodesk University. Going right back on the road interfered, then the holidays did and then being on the road since the new year again has...excuses excuses. Actually the real delay for this particular post is that we didn't get survey results until a week or so ago. It takes time to compile the information with over 300 courses to process.

Overall the three sessions I led scored well, scores posted below. The first lab didn't feel as good as the second and third but that isn't too surprising, first class jitters etc. The speaker rating matches that feeling as well.

The format I chose this year, putting the "power point" in the Revit data files received a couple nice comments in the survey comments and a few verbal "attaboys" personally. That felt good.

Some of the other comments don't wear as well. I've shared them below. Such comments either inspire you to be better next year or run and hide.

I think it would be excellent to have more Family Editor classes and more speakers. Let me encourage you to submit some solid Revit Family Editor ideas to the AU team! I'm looking forward to sitting in your classes!!

Here are the survey comments and the overall speaker score for each, in the chronological order of the sessions. This is just part of the scoring data that each speaker is judged by and receives results for. I've included all the comments, not hiding the bad to favor the good. The comments are as hand written by the attendee and then entered by AU staff or contractor. Please forgive any grammar or spelling miscues.

Making Content for Autodesk® Revit® -- Intermediate [Repeat]

Rating: 8.97 (AU 2007 average was 8.85)
Nr. of surveys: 73
Rank: 296 out of 618

-2nd speaker moved way to fast
-excellent more of these types of classes thank you
-excellent use of revit used as a power point is very hard to follow along even after AU
-great course
-he needs to slow down his speech and speak louder and clearer
-the course wasn’t exactly what I thought it was I personally needed to attend an advanced session although learnt a couple of tips
-It was clear and more informative would like to hear more tips
-lab needs to be longer
-lot of content in a short time would be better as one of the really long Friday sessions
-my only issue is the speaker moved a little too fast it was hard to keep up
-More could have been accomplished if there were instructions w/ more hands - on activity
-not enough time to go torough as slowly as needed
-should be a 3 hour class 2 part class
-too much material for time
-too much too little time could this be a 3 hour lab
-too slow would have liked to cover more arrays portion was very good want to download handouts and files
-we didn’t get to many topics could have gone faster through basic
-Wish the lab had more time.
-WOW kind of a lot to take in hard to follow along with computer at same time

Making Content for Autodesk® Revit® -- For Beginners

Rating: 9.45 (AU 2007 average was 8.85)
Nr. of surveys: 38
Rank: 96 out of 618

-Green" handout. "appsogcal?" worked great
-1. Speaker was not clear in his speaking - mumbled. 2. spoke "over the top" of others. 3. Egotistical 4.Rude to his "helper
-Excellent format vs PPT SUDFs!!. I will be adopting the SKMF format to train my in house staff for self paced THG!!
-Great-Great class
-Had to sneak into get content
-Shame on Autodesk for not making more Revit classes available to needy users. Note I enrolled in September and all-Classes for basic Revit training were already full not available to me!!!
-Labs should be bigger and one person per computer
-Lost some time in the introductions. Took too long to get into the actual lab
-No need for this to be a lab. Nothing was created by the users
-Speaker did not seem enthusiastic about content. This was supposed to be for beginners. He also talked about concepts which were not explained or not for beginners…should have the class draw more, specifically example objects which are used daily
-This was excellent.
-Great presentation. Pace could be a little faster but excellent present
-Too little time
- it needs to separate this class in two different labs. We could not finish all the scheduled
-Very basic. Need for more computers w/labs. Many people were turned away
-Very well documented class. Great Revit family files that gave great understanding of all family parameters-Went quickly for us beginners
-Would love a class on advanced families or arrayed families

Making Content for Autodesk® Revit® -- Intermediate

Rating: 9.51 (AU 2007 average was 8.85)
Nr. of surveys: 65
Rank: 73 out of 618

-A little advanced for me but good class.-
-An advanced class for REVIT families would be great.
-Basic refresh
-Could not follow Steve Campbell too much content.
-Don't cover subjects that are too complicated to deal with during the time allowed.
-Excellent speaker and class
-Great class
-Great Class!
-Great organization and teaching.
-Great session
-Great, more classes at this level.
-Labs need to be longer
-More labs should be offered.
-Need more labs.
-Once again great data set files
-Skip arrays and put in separate labs
-Suggest having area in room for those with own laptop license
-There seemed to be a big gap between intor and inter moderate sessions.
-Too little time to given material
-Very good sound.
-Very good.

I must admit that I was shocked by a few of the comments. I would never purposely be rude to Steven or David, I can only assume that the person hearing me speak had no idea how long we've known each other or the good natured kidding we make each other endure. As for egotistical...I guess we all have egos, I try to subdue mine. I've managed to convince myself that those comments were made by a friend trying to shake me up, yep...that must be it. 8-)

Fwiw, the comments are completely anonymous to me. Also the Un-Conference session I hosted was reported to be favorably reviewed but I haven't received any survey results. I'm not sure there was a survey for it honestly.

Last, if you have a valid Subscription for a Revit product you are permitted to view and download course data and handouts from the subscription website at Autodesk, even if you did not attend Autodesk University 2007. If you are interested in obtaining these for my classes, or any other for that matter, visit their subscription site and follow the AU2007 link after logging in. You must be either the contract administrator, software coordinator or invited to participate in your company's subscription services by the other two in order to log in.

Acquire Coordinates - Confirm?

This week I was discussing the role of Shared Coordinates with a group and we went through the motions involved to use a civil file as the defining coordinate system for our project. The tool Acquire Coordinates, found via Tools menu > Shared Coordinates is used to do this. It is a simple process, Select the tool, select an import symbol...

What has bothered me in the past and again this week, enough so that I finally wrote it that when you do as Revit asks, select an Import Symbol, Revit doesn't visually DO anything to confirm or acknowledge or convince us that it has actually done anything. We have to use another tool found at the bottom of the same list, Tools menu > Shared Coordinates > Report Shared Coordinates to satisfy us that Revit has indeed acquired the coordinates.

On the other hand if you don't select a valid symbol or it has already been acquired at another time you do get a warning message.

This post is a lot of text to say, "I think Acquire Coordinates should confirm a successful transaction"? Seem reasonable? I thought so!

Identical Grid Numbers

When you must provide grid segments that share the same number you might consider the suggestions I describe in this blog post at HOK's Cad Solutions blog.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Aaaah,The old invisible line trick, eh "99"?"

View Range in Revit proves quite confusing to people at times. An example of such confusion occurs when you model something that exists above a cut plane, like a closet shelf and pole. There is no geometry that intersects the cut plane of the view. As such Revit doesn't "see" the shelf or pole even though the Top of the Primary Range is higher than them. So you think to yourself that you'll just add symbolic linework to indicate the solids above. You try that and still nothing.

Maxwell Smart mutters, "tell them about the Invisible Line now". The trick Max is referring to is the addition of a Invisible Model Line. For the shelf and pole example you need only add this line to an elevation view, lock it to the geometry or reference plane of the uppermost solid and the reference level.

Now this invisible line will intersect the cut plane of a floor plan view and Revit will "see" your family. It still won't show you the solids, because they are above, but the symbolic dashed linework you added to the family will, now!

Now where did I put that shoe phone? "99"?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mastering Revit Architecture 2008

I'm so late mentioning this!! Not only do I let my ex-publisher down by not finishing the book but I'm late mentioning that the authors who DID write and actually finish the book have FINISHED the book. It became available during this past November and I saw the book in person finally at Autodesk University 2007.

So as the title of this post implies the title is Mastering Revit Architecture 2008.

Authors Eddie Krygiel, Tatjana Dzambazova and Greg Demchak finished their first book (Introducing Revit Architecture 2008) just before I dropped out of the contract with Sybex. This meant they could jump right in and finish the book nearly on schedule. They were so pleased that I left them lots of time, not likely. In fact when I examined the book at AU I was very impressed by how much they were able to accomplish in such a short time, just AMAZING to me.

It was meant to be I think, they were originally going to write both books but Sybex approached me to try to get the second book sooner. The final result means some continuity between both books, common voice and position as well as style and knowledge.

Thanks to the "three muskateers" as I called them in my earlier post. Job well done!!!

P.S. A little trivia...according to my source the description "Mastering" was first used in conjunction with Autodesk software by Sybex, "Mastering AutoCAD" etc.

Not to mention the competition too loudly but you may be familiar with the other Revit "Mastering" book produced by Thompson/Delmar Learning and authored by Paul Aubin with Robert Mencarini? His book is titled "Mastering Autodesk Revit Building" and he is working on "Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture

My User Name in Revit?

How does Revit know I am different from anyone else? Your User Name in Revit defines who Revit "thinks" you are. This is found via the Application Menu > Options button > General Tab.

[Edit: For versions before the 2010 release - This is found under Settings menu > Options.]

Why does it matter? In a stand-alone project it doesn't. In Workset projects it matters a lot! Two users with the same user name are not regarded as two people with the same user name. They are regarded as the same person working in two files. We don't want Revit to think this because the first of two "Mike's" to Save to Central wins!!!

A good strategy is to just use the same user name you log into your computer with. IT needs your user name to be unique and so does Revit, "That was Easy". This is the default behavior when Revit is installed. The first person to run Revit after it is installed will have their user name stored. For this reason you need to check it if another person uses your computer from time to time or if an IT person installs your software by working directly on your computer and then tests to see if Revit is working properly by running it while logged on as themselves.

The user name is stored in the Revit.ini file (located in Revit's installation folder) and looks like this Username=MyName. If you delete the name Revit will use the logon user name of the next person to run Revit. If you use Settings menu > Options > Username to set the user name it gets stored in Revit.ini and the cycle begins again.

Just to say it again if it wasn't obvious enough the first time, if you do NOT use the Settings menu > Options > Username to change the user name, and the Revit.ini file setting for username is blank, Revit will always apply the current logon user name to the session of Revit. The Revit.ini file value for username will stay empty/blank. It is only when you enter a value into the dialog within Revit that a value is stored in the .ini file. Unfortunately it is hard to prevent anyone from doing it and it is persistent thereafter. You have to remove the .ini file's value again to get it to work again.

It is important to check your user name routinely. If you use the Local File practices I preach you'll get a confirmation of your user name when Revit displays a warning message alerting you to the fact that the central file has been copied/moved.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Local Files - How, How Often and Where?

This post (a bit longer than usual) makes a rash assumption that you've been using Worksets for a bit already and may have experienced occasional errors or crashes. You may just be curious about comments others have made about making new local files every now and then.

Read THIS if you wonder why there is a Local File at all? Here is a quick reference guide to Workset terms. If you are using Revit 2010 versions then you might want to read this newer post first.

I suggest you make a new Local File every day you work.

There are many operations in Revit that require sending a lot of data to your Local File. In fact every SWC (Synchronize with Central) usually pulls more data into your Local File than you are sending to the central file. You can avoid some of this data transfer by making a new Local File since a copy has the latest saved data in the Central File. When team members are participating in the project sporadically it is easy to have many hours of work occur between when you made your last Local File and starting work now. Making a new Local File ensures that you are working with the latest saved data.

Teams seldom work identical hours. Somebody leaves early, comes in early, works late etc. You may leave an hour or two before others. Let's say three people worked for two hours after you left. If my math skills don't fail me that's 3 x 2 = 6 hours of work you missed. If you come in the next morning before anyone else, open your Local File from yesterday it is at least 6 hours out of synch, possibly more if others SWC after you left but had not done so for some time before you left. If you don't immediately use Reload Latest (it is too easy to forget isn't it?) you will begin work without seeing at least six hours of work. For some six hours is a lot of work while others, not so much. If you made a new Local File this morning instead you'd already have those six hours of work and no waiting for Reload Latest.

You might even consider making a new Local File midday. Let's imagine Joe made more, possibly major, changes to the project titleblock and there are a couple hundred sheets in the project. He does this a little before lunch and does his SWC just after the team heads out for lunch. When you each return from lunch and open your Local Files followed with Reload Latest, you each have to wait while Revit pulls the titleblock changes to your file and updates each reference to it. This may not be a major amount of time but it is certainly more than if you made a new Local File and just opened that instead.

That's how often according to me...what about making

Prior to the release of Revit 2010 I recommended that Local Files should be created using Windows Explorer by copying the Central File from the server folder to a folder on the local PC. Don’t use File > Open followed by File > Save As because it is TOO EASY to forget to actually do the Save As part. Even though this is the recommended procedure from Autodesk this establishes a normal or habitual opening, by EVERYONE, of the central file, which should really be avoided. Don't establish bad habits! With the release of Revit 2010 they've provided a bit easier process for most firms to use.

Don't routinely open a Central File!

Not that you will necessarily harm the project file by opening it but teams should form a good strict habit of not opening the central file. There are acceptable reasons to counter this rule but they are not routine things that all team members will need to do. Their normal interaction with the Central File should always be limited to working through a Local File.

Copying a Central File is also FASTER! Though this copy/paste process is a bit obtuse it is actually faster than File > Open and then using File > Save As since you are technically opening the file twice with that approach. It takes much less time to copy/paste a file than one File > Open operation does, by far! See the second to last paragraph in this post to consider how to make it REALLY FASTER.

Where do Local Files go?

Assuming you follow the strategy of naming a central file like this: (note with Revit 2010 the following is also a less stringent recommendation)

Central File - On Server: ProjectName-Central.rvt

Note: Adding the -central makes the file different than a regular stand-alone project file. It is just a little more obvious that it is special.

I recommend using C:\Revit\Projects or similar, not the project folder on the server or any server for that matter. They should be located on the root of the C:\ drive (or secondary drive "D:\" on a PC if desired) because any team member can log into another team members PC, as themselves, to find that user's Local File should they fail to return all elements when they finish for the day. You want to avoid relying on IT to get what you need, or rather avoid bothering them, right?

Therefore "My Documents (now User Documents in Vista or W7)" or "Desktop" folders are not a suitable home for a Local File because only users with sufficient network permission can access them. It is also a good strategy to have a common location so keyboard shortcut files and any other customization a firm does can be stored there, in a consistent reliable location.

What about Naming?

I prefer to alter the Central File once it is copied to remove the "-central" from the name and substituting the user name and month and day (mm/dd) for the date created. This makes the file different from the Central File and special so others can distinguish between a stand-alone project and Workset project more easily. It also makes it different from the actual Central File. Revit doesn't care about that honestly but as a support person it does make it much easier, at a glance, to see if a team member is working in the Central File or not, that and the lack of a Save "Local" icon on the tool bar.

For example:
Central File - On Server: ProjectName-Central.rvt
Local File - On Local PC: ProjectName-Username####.rvt

Note: Do not use an extra period in your Local File name because Revit may interpret this to be a Backup File. Revit uses a period to designate backup files. Specifically do not name files with the combination of .####.rvt because this is the format Revit uses for backup files. A space is a good separator but a dash (-) or underscore (_) will work.

Local Files can go on the user's PC because they do not need to factor into the data recovery strategies of your IT staff. They can be regarded as temporary or working files that need no data redundancy or backup even though Revit does create a backup folder for Local Files. So don't worry about discarding Local Files. You can get rid of previous Local Files as often as you see fit. Keep them from the previous day or days if it makes you feel more comfortable. But discard them eventually.

As I wrote earlier I said there are acceptable reasons to open the central file. This is usually for maintenance of the project like using the Compact Central File feature to clean up the database and reduce file size. Opening the Central File directly should be reserved for the most knowledgeable team member or your office BIM/Revit/Data manager.

There are several activities that justify the use of Detach from Central as opposed to working in either a Local or the project Central file directly. This is a useful option that is available when opening a Workset project file, either a Local or a Central File.

As for the copy/paste process itself I always encourage firms that have someone who can write scripts or have programming skills to automate the process for users. Ideally the result is as simple for your users as a double click on an icon on the desktop to get started each morning. There is a useful thread at AUGI where members have discussed as well as posted some of the methods they've used. As I repeat endlessly here, you need to join AUGI to download attached files there. Again this isn't as big a priority now the Revit 2010 provides a pretty simple process that will suffice for many firms.

I've written quite a few posts about Workset features over the last few years, enough that I had forgotten about some and was surprised when I searched my own blog to provide some related links! If you search for Workset related words you'll find quite a number of things to read.

Happy SWC's!

Network Deployment Fails

There are instances where attempts to create a network deployment will fail. It has been reported at AUGI and via support requests. Apparently the likely solution is related to needed features missing in the operating system of the computer used to perform the network deployment.

THIS PAGE at Microsoft offers the solution or least the likely solution to the problem in most cases.

Memory Management - Minimize Revit

There appears to be growing evidence that a simple task can contribute to improving memory issues with Revit. This POST by Scott Brisk at his blog Revit MEP outlines the evidence that he and Tony Isenhoff with (Eppstein Uhen Architects) have been studying.

Rodney Fiallo, a fellow Revit consultant observed this a month or so ago and mentioned it to me and we've been watching to see if it actually helps resolve a few memory related issues we seen when saving.

The simple task is just minimizing Revit and then restoring it.

Amended: Upon further examination I can't claim that it will resolve "out of memory" errors when attempting to STC (Save to Central). In an instance today I received an "out of memory" error when trying to save locally. It did permit me to do that. That is good, but when I tried to STC I received the error again. Hopeful that minimizing Revit would resolve that joy! It did not! I was forced to close without relinquishing and re-open Revit to then STC. That did work.

I conclude that while the reported memory in task manager does fluctuate significantly when Revit is maximized and minimized it may not, in fact is likely not, to work in all cases. If you watch task manager you'll also notice that other applications behave similarly as well as subtle changes when a program is not maximized, just reduced in size on screen. I observed Internet Explorer 7 increasing in memory consumption as I've opened more tabs. In fact my poor old laptop has "hung" when I've worked in IE7 and used many tabs for a couple hours more often that I'd like.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Dept. of Subtle: Show Sheets/Views Printing/Exporting

I contributed another article to the HOK Cad Blog, here's a link:

Exporting/Plotting Multiple Views

Here's the text:

We resolved an issue in Houston today that was causing some confusion. You are probably familiar with these dialog boxes.

The Show options that appear for Sheets and Views are filters to control the display of views in the list above. They do not affect whether a view is selected or not. If you have Views selected and turn off Views display, they remain selected and they will print/export regardless.

It is important to either scroll down the list to make sure just the views you really want are selected or click the Check None button to start over, otherwise you may end up with a bit more than you expected.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Google Labs - Trends

There is just so much information, good and bad, available on the Internet. Google is working feverishly to be THE source and means to deal with it. I've succumbed to the "Google sphere" ages ago with this blog and more recently Gmail, calendar and so on. I just hope that they don't turn into the maniacal corporate software giant bent on "evil" doing as portrayed in numerous movies! I guess they'd have to bump "Macrofirm" off first? Gosh, I've strayed off Revit a bit too much, back on task, Steve.

More and more I've been seeing references to one of their projects found in Google Labs. The lab project that I'm referring to is Google Trends, a tool to see what the world is searching for.

I recently read a thread at the Archicad community forums. I ended up there after reading something else about Revit and followed a few links and before I knew it I was there not sure exactly how I got there. Well suffice it to say that I don't remember now but I saw a graph of how searches for Revit and Archicad compared. The graph showed Archicad with many more searches, like this one that is limited to the last 12 months.Now that image is for "all regions" which is essentially all the markets/countries that are represented by searches for these topics according to Google. Notice the graph above for searches compared with the littler graph beneath representing news articles found per criteria, more for Revit.

Just for grins I got myopic and changed the search to just the USA. Here's the image of the result.A complete flip, like the mirror tool.

What wild conclusions can I draw from these two reports? Well clearly Revit is King in the USA! While Archicad enjoys the nicer throne in the overall world. Well, all I can actually conclude is precisely what the graphs show, more searches for Archicad occurred in all regions...etc.etc....

I'm not starting "Archicad is better than Revit" banter. Archicad users are nearly as rabid as Revit users and you will not convince them that they are using the wrong software unless there is an intervention by family and friends. Besides I think the subject of my blog(s) make it obvious which side of the fence I'm on.

What I am interested in is starting the debate that Revit is better than Archicad AND Chief Architect!!! See my proof below!Now for those of you whose family tells you that you lack a sense of humor...this is "tongue in cheek", humor, me being "funny", okay? I'm glad you like Archicad and Chief Architect. The more the merrier.

Happy searching for the proof that you are "right" about "something", "anything"...hmmm what if I compare Revit to Godiva chocolate? What about Revit to BMW or Revit to Trabant's? What about Ice Hockey and Field Hockey?

API Tools - Part Three - Steve Faust

Steve is a fellow member at AUGI and he's decided to brush up his programming skills and tackle some ideas he and his co-workers had. He recently shared the result of one such effort. This routine helps you assess the elements that are associated to a level. Here is a portion of his explanation at AUGI.

The reason I created this is to help out with times when you want to delete a level. Revit does not warn you about what is associated with a certain level, and therefore will be deleted when the level is deleted. We have had cases where minor levels were deleted and we found out later that some elements were deleted with the level that we didn't realize were associated with that level.

So, simply run this tool, which will give a list of levels in the project, let you choose one, and then show you all the elements on that level or tell you if there are none. It will also then let you select or select and show the elements.

If you are interested in using this you can DOWNLOAD HERE, must be member to download.

P.S. Steve credits Guy Robinson and Elizabeth Shulok with Structural Integrators with providing important support for his effort.

Thanks for sharing it Steve!!

API Tools - Part Two - Guy Robinson

A fellow member at AUGI and from New Zealand, Guy is a programming consultant for Revit. He has unselfishly shared is knowledge and insight at AUGI ever since an API appeared in Revit. Some time ago I posted a thread at AUGI's Revit API forum asking if anyone had created a routine to count selected elements. It might startle users of AutoCAD to learn that there isn't a "list" command that will tell you how many things you've got selected. There is a presumption that you will use schedules to report data like this in Revit but sometimes it is useful to select some stuff and "count" them quickly.

As it happens there is an example software project that nearly does exactly that in the SDK (Software Development Kit) that is part of the content that comes with Revit. Guy was good enough to tweak it a bit and post it at the AUGI forum for me and anyone else who goes to the trouble to go there and get it (have to be a member to download it). The thread title is: "API Project: Count Selected Elements".

Using it is quite simple, select some stuff and launch the tool, you get a dialog box that lists the elements you selected plus a little bonus information.

I haven't add a chance to confirm with Guy that I can share his contact info here yet. Will do if it is okay, though I doubt getting inquiries is objectionable. In the meantime send me an email and I can put you in touch with him or simply send him a private message via the message system at AUGI.

Thanks Guy, I use it quite a bit!

API Tools - Part One - Avatech

I'm slow to write about this, been meaning too for over a month. Avatech has made several worthy tools available to Revit users for FREE. Naturally it is a obvious ploy to get people interested in talking with them about other possible applications but I don't blame them! The API is the developing frontier for Revit (pun intended).

The lack of an API (Application Programming Interface) was described as a significant weakness by detractors during Revit's early development. Not providing it was a strategic decision by RTC (Revit Technology Corporation). They wanted to delay API development because it would be a distraction from creating core functionality. With RTC it was also a core value to provide tools to users rather than requiring users to also be programmers to create their own tools. With the acquisition by Autodesk the harder line held by RTC has softened.

Some complain that Revit's development pace has slowed down considerably, and it is a fair statement. Some of this is due to the overall scope of Revit now but the ongoing development of the API to match each new feature and to support existing features also contributes. Development can move much faster when you don't also have to provide a way for external applications to "speak" to your code.

Alright, enough reminiscing. What tools has Avatech provided? If you haven't been living under a rock you probably have already read about them on another blog or in an Avatech email or ... somewhere...

Download them from HERE You must provide some basic contact information first but will be able to download them after submitting the form.

I have clipped the text from their site to describe the routines in their own words.

Room Renumber
This utility allows a Revit Architecture user to easily renumber existing rooms into an order defined by selection. In addition, rooms can be inserted into an existing series of rooms with the subsequent room numbers “shifted” to make space for the inserted room number.

Change Case
Does your company (or your client) have standards or preferences on whether rooms or views are named with UPPER CASE, Title Case or lower case? If so, this tool will save you lots of time! The tool can scan your model, and automatically fix “case issues” to whatever standard you would like.

Door Mark Update
Should your Door Marks refer to the room that the door swings into? This utility interrogates all doors and rooms to determine what the proper mark should be for each door, allows the Revit Architecture user to inspect and override the suggested marks, and updates the marks.

Revit Content Browser
This utility gives you a web browser inside of Revit, which can connect to the popular site. Once you find the content that you need, the utility makes it easy to download the content, store it in the proper library, rename it and load it into the current model – all in one step.

Earth Connector for Revit
The original Revit to Google Earth connection has been updated to work with the other Avatech Revit Utilities. Key features of this update include support for Windows Vista, as well as extensive support of Revit Phases working with Google Earth Timespans. Watch your building come together, phase by phase, inside of Google Earth!

I've used each of these, with the exception of the Revit City and Earth connector tools. I just haven't had time or the need to use them yet. They work well, are easy to get used to and install easily if you have the necessary rights to install software on your computer. When I installed them the first time I was working on a computer that wasn't mine and I had to hack my way through getting them installed. This forced me to read the "readme files"...shock horror! In doing so I found that some of the information was not consistent with the actual names of files and such. I imagine they've resolved that by now. I also made an observation that I shared with them but I'll share it here too so anyone can comment if they care to.

I like that the applications zoom to display the selected door or room but they zoom a bit too close and we can't use zoom functions to zoom out or pan while the Avatech dialog is present. I suggest considering making it non-modal (I always get this term backwards, is it correct?) to permit the use of zoom features or make the zoom to element an option instead of automatic? (similar to the Review Warnings dialog and behavior, but do it better!)

I include their plug here as well!

Do you need custom Revit software development? Avatech’s Software Development Solutions group specializes in the development of custom applications for Revit, including automation and system integration.

Contact Them for further information.

A big "Thank you" to Avatech for making them and making them freely available!!

Monday, January 07, 2008

January 2008 Leap Year Bug Update Available - New Build 20080101_2345

From a post by Scott Latch, Revit Architecture Product Manager, at AUGI's forums.

I am happy to announce that Autodesk has fixed the “Y2K8 bug”!

We just posted a new build (20080101_2345) of Revit Architecture, Revit Structure & Revit MEP that fixes the problem. It is still considered Web Update #3 because replacing the existing file was the fastest method of delivering it to the public. Therefore, the executable file names are the same as the previous build (20071102_2345).

We have updated the Web Update Enhancement Lists to add the following items:
Improves stability when editing groups, saving views/groups to the library or creating a new project with template set to “None”.
Improves stability when upgrading or linking a project from Autodesk Revit Building 8.1/Revit Structure 2 or older.

I would also like to inform everyone that we are only releasing this fix in the English version. Because of the time necessary to localize the update for the other languages, it would not be ready before February 1, 2008 when the problem will go away.

The Web Updates can be downloaded by going to:

RAC: Revit Architecture
RST: Revit Structure
RME: Revit MEP

Thanks to everyone for their patience while we work through this problem.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Builds or Service Packs?

This is a pure opinion piece and a little trip down semantics lane.

I prefer to think of the current version of Revit according to the build, not with service pack numbers. I realize that just knowing which you are using by either method works technically.

So what is a build, if you don't know already? Software is compiled from a version only software engineers can use. Compiled is another techy way to say it is has been prepared for use by your computer.

Until recently all releases of Revit referred to a build number formatted YYYYMMDD_TIME (24hr clock), for example the current Revit Architecture build is 20071109_2345 and also referred to as Service Pack 3. The software is compiled many times, weekly if not even daily or hourly at times for internal testing by various team members. They use this build value to differentiate between versions constantly. It seems only natural to use the same method to speak about the software when it is compiled and released to the public.

While this habit might be a little unfriendly to the lay person it has been the way and consistently so. Now we are also referring to service packs. The root of my complaint is the half-hearted, skin deep application of it. I say this because the only place the service pack reference occurs is on the web site and in documentation available there. After that the build number reappears, even in the release documentation detailing what the build addresses.

So I say (from my bully pulpit) bring back the builds and can the service pack. It is useless, redundant and even confusing to use both.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

January 2008 bug

[Updated 20080107]

There is an unpleasant bug with all versions at this time that will cause odd errors with groups. This was reported at AUGI and Autodesk has responded there as well as to support requests that they are working on the problem. The issue is related to code that is supposed to deal with leap years.

Keep an eye on the download pages at Autodesk as this is a serious enough bug that I believe a new build will made available as soon as possible. The temporary workaround suggest by Autodesk is to briefly change your pc's date to either February or the previous month to permit the feature(s) that isn't working to work. This has its own problems and you should carefully consider this before doing it.

Known Conditions that generate error "Unspecified Error".
Saving Groups out of a project
Save Detail View out of Project
Edit Group from Project Browser via Right Click (Edit Group on Options bar works)
Create new project choosing Template: None then attempt to choose Unit of Measure