Monday, March 31, 2008

Revit MEP - Family Connector - Arrow Direction

When you create a Revit MEP family that requires a connector (most will) you need to pay attention to the direction of the arrow that appears on the connector. In the following image the arrow points down, out of a water closet fitting.

Yes the arrow is also different than the Flow Direction parameter in the properties of the connector.

If it were to point up then Revit would think that a pipe should connect from within the bowl of the water closet (toilet)...which would be wrong. You'd also likely get a message like this one.

This is trying to tell you that Revit just couldn't figure out how to get your fixture connected to the pipe you selected. Usually this message is related to the elevation of the pipe and the fixture or they are too close together for specified fittings to actually connect properly. When it comes to the pictured connector it means that the pipe is running the opposite direction AND that the elevation I used for the related pipe is too close to the same elevation.

Yes, you'll have to put on your detective hat, light your pipe and seek out the "elementary" explanation my "Dear Watson".

If you are curious the water closet fitting pictured above is part of a "rough-in" connector for a floor mounted toilet. The issue at present is that the basic plumbing fixtures that the architect uses in Revit Architecture has no connectors and that even if it did when their model is linked into RMEP they wouldn't be usable to connect pipe. Thus the notion of just the rough-in components instead of putting another toilet in the same place.

Turns out what we thought was "clever" is what Autodesk's RMEP team was thinking too and you'll find some basic connector families in the content with the release of Revit MEP 2009. Here's a screen capture of the mockup example.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Release Date Released - April 15th, 2008

A couple of resellers have announced the expected ship date for Revit 2009 software and it is April 15th, 2008. An auspicious day! I trust there isn't nearly the sense of foreboding associated with that however!

Thanks to Greg Arkin with Cadd Centers of Florida, Revit 3D blog, and Dwane Lindsey with MasterGraphics of the Revit Arch Center blog for announcing it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Dept. of Subtle - Beam Joins RAC 2009

In past releases when Revit Structure touted the ability to miter steel beams and Revit Architecture couldn't lots of Architecture users were mighty annoyed. Revit Structure 2009 has enhanced the join process and options AND Revit Architecture get them TOO! The Beam Join tool will be found on the "Tools" Tool Bar next door to the Edit Wall Joins button.

Here's what some beams look like after playing with them.

Since the video doesn't seem to be working in this post you can see it HERE

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Proposal - Camera View Annotation

When a Camera view is created there is no built-in intentional way to show our readers where the camera is located. With Revit (and 3D design in general) more and more camera views are used to explain/document our work.

I believe there should be something like we have for sections,elevations & call-outs. and I know I'm not alone. Camera views should have annotation generated in the same way that other views in Revit do. They should appear in plan views in my opinion but an argument could be made for them showing up in elevation and section views too.

In the meantime we CAN continue to create an Annotation Symbol family that we can place and then enter detail and sheet location information...yeah, "old school"...

It could be sooo much better...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Shared Parameter File - A Little Clarification

Over the last few years I've posted several times about shared parameters (SP) so I thought I'd add this bit too. The context of this concerns the protection and/or management of the office SP file.

The SP file does NOT have an active relationship with your families or projects so there is no risk to your existing families or project(s) if someone gets cranky with your SP file and deletes it. Obviously making new stuff will be a bit harder but it is possible to recover them from existing family and project files. I've provided several links later in this post to other SP posts.

The SP file is used by Revit like a "dictionary", a place to store definitions/meaning. Revit uses it to define a parameter when it is applied to a Family and/or Project. Thereafter when Revit encounters it in the project it knows what it means. Thus NO active connection to the parameter in the file or the file itself.

What IS important is that your users are not creating shared parameters for the same things without communicating with each other. Why? Here is an example:

I create a parameter called "undercut" and you create one called "UNDERCUT" and someone else creates yet another called "Undercut". If we each create these in our own SP file and apply them to tags, projects and schedules we are fine as long as nobody else tries to use the content we made that use them.

As soon as we attempt to share things we will find that your undercut is different from ours because each shared parameter gets a unique GUID (global unique ID) number applied by Revit. So the name isn't the really important part to Revit. The name is important to us because it is what we see and besides we don't read numbers like those very well.

A little trivia, for most people more than four digits or things are difficult if not impossible to count without deliberately doing so. Four **** are easy to "count" at a glance but ***** is a bit harder at a glance. I picked that up from a book called Perfect Figures.

Here's what a typical Shared Parameter file looks like(with 3 parameters):

# This is a Revit shared parameter file.
# Do not edit manually.
GROUP 1 Steel
GROUP 2 Exported Parameters
GROUP 3 Projects
PARAM 29321d2c-b02c-49c1-ab8b-c41c18fcac00 Building Letter TEXT 3 1
PARAM c17fad8a-7479-4572-9f62-8da94b702446 Weight NUMBER 1 1
PARAM 0d7b92f5-b62e-49f5-9167-263cebac962b OLF NUMBER 2 1

The portion in red is the GUID.

The best strategy is to make everyone well aware that Shared Parameters are to be managed and by whom. If they are created from a copy of the office SP file it is possible to export the parameter to the original so it isn't completely unacceptable to let people make them on their own. It IS unacceptable to do so without properly communicating it to the person in charge of them and their team(s).

That said, placing the office standard as a read only file will allow people to use them without being able to add them. They will need to get them added by the responsible party and that person better be ready to "jump" because this stuff always gets figured out at the last minute.

Finally, if someone loses the SP file it is possible to export shared parameters from projects that have them into a another or new SP file.

Here's links to the previous Shared Parameter posts:
What are Parameters and Why Should I Care?
Sharing Parameters Overview (Part 1)
Walking on Thin Ice
Making a Shared Parameter File (Part 2)
Shared Parameters Part 3
Shared Parameters Part 4
Ignore Good Advice
Home for Unwanted Doors

Dept. of Subtle - Model Text and Add Parameter Crash Revit

While looking at a problem described in a thread at AUGI I stumbled upon a very subtle awkward crash which I've submitted to Autodesk naturally.

To get in trouble you need to be using the Model Text feature and attempting to create a parameter to manage the height of the text.

The steps are:
I started in the Generic Model.rft Family Template
Add Model Text
Select the Model Text
Click Properties button to see the Instance Properties
Click Edit/New to see the Type Properties
Click Associate Family Parameter button (little gray square button, see image)
Click Add Parameter where the only available option is (None)(see image)

Nice friendly message appears (see image)

Work-around Note: if a valid parameter exists, and appears in the dialog, already you can select it instead and Revit won't crash. Revit only crashes if there is no parameter already and you need to click Add Parameter to create one on the fly.

Fwiw, it doesn't crash the upcoming release...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is Revit like your Spouse?

I recently had someone share a funny Revit story with me. This un-named person (to protect the guilty) was expressing frustration with Revit, the learning curve and getting used to it. He showed an error message that Revit displayed, all that was displayed was a question mark "?".

No explanation, nothing, just the question which he exclaimed, "See!! Revit is just like my wife! Revit is mad at me and it won't tell me why!! It's as if Revit is saying, "If you don't know why I'm mad then I WON'T TELL YOU!!"

I realize that this isn't very "politically correct" but the shoe could easily be on the "other foot"!

Structure - Travelogue

I try not to dabble or indulge my personal stuff on this blog too much, apart from Revit being my personal thing, but I was wandering around downtown Billings, Montana (Big Sky Country) the last couple of evenings and passed this structure a couple times. The second time by, tonight, I felt compelled to snap a couple of "pitchurs".

This structure is known as Sky Point and I was pleasantly surprised to find it on Wikipedia. My client informed me of the name so that certainly helped my Google search effort! The structure has a couple of "leaves" that can swing out to fully cover the street intersection. It is in its compact state in the "pitchurs"...

So whose going to model it in Revit Structure for "fun"?

Fun facts:
Tallest column: 73 Feet
2 Shortest columns: 28 Feet
Sails: 3
Completed: April 2002
Dedicated: May 2002

One more for the road...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dept. of Subtle - Options Bar and Tab Key

Hi again, another video attempt at a post.

We need to pay close attention to the "focus" of Revit when we enter a value on the Options Bar. In the video example I show a roof in the sketch process and I want to use the Offset parameter to create the roof edge 2'-0" from the exterior wall. When I enter the value and then try to use the Tab key to "Select the Chain of Walls or Lines" Revit doesn't acknowledge the walls. It just moves the "focus" between the Offset parameter and the Extend to Wall Core options. When I click in the Drawing Window the focus moves away from the Options Bar and the TAB key feature will work.

This is just a subtle thing that can be frustrating if you don't notice what it happening on the Options Bar. I hope the video helps too!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Shape Handle - Increase the Length of a Wall

When you want to increase the length of one end of a wall not change the other end you can use the wall's Shape Handle. To access it you need to hover over the endcap of the wall and use the TAB key, select the Shape Handle as it is called. Now you can just use the Move tool to define a distance. It is quite easy. I'm trying a video out that I made very low tech. Experimenting with the approach...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Converting Lines - Model to Detail or Vice Versa

Finally remembered to add this tip/post at AUGI from January 14, 2008, a method for changing model lines to detail lines and vice versa.

Model Lines to Detail Lines (use sketch based detail element)
- Select Model Lines and Cut to Clipboard (CTRL + X)
- Start a new Filled Region and paste the lines in anywhere
- Select the lines and cut to clipboard again
- Cancel making the Filled Region
- Paste into view - they are now Detail Lines

Detail Lines to Model Lines (use a sketch based model element)
- Select Detail Lines and Cut to Clipboard (CTRL + X)
- Start a new Floor and paste the lines in anywhere
- Select the lines and cut to clipboard again
- Cancel making the floor
- Paste into view - they are now Model Lines

I'd been using the Roof by Footprint do this for awhile but the floor is "quicker" since you don't have to choose the roof method first 8-). Technically you could just edit an existing floor or filled region and paste and cut and quit sketch to accomplish the same thing.

2009 Features - Dept. of Subtle - Currency and Commas

Another, "Finally!!" moment is nearly upon us. We have been VERY patiently waiting to be able to put currency symbols on our schedule values and the 2009 release will provide it! Along with this we will finally get to place commas in our numbers when they get into the thousands. Subtle, little...yes, but it is about time!! Welcome the little stuff!!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Reprise - Making Sheets...faster.

I posted THIS back in March 2006 and I've been asked or read about this several times in the last few days. So I thought I'd mention it again.

I still say Autodesk ought to provide a way to create a "cartoon" set more efficiently! I guess that's where some enterprising developers have an opportunity, such as Revit TV. Put a little pressure on Matt at Avatech too!

Yes You Can! - Include Elements in Linked Files in Schedules!

This is a recurring theme, "I've got more than one project file linked together but I want a single schedule of...doors...or sheets. Can I do that?" Yes, and it is EASY!

Just edit your schedule and check ONE box! See below...

Touched on a related topic in THIS POST regarding including other trades drawings in your drawing list. I mention three methods but there is also a fourth, use a Schedule Key but hide the key value column. This approach does mean you have to enter the information too but a schedule key has all the same formatting features/restrictions as a regular drawing list.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

2009 Feature - Dept. of Subtle - Text Styles

I wrote something in the past suggesting that "Text" ought to become a full fledge citizen in the "Settings" menu. In all past releases of Revit there was no way to edit Text Styles without first invoking the Text tool. Well those days are or will be gone shortly. A new neighbor will join the Settings menu > Annotations other tenants Arrowheads, Dimensions and Loaded Tags, namely TEXT!

I'm sorry if I seem excited about something "trivial". I'm not, but pleased nonetheless that something subtle got addressed and didn't even make it into the "What's New" presentations circulating the net. Thanks!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Right Click - Create Similar

Sometimes a feature is right in front of you and you just keep missing it or perhaps just don't care to notice. I use this one quite a bit myself. When you've got something you like already in the model and you need to place another, just select it, Right Click and choose Create Similar!! How's that for short and SWEET! Easy too!

If you select more than one element the tool is a bit "hard of hearing" and won't be available, even if the multiple items are all the same type. So just select one.

I still keep looking for a Right Click > Copy to Clipboard, Paste and Paste Aligned face is turning a bit blue from holding my breath...

Adverts - Still on the Fence

Poll is retired...still hemming but not hawing about placing ads. I guess I'll just keep you guessing too. So for ads. I know that means at least 12 folks will keep coming back for now. 8-)