Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Autodesk Releases 64 bit Version of Revit

We've been patiently eagerly awaiting the release of 64 bit versions of Revit. This represents the removal of the barricade preventing access to additional RAM. Large projects will benefit from this primarily and obviously only those using a 64 bit operating system like Vista or XP as well as hardware that permits more RAM.

It is only available for subscription customers at this time. (too bad I can't access subscription)

Don't expect increased speed, it makes more ram available to Revit but does not inherently change how Revit processes data (this is a technically inept statement, don't expect giant strides in performance...just access to nearly as much ram as you can afford)

It works side by side with 32 bit Revit on a 64 bit computer as the 32 bit version is installed in a special folder for 32 bit applications "Program Files (x86)".

You can open files with either version. The Revit application is changed to support 64 bit not the file format itself.

Revit Architecture Customer Council wants You!

If you are not aware of this program I invite you to check it out, perhaps you'd like to be a part of it? This is what the site looks like on the Revit Architecture Customer Council Welcome page:

Program Benefits Listed are:

You join an exclusive group of customers who will have more communication with the RevitArchitecture team and better visibility into our development process.

You have the opportunity to provide direct feedback about RevitArchitecture to the product team which will help us deliver a higher quality product that is more relevant to your needs.

You will receive exclusive access to survey results that will enable you to see how other professionals from around the world are using Revit Architecture.

This site was created some time ago and its use by both users and Autodesk dwindled due to other priorities. Autodesk wishes to renew its use and effectiveness. You can help!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Autodesk Subscription Site

One word at a time...Frustrating, depressing, pop-ups, awful...

This is the only site I visit regularly with such reliable poor performance. Multiple pop up screens, multiple error messages in IE7, Firefox and Chrome... just bloody awful. I would NEVER visit it if it weren't for the fact that I must. Why can't they figure out how to code a site without pop-ups?

I supply my credentials, click Submit and the little blue boxes travel across the screen with a nice message about loading my information and large accounts may take some time....to end with the IE "white screen of death".

In Firefox it is:

When I tell Firefox to proceed anyway I get this message.

And in Google's Chrome:

No cookies...lots of cookies...no difference same error.

I give up...I've used the Email for more help option to see if an actual person can figure out what is wrong.

Okay...so now I can log in to the newsgroups and Autodesk University but not the subscription site. Brilliant! I get this message when I click on the link for subscription now!

My guess at this point is when they did the consolidation on my account(s) they "oops", worst case, deleted my records relating to my software purchases. I'm hoping they've just misplaced them...

I'm just grateful that I got to participate in the beta so I don't really "need" to download the new software...yet.

Tuesday update: Aaah the irony...I get this message this morning!

Update Tuesday night: Support is working on it...hoping for the best.

Walls - The Learning Slope

Harlan Brumm of The Revit Clinic blog and Autodesk wrote on Sept. 26th about walls.

We get these questions about walls a lot and it is no wonder. What do Architects do? They define spaces, 99% of the time what defines that space? – A Wall. I would bet that creating and modifying walls is probably one of the most used functions in the application besides, panning, zooming, and using the esc key to cancel.

Here's the key part that he wrote a few lines later...

Creating a sloped wall is not very difficult, once you realize that you can’t just use the Wall tool to draw it.

The last thing he probably expected was me taking this and twisting it around to say something else? Uh oh...

He goes on to explain how with a video.

When I read the portion of his post that I quoted above my reaction was, "Well why is it such an effort to do this then?" If walls really are used as much as he says then walls should be one of the most effectively implemented features in the software and yes it should be capable of representing "any" wall we need. I like the massing feature and what it offers but to require it to slope/tilt an otherwise normal wall seems like requiring me to go from average driver to formula 1 driver in one step.

We can edit the profile of a wall easily enough. Perhaps we ought to be able to edit the sketch in more planes such as edit top profile, edit base profile? Maybe we just need a shape editing capability akin to the floor/roof tools? We could add points, define offset forward/backward...?

I'm not trying to define a specification of what to do. I'd encourage the team to challenge the status quo of "well to do a sloping wall, just do....". Again I'm not picking on Harlan, he is dealing with the reality of "now" with support. How do I get it done now with the features as they are. But in his role he can helps us also get the message across that it is too "hard", too many steps, too too something...? Just my reaction.

Oh and thanks for the video!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What don't you want with that? - Off Topic

A very long time ago I worked at Wendy's, for three months right after I turned sixteen. It was a proud moment, my first job, independence, my own money all that stuff. It wasn't so much that it was Wendy's as it was a JOB! I went to a team meeting at one point where all the area restaurants gathered one evening to hear the marketing spiel. It was just as salad bars were all the craze and the honcho stated emphatically that, "Wendy's wouldn't be catering to that sort of silliness...we're going to stick to what we do best, burgers."

Okay maybe he didn't say it exactly that way but like I said before, my memory ain't what I used to remember it to be. So imagine my suprise when a few months later after moving on to a real restaurant job I find my old employer undergoing a renovation to put in a salad bar!

Fast forward a few decades...

I was at Houston's Bush International Airport (IAH) the other night waiting for my flight home. Just missed the earlier flight by a nose but was pleasantly surprised to find that when I used my phone to board "electronically" that I'd been upgraded to first class! But I digress...

The only fast food place (burger joints) I go to these days when I do is Wendy's. The others all make me ill within an hour of eating or at least I feel poorly enough to wish I hadn't eaten there. Used to be a time when I could eat a Burger King meal everyday, cast iron roadie stomach. But age and better diet habits change you. I still visit Subway and Quizno's routinely without ill effect.

Soooo with almost three hours to kill I decide I want a Wendy's burger and fries and most especially the treasonous vanilla frosty (as we all know they are supposed to be chocolate! Tradition says so!). I walk up to the cashier and utter what I've been saying to Wendy's cashiers for practically forever (at least a decade), "Number 1 combo, cheese, catsup & pickle ONLY, medium frosty, vanilla, please." Now you know my simple taste in a burger...

His response, "What don't you want on it?"

So I repeated my order thinking maybe I'd get a different result (I know...insanity). He repeats his mantra... I say, "I have no idea what you CAN put on the burger, I just know what I WANT on it." "Why do I have to tell you what I DON'T WANT on it??????" His response was, "Because that's the way the cash register is set up."

Things have changed at Wendy's, some for the better...like vanilla frosty's. Some for the worse, like having to know everything that I don't want them to put on my burger instead of what I want.

Next time I'll be ready though. I'll say, "Number 1 combo, no chili fries, no A1 Sauce, no spaghetti, no meatballs, no liverwurst, no chocolate syrup, no hot sauce, no avocado, no marmalade..." I could go on forever!

Btw, the only thing this post has to do with Revit is that I was in Houston doing Revit training. For some more observant comments about travel check out Seth Godin's blog post...as a fellow traveler I can relate.

Revit MEP - "One Line" Riser Diagrams

There is no purpose built workflow in RME for this task unless you consider detail lines and symbols (that don't exist in the library) as purpose built. I picture a concept where I can use a symbol representation of loaded families in a riser diagram view to define the overall relationship of the design elements.

We can do this now with a Legend View. Hold on, don't get excited...face based based symbols don't work very well in legends because they won't orient to the view correctly and you can't rotate the symbol into the correct orientation. Legend views do not support "rotate view on sheet" either so scratch Legends as a viable approach.

I imagine using "real" symbols of these components at first and then later worrying about placing the "real" element in the model. These real symbols would be complimented with annotation symbols that depict the inner workings of switch gear and fuses for example as well other such detail as needed. Then good old detail lines round out the feature. This way the symbols are not disconnected from the real elements and if they change in either location they will update the model. This makes perfect sense in my head...I'm just not sure it is coming out here...

Now that I've babbled about that here's another thought I've been tossing around for the interim. I can create interior elevation views of electrical equipment rooms. These views can be stripped down to just show the electrical stuff. They can be arranged on a sheet with a basic no frills view title. Once all the required equipment is visible on the sheet detail lines can interconnect all the various equipment "close enough"..."eyeball"... so that when the sheet is printed it looks convincing.

We can eliminate the elevation symbols from cluttering real project views by placing them in a floor plan view that uses a ridiculous scale like 6"=1'-0" since it would never fit on a sheet. The elevation symbol will use the "Hide at scales coarser than" parameter and not show up at any scale coarser than the "nutty" scale I used. Here's an over simplication of the concept...

To compliment this basic layout using the actual model we could create drafting views of the internal workings of fuses and breaker assignments etc, place them on the sheet near by and use detail lines to sketch a "balloon" and leader back to the riser diagram to indicate where the enlarged diagram is referring to. Like this technically incorrect oversimplification.
If needed a 3D view can supplement the diagram but you can't tag the elements in this view (madness!) so text would have to be coordinated against the tags used in the other view(s).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Service Packs versus New Builds

I could be a "glass half empty" person and complain that it took so long to change to a service pack distribution method. I try to be "half full" as well as avoiding the conclusion that the "glass" is too big.

Let's contrast...new build x three versions took an afternoon to download and install last time. This time with service pack distribution. Download and install done while I listened to just three songs on Pandora.

Hmmm...I'll take the service pack distribution thank you!!

I am unanimous in that

Revit MEP - Panel Schedules "Location"

[EDIT: This issue has been fixed in new versions of Revit MEP]

The graphic issues related with panel schedules and the needs of electrical engineers has been pretty well documented in various discussions at AUGI so I won't pick on them too. This issue however I don't recall seeing brought up yet.

We now have Spaces instead of Rooms so "we" have more flexibility over where and how they are used, not to mention that Zones are aware of Spaces too (the subject of another post). Panel schedules (Distribution Board Schedules to others) however do not derive their location from Spaces rather they only derive this information from a Room. This seems an oversight to me since otherwise I have no reason to create any actual rooms in the RME model. Especially since the Heating and Cooling Loads tool only detects Spaces now and that Copy/Monitor no longer includes Rooms.

Here's what I'm referring to on a panel schedule.

Speaking graphically, I think that I can get a panel schedule looking "decent" now apart from some more information that most engineers indicate they want included (conduit size, wire size specifics etc.). The width of the overall schedule is controlled by one important grip.

This grip will adjust all the columns together and keep things more or less orderly. It would be good if this width was easily defined so each schedule could be consistent as well as snapping to each other like other schedules do. View templates don't extend to them either. Of course we can sketch some detail lines to use as a guide to get them "close enough" but it would be nice not to have to jump to so many little hoops. All right I did say I wasn't going to pick on them...but it is sooo easy. *-)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Revit Service Pack Issued - New Build 20080915_2100

Scott Latch announced the following in the AUGI Revit forums:


[I am pleased to announce that the Revit product teams have just released the English version of Web Update 2 for Revit Architecture 2009 (Build 20080915_2100).

(NEW) Service Pack technology

For the first time in the Revit product line history, we have implemented Service Pack technology similar to the AutoCAD based products. This will greatly reduce the effort needed to update the Revit products to the newest build by allowing our users to update their existing installations without having to reinstall Revit. Because of this change, we recommend that you read the Service Pack Readme before installing.

The Web Update 2 can be found under the Revit Architecture product download page:


For a list of improvements, please refer to the “Web Update Enhancement List” located on the product download pages.

Localized versions of Web Update 2 will be available over the next few weeks. The localized versions will be released as full installs, due to some technical limitations. We are working to resolve the issues in order to provide Service Packs for all languages in the future.

Scott Latch
Technical Product Manager,
Revit Architecture

The service pack approach is a very welcome! We wish it happpened sooner but you know what they say, "Better late than never".


Download Revit MEP

Revit MEP - Panel Schedule Export

Panel schedules are a very special schedule. It is really multiple "schedules" compiled into one. In fact they aren't even called or located with schedules, they are Reports. These reports and their data are pretty well "trapped" in Revit. Thus far I know that you can:

Export to a cad file (from a sheet)
Publish to a 2D DWF (from a sheet)
Print to a PDF (if you have a pdf driver)
Capture an image (if you have software or just print screen)

A cad file format will result in a 2D lines and text.

A 2D DWF will...well, be in dwf or dwfx format. It doesn't offer much from this point unless another application can do "something" with the DWFx format.

Printing to a PDF will result in a pdf but you may also find that Revit stores an html formatted version first in this folder location:

C:\Documents and Settings\YourUserName\Local Settings\Temp

Here's where it might get interesting. I was able to open this html file in the Open Office Writer application and it looked like this.

It is a table of data. Fwiw, I'm not currently using Office applications so I couldn't test bringing it into Excel or Word but I imagine you could have some success getting the data from the temp html file into them. When I tried to open the html file in Open Office Calc I got this.

You might also have some data extraction options if you use Adobe products but I'm not familiar with which one you'd need for the best options. I use Snag IT and there are some nice text capture add-ins for it that will permit you to select a panel view to extract the text but then you've got to spend some time reformatting.

They could make this easier?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Revit MEP - Tick Marks

For those of you who don't use wiring and show tick marks in your electrical plans...nevermind, sorry!

Tick marks are based upon external tick mark families. The stock families are found in this folder.

On the off chance you don't know what these are here's what they look like in use.

There is a separate category of family usage called Wire Tick Marks.

This means you can use a different tick mark than those supplied. Such as "the squiggle".

Or "the ground".

If you haven't noticed these options they are found under Settings menu > Electrical Settings > Wire.

Hope this "tickles" your fancy...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Egress Family Video

Michael Bass with Microdesk started a blog called Building Informed Models that contains videos for a variety of Revit related tasks. He just posted a video explaining the basic concepts involved with making the tag and the line based family that I used with my Egress Family examples that I've posted here at various times. Videos are great vehicle for explaining concepts, check them out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Revit MEP - Change in Management

Kyle Bernhardt let us know via his blog and a post at AUGI that he's accepted a new position within Autodesk, Product Manager, AEC Sustainable Design. This means that Autodesk is looking for someone to take on the position, you can refer to the offer HERE.

Kyle set a great standard for blogging and his commitment to Revit MEP and I for one will miss it. I hope that they find someone equally committed!

Thanks Kyle for the hard work and all the best in your new position...once they let you start it!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Curtain Walls - Fun Stuff by Other Bloggers

It is considered ill form to just blog about stuff other bloggers are saying or doing but in this case I don't care! I find the stuff that people "cook up" in Revit to be interesting and I'm motivated to call attention to these three, two "Dave's" and a Craig.

Craig started it all with his POST at iRevit.

His inspiration was:

I recently attended a panel discussion at Siggraph 2008, where Enrique Rosado discussed his work with Viennese Sculptor Erwin Hauer. Hauer explored continuous perforated modular structures that as architectural panels, expanded into infinite surfaces with escher-esque qualities.

David Baldacchino picked up the ball with his POST at Do u Revit?
David Light then picked up the ball and ran with his POST at his Revit blog.
Then he ran a bit more with this POST.

Check out their posts and see what inspiration they provide? If me just writing about them doesn't inspire you to visit their blogs then does this little collage do it for you?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

DWG Import - Lines Nearly Vertical/Horizontal are Changed

Revit alters the lines in a imported cad file if they are very nearly horizontal or vertical. It has done this for quite some time. It isn't clear if it isn't a problem very often or if it isn't noticed very often. I'm reminded of this issue by a recent post at AUGI naturally.

In this instance a member wrote that a property line (in a cad import) whose bearing is 89 degrees 57 minutes and 56 seconds is altered by Revit to simply 90 degrees even. The cad file isn't "changed" but what we see of it in Revit is.

If you use Revit's Property Line tool and opt for the Table of Distances and Bearings method you'll find you can create a property boundary that is faithful to the documented bearing data.

And the dialog itself with the resulting property line.

Aah...Trust...a database or cad file is only as reliable as we believe we can trust it to be. Once upon a time people trusted that the earth was flat. That proved to be false, I think. I haven't been in space myself so I have to trust that the astronauts and scientists who say they have been are telling me the truth. Now I know that the moon is round but I don't know that it is in fact a globe because I've never seen the "back" of it. I've never seen it spinning. My life experience and acquired knowledge tells me it is a globe but assumption and belief doesn't prove it. Anyone who enjoys Robert Heinlein's books would recognize that last little bit.

Importing cad files and "seeing" nothing to cause us to doubt the accuracy of the import permits us to work with the belief that everything is fine, trustworthy. But when we discover an inaccuracy regardless how meaningful or meaningless the issue really is it places doubt in our minds. This doubt is usually worse than the actual problem we've found.

As we transition from 2D methods to 3D methods and embrace the promise of Building Information Modeling (BIM) we need to be able to trust the data. This is much bigger than just software. It has to do with each person that comes into contact with the data, the model. Our contact must be done with this issue of trust in mind so that we don't invite doubt. When doubt exists our work must stand up under close scrutiny.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Percentage of Gross

In a database environment we can create a query that asks questions of data stored in tables or other queries. In this Revit is a little different. We can ask questions (queries) of tables (element categories) all day long but we can't ask questions of the answers to previous questions...or in database terms a query of a query.

There is one example in Revit that is already wired to permit such a result, a percentage of another value, such as Room Area. In this example I've made a little tiny project, created a schedule and added a calculated value to the schedule. This is the final result of the schedule.

This is the properties of the calculated value.

Any parameter's data type, based on what you include in the schedule, and tell Revit to Calculate Totals will be an option for consideration with "Percentage" selected. For example these are my choices if I also include Perimeter and Volume in the schedule.

Shared Coordinates and the "other" trades

My posts in the past on this subject have focused on the use of Revit Architecture. The architect tends to get started down this road first so it makes some sense, to me at least. The natural evolution of this issue is, "What does a Revit Structure or Revit MEP team do when confronted with the use of these features (Shared Coordinates)?

First of all let's explain that there are two methods available to describe the true elevation and position of a project. The first is abstract, simply telling Revit that the building is really at a different elevation and/or rotation relative to true north and sea level. The second is not abstract, we actually move the building to the actual elevation and location on a site.

The abstract method allows us to "tell" Revit what we want to display for elevation and orientation while the other requires us to actually put the building at the correct elevation and orientation. I've written about the process that is used for either in previous posts.

Let's define the steps that RST and RME users ought to use to properly coordinate their project file with the RAC model(s).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Family Editor Tutorials - Autodesk's Latest

With the release of Revit 2009 there is a revamped compliment of tutorials and datasets. You can download them from HERE.

This is screen capture of the portion of the page you'll be visiting.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Recommendation - Avoid Save to Central Error

In this POST I mentioned a recurring error that Autodesk finally sorted out. The AUGI Topic that prompted my earlier post received a contribution from Andre Carvalho that demands repeating.

If you'd like to avoid the error completely, Externally Reference any file you need in your Revit project into a blank AutoCAD file first as an attached external reference. This means that the file that Revit links does not change, only its external reference.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Managing Links - Menu versus Project Browser

This pertains to Revit model files only. One relatively new feature that I've been slow to recognize myself and during training is the Link information available within the Project Browser. I seem to prefer the dialog. I suppose my excuse might be that I'm often dealing with linked DWG (sometimes DGN) files too and those aren't available on the Project Browser, though that was my original wish...not for Revit links (not that it is bad to have them).

To be specific I'm referring to the File menu > Manage Links dialog.


The Project Browser and Right Click approach when you select the "Top of the Tree", Revit Links will yield an option to open the Manage Links dialog.

When you Right click on a listed Linked File instead and you get this menu.

The tools are the same only the route taken varies. Take the road you prefer...?

[FWIW, For this post I used a model (and its links) belonging to a client that asked me to poke around and give them some advice. That's why I've blurred the "sensitive" file names etc...to protect the "innocent".]

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Copy/Monitor - Walls

The Copy/Monitor Tool is handy for helping others start work by acquiring the same Levels and preliminary Grid layout. Then Coordination Review helps us keep these coordinated.

The Tabs in the C/M dialog start from the most "important" or "likely" to use to the "least". That's my perspective about that.

Walls don't C/M very well at this time because Revit forces walls to align via the Wall Centerline Location Line, regardless of Location Line settings applied or in use in either model. What we really "want" for example is to allow RST to C/M RAC walls and map the multi-layered RAC wall to just a RST structural wall type. Doing this breaks down because of the Wall Centerline alignment.

The workaround suggested by Autodesk for the time being is this:
Don't duplicate the walls using C/M feature. Instead, manually draw the structural wall and then use Align to the Location Line of the linked .rvt wall. Once done, you can “Monitor” only feature. By doing so, Revit will remember the offset distance between the center lines of manually drawn walls and the linked wall. it is a pain to have to do it on each pair of walls.

The other gotcha is openings in walls. The overall geometry of the window/door creates the opening in the C/M wall which means it is too large an opening in most cases.

Monday, September 15, 2008

AU-Unconference - Call for Topics now Open!

This announcement went live on BLAUG today!

Last year, we introduced the un-conference concept to Autodesk University. Participation numbers where all over the map but most everyone who joined one of the un-conference sessions, liked it. We called our group of 20 plus classes AU-Unplugged and we would like to offer it again this year. If you have a topic, you would like to “deep-dive” with a small number of AU attendees, submit a topic now. [Red Button]

This year's AU will have almost 650 structured sessions, carefully selected by Autodesk divisions and the AU team. Most classes are focused on helping attendees get more productive with our software. AU attracts a great number of industry experts and power users that have much to share with the AU community. Much of their knowledge would be difficult to package into a regular AU session. However, we strongly believe in the value of that knowledge and we will provide a venue this year to allow for sharing that knowledge. A lot of learning at AU does happen “in the hallway” and we believe that providing a room, a projector and a microphone, some of those conversations can be moved into a session room and more folks can benefit from the conversation.

Basic rules of engagement for AU Unplugged are:

o Any topic related to your industry or Autodesk is fair game

o Absolutely no selling or promoting of any product

o No lectures—only discussions

Each session is scheduled for 50 minutes. In most cases, the session leader will start out introducing the topic. Each participant in the room will do a quick 10 second introduction. All this should take about 10 to 15 minutes. Once the stage is set, the session leader will start asking questions and directly solicit comments and opinions from those in the room around topic. The value of an AU Unplugged!—or any un-conference for that matter—is that the line between presenter and audience is blurred. At an un-conference, there are only session leaders and session participants. A session leader has to prepare and is expected to set the stage for the session, but it is likely that the leader learns as much from the participants as the participants learn from the leader or each other.

AU Unplugged! will run concurrently to other AU classes. Unlike regular classes, you are not able to sign up for a particular AU Unplugged! session. Sessions are on a first come, first serve basis and each session will be limited to 40 participants to allow for good dialog.

The deadline to submit your topic is October 17, 2007.

Save and Save to Central Error Message

Teams that use worksets and link multiple Revit models started enduring this message a little over a year ago, around the release of 2008 methinks.

Autodesk finally pinned it down to this:

If a linked RVT file contains a linked DWG (or other "CAD format") file, and the DWG file has changed on disk since the last time the linked RVT file was saved, then when the linked RVT file is loaded (as a link) the DWG file is reloaded which Revit interprets as a modification.

If this seems vaguely familiar, Dwayne Lindsey posted about the newly minted Known Issue at Autodesk on his Blog Revit Arch-Center. I'm reposting because I read and responded to a question at AUGI and a couple clients were bumping into it recently. I thought why not echo it again...again?

If the dwg file is reloaded into the linked model or if the linked model is opened and saved the issue should not generate the message until the dwg file is altered again. If the file is NOT a "Link" then it wouldn't generate the message either. So that might be an argument to not listen to my normal advice to use the Link option with DWG files. Make rules and then break them is my "motto" 8-).

Proper credit to the guy I first heard nail it down, John Vogt with HOK St. Louis. John 'splained it to me at the HOK Cad Work Session I attended back in May. Sure enough he was correct! You are the MAN John! Cheers! I'll buy you a beverage next time around!

[I stole the image from Dwayne's post because I can't recreate the error in the latest build of Revit 20080602-1900, thanks Dwayne!]

[Amended: Andre Carvalho added this suggestion in a thread at AUGI:
The way I found it works nice, is avoiding to link the DWG that someone is still working. Instead of that, I first create a blank CAD file, XREF the DWG that someone is working and save in another folder. This new DWG will be the file I will bring into Revit. Because it has an XREF from the original file, I still can see the changes made in it when I open Revit, but because no one is actually opening it, working on it or saving the DWG I've created, I never get that message anymore...]

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quick Tips - Cut/Copy/Paste - Paste Aligned

It is never a bad idea to remember to basics like these:

Windows Standard Shortcuts
Copy to Clipboard = CTRL + C
Cut to Clipboard = CTRL + X
Paste From Clipboard = CTRL + V

Paste Aligned
Think "Paste Special" in Excel if that helps...special paste options.
a) Edit Menu > Paste Aligned > Current View
b) Edit Menu > Paste Aligned > Same Place
c) Edit Menu > Paste Aligned > Pick Level Graphics
d) Edit Menu > Paste Aligned > Select Level by Name...
e) Edit Menu > Paste Aligned > Select Views by Name...

Explanations for each:
a) Current View will paste model or annotation elements into this view assuming you copied elements from some other view (or the same view technically).

b) Same Place will paste something back in exactly the same location. For example you want to move something from one design option to another. Cut to Clipboard while editing the one option and Paste Aligned > Same Place while editing the other option.

c) Pick Level Graphics will let you select one level to paste model elements on. For example select columns on Level 1 and use this option to select Level 2 or 3 or 4.

d) Select Level by Name will do the same as above (with Model Elements) but will let you choose multiple Levels from a dialog (Morerer fasterer)

e) Select Views by Name will let you paste 2D/Annotation Elements from one view into multiple other views by selecting from a dialog.

Thanks to Behzad from Kelar for the inspiration for this post and his quick tip about the using zero (0) with Paste...which is...

Let's say you need to alter a floor slab to indicate where one pour will end and another will start. You have one overall slab that needs to be two pieces. Bezad's example was focused on different phases. Edit the existing slab. While in sketch mode select the sketch segments you want in the "other" pour and Copy to Clipboard. Alter the sketch so the existing slab now represents the first "pour".

Now create a new slab and use Paste to place the sketch that you Copied to Clipboard earlier. When Revit displays temporary dimensions, you can enter zero (0) to "tell" Revit to paste at the original coordinates of the elements that you copied to clipboard. The sketch lands on top of the original slab location which can now be altered for the extents of the second "pour". Equal result as using Edit Menu > Paste Aligned > Same Place but you didn't have to go all the way up to the Edit menu.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Three Laws - Content Creation

Not to be confused with Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics", I first heard of the so called "three laws or rules" of software development from my father who spent many years working at IBM. These so called laws simply represented a philosophy about how to get something accomplished as efficiently as possible for the least cost (not always in terms of cash either). When I read Code Complete by Steve McConnell he mentioned the "Buy-vs-Build Decision" that developers should consider as they design/develop an application. It might seem radical to buy a solution when you are focused on making something yourself.

I've personally kept these in mind when thinking about content for Revit and even AutoCAD/ADT/Microstation before that.

Law One - Borrow
Law Two - Buy
Law Three - Build

Law One - Borrow
I can hear the cynic saying, "you mean steal". I'm sure that has happened too often. However the idea of borrowing what has been shared made the early adopters of Revit very special to me. Their willingness to make something that took them several, many hours in some cases, and make it available to others was and remains refreshing, altruistic. Guys like Chris Yearick (Yman), Scott Brown (sbrown) and Chris Zoog (czoog) to name just a few, their AUGI usernames in ().

Have you used the "All Windows" families found at Revit City? Chris Yearick (Living Places part of The Pilari Group) made those many years ago now and posted them freely at RUGIE (no longer in existence) and they found their way into the Revit City content as well as AUGI's Exchange and other places I'm sure.

Scott Brown (now with Beck Group) shared his office template as well as many standard office/product detail components and views which short circuited the time someone need to spend on their office template substantially.

Chris Zoog (now with HOK) started Zoogdesign and created a vibrant community resource for Revit discussion. It eventually merged into the Revit community forum at AUGI.

More recently an AUGI member known as CadKiller has made an ftp site available to share templates in the same spirit.

Law Two - Buy
There is something to be said for the education of making something yourself but if you can't perform billable work during that time it may not make economic sense to do it yourself. It may not make sense to have anyone in your employ do it either for the same reason. Worse yet all too often I find that a firm's different offices have made the same content themselves without realizing that someone in their own organization already made it or bought it. So communicating what is available is pretty important too...and another topic entirely.

Law Three - Make it yourself
Like I wrote above there is nothing quite like making something yourself for both satisfaction and reaching a fuller understanding of the Family Editor. At times this is the best solution or perhaps the only "affordable" way to get precisely what you want. Just be prepared to apply these same "laws" to how you acquire any knowledge you lack, maybe in a different order?

Here's to being "Law" Abiding!

Wish - Mass Floor Selection Dialog

Most of the time I want to select all or nearly all the levels in my project when using Mass Floors. It would be nice if the dialog offered a ALL and NONE selection button to make it faster. Similar to other dialogs like the Filter Dialog for example. Here's what I'm thinking...

In the meantime I just select the first level, press the Shift Key and then select the last Level. Then I check any level's check box...same thing only different.

Friday, September 12, 2008

IES Virtual Environment - Revit Plug-In

This has been mentioned several times in various blogs but I thought I'd echo them..echo....echo.

Remember if you are using RAC 2008 or 2009 you can take advantage of their free VE-Ware plug-in. Here is a screen capture of their web site page dedicated to Revit.

This is text from their VE-Ware download section:

VE-Ware - Free software for yearly energy, carbon and Architecture 2030 Challenge assessment. You can also try a licence for the easy-to-use VE Toolkits, but not the whole suite.

Recommended for: New Users and Architects etc. who want straightforward performance calculations.

Install process: You’ll need to register and Download VE-Ware (54Mb) here
(For ease of deployment, a single file installs VE-Ware with both the SketchUp and Revit Plug-ins)

Opaque Text Exports

This THREAD at AUGI elicited a useful bit of information, like many do. Steve Faust writes in response to a post that Revit is exporting dwg text poorly.

"It's an option in ACAD to have "Background Masking" which is essentially the same as opaque text in Revit. Revit is trying to keep the export looking the same as your Revit drawing as much as possible. If you want opaque text in Revit but not in CAD, you'll need to open the Autocad drawing, use Quick Select to grab all the mtext, and turn off background masking in the properties panel."

This is a screen capture of the topic in AutoCAD 2009's help documentation:

Thanks Mr. Faust!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Corner Mullion Leg Calculator - "L" Corner Mullion

Regarding defining a precise inside mullion width at corners of curtain walls: Craig Thomas with Leo A. Daly shared this concept with me. It goes something like this: (Craig writes)

I did some experimenting and found I could make the “L Corner Mullion” work to my satisfaction (your expectations may be different) for angled curtain walls. (Craig wants to define the inside edge exactly) This is what I found.

If you know the angle between the two curtain walls (A), the desired width of the mullion along the face (in my case 2 ½”) and ½ the frame depth (y), you can calculate how long to make each leg on the mullion (X”)(see image below – from Type Properties of “L Corner Mullion”). Here’s the formula:

X” = 2 ½” + (y * tan(90-(A/2)))

At first it may look like a lot of work, but with the calculator on your PC you can easily do the math. Then save the mullion based on the angle. In my example, I had a 7” deep mullion at 150°, with 2 ½” exposed in the corner.

I named it “L Corner Mullion – 150 degrees”.

Steve says, "You can enter this formula in the Leg 1 and Leg 2 field directly too! and make sure you use inches!!"

This is the result in the project:

Thanks for sharing Craig!!

I thought I'd "pile on" and add something to this concept. I built an annotation symbol that consists of parameters to enter the data required for the formula and does the calculation for you. Place the symbol next to your corner. Enter values, get the result. Then you can edit the mullion, create a new type and enter the values.
If you'd like to play with this you can download the file here!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wish - Calculated Values in Tags

This is a common wish. We want to be able to DISPLAY calculated values not only in schedules but also in tags. Right now lacking this feature makes me feel like this guy!

Thanks to this site for the image.

Amended 09/11/08 - Per the comment, note that I'm asking to DISPLAY a calculated value in a tag. I'm not telling anyone how to accomplish it. I'm asking to be able to use a tag family to report a value that is the result of a calculation in a project relative to any element.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Floors - Voids and Various Rumblings

[Note: The 2010 release of Revit has resolved this issue.]

I wanted to use a floor hosted family to create a "waffle slab". Simple idea really, just create a four void blend cluster that could easily be placed in a "thick" floor slab to result in a waffle slab. In experimenting with it I discovered that the floor volume is not altered unless the void cuts both the top and bottom planes of the floor. If the void only removes some of the floor material it does not alter the floor volume at all. Here is an image as an example.

Using Revit now for a little over six years I've managed to convince myself that it wasn't always this way...but I can't be too sure anymore as my memory isn't what I used to remember it to be. I also tried the trick of using it in an In-Place family too...no difference. Ideally a void ought to subtract volume from a floor regardless.

A second issue with this approach is that if it is used in conjunction with a floor slab created by Revit Structure that uses the metal decking profile feature...the void family will kill the display of the profile for the entire slab.

These two issues "killed" this approach for me, shame too as it would have been "easy".

A third oddity before I go, regarding the new Mass Floors feature. If you try to create a Calculated Value that uses the Floor Volume parameter Revit will reject it as an invalid parameter name. Trouble is that it is a system parameter! Here's a couple images that depict the issue.

When you examine the parameter heading value under the Formatting Tab in Schedule Properties you'll find an "extra" space at the end of the parameter name. It's my guess that this is getting Revit annoyed.

Oh all right, since I'm on a roll one more...this is hardly the only such element with this issue but you can't tag a floor with Area, Volume or Perimeter data even though the element clearly knows what they are.

Per a comment I've POSTED the file if you are interested in the "waffle" family though it doesn't really "work" for the reasons that I listed above.

Using Revit is Safer than This!

These two images were acquired from this site. These guys are lucky to be alive, assuming they still are!

The old "level the scaffolding with whatever you find lying around trick"!

Thanks to this site for the image.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Un-Conference Encore - AU2008

I have it on very good authority that Autodesk University will run an encore performance of the very well received "Un-Conference Sessions" at Autodesk University 2008. I moderated one last year about advanced family editing that I'm told received the most "let's do it" votes. I don't know that it lived up to the hype but I enjoyed the discussion.

A recent thread at AUGI brought this up and I checked in with my contact at AU. Stay tuned to BLAUG this week for more details.

I've been kicking around a couple ideas for sessions. One about multi-discipline collaboration and another focused on organizing "our" priorities about what "we" want Autodesk to do. If I end up submitting something you can tell "me" how badly you want to do it by voting when they go live.

Door "Templates"

Some time ago I mocked up a few "template" family files that were configured for some common door situations I ran into. I call them templates because that's how I used them but I never bothered to change their file extension to .rft.

They had the 2D plan display that I wanted but no 3D panels since that was what I seemed to keep changing all the time. These represented a way to get "up and running" from scratch a little quickererer. When I needed a new door with a "special" panel I just grabbed one of these, added the panel, then loaded it into my project and got back to work.
These examples include the 2D swing family I created as part of my Autodesk University lab. I posted the handout for that HERE earlier. They also include a pair of extra reference planes that define the "required" offset from adjacent perpendicular walls so that a user can use the Align Tool to position a door very accurately easily according to this "standard" setting.

There is an Inset parameter to allow moving the door in and out of a wall.

I upgraded them to 2009 and posted them HERE if you are interested in tearing them apart.