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!

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