Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dept. of Unfair - Stairs - Riser and Array

When you choose to create a stair with the Riser and Boundary tools instead of the Run tool the use of the Array tool is disabled. Seems like a perfect tool to layout a series of risers quickly. Instead we have to use copy, copy w/ Multiple, or some combination of copy and mirror etc... At least enable the array tool but disable the Group and Associate if that is why it isn't available. It's unfair!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Shameless Plug - AU 2008 Classes by Bruce Gow

My friend from "the land down undah" (Australia) Bruce Gow is presenting some classes at AU that deserve some attention in my opinion, if you are schedule to attend AU 2008.

They are:

AB304-1 A Better Understanding Of Revit® Architecture Families for Advanced Users

ME114-1P A Better Understanding Of Revit® MEP Families: Advanced

I thought I saw a third for Revit Structure content too but I can't find it right now? Well...I hope you get a chance to attend AU and his classes!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another Side of Mr. OpEd - Lighting

I spent the early 80's traveling with bands, a roadie. I worked for a club act called the New York Flyers. I did a little of everything over the course of three years. I started out setting up the back line (amps) then the drums (I'm a drummer after all). I then did lighting, sound and then sound and lighting at the same time. I also did the pyro, flash and flame pots. I got "blown up sir" by the keyboardist and spent a month recuperating from burns on my arms and chin. Lost my eyebrows and was lucky to not lose my eyesight. After that they stopped doing pyro but we developed "flaming drumsticks" and it was my deal to set those ablaze so that Earl could play the drums for a bit with them. Cool trick! You can see them in some of the pictures on their site.

In the middle of that gig I left and worked for a small lighting company that did one night stands mostly (1982ish). I setup and or ran the lighting for a bunch of groups like Joan Jett, Orleans, The Rods, Moonlight Drive, Loverboy, 805, Duke Jupiter, Dakota, Stray Cats, Return to Forever...probably more I don't remember right now. That gig didn't last and I returned to the Flyers as the crew chief.

In 1983 I moved to Atlanta and joined a lighting company called R.A. Roth with the help of my good friend Peter "Wookie" Magdarz. My first tour was with Frankie Beverly and Maze, We are One tour, a great R&B group from the SF Bay area. You might also want to check out their song "Southern Girls". If you check out the videos note the fiber optic back drop. One of my tasks was hanging one like it each night. Had a stage hand (in Macon, GA I think) walk across it one night when we were preparing to fold it carefully for the truck. Crunch...crunch...$$$$

After that I spent eight months with 38 Special in support of their Tour de Force album (1983). This video, Wild Eyed Southern Boys, is from one of their earlier tours and this song struck terror into my heart each night because I had to get the two 50 gallon dry ice fog machines primed for the next song, Chained Lightning as Donnie Van Zant told me one night that he'd "kick my butt" if he couldn't duck down and hide in the fog. Turns out my crew chief put him up to it, inside joke I wasn't party to for awhile.

There were a lot of great opening acts for them too, Huey Lewis and the News (just as Sports was hitting it big), Golden Earring, Night Ranger, Joan Jett, Michael Stanley Band, Eddie Money, Ratt (well you decide about great?), Cheap Trick, there may have been more but I'm blanking...not a bad list though.

When their tour wrapped up I/we quickly turned around another lighting rig and left for four months straight with The Fixx for their Phantoms Tour (1984). God bless never know what you'll find there! I did a search recently for them and found these two links from the tour I was on but don't remember them being filmed so I can only assume they weren't authorized.

This one is their song Wish, which I really like but don't recall them playing it live much so it must have been a fluke that it was caught live, that or my memory is fading. This second one is called "Lost in Battle overseas" which I also liked quite a bit.

This tour was unique for the time because it was one of the first to use primarily moving fixtures, the Vari*Lite made by the then called sound company Showco. Only Genesis tours featured more of them at the time and Genesis was an investor if I remember correctly. Their (The Fixx) lighting director, Alan (the spelling of his first name and last name escape me at the moment), used them in quite inventive ways and it really set the show apart from a typical concert.

There were 29 ellipsoidals, just 12 par 64's (for opening acts), four Mole Fays (audience lighting) and 24 Vari*Lites all mounted on a squarish box truss configuration and 4 Vari*Lites on the floor. There were lots of black curtains with a black scrim and white muslin cyclorama curtain complimented with a long row of cyclorama light fixtures in three colors, white, red and blue. There were two lighting techs, me and Fred (FUF) and two for the Vari*Lites (Eddie and Billy). Later Dunaway replaced FUF when his antics at a video shoot in Ventura precipitated an early return home (that's definitely another story).

This is what the Vari*Lite (1984) computer console looked like. Eventually I talked Alan into letting me use a few of the Vari*Lites for opening acts as long as I didn't "move" them. I argued that the opening acts deserved to be "seen" at least a little bit and maybe one day they'd be a big act that would remember standing in the dark and never hire him. One act ended up hitting the charts pretty well, Bourgeois Tagg with I don't mind at all, a one hit wonder though. Once I made a mistake and changed scenes that refocused the lamps in a different spot, which is what made the lighting "move". Alan was convinced I did on purpose but it was an honest oops!

The set you can see in the video was a real pain in the butt and Malcomb had loads of fun with that each day. The set carts it came on were huge and heavy and the whole thing had sharp bits waiting to bite you at every turn.

I'll save more reminiscing for another time and more time to search for web bits. I'll have to dredge up my old tour passes and scan some for a chuckle or two.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Join Geometry - Crossing Window

When you use the Join Geometry Tool and check the Multiple Join Option (yes the Options Bar) you can use a "Crossing Window" to select multiple items to Join to your first "Pick". Thanks to Ed Tallmadge (Kelar) for the reminder!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Revit MEP - Lookup Tables

[Edited December 9, 2011]
If you wish to repath the Lookup Tables for your office to a new location you'll need to consider that Revit 2012 has changed things a bit. The path may also be stored in a second Revit.ini file associated with your user profile (to better support user specific options).

The default installation should be here:

C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\RME 2012\Lookup Tables\Revit.ini

The user specific one is probably in a folder like this one:

%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\Revit\Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012\Revit.ini

If you find Revit is unresponsive to your new location, check the user folder location. You can read more about it in a Revit Clinic post from August 2011.

Original Post follows:

Pipe Fittings use a special folder to determine the correct fitting sizes when you create or change piping. The path may vary a bit depending on the operating system you are using. The folder, called Lookup Tables, is stored along with the content library, wherever that may be on your computer. This location is found in the Revit.ini file too.

If you move the folder elsewhere and change the location in the .ini file Revit doesn't acknowledge it. It still looks in the default location and now your fittings don't work. Seems to be hardwired...seems buggish to me.

Perhaps they didn't intend to give the impression that it could or should be moved to a central location? They don't even have a topic for lookup tables in the help documentation. Try a search for "Lookup" or "Lookup Tables" results.

The impression that it can be moved is given by the inclusion of the location in the Revit.ini file. Not the sort of thing your average "bear" will notice but those implementation minded "bears" will..guaranteed! In fact that's why I know about this...a fellow "bear" asked me about it! Now you do too!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dimensions - They Tell a Story!

Ask someone how a floor plan should be dimensioned. You might be surprised at the range of responses you'll get. Answers will depend on what is important, what is in the view, who you ask, if they have field experience...but the answers you get will vary. Just as you'll get varied responses to where dimensions should reference, face of stud, face of finish, wall center line....

Take a look at this picture and "tell me" what's wrong dimensionally. Now I'm sure that you could come up with something other than what I'm trying to show but I've made ONE mistake that is important to me (hint, yeah it's the one in red).
This is just a simple wall layout, no column grid lines, no columns...just a simple rectangular layout yet it is wrong. It is wrong because I couldn't stop "talking", I said too much. By talking I mean using dimensions. Dimensions are a dialogue that we, the documenter, has with the reader/listener. They are NOT just information or something we do without intention or purpose.

My mistake is that I closed the dimension string. By closing the string I haven't told the person in the field what I think is important. What is important changes. An exit corridor has different criteria from a room in a line of rooms. A laboratory for highly technically equipment will have its own needs. My simple drawing should not have included the middle dimension, something like this instead, not much difference but an important one.
This image tells a better story, that I want the room on the left to be a specific size and the room on the right to be a specific size as well. The space in the middle is LESS important than those because it is NOT dimensioned. This is the story I intended to tell but I failed in the first version. I was ambiguous, they could come to their own conclusions. (Yes I realize that I didn't dimension the other wall offset...I stopped talking too soon!)

Worse my dimensions might not actually add up. By the time they are ready to put up those partitions the exterior walls have been there awhile. If they can't make the center room the correct size, what then? If they work from the left and make the left and center room the correct size and the right one is the one I really cared it is not the size I wanted. Maybe we are only talking about inches or less...but maybe not.

Purpose - Why am I using a dimension and who is my audience? A presentation drawing has a different purpose than a construction document. Dimensions on one drawing compared with another therefore can have a different purpose. They speak with a different dialect, the one that the intended audience will understand and appreciate.

Lessons learned...years ago I worked for J.R. Clancy, a theater equipment manufacturer. I was their dealer sales person. I wore several hats. One was shop drawings for custom components our dealers needed for their projects. This deceptively simple looking drawing was a lesson learned and the same as the one above. (Note: I used a drafting view to mock up the critical mistake I made so the bill of materials and all the other information it would technically have is missing here)

I closed the dimension strings in this case too (yes in red). The problem I created by doing this is, in this case, consistency. The person who spends his day punching the "circles" out of the steel angle cut 300 pieces first and then spent the rest of the morning making the first 150 or so. He set up his stops on the punch press assuming measuring from the left end. He finishes the job after lunch and sends them off to assembly. No worries.

The next job comes along and I reuse this drawing since it is just like that last one they ordered. Off to the shop it goes but this time "that guy in the shop" decides to set up the press from the right end. Why not? I gave him all the numbers to do it easily didn't I? Trouble is that this part is used with others, a pair of which a computer makes in the thousands by an outside firm. These angles are the only custom part of the job, done on a job by job basis. If I did this on standard part drawings the effect would be more dramatic.

When he measures from the "wrong" end these parts don't fit as well because the cutting process for the steel angle isn't that precise, it's a band saw and well human beings are easily distracted. When these pieces are used later to assemble the final component the finished product looks "crappy" because of the slight misalignment.

There are any number of things the person running the press could have done to avoid the situation. But if I didn't provide the closing dimension at the end it would have "told him" that it was more important to me that the holes were cut relative to the left than from other end. It starts with me and my dimensions, I need to enunciate when I "speak".

The lesson I learned then, and reinforced in many other situations since, is that dimensions are not something pretty that a drawing should have to look correct. They tell a story, they tell someone else what I WANT! If a dimension doesn't tell your story then you don't need it. Dimensions should speak with your voice but in the language of the reader/listener. If a dimension doesn't tell your reader/listener what you want then it isn't doing its job and neither are you. Know when to stop talking, don't say too much. Wait to say something else on a different drawing when the right audience is listening.

With Revit it is my recommendation that you use the full depth of Revit's precision, 1/256" as your project units (Settings menu > Project Units) or whichever units are involved in your situation. This means that temporary dimensions will display "funny, messy" numbers when they occur. They WILL occur because construction and physical materials have "funny/messy" dimensions. Dimensions will also show this if they are set to use Project Units, as the default styles are.

You can decide when to be abstract, just how abstract or real by using dimensions that use different rules for tolerance. All manufacturing drawings discuss tolerance so the person doing the work can determine what tolerance is appropriate for the task at hand. So should ours.

Now I'll take my own advice and stop talking!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another Side of Mr. OpEd

I have friends who are musicians first and have jobs second. I have friends who have jobs and happen to play an instrument. Although I have played drums since I was fifteen and been in bands for many of the years since I have never told someone that I'm a drummer first and a something else second. I guess that means I'm not a professional musician though technically I made a meager living as one in my late teens. I don't think of myself as a drummer first...funny how we can "pigeon hole" ourselves.

The band I played with the longest was called "Angry Neighbors" as in we've got them, angry neighbors. I don't even remember when we started playing together exactly and I'm even fuzzy on how we got connected. It was just a three piece outfit, drums, bass and guitar. Two Steve's and a Mike...pun intended, Mike played guitar/harmonica and sings like a birdie. The two Steve's just looked good in the background...well we tried.

We started out as a "B" side band that only played the stuff we wanted to. As you can probably guess there aren't that many places eager to book a "B" side band. So we played some "A" side stuff too and that helped. We also found we enjoyed playing original stuff that Mike wrote over the prior years in various bands. So we started focusing as much on that stuff as anything else. This didn't increase our marketability and our meteoric rise to fame has been in a long flat rise except for a week in 2002 or maybe it was 2003...when we played a clam bake and of rained! Check out the glamorous back drop!

We recorded a live gig and played haphazardly with recording in the proverbial basement. We were three guys who had jobs and played instruments when we could. It was a great outlet! We could get together next weekend and sound like we never stopped playing, just a strange sort of comfortable that we enjoy. We occasionally would practice whether we needed it or not! When someone asks me who we sounded like I'd say either, "We are easy to listen to but not easy listening" or "Imagine Neal Young and Tom Petty had a kid and he was Matthew Sweet"... Doesn't help much does it?

Then I messed it all up by moving to California! Mike and Steve went on to team up with The Z-Bones and then Steve stopped playing out for the most part. Mike is still at it! Me...I've been on my longest playing drought ever. I've been planning to pick up an electronic set so I can play "quietly" at home for months and I've just never checked off that to do item.

I've posted three songs that anyone who is interested can download.
Book of Love is a basement recording, Turn it Off and Half a Man are a live recording (board mix) of one of our occasional gigs.

We are on the slow trajectory for stardom...(in our own minds!) The latest news is that we are kicking around the idea of working electronically via Garage Band and seeing what noise we can make! I guess I need to get that kit!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hiding Un-Wanted View Annotation

This is about hiding view annotation like Sections, Elevations and Callouts.

You can hide individual annotation by selecting one or more, Right Click > Hide in View > Elements.

This will hide just those selected in this view only. If you have many and many views to do this in it can get a bit tedious. To restore these Hidden Elements you need to use the Reveal Hidden Elements feature found on the View Control Shortcuts Bar.

This mode will display those things that have been hidden and allow you to UnHide them.

Two other methods are possible, one easy and one a bit more involved but also "easy" depending on your definition of easy.

For "easiest", when you print you can choose the Print Setup Option: Hide unreferenced view tags.

This means that for any views that are not currently on a sheet view Revit will not print their corresponding annotation. They are still visible and yes you have to remember to choose this setting but it is "easy" and more or less automatic.

A more involved approach requires a couple things; a view and the use of the "Hide at Scales Coarser Than" parameter, part of each view's instance parameters and found here.

The first step is to create a view, like a floor plan using a ridiculous scale like full size or maybe 6"=1'-0". This view will never fit on paper. Now you can name this view something like: "Ridiculous Scale View to Hide Annotation" (RSVTHA) or maybe something more discreet?

Now you add all your working sections or elevations that you don't want to clutter your document set. When you place these views on your "RSVTHA" view you need to make sure they are using the same value for the "Hide as Scales Coarser Than" parameter. This will prevent the annotation from showing up in any view that uses a coarser scale than 6"=1'-0". If you have some views using this scale then pick the next scale "up" or coarser.

When you are navigating your sections or manipulating where they cut the model you just use the "RSVTHA" and you never have to worry about them showing up where they aren't wanted.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Schedules, Symbols and Marks

Anyone dealing with a little bit of implementation with Revit has probably heard this one, "Uh, but we show a "delta" for each Revision number in our revision schedule". Second verse same as the first when discussing schedules for doors, windows, motors, VAV's, Lighting Fixtures...the list goes on.

I tell people all the time that with Revit you have one of three answers to any question you might ask:

Yes it can do THAT! (85%) you have a minute? (10-15%)
NO! Well...not yet! (0-5%)

Yes means there is a specific tool or intentional way to do something. Ummm...means get ready for a work around because a precise tool is missing, an approach exists but isn't obvious or intentional or you must distort an intentional feature to get what you want. Usually the result is still good and in keeping with the larger idealism of Revit and BIM. No means no, but even NO has a workaround. However it usually is so ugly, painful or objectionable that most would run away to hide in order to avoid doing it.

This delta or door tag in a schedule column is a NO, not that can happen easily or automatically unfortunately. At its worst a work around is awful because you are asking someone to place a little symbol on top of every row in a schedule to get the "look" you want with the fairly obvious unpleasantness when the data changes. A slightly better solution is to just place one symbol at the top of the column instead. I try hard to get people to "relax" a bit about this one since they've (they should have) got a symbol legend already that explains what that little delta is all about. Caution though...don't actually tell someone who is tense to relax. Usually quite the opposite will happen! 8-)

Some are quite fierce about these established habits.

My problem is that I spent eleven years, working for a contractor and manufacturer, reading A/E drawings to get equipment, materials and personnel for projects prepared to then install in the field. My primary complaint with documentation was usually the lack of detail for a specific part of the project. Worse a section or detail that was "promised" in a plan but didn't materialize on the sheet it was supposed to be delivered on.

I never ever worried about a symbol or whether the elevation "punched". As long as the symbol was on the legend "up front" I was good to go. Of course there were plenty of symbols with out a match on the legend. When I was estimating a project I usually had about a half hour to make some pretty significant decisions about what our customers would need from us so "pretty" didn't cut it...I needed data.

Make no mistake, some drawings stood out to me, made an impact and caught my attention by being different. Usually these drawings were also "better" not necessarily because they were "prettier" but because such attention to detail tends to continue on into the subtleties of a project. One thing that always made schedules easier for me that is also a NO in Revit is even/odd shading or grouping of rows so there was some visual separation of data. This made it easier to read and find my way through large amounts of information.

After eleven years of that I was in for quite a shock when I started working for an architect who was quite particular about the documentation that left his office. It was an education in the finer points of documentation and design. For that I'm grateful and it has continued to this day every where I go. But once you've had Banana Cream Pie you don't forget...I've seen this issue from both sides and they are both correct...for different reasons.

I try hard to encourage people to not distract our progress with implementation by making a NO issue a "showstopper". I encourage them to contact Autodesk to make sure they (Autodesk) understands what they need done. Eventually they'll get to most if not all commonly requested features.

I try hard to keep moving forward because many of these kind of issues are not likely to turn up in a monetary penalty like change orders or rework. I'd gladly give up this sort of "sacred habit" if I could avoid some costly change orders because one of our staff is not busy putting little symbols on a schedule/sheet and instead catches that big "oops".

The first architect I worked for said in a meeting once that it often feels like he spends 90% of his time convincing people to do things, that they can do things and 10% designing and resolving things. He could only imagine what his work output/quality might be like if he could invert that. Apply that same thinking to documentation. If we spend a disproportionate amount of time doing things that don't add value but just keep us busy we probably are n0t catching significant errers or making better informed decisions.

Good luck with "that"!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Legends - Face Based Families

Short and sweet...they don't mix unfortunately. When they created the capability they either missed the fact that legends didn't support them or they decided the feature was more important than them working in Legends to hold them back. I'm glad we have FBF's. I'm not glad about or happy with the Legend feature set.

Legends are compromised by (at a minimum):

- Inability to transfer them between project files.
- Face Based Families do not work in them
- Tags cannot identify the elements displayed in them
- A sheet includes a legend in its "Scale" display evaluation.

An element in a Legend view should be "equal" to a real element but not affect quantity. That means tagging as well as dimensioning. The current implementation sacrifices bIm for graphic representation as well as ease and consistency of use.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hey You! Smell the Roses!!

It goes something like this..."Hey Steve can you help me with something?". Naturally I can't wait to help! I eventually stop browsing AUGI and wander over to their desk and ask "What's up? Need help with that Stock pick? or trying to decide between the Vanquish or the DB9?, you only live once go for the Vanqu...oh it's a Revit problem? I see, well what's seems to be the matter?"

They say, "I'm having trouble getting "this" to work!" I ask them to run through it again. Two steps into their demonstration I see a warning message flash on the screen and before I can say, "Jumping Jack Flash" they've clicked the OK button and they've moved on to the next step.

I say, "What was that message?". They say, "What message?" I say, "The one you didn't read and then clicked OK for!". They say, "NO!??!...really??"...yeah really!!

My advice? Take a deep breath, slow down...smell the those messages and more importantly try to understand them. Even the ones that just offer a simple "?". That one just means Revit is as confused as you are, you both need a break.

Have a nice day, visit a garden!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Standards - Everybody's Got Standards, their own!

Wherever I go I get the same story, we use the "standard". Yep, "you" and everyone else. Only trouble is the "standard" the last place is using doesn't look like the standard "you" say is the standard... No I'm not really going down this rabbit hole, as much fun as it might be.

I am however going to point out an issue that users have with content that comes from Autodesk, out of the box (OOTB), consistency or rather the lack of it. We'll look at two examples; the (RAC) stock door family template and the (RME) stock Automatic Transfer Switch family.

The door template looks like this in plan.
When you first start to use it you notice that there is no Width parameter in the view. You think, reasonably so..."I need a Width Parameter!". You add a dimension. Then you start to add a Width parameter but find one is already there!

Naturally you think, "I'll just use this one!". Now Revit yells at you!

Hmmm...if it is overconstrained by adding this, how might that be?? Well this forces you to examine the rest of the views in the template. Taking a closer look at the Front Elevation view we find that the Width Dimension and parameter are lurking here. What? What "standard" does this follow?

Moving on...

The Automatic Transfer Switch family looks like this in plan view.

Maybe I'm just a bit of a crank but this is one messy view. Reference planes all over the place. Nothing confuses me quicker than a messy layout. Next, notice the orientation of the Switch Width and Width parameters? If the front of the panel is at the bottom of the view wouldn't this Width parameter really be the "depth" of the cabinet? Now notice the Switch Length parameter, wouldn't this be "width"? Naturally there is another "width" is in the elevation view.

At least these two are consistent in this way.

It is my opinion that dimensions/constraints should be added to views such that X and Y information is described plan views and Z information is displayed in elevations views, primarily the front view unless that is unsuitable for some reason. Dare I say...consistent with drafting "standards" 8-). Further families that represent real equipment should be organized in the same way as their catalog "cuts" or data sheets indicate. Width should be width and depth should be depth, not length = width etc.

"Soapbox" explodes...and I'm done!

Friday, October 17, 2008


Someone asked me awhile ago why I picked this color scheme? When I saw this template design among those available to us at blogger I liked that it reminded me of the sepia diazo prints I used to make in the past (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we used technical pencils/pens to draw).

We used to have to provide a set of sepia prints with our equipment and design submittals when I worked for a theater rigging contractor years ago. These sepia diazo prints permitted altering the document without changing the the original vellum.

I've always liked the way sepia drawings looked when compared with "blueprints". I've seen a few blog templates lately though that have caused me to think about a change...but then I get sepia and go to bed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wish - Dimension Enhancement

One more wish that I hear very often, place a dimension across multiple elements by sketching a "line". Pick two points to define all elements that should be included in a dimension string. Further to that it would be good if you could sketch a multi-segment "path" as well.

I could wait till Monday...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Implementation by Accident

Don't try THIS at home!!

When a friend sent this image to me I thought of what Phil Read said at Autodesk University in one of his sessions a couple years ago. He said (paraphrasing), "You can't implement Revit accidentally". He was emphasing that implementation is a deliberate activity that requires planning. If you don't then in a way you are doing what this guy is doing...hoping that his supports hold...good luck!!

(I don't know where the photo originally came from but thanks!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - One Family at a Time

Eric Stewart with Design Development Architects mentioned this to me the other day and I thought it qualified as a "Reviteristic".

When you use the File menu > Load from Library > Load Family you get to load as many families as you can select in a single folder.

When you use one of the various tools to place a component and then choose to Load a new family you only get to load ONE. Eric wonders why? I wonder why? Seems a bit arbitrary to limit us to just one selection in this mode. Using the component placement tools doesn't seem to warrant the limitation.

I say off with the "shackles"!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Revit Structure - Wishlist - More Connection Types

We have Moment and Cantilever now.
We need...

Stiffener - Plate Steel welded between flanges
Braced Connection - structure between top flange and bottom flange of another beam
Drag - Beam that connects into another building frame and additional members extend bracing into the adjacent structure.

I suspect that one reason these other options don't exist is that external analysis tools either ignore these connect subtleties or deal with them differently enough that they've held off providing them. This is likely a "documentation" versus "engineering" situation...just a guess on my part.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - The Solution is Delete!!

Whenever you get a warning message or use Review Warnings have you noticed that the solution Revit seems to think is the correct choice for practically every situation is to DELETE the offending element. It is sort of an "off with his head" reaction isn't it?? Is your wall giving you problems...DELETE IT! That's what I do and I feel much better! It is the "duct tape" solution in Revit...101 uses!

I think it would be wonderful if...since Revit caught a problem in the first place...the warnings were more meaningful, in "plain English" and offered us some more useful possibilities in addition to or other than DELETE!

Am I unanimous in this?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Investment Strategy - Beer Drinkers 401Keg Plan

Assume you purchased $1000.00 in stock from one of these companies just one year ago. The value of your investment would track like this:

Nortel - Now worth $49.00
Enron - Now worth $16.50
WorldCom - Now worth <$5.00
Delta Air Lines - Now worth 49.00
United Airlines - Now worth zero

However, IF you used the same $1000.00 to buy beer instead, assuming aluminum cans, one year ago, consumed all the beer, then recycled the cans you would have +/-$214.00.

Based on the above, the logical conclusion is to drink heavily AND recycle.

This was passed along to me by Ed, Thanks! I don't know who dreamt this up first but it might be a winning strategy as long as the fact that your investment is still a "loser" does not bring you down?

Disclaimer: No, I haven't checked the facts in this claim and even if I had you couldn't count on my math skills anyway. Your return on investment may very depending on the beer you drink. My recommendation...Bass

Cheers Mate!

STC - Spot Elevation - Answer

As Afaq says in his comment, a color fill can interfere with placing a Spot Dimension. The other thing that can interfere is Model Graphics Style: Wireframe. A Spot Dimension can't "see" a surface if you are using Wireframe. It won't mind having a color fill or using wireframe after you place the Spot Dimension but you won't be able to place one while either condition exists.

Friday, October 10, 2008

STC - Spot Dimension > Spot Elevation Won't Work

"Stump the Chump...again"

Monica wants to place a Spot Elevation in a plan view. Revit just offers her the "nope you can't" symbol (circle with the line through it). What could be wrong?? Did Monica make Revit mad? She did notice when she put the cursor above an edge it started working that a clue?

Answer tomorrow AM. Post your answer in a comment. Answers/Comments, if any, will be posted in the morning too. (This is probably too easy....)

Willie Nelson is attending Autodesk University??

When I saw this image on the AUGI home page my first thought was my blog title!

I believe it is really Shaan Hurley's image but it did make me think of Willie first!

Nope, nothing to do with Revit other than there will be Revit classes at AU!

Oh by the the rest of that image! Your last chance to book your spot at AU for the early bird rate is fast approaching.

Per the comment it is Steve Jacobsen, not Shaan.

Grids That Don't Show Up

Revit will not display Grids that are not perpendicular to the view cut plane. Revit developers chose this because they preferred not to convey ambiguity with important datum elements.

A way to work around this involves a generic model family that contains simple lines in plan to provide something to locate properly in a view. It then uses a symbolic line drawn in the Front Elevation to act as a "Grid Line". He places this family in the project at the intersection of a grid and the element that is parallel to the intended view. The line in the Front View of the family then appears in the elevation or section view.

I used a similar approach in the past to create match lines for a project and to display "3D" grids. When I watched the video I noticed that he didn't take advantage of the Reference Planes IsReference parameters and Instance Parameters. Probably just a matter of keeping the video length to a minimum. Doing so however would make the grid more easily adjustable in the view by using grips instead of setting their length via the properties dialog.

The tricky part of getting the grips is that you don't want to dimension to the Reference Level in the family. You need to use the Reference Plane that is hiding beneath the Level. When you do this then the grips will appear at the ends of the line.

The last part of the puzzle is a tag family for the bubble and grid number. In David's example he put the circle in the grid family and tagged using just the Mark parameter. In my version I've put the circle in the tag too so I don't have to deal with sizing it for the "correct" scale since it could be visible in multiple views assigned to different scales.

I'd prefer to be able to build and nest the annotation for the bubble and mark but in the infinite wisdom of the developers they won't let us place a symbol family in an elevation view within the family editor. Not fair!

I've posted an example project file HERE (640 kb).

(Edit 11/21/2016) Move the following original text from the first paragraph to here because years have gone by and only the fact that David did something in the past for this situation remains available. My post was inspired by his cleverness originally. First paragraph originally included the following sentence.

David Fano posted a lengthy video explaining how he works around this limitation (update: access to the video seems to have been removed since).

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Revit MEP - Rehost - Multiple Items

Once upon a time, with the earliest releases of Revit MEP, a deleted host meant not only some rework but lost work as well because those elements were deleted too. So imagine putting in a lot of receptacles or light fixtures and then the architect deleted a ceiling to redesign it. The next time you load their project file you'd find a bunch of stuff missing. Not good...they fixed that! Good thing!

Now when you place equipment, fixtures and devices on a host they just become disassociated with the work plane of their previous host. The elements stay connected to their circuits and no lost work. I'm not saying there isn't rework involved but the stuff you took the time to do didn't just vanish into thin air.

When these elements get disassociated you can select them and choose the REHOST button on the Options Bar.

What some miss is that you can use this tool for multiple elements, say several light fixtures at once. As long as there is a valid host "under" them you should be good to go!

A related issue is, "Gosh, I wonder what the elevation of that ceiling is...before I go nuts sketching duct work and piping?" We'll some will quickly grab their Section tool and sketch a section view to find out. That's good, they've finally gotten comfortable with creating views to explore the model as much as to put on paper. However the Spot Dimension > Spot Elevation tool is a bit handier perhaps?

As long as the view is using something other than wire frame you can place a Spot Elevation to display the elevations of the ceilings. There is an example in the first image above. We can't just tag the ceilings in a linked model so this approach is next best.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - Revit MEP - That Pesky Options Bar

When you enter a duct size or offset (elevation) on the Options Bar you may have been bitten by the "old scroll wheel automatico-resizer-syndrome"?? picked a 12" high duct and suddenly you find your height is 48" just because you moved your mouse back over the drawing window and used that middle button/scroll wheel to zoom in or out.

Trouble is the "focus" of Revit is still in that field on the Options Bar. The TAB key, doesn't help. Pressing Enter doesn't help... Nothing seems to...

Well here's what I do, I click on one of the Scroll Bar's buttons to move the focus back into the drawing window. This allows me to move the focus back into the Drawing Window without actually clicking in the Drawing Window, which would place a first point instead of letting me zoom in/out.

Edit: Comment by "Mr. Jackson" suggests his technique: Use the middle button to "pan" for a second. I think is a better solution too!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Shameless Plug - Design West Engineering - Architect's Corner

I had the pleasure of working with Design West Engineering nearly two years ago when they were getting serious about Revit MEP. They had a "can do", "will do" attitude that is essential to being successful with a challenging transition like moving to Revit MEP.

Since steal a phrase my friends back in Atlanta used all the time...they've been "kickin' butt and takin' names". This is polite company (my mom reads this blog now and then, since I don't call her enough) so mentally swap out butt for another term and you've got the essence of the message. 8-)

The other day their Revit Project Manager (Joel Londenberg) shared a link (in a post at AUGI) to a document they've posted on a special page at their company web site called Architect's Corner. They've shared a number of articles that are intended to help their clients work with them as well as information they think might be useful in general. For example one is titled, "How to Swap Models".

Joel (Londenberg) and Jarrod Baumann will be presenting Revit MEP classes at AU this year. If you are attending take another look at your schedule to see if you can catch them in action. Their classes are:

ME318-2 Capturing Design Intent: Building Revit MEP Content that Assists your Engineering Tasks (Joel's class)

ME500-1 From Contract to Construction Documents with Revit MEP (Jarrod's class)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Survey Results - Revit Sweet

Thank to those of you who took time to vote in my quiet little polls! I appreciate the votes and I'll take them to Autodesk with the hope that they will consider it more seriously.

The results of the surveys I posted are: (poll was open to voting for 30 days)

Want a Revit "Sweet"? (156 votes)
115 - Want a Revit Sweet bundle/combo (73%)
24 - Want just two out of three versions (15%)
17 - Only need or want one version of Revit (10%)

Willing to pay how much? (110 votes)
1 - 15k full price basically (0%)
25 - 9.5 k (price of two versions) (22%)
13 - 7.5k (a bit less than two versions) (11%)
71 - 5K plus higher subscription rate (price of one version but willing to pay higher "freight" per month for the additional features) (64%)

Just to clarify it was my intention that this poll reflect the delivery of a "All in One" product, all Revit tools and features combined into one product, one install, one product code. Not the delivery of three separate products for a special price though nobody would object to special pricing for purchasing all three versions at a time. The ideal situation is simpler price, simpler installation, simpler product, one install...all the features.

Background: There are between 300 and 600 readers of this blog visitors per day during the week and it drops to between 100 to 200 on the weekend. I assume most are repeat visitors so this means that roughly a quarter of the readership chose to vote.

My conclusion? A majority of users would like to have Revit "Sweet" and are willing to pay more through their subscription rate to get it. I wasn't surprised by the results for wanting Revit "Sweet" but was a little surprised by the willingness to pay more for subscription as opposed to the 3 for 2 pricing approach. I suppose the assumption is that they'd pay less via subscription somehow.

I hope that Autodesk does some measuring of the market themselves and finds this approach to the delivery of Revit and its toolset to be consistent with my results! They couldn't deliver Revit "Sweet" fast enough for me and most of the clients I visit.

Room Number at Both Ends of a Schedule

This is something I posted a long long time ago at the Zoogdesign forums and then was merged into the AUGI forums, about a door schedule however. A few releases later a better way showed up unannounced in the schedule features though it isn't obvious.

This involves creating a calculated value that we tell Revit to be "equal" to the other parameter we want to duplicate. Here's the calculated value dialog.

This is the resulting schedule based on my conceptual design for my special client.
This schedule includes additional parameters for a room name abbreviation and a client provided program area. I compare the actual area against "theirs" and get the difference. I used a shared parameter for the abbreviation so I can tag the "little" rooms with that instead. I just put two views using either in the image.

This is what the calculated parameter looks like for the difference calculation.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Quick Tip: When you see both an OK button and and APPLY button in a Visibility/Graphics Overrides...

The APPLY button "applies" the changes you made but does not close the dialog.
The OK button "applies" the change AND closes the dialog.

You do not have to click Apply AND then OK. If you are done making changes click OK. If you want to see your changes first, click APPLY.

Keep in mind if you click CANCEL after using APPLY Revit does not commit any of the changes you made. The OK button commits changes to the database.

I mention this because I see seasoned and new users doing this all the time.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

HVAC Load Calculation Extension

There have been other posts about this extension but I figure I'll mention it again..but late. When Autodesk purchased Carmel Software (January 2008) they rebranded it and released it as a subscription benefit. Time for a pretty picture!

What it is:

The HVAC Load Calculation Extension by Autodesk, Inc. is a commercial and industrial HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) load calculation software package whose calculations are based upon the ASHRAE 2005 Fundamentals radiant time series (RTS) method.

It's purpose:

This tool will provide you with total cooling and heating loads for a building so that you may properly specify the correct size HVAC equipment (whether it is a packaged rooftop unit or a boiler). This program is geared specifically toward the HVAC engineer, architect, design/build mechanical contractor, and building maintenance supervisor.

Some key features:

Input HVAC system characteristics such as supply cooling and heating temperatures, ventilation rates, fan characteristics, cooling and heating setpoints, duct sizing, and safety factors

Input HVAC area (room) characteristics such as wall, window, roof, door, skylight, and partition areas. In addition, there are inputs for # of people, electrical appliances, infiltration, lighting, miscellaneous, exhaust, and plenum loads

Weather data from over 800 cities throughout the world

A complete u-value database for common wall, roof, window, floor, and door types

A complete appliance list for determining internal electrical equipment load contributions

Many reports including summary, detailed, psychrometric, wall/window breakdown, 24-hour load breakdown, and graphical reports

A feature that allows the user to export all inputs and outputs to custom Microsoft Word and Excel documents

Equipment selection

Support for both English (IP) and Metric (SI) units

I've noticed a couple traces of Carmel still in the product the other day as pictured here.

The information provided here can be found in the Help documentation for this software. It is provided as a compliment to Revit and AutoCAD MEP software. Most notable is that you can export TO GBXML format from either product, then Import into this extension and THEN export BACK to them.

Check it out!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sustainable Forums @ AUGI

I thought I'd mention that in light of the purchase by Autodesk of both Green Building Studio and Ecotect that AUGI has created a new forum group under the AEC banner.

There are three forums for this topic.

I hope that everyone who believes in this issue (or perhaps contests the issue) will find them useful, in particular the "Green Pastures" forum which is intended for broad issue discussion apart from specific software solutions.

Bill Adams has volunteered to be the moderator, thanks Bill!


Thursday, October 02, 2008

RTC 2009 - Call for Papers

RTC = Revit Technology Conference (aka The *AU "down-under")

My friend Wesley Benn, his team of experts and the members of the Revit User Group of Sydney (RUGsyd) organize this event each year (fifth year this). I was fortunate enough to attend and present at RTC 2006. I had a lot of fun and I still wear my hat! Events have conspired against me to prevent my loss for them as they've continued to have great sessions and presenters. My loss....

So you like to teach/talk about Revit? Are you looking for an excuse to go to Melbourne, Australia? They are calling all speakers/presenters to offer course submissions for review and acceptance. Here's the pertinent details:

When: June 18-20, 2009
Where: The Sebel Albert Park Hotel, Melbourne, Australia

What do you do now? Download the FORM and follow the instructions!

Deadline for submissions is Friday 31 October 2008. Good luck...but not too much so that you don't knock me out of the running!!

I'll post a link as soon as their site is up and running.

(* AU = Autodesk University) could also just plan to attend!?! You don't HAVE to speak to attend!!

Autodesk Subscription - Follow Up

I fairly well blasted Autodesk's new Subscription site the other day. It is often said the bad news runs on Page One and the retraction runs on Page Six. Well I don't need to retract anything because it wasn't working and it still isn't according to the information I was sent by the subscription team. I CAN however at least access my account using my old credentials, more on that in a bit.

I can say that they have been very responsive. I received email support from their support team. I also received an email from Michael Hall, Senior Program Manager, Global Subscription & Support. He followed that up with a phone call that I missed because of a conference call. He and his team have been very supportive and receptive of the "bad news" and my temporary "Captain Attitude" mode. I wasn't at my best and I'm grateful they didn't take it badly.

Now I could be cynical and say my blogging contributed to this response and truthfully it did help escalate the issue. However I'm confident that they'd take similar criticism in any form with an equal resolve to work through it.

Mike's exact words to me when I apologized for "moaning" on my blog were,

"As for groaning, it can be surprisingly effective and the fact is, the more we understand the experience of the user, the better we can serve that user. All feedback is welcome."

I realize it might make Michael uncomfortable a bit to see me quoting him but I think this is indicative of the attitude of practically every Autodesk staff member I've ever come into contact with.

The issue at hand is that during the consolidation of customer accounts there are some who just didn't get resolved fully. Mine was one. Some of my accounts were successful but the subscription account was not. Naturally the new consolidated login information I received like many others led me to believe that I just needed to log in according to the instructions. Reasonable response. Now we know otherwise. The short term fix is to use my old credentials and I'm back in business.

Now that I've been able to poke around the new site I must say it is much improved. I was able to use whichever browser I felt like and this is just the beginning. This is part of the reason Michael called, he hoped to share some of their longer range goals with me. So I'll take him up on his offer to chat and if I can share what I learn here I will.

If you are encountering issues with subscription, let them know. You should also just try to use your previous credentials as that may resolve it for you too. At least until they get the remaining accounts consolidated.

Thanks Michael and thanks to support for figuring it out! Thanks for taking my criticism in stride! It is a bit cliche but, usually, "what we do" when mistakes are made is far more important than the mistake itself. Okay that's enough...starting to get "preachy"...

STC - Can't Place Room Solution

And the winner is:

Under some circumstances you cannot place a room when a roof is the room bounding element beneath your room. I can only assume this is because a roof is expected to be above a room for volumetric calculations. If you adjust the bottom of the wall to sit on the roof it will work or what we did is...

We created an opening in the roof so we could place a floor instead. Problem solved. Technically speaking it is more consistent with the construction methods for a penthouse anyway. It definitely did provide a "what the" opportunity though.

For more depth you can review Erik's blog post.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

STC - Can't Place a Room

STC = "Stump the Chump"

Question: User can't place a room element within the boundaries of penthouse walls. The penthouse is sitting on a Roof Level. There is a roof above and below the walls. There is a parapet level three feet above the Roof Level. The penthouse is eight feet tall and the walls are room bounding.

So what do my readers think is wrong? Something to do with View Range, Room Bounding, Phasing, Design Options?

I'll post the answer tomorrow!