Sunday, November 30, 2008

Autodesk University 2008

I will be attending this event during this coming week so my posting may or may not be sporadic. I have a pile of posts in "drafts" but just haven't finished anything, favoring family time during the holiday.

If you use Twitter you can find me "there". I intend to update where I am as often as I can remember to do so via Twitter so it may be a little easier to find me, there are going to be a lot of people there!

I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones this week.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Service Packs for Revit

The product managers for each version of Revit announced at AUGI today that there are new web updates/service packs available for both 32 and 64 bit.

In general they each wrote the following:

1) I am pleased to announce that our product team has just released the English version of Web Update 3 for Revit 2009 (Build 20081118_1045) and it is now LIVE at:

DOWNLOAD Revit Architecture Update

DOWNLOAD Revit Structure Update


2) Web Update 3 is also using the Service Pack technology and is for English version only. All localized and translated versions of Web Update 3 will use the previous Full Install method, but we will continue to improve the service pack technology for all languages in the future release of Revit Structure. Also, we are currently working to release the localized Web Update 3 over the next several weeks.

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

3) Before you install the English Web Update 3 Service Pack, please make sure that you read carefully the entire “Service Pack Readme (pdf)” as it will explain how to use the Service Pack as well as its current limitations.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Revit MEP Content via Subscription content at available for Revit MEP subscription members. Stephen Roth, the new product manager for Revit MEP writes, on the Inside the System blog:

I am pleased to announce two new content extensions for Revit MEP 2009 that are available on Autodesk Subscription Center:

The "US Content Extension for Revit MEP 2009" contains imperial and metric duct and pipe fitting families that adhere to SMACNA and ASME standards, respectively.

The "UK Content Extension for Revit MEP 2009" contains duct fitting families that adhere to the DW/144 UK industry standards.

Please log on to Subscription Center and click the link labeled either "US Content Extension for Revit MEP 2009" or "UK Content Extension for Revit MEP 2009" to go to the web landing page that allows you to download the content. A ReadMe file exists that explains how and where to install the files.

This content was developed based upon feedback from users like you, so we do appreciate your feedback.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Revit MEP - Temporary Dimensions/Dimensions

There seems to be some inequity in the implementation of dimension behavior with Revit MEP. When we use RAC and RST we find that we can use temporary or permanent dimensions to reposition most elements.

With RME however Revit does not conduct itself in the same fashion. As an example we need to just look at a pair of ducts that are parallel to each other. A dimension placed between them does not become editable when you select either duct, nor does the Activate Dimensions button appear on the Options Bar. No temporary dimension appears between them.

It is as if it has been determined that behavior that most Revit users have come to expect isn't relevant or appropriate in RME for some reason. The lack of this make it more tedious to place duct work precisely relative to other duct. An exception to this is when two parallel ducts are not connected to each other via another duct.

It is my humble opinion that this deserves another look by developers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - Wall Representation

Dave Plumb with BWBR Architects in St. Paul, MN suggested this one to me, thanks! I was just in Minneapolis two weeks ago ironically and didn't get to tip a couple with him, maybe next time!

Walls can be displayed in Legends and Revit provides a preview in the Wall Assembly dialog (making/editing walls). Technically it's a toss up between a Reviteristic and a Subtlety. Take a look at this image, a Legend with a wall and a Wall type preview (section view orientation), the finish side is on the right in the legend and on the left in the preview.

Is it a Show Stopper? You bet...well okay, not really! Just an insight from another Revit user like me who probably doesn't get out much either. Sorry Dave!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hard Boiled Dimensions

A recent thread at AUGI and then an echo of the question at a client office prompts me to write this one. The question is, "Can we show both metric and imperial units in the same dimension string?" More specifically the client request was to provide for "Hard Metric" and the imperial value at the same time.

Regardless, sorry, the answer is no. You cannot automatically show both imperial and metric dimensions in the same dimension string. Even if you could show them both Revit could not provide the "Hard metric" value because this is not a consistent conversion.

In an attempt to be clearer, the concept of "Hard" metric values is the alteration of actual dimensions to a "normalized" or nominal metric equivalent, for example: 36 inches = 900 mm or 8 inches = 200 mm. Conversely "Soft" metric is the literal mathematical equivalent dimension or as in the previous example: 36 inches = 914.4 mm or 8" = 203.2 mm.

If it helps you could think of the normalized metric value as "hard" to do while the mathematical conversion is "easy" or..."soft". My interpretation of this is based on reading a number of governmental sites that discuss the use of this practice. Fwiw, I have heard it described exactly the opposite way, hard is soft and soft is hard, hmmm isn't that a Zen thing? Regardless there is a different approach for each.

With regard to Metric versus Imperial project templates and choosing which to start with...consider that an imperial project can be switched to metric soft metric. Easy, however, the content will STILL refer to imperially named families. As a practical matter a truly metric project should begin with a metric template and use metric content so that schedules report 200 mm walls not 8" walls or Single Flush 900x2100 doors instead of 36x84 doors, for example.

As for the display of either unit of measure in cynical side wonders who really wants or needs this? In my North American tunnel vision I don't see a real need to show both even though a local jurisdiction may require it. Despite being told since I was a young lad that we are going to "go to metric"...we still haven't. In a practical way our trades don't really need it and in fact may just be confused by it. An exception might be where the actual material involved is truly specified and supplied according to metric specification. Surely this doesn't require an entire set of documents to adhere to such requirements?

Well enough assumption...what to do if you must? You could consider metric plans and imperial plans, completely separate views. Document it fully as if metric were the only appropriate unit of measure, do the same for imperial. can place a string using one and then place another string either above or directly on top of the previous string and then move the text off to the side "next" to the other. Sure looks like it is the same string when it is printed out but "we" know better. There are a few ways to replicate the dimensions quickly, such as copy/paste aligned. Still quirky and definitely extra work.

Personally I kind of like the idea of duplicating a view with detailing and then switching all the dimensions to a metric formatted version. Either way just keep in mind that you won't get Hard metric, just Soft.

What I like better still is the ability to provide alternate dimension unit display, much like the "step-brother" AutoCAD perhaps? It probably isn't all that hard to do, just needs doing? If it gets done this post will be pointless eh? Here's to pointless posts!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dept. of Unfair - Placing Tags

When you place most tags Revit doesn't offer the option of choosing a specific tag prior to selecting the element to tag. They depend on the current tag assignment. This is managed via Settings menu > Annotations > Loaded Tags. The listed tag is THE tag that Revit will use. Revit uses/assigns the most recent/last tag loaded into your project for its category in this spot.

Room/Space tags permit us to choose which one we want first, from the Type Selector. It would be good if all tags did too! It is quite common to have multiple tags loaded for many different categories and therefore being able to choose which one to place would be great!

A workaround exists however...

When you use Tag all not Tagged AND have some elements selected Revit will select an option on the resulting dialog.

This will tag just what you select AND allow you to choose which tag to use. Almost the same thing. It would be nice to have a consistent tagging approach though.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Quick Tip - Center a Ceiling

Perhaps it is obvious, perhaps not...

If you want recenter a ceiling grid in a room, assuming that it has been adjusted already but you need to change it again. Add a dimension string to the defining boundary walls and to one of the parallel grid lines, click the EQ control toggle. The grid repositions itself.

If you have a specific corridor width (say 6'-0") that a 2x2 or 2x4 ceiling should fit nicely in but it isn't in the correct spot, same trick but add a second reference to the other side of the same ceiling "panel" and use the EQ control toggle.
The result:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Scroll Wheel and Save Reminders

Caution!! When Revit's little timer goes off and says you need to Save it opens the Save Reminder dialog. If you also happen to decide to use your scroll wheel to zoom in or out you may have noticed that Revit has moved its focus to the dialog and the Save Reminder Interval List Box. Scroll causes the reminder value to change. If you think you have it set to every 15 Minutes but check it and find something else, chances are good that you bumped into this issue.

Beware the save reminder and your scroll wheel!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Revit MEP - Light Levels

Jason Combs a P.E. (Professional Engineer) with Woolpert, Inc. was worried about me. He noticed that I hadn't posted in a couple days and sent me this so I could keep on track. Okay, okay I may have stretched the truth a bit. He wasn't worried about me but he did share this information with me the other day and it seemed so nicely put together that I might as well just put it here too. He said it was okay so here it is!

Jason writes:

Adjusting the elevation of a light inside of a space will change the lighting level in the room. Following is a significant set of characteristics affecting the way lights work in a room/space.

Light families must have a light source to add illumination to a room. In other words, in order to schedule the estimated illumination of a light, a light source must be added to the family through the Categories and Setting dialog within the family.

The illumination in a space is related to a light family's Illuminance. But don't be confused when scheduling Illuminance versus Illumination. Following are two schedules, one is a Light Fixture schedule and one is a Space Schedule with Lighting fields included. Illuminance of a light is based on a given foot-candles amount at a given height (i.e. 10fc @ 10'). Illumination in a space is dependent upon the number of lights and at what level the measurement is taken for a given set of light Illuminances.

The Light Source location is what matters when it comes to measuring the illumination in a space. The following image depicts that the light source is within the space. However, there is an unclear limit to where the light source must exist within a space. After some testing, I (Jason) determined that the light source must be within 1'-0" of the space and exist on the same side of the work plane to included in the space. Further I (Jason) was able to adjust the tilt angle of the light source from -90 deg to 0 degrees and still existing within the space.

Without the Light Source visible it would appear that this standard troffer light in the following image is outside the space. But no, Revit still considers it to be within the space because the light source is within 1'-0" of the space even though the visible geometry is entirely outside. Just remember to keep the light source within the space!

Here's an example illustrating that the Light Source location affects lighting calculations. Flipping the work plane of the light can significantly change the illumination value in a space.

In the following example it appears that Adjusting the Tilt Angle of the Light Source did not change the illumination calculation within the space.

Thanks for sharing this Jason!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Want it all? What do you Buy?

What combination of Revit software will give the most with the least outlay of cash with the current Autodesk product delivery strategy? I believe that the answer is Revit Structure (RST) and Revit MEP (RME).

These two versions have all of the features that Revit Architecture (RAC) has spread between them plus there are compelling extensions for both whereas RAC has simply inherited its own from them.

It isn't really a coherent work flow to travel between the applications to do your work if you are an architect. As an example, you can't make a ceiling plan in RST but you can in RME. You'd have to use RME for full documentation purposes, not RST. At the very least you'd have to travel back and forth.

You might not even consider it efficient if you aren't. It would be more slickerer coolerer, Sweeterer (my opinion) if it were one seat of Revit that provided all the tools but that was a different post.

Schedules in RME offer both conditional formatting and embedded schedules, very useful and potentially interesting in that order. RST offers Graphical Column Schedules while RME and of course, RAC don't. RST also offers more tools to provide more accurate structural conditions like beam coping and curved beams.

Deployment would be a bit of a pain because you'd have to download the RAC content from the Autodesk web libraries and setting up templates might be a bit of a pain since you'd have engineering templates to work from instead.

I've experimented lately with not using RAC and favoring just RST/RME to see when I bump into something insurmountable, so far I haven't.

Perhaps Autodesk would recognize the value of a combined version if RME/RST sales began to cannibalize RAC sales? I was told that my earlier survey heavily biased the result by how I wrote the choices. I suppose but then what survey doesn't have a bias?

Something to consider. As usual be sure to prove it to your self satisfaction...your mileage may vary! Buyer beware...reader beware!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dept. of Subtle - Room Tag - Rotation

Matt Pettengell with Athfield Architects Limited in New Zealand wrote to me suggesting this subtle feature. From Revit Help!

Note the last item..."or rotate to a specified angle"? Yes, this means you can use the rotate tool on room tags! It would be very nice if we had this option on other tags too!

Thanks for the suggestion Matt!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Revit MEP - Heating and Cooling Loads - Isolate then Cancel Bug

Using the Heating and Cooling Loads feature choose to Isolate a space in the viewer.

You can crash Revit if you click the Cancel button before removing the Isolate option.
Want to cancel unscathed? Just make sure you uncheck the Isolate Space option FIRST!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - Modify?

There are four ways to "quit" something in Revit. The first and perhaps best way is to just pick another tool/command and do something else. Next (number two) is the ESC key on the keyboard. Sometimes you have to tap the ESC key twice to truly exit a command. Another (number three) is to use the Right Click > Cancel. This also may require using it twice in order to completely exit a command.

Last (number four) is the Modify button...on the Design Bar, the first one at the top of every Design Bar Tab.
Does the word Modify make you immediately think "Quit", "Stop", "Bail Out", "Escape", "Wait", "Let's not do anything now" etc? No? You are not alone. It is something that always puzzled me but I've never questioned, I just accepted it as "the way it is". Probably the best thing to do, but it remains a Reviteristic in my book!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations America! - Barack Obama

It has been done, the USA has crossed a societal metaphorical bridge with the election of Barack Obama.

I was born while segregation still existed. I was six years old when Martin Luther King was killed. It is an unpleasant part of our history and not so long ago in our past. I certainly didn't experience this aspect of our history as intensely as those directly affected by it.

I believe this election represents a proud moment where a once very racially divided country has turned another corner and found a way to look forward to something different, something new.

Regardless of who you voted for as a citizen of the USA, or rooted for from another country, I invite you to offer congratulations to President Elect Barack Obama and the Americans that chose to vote for him. I wish him and us the best possible outcome during his term in office.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - A Legend isn't?

Language is hard at times. The use of the same words in the context of Revit for different tasks can be confusing. Take for example the Legend feature which is a specific type of view that can contain symbolic representation of content and text as well as dimensions. These legends can also be placed on multiple views whereas most other view types cannot.

Consider then the Color Scheme Legend, it is a legend in the conventional architectural language/usage but in the context of Revit and views it is NOT. So imagine the possible confusion for a new user when we use the same word interchangeably for different purposes.

A color scheme legend is not a view, it is annotation that is placed in a view. It/they are managed via the Settings menu > Color Fill Schemes. These are only available if you've chosen to apply a color fill scheme to a view. They are intended to provide a way to discern what each color is meant to represent.

When working with new users (or seasoned even) be vigilant as we use words and their meaning and how things that may seem obvious may in fact be confusing.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Marvin Windows Content

Marvin Windows has released Revit Families for some of their product line, specifically the clad awning and casement windows. They hope to add double hung by the end of the year.

Visit their Building Professional resource pages for more detail. Click HERE to visit the download page.