Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year - Welcome 2011!

Michael Anonuevo has too much "free time" on his hands! You may be familiar with him from his Little Details Count site? He sent me the following video of the drum kit he built in Revit. It was exported as individual rendered frames and composited in Camtasia. Pretty cool! It is his Happy New Year drum solo! Thanks for sharing it!

Happy New Year, see you on the other side!~ Steve (aka Mr. OpEd)

Dept. of Off Topic: Gibberish

A couple years ago I attended an earth science camp, I can't remember which grade it was but I'm pretty sure I took earth science as a subject in eighth grade. I do remember hanging out playing pool and listening to American Band and other classics.

At some point we learned a phrase or tongue twister that has stuck with me ever since. I annoy my wife with it, now and then, and recently was surprised when my daughter managed to remember it so I may have succeeded in passing it on.

It goes something like this when said complete, keep in mind I've never seen it spelled out, just remembering how it sounds when said fully (has an interesting flow to it if you can say it quickly):

It and Dit and Little Dit, Oat and Doat and Little Doat, Ish Piddly Oat and Doaten, Poad Oat Ska Deet and Dotten, Wad Ought and Chew

I may even have it wrong, it's been a few years, but it's close and that's my story. I seem to recall it being taught by starting at the end and working toward the beginning. Something like this:
  • Wad Ought and Chew
  • Poad Oat Ska Deet and Dotten, Wad Ought and Chew
  • Ish Piddly Oat and Doaten, Poad Oat Ska Deet and Dotten, Wad Ought and Chew
  • Oat and Doat and Little Doat, Ish Piddly Oat and Doaten, Poad Oat Ska Deet and Dotten, Wad Ought and Chew
  • It and Dit and Little Dit, Oat and Doat and Little Doat, Ish Piddly Oat and Doaten, Poad Oat Ska Deet and Dotten, Wad Ought and Chew
My Grandfather used to recite Mairzy Doats every now and then and it reminds me of that too. Okay, as you were...

Jon Stamps shared this LINK in his comment. I also found this VIDEO on You Tube using the spelling of the phrase he provided.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Revit API - Getting Started

I keep meaning to do this myself. I was gathering information and happened to see a post at the Revit Forum asking the same question essentially so I posted my response there and here.

Ignoring the question of which language to focus on...well, if you've got no programming experience already supposedly C# (C sharp) is "easiest" to learn. Otherwise any language you are already familiar with, assuming you are familiar with .net too, will work (your mileage may vary).

I'd start by getting acquainted with Jeremy Tammik's blog and read his older post Getting Started with Revit API 2009. Then his more recent follow up post Getting Started with the Revit API 2010. A third post regarding Getting Started references Rod Howarth's contributions.

You'll want to watch the DevTV videos.

These are the Revit API blogs I'm familiar with:

The Building Coder (Jeremy Tammik)
Bolt out of the Red (Guy Robinson)
Rod Howarth
Revitnet (Don Rudder)
Daren@Work (Daren Thomas)
CAD App Development (Matt Mason)
Revit APP Blog (Bruce)
Revit Programing (Ed Pitt)

The list is in the order for my current ranking based on their posting frequency/quantity/quality etc. However, all of them put together might barely equal the output by Jeremy Tammik alone (he's prolific) but they each offer stuff you'll probably find interesting at some point.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dept. of Bugs - Revit MEP Conduit Bend Radius Uh Oh

Trying to clean up some conduit yesterday I ran into an unpleasant repeatable bug/issue/feature. In my situation I have three  vertical and horizontal conduits that have a sweep joining them, nothing special. They are using the stock conduit Family and Type: Conduit without Fittings: Rigid Nonmetallic Conduit (RNC Sch 40). If I attempt to edit the bend radius parameter in the Properties Palette, no worries. I just get this error message.

If I dare to use the Options Bar field or the Temporary Dimension that appears when the conduit sweep is selected, ouch!

[Inserted 12/30/10 - 12:00 PM] After receiving a couple messages about this, I should clarify that I'm not concerned about being able to supply a smaller radius than appropriate. I'm concerned that entering a "bad" value in the Options Bar or Temporary Dimension is generating a crash. Can't prevent someone from ever putting a bad value into those fields so a crash from the occasional mistake is still a crash.

Watch a VIDEO or video. You can listen and watch below:

As I've been mulling this over, it occurs to me that it might be related to the issue I've been having with Unresolved References and the dialog that appears but fails to finish displaying before hanging Revit out to dry. Since this dialog does the same thing it may be tied to whatever is causing that too, yuck!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ARCXL Revit Details - Post Xmas Present

Mark Siever with ARCXL wrote to me recently to let me know that their business model has changed in a significant way. I wrote about what they started in May 2010. He tells me that their more than 41,000 details are now free to the end user, you (assuming you work for an architecture firm).

Keep in mind that I didn't count them to verify that very big number of details. Remember I'm a ex-lighting and sound guy so at best I could count to two, check one-two...maybe three? Check one-two-three...

From their web site:
ARCxl Revit® built free details have been created by architects to assist other architects using Autodesk Revit® for Building Information Modeling (BIM). ARCxl's intent is to enhance architect profitability and the use of BIM while also changing perceptions that discourage the conversion from CAD to BIM. Our core feature is a detail library designed to efficiently dispense completed parametric architectural details ready for Revit user customizing. The details are built entirely with Autodesk Revit® and are now provided free of charge to qualifying architects and architecture firms in the U.S. and Canada. They may also be purchased as a set in a single more convenient file ready for use in your Revit® projects. The sheer volume of the detail collection ensures that additional editing is minimized. For a comprehensive explanation please watch the video demonstration. You may also try ARCxl in demonstration mode

In the past it was necessary to pay for details as you needed them, either $12.95 per detail, $9.95 per detail for orders of more than 50 details or by defining a subscription package relationship. Since their start they've found that building product manufacturers (BPM's) have been willing to underwrite their effort because doing so puts their product information in your hands and your projects. This means "free" for you and me.

There are a few requirements to get them for free, they verify the following before activating an account:
  • Firm based in the USA or Canada
  • Valid firm email address (no generic accounts like gmail,yahoo etc)
  • Valid office phone & address
They've got a few videos that help explain how it all works. Video One, Two and Three.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Holidays 2010

I wish everyone who stops by this corner of the blog world Happy Holidays and all the best in the coming new year! If you are traveling then I'll add a wish for patience and a safe journey!

This is a picture of my daughter (as Mary) and fellow students set in a scene during a Christmas eve service this past Friday night.

Happy Holidays! ~ Steve (aka M). OpEd.

Dept. of Off Topic: Teena Marie

I read last evening that Teena Marie passed away at just 54 years of age. As you may be able to see in the picture below I did a short tour with her in March of 1985. A hasty mug shot with me "hanging" from my lanyard.

We traveled up and down the west coast for just over a month. It also involved a drive with Tim, my lighting crew member, from Atlanta to LA for rehearsals and a solo drive back to Atlanta at the end of the tour. That drive home was interesting when the truck's engine seized up outside Phoenix. I ended up transferring the lighting gear into a different Ryder truck a day or so later to finish the drive. Now that I think of it I had a truck seize up on me during the Rick James tour too, hmmm. Maybe I'm just hard on trucks?

The week before the trip home to Atlanta I got to travel to Honolulu to do the lighting for her at a record company event, she performed the Tempatation's song "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" with Carly Simon and Cyndi Lauper. I didn't meet either of them but it was a sweet gig nonetheless. If I recall it was about four days in Hawaii, at the Sheraton Waikiki, for about 30 minutes work between rehearsals and the less than five minute song.

It was a life lesson too because we didn't continue on with the rest of the tour because I failed to develop a trust relationship with her. It was my first legit LD gig (lighting director) and in my previous tour roles as a technician I was accustomed to giving an artist their space. I didn't realize that this new role required the opposite of me. Essentially my naivete cost the company the next leg of the tour, or at least contributed to that result.

I often wonder what has become of Barney and Peter (with Electrotec, the sound company which no longer exists under that name if I remember correctly) or Tim my lighting cohort. Peter introduced me to my first pint of Bass Ale and the Cat-n-the-Fiddle pub on Sunset Blvd (an interesting place, English pub in a cantina setting, still there too, drove by it a couple months back).

First Stevie, later Rick James and now Teena. It may be inevitable but we don't have to like it. It's been a long time since my brief tour with her but I wish Teena's family, friends and fans all the best, despite the circumstances.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

AUGI Reaches Agreement Regarding Forum Data

Posted at BLAUGI today by Mark Kiker

AUGI and Illiac have reached agreement for the transference of AUGI data. The agreement was signed by all parties late Monday and includes a mutually agreed timeline for exchange of the data. Once the data exchange is completed, AUGI can work to incorporate the data in the new AUGI website.

The AUGI Forums will be the first data restored. We will be moving back to vBulletin as a Forum platform. Old data will be restored in its original state. Forum posts that were created on our new site will be incorporated from the Expression Engine forums as we are able. Once the Forum data is in place and fully tested the existing logins should allow access to all posts as before.

It is expected that all prior Forum posts, avatars, signatures, access levels will be the same as they were. This may take some verification as we are moving over one million posts and attachments.

We expect the restoration of the Forums to be completed by January 7th or sooner.

We thank all those that have worked toward a positive outcome within AUGI and Illiac.

Mark Kiker
AUGI President

Since it may not be clear just who Illiac is. It is the company that has hosted the forum and web site as well as developed the web site and maintained the forum database structure.

Supplementary Files

Ryan Duell, with Autodesk and The Revit Clinic, created a list of ten supplementary files for Revit and where they are located by default, READ the POST. I've added a few more so the list is now 18 items. The first ten are the same as his but I've tweaked a few things or added a comment here and there so it isn't a literal copy/paste.

The example paths from the Revit Clinic post are Vista\Windows 7 location conventions, not-roaming profiles. My additions are based on XP, still using it, slack about upgrading, sorry!
  1. UniformatClassifications.txt - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\\Program - This file houses the Uniformat Assembly Codes, and the location is fixed; it cannot be moved or specified in a library location. Sorry this means you can't move it to a server. If you wish to edit this file in one location, it is recommended to keep a copy on a server location, and create a batch file to copy and replace the specific file on the user workstation. This file is read once at the Revit application launch.
  2. Revit.ini - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\\Program - This file contains the variables, paths, recent files, worksharing paths and more for each version of Revit. For some additional tips on editing this file see one of The Revit Clinic's previous posts HERE.
  3. RevitKeynotes_Imperial_2004.txt - C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\\Imperial Library - This file contains the full set of keynotes, provided by Autodesk, which can be assigned to elements in their Type Properties. This file's location can be specified in the project or template, and modified under Annotate > Tag > Keynote Settings.
  4. Journal files - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit Architecture 2011\Journals - Revit creates these files as you work. Journal files capture all actions from the current Revit session. For additional information please see the four part series at The Revit Clinic: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.
  5. Worksharing Log File – Central file location "..._backup" folder - The file is named after the central file, with a .SLOG extension. For worksharing-enabled projects all of the central file and user interactions are recorded in this log file. For some additional information please see the previous post HERE.
  6. Exportlayers-dwg-AIA.txt – C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\RAC 2011 - Export Layers and Properties settings are stored in this layer mapping file. This is used when exporting a project to DWG or DGN for example. For additional information reference the Help Documentation HERE.
  7. UIState.dat - C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Autodesk\Revit\ - Revit stores user specific customizations to the user interface such as the ribbon and quick access toolbar. For additional information see the Help documentation HERE or if you need to reset this file Click Here.
  8. KeyboardShortcuts.xml - C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Autodesk\Revit\ - After any change is made to the User Interface and Keyboard Shortcuts, this user-specific file is created to maintain the shortcut customizations. As a rule use the Revit interface to edit your keyboard shortcuts because it is easy than trying to edit this file directly. You can copy (via a Batch File process as mentioned earlier) the file to pass the office standard shortcuts to other workstations however. For additional information reference the technical solution HERE.
  9. Shared Parameters Text file – User Defined - This text files stores the parameters added to families or project files. This file is not actively linked, and should never be manually edited. Additional information is available HERE. I've also posted several times about this concept, One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six. I've mentioned them in many others too.
  10. Revit Server Log Files - C:\logfiles - If using Revit Server, these log files are very useful should you run into any troubleshooting issues.
  11. Importlineweights-xxx.txt - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit xxx 2011\Data (XP Location) - These files are used to define how imported cad file elements are interpreted to use different lineweights within Revit. If you import cad details and the don't properly show the graphical quality you expected then you need to change the settings for the file you are actively using. There are several sample files included with Revit. You can change the file you want to reference prior to importing information. This means you can have different "rules" for different kinds of external CAD data.
  12. Revit.pat - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit xxx 2011\Data (XP Location) - This is the resource file that your template's have for fill patterns and use to define the patterns for each filled region. A fill pattern can be acquired from other .pat files but they do need an extra declaration of either %TYPE=MODEL or %TYPE=DRAFTING. These help Revit understand which purpose they are intended for. You can read more about this by opening the file and reading the introductory paragraphs provided in the file. A metric version is included too.
  13. shxfontmap.txt - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit xxx 2011\Data (XP Location) - This file tells Revit which True Type Fonts you want it to use when it encounters a .shx font in a CAD file during the import process. It is a simple text file. Just add a line the defines the .shx font you want to catch and which TTF font to use instead. Setting this may help you keep some pesky external details from having their text information stretched or compacted because .shx fonts are not supported in Revit directly.
  14. Add-ins - C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Autodesk\Revit\Addins\2011 (XP Location) - If you install external applications (3rd Party Software) they should be placing information that Revit needs to run their application in this folder location. If you need to disable their software for some reason or want to create your own you should be aware of this location. You can READ a post at The Revit Clinic for some additional information.
  15. IFC Shared Parameters.txt - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit Architecture 2011\Program - Similar purpose as other Shared Parameters but for IFC export instead. I don't know why this file isn't with the other Shared Parameters.
  16. OmniClassTaxonomy.txt - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit Architecture 2011\Program (XP Location) - Similar to the Uniformat structure used for Assembly Codes, this is the file that defines the available OmniClass selections when you are creating a component/loadable family.
  17. Sitename.txt - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit Architecture 2011\Program (XP Location) - This file is the preset locations provided if you choose to pick a city for your project location. Perhaps somewhat unnecessary with the new Internet based map tool for location but you can add cities via this file.
  18. SiteAndWeatherStationName.txt - C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit Architecture 2011\Program (XP Location) - Similar to previous but for Weather Stations.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dept. of Off Topic: John Otway

A friend and past co-worker is stranded in the UK right now because of the recent pile of snow they've acquired. Unlike my past home of Syracuse, NY where life doesn't get seriously messed up unless 3-4 feet of snow falls overnight, the UK isn't up for serious snow fall, at all. Her mentioning this reminded me of an experience I had while in England, no snow connection, the UK connection, not the "French Connection" but I digress.

Many years ago now, I wish it weren't many years ago, I got to see John Otway perform. My past co-worker Celia and her now husband Ivor took me to a pub somewhere in England (Fulham? I just can't remember now) to see him. All Ivor would say is you won't believe it, you'll love it. When I tried to get him to explain him, his music, he just replied you have to see it to believe it.

We'll I don't think I've laughed as hard or had as good a time since then (sad to admit I suppose). Hilarious is an understatement. Thanks to You Tube you can get a slight sense of him from a far. The best way naturally is to experience him up close and live. If you read up about him you'll find that at one point he tried to arrange for a 747 to have a world tour where all the fans would climb aboard and take the world tour with him. It didn't work out but it is just the sort of understated outlandish thing that he'd do, try to do.

If you find yourself in England, try not to leave without finding him playing at a pub, elderly home, restaurant or festival...anywhere! I'd start with this video first...then move on to Body Talk...or maybe his big Christmas hit from 1977 "Really Free"...

or his slightly more straight forward full band gig, watch for the somersaults...

When I saw him it was just him and a guitarist accompanying him, I think it is the soloist during this full band version of House of the Rising Sun. I'm not sure you'll be able to discern a difference in playing skill though :wink:

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Sites: designbymany and Revit

First Item:

David Fano of Case Design, Inc and the website/blog "designreform" has started up a new site called designbymany which is now open to a public beta.

David doesn't seem to like upper case letters or spaces between words (insert smiley). Both designreform and designbymany lack both...but I digress. Here's a bit about their mission from their site:
Welcome to the public Beta of DesignByMany!!DesignByMany is a challenge based design technology community. Users post challenges to the community along with their design source files. The community can then post responses with their own source files to solve the challenge. They can also comment on the challenge and interact with other designers throughout the process.

DesignByMany is an extension of DesignReform and is hosted and maintained by CASE. DesignByMany has partnered with Hewlett Packard as an exclusive sponsor for the first year.
HP will be sponsoring monthly challenges and providing prizes such as plotters and printers. Sponsored challenges will be judged by designers, architects, engineers, contractors and others involved in the process of making buildings.

DesignByMany is itself a work in progress and we’re trying our best to get all the features you need to create challenges and share projects. If you have any ideas or feedback PLEASE let us know by sending an email to

The current challenge is to model a parametric version of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House. Are you interested? Check out their site!

Second Item:

In light of the recent forum issues at AUGI, Klaus Munkholm decided to fire up a new forum site using the name He's a Danish Revit guy and has a blog called Revit Nightmares.

The atmosphere there feels a bit like when Chris Zoog started Zoogdesign in 2003. But then a lot of the site is reminiscent of that site, and so is what everyone came to know as the AUGI forums too, since Zoog's site was merged there in 2004. While I'm not eager to have yet another place to keep up on Revit information I do recognize the frustration and trust issues that Klaus and his new members have with AUGI. As I mentioned in a post there, I think there is room enough for another place to hang out and talk about Revit. I just hope they don't remain strangers to AUGI too. If you are a Revit person you'll want to check it out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dept. of Subtle - Reference Plane Orientation

It's a good idea to become familiar with how reference planes define a work plane for your solid/void forms. It isn't obvious at first or perhaps without digging in for awhile either. I've written about Reference Planes a few times in the past.

Once Upon a Reference Plane
Once Upon a Workplane - Seeing is Believing
Is You Is or Is You Ain't
IsReference Setting - Weak and Strong

There is a head and tail, the head is where the Reference Plane name appears. There is a difference between the Reference Planes you find in a template and the ones you create by sketching them. Check out the other posts (and the embedded video here) for more on that difference.

I created the following VIDEO to demonstrate what prompted me to make it, that mirroring a reference plane isn't a good idea. At least it isn't a good idea if you have no idea what the outcome is when you do choose to do it. The orientation of the reference plane is reversed when you use the mirror tool in addition to being copied/mirrored. If you want to control the work plane orientation then use the Copy tool instead.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

AUGI | AEC EDGE Articles for Jan/Feb 2011 Issue

We are looking for contributors to the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of AUGI | AEC EDGE. We'll be reaching out to past authors but if any readers are feeling motivated to write something we'd love to hear about it. We are looking for articles focused on construction, collaboration, Revit Structure and civil engineering.

Deadline is January 10th for finished work, just shy of four weeks away! Feel like writing something over the holidays?? I know that might be pushing it, can't hurt to ask! Up for it??

Email ME!

The Fall 2010 Issue is getting the final touches put on it now so we should see it in the near future, stay tuned.

Filling in BIM Gaps - EastCoast Design to Fabrication

EastCoast CAD/CAM announced on November 30th that they are now supporting a workflow from AutoCAD MEP and Revit MEP models to their fabrication software.

Here's a snippet of what they wrote:
Sheet metal contractors and engineers can take advantage of this elegant, yet simple, workflow that enables them to take a fully engineered HVAC design from Autodesk Revit MEP and automatically convert the system layouts with real manufacturer geometry and specifications to the industry-standard AutoCAD environment for preparation to drive to fabrication. The workflow eliminates redrawing, and delivers fabrication-ready models inside AutoCAD MEP for final detailed coordination and downloading to highly efficient sheet metal plasma cutting machines. Contractors and engineers have been waiting for and anticipating this release, the impact of which will play a significant role in furthering the adoption of EastCoast CAD/CAM Design to Fabrication solutions.

The rest of their site hasn't been updated to reflect this recent development though so I wasn't able to learn much more about it there. I either completely missed them at AU or they weren't there. So much to do, so little time. Looking forward to hearing about how it works for people!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Roombook Ready for "US"

As I mentioned yesterday, Roombook is a new extension for Revit that was initially highly specific to the German market. It expanded to Europe "internationally" and as of now has crossed the ocean to be available for all German and English speaking customers worldwide. Downloading it now!

Thanks to my contact on the inside, codename "The Voice of the People" for the information.

AUGI Update

To steal from the Willy Wonka movie where the school teacher refers to the "recent unpleasantness", For AUGI, David Harrington (President Elect for AUGI) posted the following update in the current forums.
  1. AUGI’s previous web service provider (Illiac) has assured us that the historical forum data is not lost nor are its backups. The data exists in full and will be restored.
  2. Illiac has prepared a temporary forum system with the “old” forum data to go online.
  3. AUGI and Illiac are working to finalize an agreement to transfer the forum data to AUGI.
  4. Illiac has the temporary site ready to go live and AUGI is prepared to go live once the agreement is in place.
  5. Both parties expect an agreement to be reached within 24 hours.
  6. Within a few days after the agreement is in place, the temporary forum system is expected to be online and AUGI will begin developing the permanent forum site.
  7. Because of the functional limits within the EE forum software, coupled with having access to the old forum data and input from members, AUGI will be reverting back to vBulletin forum software which should be operational within one month after the agreement is in place.
  8. Based on input from members and functional limits of EE forum setup, AUGI will be reverting back to the “familiar” forum topic structure.
  9. Once the vBulletin software is configured and populated with the required forum structure, all old forum posts will be imported and merged with EE forum posts. (EE posts merged from EE to/with original Forum Posts in vBulletin format). Then the temporary site will be deactivated.
I'm glad that both parties were able to work together and make some progress!!


Okay, I appreciate that people read this blog. At the risk of offending my readers, are some of you dim? Why is Buildz only subscribed to by 541 people (as of today) according to Google Reader?

This blog has 1331 subscribers right now. I've been blogging longer but really? Zach's contributions are pretty awesome and I just don't get it. Maybe some of it is a bit scary or arcane compared with the regular Revit stuff we do? Okay, maybe you aren't a subscriber but you check his site out regularly, you're off the hook. If you are reading this and actually aren't aware of his work yet, then don't eat lunch, don't take that phone call, stop putting it off...go there!

Subscribe or I'll throw a tantrum!

Freshly lifted angry baby from David Baldacchino's blog, Do you Revit? I Do! It's from his post, "Who's in the Central File?"

You may return to your regular scheduled activities...

Autodesk Research

The beauty of an RSS feed is that new stuff gets added to a pile and I can sift the pile really fast instead of traveling to each and every blog I'm aware of. The time it takes just waiting for web pages to load even in this day and age of fairly ubiquitous and fast access would add up to serious time. I use Google's Reader, maybe not the best but it works for me either on the notebook PC or my phone. It isn't as rich an experience as actually visiting the blog itself but if there is some meat in a feed then it's a simple matter to go there for more.

Aaron at D|C|CADD's BLOG posted a bit about Project Dasher, an Autodesk Research project they are sharing some information and videos for now on their site. I heard about Dasher during a marketing session I attended on Monday at Autodesk University. It was pretty cool looking but the discussion was fairly brief so it slipped my mind since.

Here's their description for Project Dasher:
Project Dasher is a web-based application that helps to augment existing Autodesk® Revit® design models with real-time building submeter and sensor data on electricity and occupancy. Using meter and sensor data, Autodesk Project Dasher aims to demonstrate the value of integrating Building Information Modeling (BIM) and building instrumentation to provide building owners more insight into how existing buildings perform in real time and throughout the lifecycle of the building.

Here's what their site has to say about what Autodesk Research is:

Autodesk is working to help solve some of the world's most complex design problems, from pressing ecological challenges to the development of scalable smart infrastructure. Designers use Autodesk tools to not only create plans for buildings, for example, but also to simulate their impact on the environment and track their performance over time.

Autodesk Research is unique in that we are dedicated to innovation and discovery in this realm. Our interests range from methods to help users learn powerful digital prototyping tools, to visualization and simulation techniques which enable designers to achieve new levels of performance. Advancing the state of the art in human-computer interaction, computer graphics, and digital design technology, we collaborate openly with researchers at leading universities around the world.


My first thought after reading this was how does this connect to Autodesk Labs? It doesn't appear to literally connect and I didn't see any mention of a connection but I suspect Labs can get involved once research moves beyond academic research and can become a product focused concept? Enough conjecture on my part.

You can watch a Project Dasher VIDEO. I didn't see a way to embed it here because it isn't hosted at You Tube. There is a second VIDEO which is an interview titled "Extending BIM to Real-Time Energy Performance Monitoring".

Monday, December 13, 2010

Roombook for Revit - Extension via Subscription

I read with interest Erik's post this morning regarding a new extension for Revit called Roombook. According to Erik it was introduced for the German market but he says that it has been opened to a wider audience. Erik works with a reseller in the Netherlands so it would make sense that he'd know about it pretty early.

I went to check at my subscription page but don't see it listed yet. I'm certainly curious to seek what it offers so hopefully it will show up soon. Might keep an eye out for it too?

[Simon Gillis of "The Sustainable Design Toolbox" BLOG also mentioned this yesterday. I've since found out that the international release of it is still limited to Europe for the most part. The original focus of the extension was the very specific needs of the German market so they've expanded it a bit, just not far enough to cross the Atlantic. I believe they are looking into how easily it could though, no timeline.]

Friday, December 10, 2010

Project Galileo is Alive in The Labs

I mentioned in an earlier post that Autodesk was poised to release Project Galileo. If you recall the project they were working on in the past called Newport, this project is Newport rolled up into a new one combined with some other technology they've been developing. They posted the video I embedded in the previous post to whet your appetite. If it did make you hungry you can taste it now.

From the Labs site:
Project Galileo is an easy-to-use planning tool for creating 3D city models from civil, geospatial and building data, and 3D models. Galileo also enables users to sketch conceptual infrastructure ideas within the 3D city model. Using Galileo, planners, GIS analysts, project managers, and architects can help stakeholders better understand infrastructure projects and plans in the context of the built and natural environment.

OpEd Links Broken for AUGI Forums

I realized last week that I've got over a thousand posts on this blog now since I started it at the end of 2004. Over these past years I've created a fair number of links to other sites. Seems like a good idea because I can just point readers to another spot easily. That is until that site either changes something, the information just goes away...or in the case of AUGI the forums, the domain name service (DNS) isn't pointing at the same server anymore. While AUGI sorts out the details of that situation my posts here have an untold number of broken links. When the forum data is migrated into AUGI at some point I have no illusion that my original URL's will still work. It would be wonderful if they do, or if even some of them do...

Long story short...if you click on a link that promises to take you to a AUGI forum post/'s more than likely to generate this message.

In fact any bookmarks or shortcuts you have created to get to certain parts of the AUGI site will generate the error too. I've received more than a few emails from people about their bookmarks and shortcuts not working anymore.

An aside, reading through the posts at AUGI the past few days I get the impression that members believe that AUGI has a very broad presence in the industry. Seems reasonable based on our combined involvement with AUGI but oddly enough in my travels during the last 6 years the one consistent thing about AUGI is how FEW people have actually heard of it. Stepping in a room of +/-10 architects/engineers about 40 weeks a year I've been surprised to find that at the most one or two are members and often none are. As for those who aren't members most of the time they haven't even heard of AUGI. Considering I do nothing but Revit and Navisworks consulting I've always expected people to be pretty aware of it. So as prolific as the Revit community has been at AUGI it is surprising to find how few are actually aware of it. What's my point? Just that we aren't nearly as famous as we think we are? 8-)

In a recent post Alan (blog: Revit Structure Learning Curve) mentions a survey completed by NBS (National Building Service in the UK) that suggests that about half the "industry" is aware of BIM. I wonder if the survey should be run asking about awareness of Revit instead? I'd be curious if more are aware of the product than of the concept. The reason I mention this is that it is like AUGI in a way, as hot or as relevant as something seems to me, there is always a group of people outside of it all. Unaware or even uninterested.

Even further off topic! I also read that Chris Zoog (founded the Revit forum at Zoogdesign which merged with AUGI in 2004) would be rolling over in his grave (regarding the forum data issue). Rumors of Mr. Zoog's death are greatly exaggerated. If he were dead perhaps he'd be rolling...many years we must wait for that. I for one would be very disappointed if the rumor were true!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Dept. of Echo - Revit MEP INI Solution

Erik Egbertson just posted a message at the Autodesk Blog: Inside the Factory. He discusses the new Properties Palette and the relationship that users have with it and providing initial values for content as they attempt to place and use them (families). You should read it if you use any version of Revit but it is probably most significant if you use Revit MEP.

They've provided an hack for the Revit.ini file (initialization file). Their instructions are as follows:
  • Browse to wherever you have Revit installed and open Revit.ini with your favorite text editor.
  • Search the file for the term "UserInterface".
  • If a string of "UserInterface" is found (it should be in brackets), somewhere below that (but before another bracketed term). Enter the string"ResetInstParamsPerTypeFor2011DummyInst = 1"(sans quotes) on a blank line
  • If the term "UserInterface" is not found then at the end of the file paste in the following:[UserInterface]ResetInstParamsPerTypeFor2011DummyInst = 1
It should look like this in your file:


Erik also wrote this:
I’d like everyone who can to set this and continue testing as normal to see if there are any issues. It mainly affects certain types of loadable families. The ini setting will be valid for all alpha releases as well if you are participating there.

So far the setting appears to address the issue for those who were affected by the 2011 change. To make the fix permanent we want to ensure it does not adversely affect people who were not seeing the issue and so we would like more people to enable it.


Revit MEP - Pipe Fittings are too Small

Whenever a pipe fitting does not display the correct proportional (connector sizes are indicating the correct diameter, just not the graphical appearance) size it is because the LookupTable file for that family isn't found (or possibly the K-Factor database is corrupt for ducts). I mention the K-Factor issue because it may also be an issue of user access permission. If the LookupTable folder location is restricted for some reason Revit might not think it can access the files it needs to adjust the fitting (long shot perhaps).
  • Check your Revit.ini file to see if Revit has the correct location defined.
  • Check that location to see if a file exists that matches the family file name(s) (they are .csv files).
Once either situation is resolved, unfortunately the fittings don't automatically fix themselves (more accurately, Revit doesn't fix them). You have to force Revit to "touch" them again by disconnecting a pipe and reconnecting or in some cases swapping it for another compatible fitting and then swapping it back. Either of these will cause Revit to re-examine the connection which in turn give it a chance to dial in the part correctly. I used this situation as an excuse to create another video or you can listen to the embedded version below.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Dept. of Subtle - Parameter Shuffling

As I say in the video below I may have been asleep at the wheel but I noticed this week that Revit is shuffling parameters around "differently". I put quotes around that word because I can't recall when this started to happen. I'm partially afraid that it's been doing it a long time which means I've been Rip Van Winkle.

In the video you'll see that I started with a Generic Model family template, open Family Types and type a value into the Model parameter in the Identity Data group. Then I add another and another and even create my own parameter, then rename it... all the while closing and then reopening the dialog. As soon as it opens the position of the parameter shifts around. Seems to be moving parameters that have data to the top of the pile so that empty parameters are below the rest.

I think it's pretty subtle?!?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Autodesk University - Neat Item of the Show

While people were having their heads scanned and visiting other sundry exhibit booths I visited the folks at Infinite Z. They were right on the back of the Imaginit booth.

From their product page
Infinite Z’s revolutionary virtual-holographic computing platform is an intuitive way to experience information, using virtual-holographic imagery and a multi-purpose stylus to directly explore, examine, explain and exemplify. The zSpace platform is comprised of innovative hardware and software, working together to greatly expand human perception by presenting unprecedented lifelike images appearing above and below the display surface.

You don a pair of glasses, grab a stylus, (laser sort of pen) and you point the pen's beam at the 3D holographic object on screen. It appears to be right there in front of you, floating. In the example I saw they had a robotic hand assembly loaded and I could select different parts and move them around, spin the part, zoom in and out to get a closer look. You pick different tools by pointing the pen's beam at them. Imagine your holding a pen and a yellow shaft of light extends from the tip toward whatever you point it at.

What can I say other than my words aren't doing it justice, wow!

It is still early days for their product and they weren't even sure how much it might set you back yet. Keep an eye on them!

Monday, December 06, 2010

AUGI Forums

I've been wrestling with this post. Obviously anyone whose read this blog knows that I've been involved in AUGI for many years. I served on the Board of Directors from 2006-2008 and little bit more when the election process hit a snag. None of the nominated members were approved. My term was extended until I was replaced by a new election six months later.

This past Wednesday night members found a new website for AUGI. They then noticed that the forums weren't online and then were stunned to find that the forums were not only offline but that when they resurfaced they were completely revamped and none of the legacy data is there. There is a seven year long back story that I won't get into since most people are just concerned with the forum data.

A very good friend asked me if I approved of what the AUGI Board of Directors chose to do: My answer was/is YES and NO. How typically political you might react? It's completely honest though.

My yes is tied to the legacy of the past seven years, my ten years as a member and volunteer, my 2.5 years on the Board of Directors and tons of minutiae. I've longed for the day that AUGI was truly free again to manage its own affairs and able to do what the members actually wanted to do. That is actually true today. AUGI is fully funded and it has complete control over its assets again. Except one unfortunate "loose end", the forum data.

My no is tied to how the Board chose to deal with this last item. I wish that it chose to put the gory details of the last seven years on the table so that members could decide how aggressively it wanted to deal with its forum data. It is the Board's responsibility to make decisions for the organization and having served in that role I do respect the burden. I do also think that the Board needs to put its trust in the members with really big decisions too.

Trust is a two-way-street and no Board in the last decade truly has fully deserved its members trust. I think that this one deserves recognition for facing very difficult decisions head-on, more so than any other board since 2003. AUGI was facing insolvency just a couple years ago and it is doing well today, that took dedication and some gutsy work. The members ought to consider extending a bit of trust their way too, even if they don't get to see all the details they've been wrestling with.

What now?

I believe the real value of AUGI is the members and their willingness to help each other, not just on past conversations (not just their posts). Sure they are great to search and find but more often than not people just ask the question all over again. Because that interaction is the value, that's what brings people back again and again. It is the quality of the members, their passion for the software, for sharing. It isn't just posts from 2003, 2006 or 2009... it's nice that they are/were there but not the sole value of the organization. If I go to a bar I don't go there to have the conversation I had last year again, I go to see people and have new conversations.

I'm hoping that AUGI can negotiate successfully for its forum data and that it can get migrated into the new web site as soon as possible. I hope that the members help reshape the new site since it IS a chance to start fresh in many ways. If we are honest there are many things about the old site that could stand a bit of rework. I'm prepared to get the heck out of the way too. I've been the Revit Community Forum manager for a long time. It's time (long overdue) for a new leader to step in and see things with fresh eyes.

For those of you who are feeling betrayed, I'm truly sorry...I can relate on many levels and not just because the forum data isn't there. On a deeper level, betrayed by people many of you don't even know. We can either keep moving forward or take the opportunity to do something else. There IS MORE to life than AUGI though I'm hard pressed to know what that is at times. Start something new, stick with AUGI, be the top poster at've got a great shot at beating me now, I've got zero posts now.

What will you decide?

Don't be a stranger...

Friday, December 03, 2010

Autodesk University 2010 - Tuesday Thoughts

I listed my schedule for this past Tuesday at AU2010 in a previous post and I'm just going to write about the session I led called Teaching the Reviteers, a session intended to discuss how a panel of people teach Revit. We started out by arriving to find the room didn't have a computer despite having filled out the classroom equipment needs form.

The session was conceived by Harlan Brumm of The Revit Clinic blog. He invited Jeff Hanson (Autodesk), Tobias Hathorn (Autodesk), David Fano (Case and Columbia University) and me. Originally Erik Egbertson and Greg Demchak, also with Autodesk, were going to contribute but they weren't able to travel to attend AU this year. Erik contributes to the Inside the Factory blog. Okay back to the session.

We raced through our slides to make sure we had plenty of time for discussion. We really wanted to make sure that everyone who attended would get a chance to ask questions and share ideas or concerns. The session was broken into 60 minutes - 30 minute break - 60 minutes (2.5 hours total). We were all a bit concerned about it but decided to go along with it despite our fears. About half the class returned after the break, which supported our fears.

We discussed the classroom configuration, technology, class size, techniques, dealing with internet browsing and mixing drafting standards or design standards with learning software. The attendees consisted of two year school professors, a few trainers with resellers, a couple freelance consultants, firm employees either responsible for training or just lucky to have it fall in their laps, community college, four year universities and even a couple people who worked for municipalities. There were a couple teachers from overseas too!

The session felt pretty good, was pretty lively and we could have run over easily. Despite this "feeling" the comments that attendees left behind in the surveys weren't glowing. I have a feeling that those who did comment negatively didn't return for the second half. One comment indicated they wished there was an example of a syllabus. We posted one on the class materials site but didn't mention that until the second session.

One comment that really rang true to me in particular was that we had heavy load of one kind of college teacher. True because the three Adesk'rs all teach at Boston Architectural College. The comment suggested that we'd have been fairer if a community college teacher was included. I also thought that an "in-house" firmwide trainer would have been a good perspective to include too. However we had quite a bit of input from attendees that represented those roles too. Seemed like we had a reasonably good balance.

We can't please everyone but it's nice to try. Perhaps next year an instructor who attended this session will propose a session that improves on where we were weak and takes it to another level!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Autodesk University - Random Thoughts

"I'm dreaming of a white la la". Well not Xmas 2010 unfortunately, but maybe for 2011?!?

I got the dates wrong, so I fixed them above. A comment asked about which ones are best suited for which sort of use. Simplistic overview follows:
  • Space Navigator - simplest unit, and least expensive. Navigation and two buttons ($99)
  • Space Navigator (travel/notebook) - same as above except smaller but a bit more expensive ($129)
  • Space Explorer - More features, programmable buttons, hand rest ($299)
  • Space Pilot - MCAD optimized with even more features, including a small user interface screen that provides access to email and more ($399)
Assuming I could actually try one with Revit I'd probably focus on the Navigator or Explorer. It's hard to say if the price difference for the Explorer is justified without living with them for awhile. I'd guess that the extra buttons would earn their keep if you are are accustomed to remembering to use them. I find I don't remember some of the keyboard shortcuts I make or the extra buttons on the Intous 4 I've been using. So I might not ever remember to use them and if true I'd probably be better of with one of the Navigators.

I should add that they are intended to be used along with your mouse (pointing device). The dominant hand drives the mouse and your other hand operates the 3D Connexion device. Just ask yourself which hand holds a piece of paper when you use a pair of scissors or hold a piece of lumber while using a saw. Same kind of automatic brain mapping to the 3D Connexion devices occurs pretty quickly.

Autodesk University - Random Thoughts

Serious next vehicle thoughts... Tesla Model S.

If they get it in the price range rumored, sign me up. I didn't see a table for placing orders but I imagine they'd have a nice start if they did. This is a Auto Stitch shot of the car at the show. Clearly I'm not an automotive journalist/photographer!

Revit Rocks a blog by Daryl Gregorie and tied closely to his CADclips business. I couldn't help wonder how he'd feel about "his" buttons for the AEC Mixer? I guess it's all good?!?

The lanyard and 20th Year AUGI pin are my AUGI swag, that and the Beer Bash Pint glass (a real hit with the attendees as usual).

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Autodesk University 2010 - Tuesday

First a bit more about Monday which I spent in a session for the media that rolled out everything Autodesk wanted to let us know about. I took 12 pages of notes on a sketch pad because I still don't have a iPad and I really didn't want to lay out my big Dell laptop and clickety clack along the whole time. Felt very old school and ironic because I never took notes in school, slacker that I am.

Two real highlights for me were TechShop and Tinkerbox.

First TechShop isn't Autodesk at all except that they are being very supportive of the company's entrepreneurial effort. Imagine yourself a frustrated "idea" guy/gal or inventor. Frustrated because you'd love to tinker with stuff but you can't afford that steel mill, CNC mill, 3D printer, router or lathe and on. That and your significant other really doesn't want you to make all that noise in the garage or basement anyway.

Well these guys, founded by Jim Newton four years ago on big dreams and no funds, are your answer. For now the answer is only in Menlo Park, CA and Raleigh, NC. They have plans for eight more locations in the coming 24 months or sooner though. The next location is in San Francisco near the Moscone Center. They have a full blown inventor's dream shop and you just rent your time there for around $100/month. You could spend a lot of time there and still not spend more than you would on one serious piece of equipment. The very brief examples of their subscribers work was inspiring, bringing the spirit of invention back to the "average" guy, much like the Internet is affecting music, media, publishing and more.

Where does Autodesk enter into this? They are providing all the software you could need to make the stuff you dream up there. You can spend time there learning the software and tinker/inventing your way to financial success or just make some quirky Christmas presents. I wish one was nearby, I'd be there with my kids enough to create marital stress, sorry honey.

A new experiment from Autodesk is Tinker Box. It's for "kids" of all ages...even old ones like me. It is intended to help make science and technology fun and interesting for the coming generations who perceive it as important but too hard to pursue (according to Autodesk's own study). It's derived from various existing software technology, like Inventor and others. Here's a You Tube video posted by Deelip Menenzes

I kept thinking of virtual Lego or those others that I had when I was a kid. I've managed to forget when this will be available. Check it out when it is though.

I wandered over to Shaan Hurley's blogger social after the media session wrapped up. Hung out with a few Bpals but was a bit too tired to actually mingle properly and I'm too tired now to try to name drop again. Next up was the AEC Mixer. Bummer. Hard to mix in the mixer. The House of Blues is a great venue to watch a band and a group of Autodesk'rs formed AEC/DC and played some old standards. Great little venue, nice sound, stage and lighting.

It was just too hard to find mix (not the sound guy parlance).

I must admit every time I see this stuff I drift back to my old days when I'd be up on those lighting trusses focusing the lights. These days a goodly number of the fixtures are computer controlled which reduces the need for such antics but there nothing quite like a good old Par 64. Here's a shot of the band. You can see the ladder a lighting tech uses to get up to the trusses just behind the monitor stack (and Guillermo Melantoni Cortabarria on bass) on Stage Right, thin wire rope ladder (think trapeze artists).

As a drummer I couldn't help thinking about asking to sit in on a song but I let the thought go.

I headed off to catch up with HOK folks having their BIMie Award dinner. I was a "proud professor" when I saw three of the four winning teams were CDV and Mr. OpEd alumni! GO team! Cool projects and they gave me a copy of their very nice awards booklet. Dinner too!! Thanks to Lee, Ken, James, Zoog, Jyoti, Kevin, David, Roberto, Don, Victor, Irena, Greg and many others!

As for Tuesday, AU's general sessions officially kicked off today. My day was laid out thusly:
  • Breakfast (missed it)
  • Autodesk Keynote (made it)
  • Lab Assistant: Family Counseling (Donnia Tabor-Hanson)
  • Parametrics Laid Bare (Robert Manna & Zach Kron, left early to make next one)
  • AEC Luncheon (Phil Bernstein and Paul Williams)
  • Presenter: Teaching the Reviteers (Me, Harlan Brumm, Tobias Hathorn, Jeff Hanson and David Fano)
  • All Cloud (Chris Price and Dan 
  • Exhibit Hall (everybody or nearly so)
I'll get into more detail in the next post otherwise this one will get outrageously long.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Autodesk University 2010 - Monday 01

Monday morning is starting slowly for me (and a bit groggy). Because my sessions don't begin until 11am I opted to stay up a bit too late and hang out with people and chat. This is my hotel room view of the Vegas strip. Just about the same as last year but a little closer to the ground.

I got to spend some quality time with the AUGI Board members for dinner, many thanks to Karen Popp of Extension Media for graciously picking up the tab! The food was excellent at RM Seafood. The key lime pie was still frozen when they brought it out but it was excellent, though tough to get a fork into. In software terms we'll call it a "feature"? I sat next to Peter Jamtgaard and we talked about a wide variety of things, he's a very very bright guy. If you ever get a chance to speak to him, take the plunge!

I ran into some old friends from WATG who have moved elsewhere and a couple who are still there. Scott Brown with HHCP in Orlando, Doug Williams with Perkins & Will, Dean Yama and Danny Polkinhorn (with WATG) and Robert Manna (not with WATG, with Burt Hill very likely soon to be Stantec). When I stumbled into them they were chatting about, what else, Revit! Not really a big surprise. It's funny to be around "old" Revit users, they can be a cranky bunch, ranting about this feature or that feature that hasn't been changed or tweaked to their likely yet, or in many years. I'm included in the characterization, to be fair.

I was asked, what I thought, was an interesting question late last night, "Why does a guy like you come to AU anymore, it's not like you really need to attend a class about walls, doors and windows?" In the early days it was all about the classes for me but after the first two years of AU (attending since 2001 except for 2002) it became much more about the chance to see, meet and talk to people face to face.

Sure the classes I choose to attend are different now and it would be idiotic to think I can't learn something new (I try not to be idiotic, though some friends could accuse me of that at times). It's about the nuggets, a comment made in a session that makes me reconsider some long held assumption or the fact that the presenter has a different perspective and tries something my "old timer" mind doesn't let me "go there" for.

I find it ironic too, that many of the people I know now were originally met via online interaction but now it is the face-to-face time with them that I cherish at each AU.

I'm heading to my first media event session shortly, more to come.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Autodesk University - Travel

Wesley Benn, Jim Balding and I hopped into Jim's SUV on Sunday around lunch time and began our journey to Autodesk University 2010. It's about a four hour drive from our part of Orange County here in California. About 3/4 of the way there we stopped for a quick bite to eat at Del Taco. Jim needed a little help finishing off his burrito so Wesley helped out by steering for a bit, yikes!

Wesley and Jim have a bit busier schedule for Sunday evening than I do. I don't have any AU Virtual session duties this year so today is a no stress day! We got in around 3 PM, parked and made our way to check in. We then wandered to the Speaker Ready room and went back down to Level 1 to get registered. The TSA full body screening machines were a new addition to registration! Hah! Not really!

We've run into many people already, name dropping; Phil Read (Mastering Revit author), Cyril Verley (CDV Systems), Robert Manna (Burt Hill and blogger Do Revit), Tom (with HP), Shaan Hurley, Donnia (CAD Mama), Joseph Wurcher (AU), Dean Yama (WATG), Damian Serrano (RLF), Matt Dillon and Matt Stachoni, and Bob Bell (Sterling)...well you get the idea. There are a lot of people here already and a little over 6,000 expected all told. come...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The ANT Group IS

My old boss Jim Balding, since leaving WATG, has formed a new company called The ANT Group.

His introduction says:

Born out of the conviction that "there must be a better way" to design and construct the built environment, The Architecture and New Technologies Group (The ANT Group) is driven to find and incorporate technological solutions that benefit the AEC industry. As a full-service architectural firm and design technologies R&D Lab, our focus is on minimizing wasted time and material and optimizing the design process for our clients. The end result of an optimized process is an optimized building.

The site is pretty striking. All the best Jim!

You can follow him/them on Twitter too!