Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Revit MEP and CADworks - Online Presentation

I received an invitation to a presentation of the new piping productivity pack that CADworks has released. Here's a little bit of what the email said:

Today, CADworks® Content Management Service for Revit® MEP allows engineers to effectively achieve full participation in existing BIM promises by providing not only appropriate and quality Content, but the tools needed to sort out the new complexities of BIM. This solution offers a purpose-built Content Management Service for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems engineering.

CADworks Revit Piping Productivity Pack
This collection developed by CADworks of Pipe Types and Fittings, including Conduit Types, is now available for the extended MEP community for Revit MEP 2010 and 2011. These additions to our Comprehensive Content Suite greatly expand the power and capability of Revit MEP users.


They've got three dates listed and if none of them work for you then contact Bernie Duncan to see if they can set something else up for you. The three dates and times are:

If you are using Revit MEP you might want to check it out too? The first line says:

I am especially eager to introduce you to CADworks Revit MEP solutions that will make managing content and modeling Revit MEP piping systems much more enjoyable.

I know a couple people that wouldn't necessarily use the word enjoyable and piping at the same time, at times. It would be enjoyable to be able to use that word together with piping all the time. See what you think?

Monday, August 30, 2010

File Size - A Red Herring?

Every now and then I read a post on a blog or user forum advocating various techniques to reduce a Revit project's file size. Is file size alone a serious concern or measure of a successful project? I've heard of people insisting on a maximum file size allowable for a model.

I think File Size is a red herring.

Sure a large file will require more memory to open and this will affect performance. The biggest annoyance will be the time it takes to open the file. Linking a large file will affect the host too. File size is a worthy consideration but there are many others that often get ignored.
  • Warnings - These get ignored for ages and pile up. Some of these are more offensive than others. For my money anything that involves calculations is a worry. Room, space and area errors caused by boundary issues or redundancy is wasting your cpu's time (and yours), even though it is really fast. The truth is that any warning is a waste of "space" and "resources" to some degree.
  • View Detail - Do you have a lot of views that are using fine or medium detail level but have scales like 1/16", 1/8"=1'-0" (1:200, 1:100, 1:50)? These views won't really show this level of detail for all elements effectively and you are asking the computer to show it anyway.
  • Huge Sketch based elements - A toposurface with huge numbers of points or floor sketches or filled regions with very large numbers of segments will hurt performance. Same for area plans and their boundaries. These features are meant to be used with the fewest number of segments to create a representation of information. I've seen filled regions used to completely document a color scheme or floor pattern concept that account for thousands of line segments instead of a simpler actual color scheme applied based on information...instead of drafting because it is familiar.
  • Unused Content - Families that are not going to be used at all can contribute to some bloat. Especially if they are complex families that are quite large to begin with. Check the stock content, rarely if ever are they over 200 kb. If they are they probably have an array or some other complexity.
  • Content Complexity - Families that are over-modeled or at the very least are not using Detail Level and Visibility options effectively. Families that have a large number of formulas or using arrays are another.
  • Hosts overloaded - Autodesk has indicated in the past that they've determined that large walls with many many hosted elements can hurt performance. They recommend using multiple walls by floor(s) or stacked walls to minimize this.
That's just a few items, this post would get a bit too long to dig more, perhaps another post. What about the file sized focused techniques to reduce the file size itself?
  • Save As - It's often mentioned to use Save As to make a new central file. Sure, the result is a smaller file, but why? We just started over, no save history, no user log files and no backups. Yes we've stripped out elderly data that may not be necessary now but guess what? As soon as the crew gets back to work watch how quickly the file becomes roughly the original size.
  • Compact Central - An oversimplification, it is akin to the operating system performing defragmentation of your computer's hard drive. I prefer to think of it as asking Revit to clean up after a busy day. It allows Revit to reduce file size but I think you'll find that it isn't as shocking as using Save As. Shouldn't be too surprising though since we aren't getting getting rid of save and user history.
In my opinion we shouldn't just focus on file size. It's one of many things to consider, a symptom perhaps, not a disease itself. One piece of wisdom I can share that Scott Brown (a friend in Orlando working with The Beck Group) has offered in the past is this:

File Size @ SD x 3 = File size @ CD
SD= End of Schematic Design
CD= End of Construction Documentation

I can confirm his general observation based on my experience. Something to consider.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dept. of Echo - Ceiling Tool Gets a Bit Smarter

In all previous releases Revit was a bit too accommodating because it would let users put multiple ceilings within the same boundary without complaining about the redundancy. Obviously some parts of a building use multiple ceilings so they need to be able to exist in the same room or space. However the Auto Ceiling function also made it too easy to put multiple ceilings in the same room or space because it didn't complain or mention the redundancy. I complained about this in an earlier post.

A quiet change in Revit 2011 exists now (documented thanks to Inside the Factory), a warning will occur if we use the Auto Ceiling function within the same boundary room or space.

It's nice to see issues like these get resolution even if they forget to take credit for them in the "What's New in XX" documentation. Little stuff can add up to annoying.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Third Party Applications - Revit App

I've been following Bruce's Revit App Blog for awhile now but failed to notice that they are offering some free applications. They just posted one that helps deal with getting rid of materials more efficiently. Regardless you might want to check them out.

The apps they offer right now are:

Materials Tool
Family Loader

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Revit Technology Conference 2011 - USA

I've mentioned the Revit Technology Conference before but now that a little bit more has been sorted out I'm writing again. The location will be the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach (Orange County California) and the dates are set for Thursday through Saturday, June 23-25, 2011. So keep those dates open if you'd like to attend. Next up is a committee meeting in early September to sort through many other matters.

Since I mention the committee, the USA contingent is currently made up of:

  • Wesley Benn (Benn Design) founder of RTC
  • Heidi Earl (Secretariat) RTC Events Management
  • Steve Stafford (me)
  • Jim Balding (seeking a new opportunity)
  • Phil Read (HNTB)
  • David Harrington (Walter P. Moore)
  • Robert Bell (Sparling)

This committee will also probably rely heavily on the existing Australian committee made up of:

  • Rodd Perey (Architectus)
  • Clay Hickling (GHD)
  • Chris Needham (C3 Consulting Solutions)
  • Marina Radosevic (Benn Design)
  • Simon Whitbread (Beca)
  • and Wesley Benn and Heidi Earl again naturally.

As more gets nailed down the web site will get updated so keep an eye on that site for more information. You can also read the most recent Newsletter (August 2010) to find out more about the last conference as well as a little bit about the next two; Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia and Huntington Beach, CA USA.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

32 Apps for iPhone and iPad

Houston Neal, the Director of Marketing for Software Advice (Free Advice for Software Buyers) recently wrote an article after sifting through roughly 500 offerings for the AEC industry.

There are some interesting items in his list. I grabbed four pretty tool image captures below: (left to right)

  • E-Calc (electrical engineering calculations)
  • BuildCalc (construction calculations)
  • Concrete Calculator (concrete slab calculations)
  • InchCALC (feet inch calculations)

If you use these devices you might want to check the list to see if there are any you didn't already know about.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Troubleshooting - Downloading Content

When I downloaded the new versions of Revit 2011, MEP would not let me download the content, at least not all 16 bundles. I thought maybe it was my ISP cutting me off with a large bandwidth download. I thought all sorts of things. I ended up getting my content from the media when it arrived, yes I asked for the DVD, how can you collect them if you don't get them?

Long story short - I thought I disabled my anti-virus software adequately. Turns out that I did not. When I carefully shut down each of the services that were running (leaving me temporarily vulnerable to internet evil) the content downloaded successfully!

Next time you are having issues, remember the often stated and repeated mantra of disabling the software you use to protect you from internet evil. I happen to be using AVG's products so your mileage may vary.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dept. of Questions - Can Revit?

I've been encountering questions, over the years, where someone asks if "something" is possible. That something is usually quite specific that they do or their firm does. Often it is something we all do or reasonably close. Occasionally it is really specific and perhaps even peculiar to a firm, a person, an off-hand idea...something.

I provide a tongue-in-cheek reply that attempts to get the idea across that Revit is pretty capable and many of the typical things we do have been accounted for. I thought that I should scientifically provide evidence that what I've claimed over the years is true. Here are three pie charts that clearly show what I have claimed all along is true.

Scientifically true? Okay, busted! I didn't do this scientifically. I did use a pie chart in Excel though, does that count for something? Notice how I carefully put Revit MEP at a slightly less percentage of YES? That's because it is younger.

How well does Revit live up to this? Pretty well overall in my opinion. The more specific your focus, the more peculiar or unique your desire the greater the chances you get a small piece of pie. It isn't likely they'll satisfy every last one of us so I don't think they'll ever hit 100% Yes. Regardless, I like pie...Lemon Meringue and Boston Cream Pie (which is a cake, I know). Want some milk with your pie?

Autodesk University Registration is nearly Upon Us

Per email this morning. If you are not a member of AU Online yet then you might want to reconsider.

Dear AU Member,

Autodesk University 2010 registration dates have changed:
AU 2010 (Las Vegas)

  • Advance registration for AU members only opens September 7.
  • General registration opens September 14.
  • AU Virtual – Registration opens September 14.
  • AU Extension – Registration opens September 28

Please update your calendar and plan to register on these dates. We look forward to your participation in AU this year.

With regards,

AU 2010 Team

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Re-Numbering Elements

I've written about this in the past:

Avatech Utilities Update
Duplicate Mark Values
API Tools Part One - Avatech
Numbering Stuff
First Number Value Template Setup

I also mentioned in one of those earlier posts it is possible to re-number elements using the Element Positioning tool that is available via subscription. Unfortunately it is brutally slow!! On a recent project file it took well over an hour to crank its way through the project database. Frankly it needs a rewrite or fresh approach. It is grossly inefficient to crawl the entire database, generating view by view to establish a selection set. My claims are written like only a "non-programmer" could marginalize the effort to create good code.

How else can we renumber elements, apart from scheduling ingenuity?

Well Avatech's Utilities for Revit are, in my view, unfortunately and arbitrarily limited to Doors, Grids, Levels, Windows, Spaces & Rooms.

Kiwi Codes offers the most elegant solution I've encountered so far. They have two tools; Element Renumber or Category Renumber. Category Renumber is a simple tool that let's you select a single element to define a category to renumber "arbitrarily" and it just reassigns a new number to every element. Keep in mind you'd need to be able to edit every element (potential workset conflict perhaps). Element Renumber lets you set a starting number and pick elements in the order you'd like to renumber them. It also lets you assign an increment value as well as apply a prefix or suffix to the number. For Revit MEP users this tool is a real value, I think. They have a 2011 version, it just isn't on the site at the moment. Write to them.

It strikes me as a bit silly that this sort of tool isn't just part of the software already. I know they've got big list and they are checking it twice even thrice but typically it's the littlest stuff that gets people giggly.

As for pricing of 3rd party applications - I prefer the "a lot for a little" approach. If I were to provide a productive tool for sale I'd be inclined to price it very lightly with the hope that the price is inviting enough to generate significant volume (recognizing the market of Revit users versus the market for selling candy bars...not the same league obviously).

The following statements will rule out my ever being invited to work in sales for these products but here goes. If I were to sell the Avatech tools they'd be about $50. The Kiwi Code tool about $10. The Ideate Explorer for about $35. There are others too but I'll not offend them right now. My rationale is that for these tools to proliferate they need to be a commodity and set at a price that an individual or corporation wouldn't blink at. Especially when they are looking at the capital cost associated with Revit itself. I'm not saying the work of the developers isn't worth more, they deserve compensation for their work.

I'm inclined to think that volume would increase if the price is "right". They'd get a generous return by selling more. The prices I see now are putting up a barrier that makes someone think twice about buying. Maybe I'm full of beans and they are selling like hotcakes but I don't see many of them in use. Then again awareness may account for that more than anything.

[Disclaimer: No product vendors enticed me to write in favor of one or another. This post was born of frustration the other day.]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dept. of Wishes - AUGI Wish Lists for Revit Structure and MEP

While I served on the board for AUGI we saw the start of the Revit Architecture wish list at AUGI. Getting them started for Structure and MEP just wasn't in the cards then. Time passes and AUGI has just announced new wish lists for both!!

The following text was clipped from BLAUGI:


Revit MEP and Revit Structure Wish List ballot closes on Aug 31st at 12:00 am GMT.

AUGI Members, it is time once again to let Autodesk know what you would like to see in future releases of Revit MEP and Revit Structure. The next Wish List ballot is open. Autodesk uses the results of AUGI Wish List ballots to help plan out improvements in the software. Take advantage of this opportunity. The only thing you need is a membership in AUGI, and a little bit of your time.

You've submitted your wishes, now come vote on the ones you'd most like to see become a part of the product you use on a daily basis. On behalf of all of the wish list team members - reviewers and administrators - thank you for your time and your vote!

Vote now for Revit MEP and Revit Structure!

You must be an AUGI member and you must log in to vote.

Revit Families - New Guide at Club Revit

Michael Anonuevo let me know that he recently posted an in-depth article about creating complex shapes with the Revit Family Editor. Michael runs the site Little Details Count and is a contributor at Club Revit, a site started by Lonnie Cumpton. He discusses how he created the following family as well as useful interface and rendering subtleties between Revit 2010 and 2011.

Michael also has an interesting post about the little teapot that Revit uses as its icon for Rendering button. It is a common question that I get during training. He did some digging to provide more background. Scroll to the March 8, 2010 post titled, "Autodesk Revit Teapot Render Button".

SoCal Training Opportunity

The RUGIE (Revit User Group Inland Empire) recently re-branded themselves as BUGIE (BIM User Group Inland Empire). They are offering a training session for Revit's Family Editor.

Here are the details:
Presenter: Brian Andresen
Topic: Creating the Perfect Family (Component)

Santiago High School
1395 Foothill Pkwy
Corona, CA

Date: Saturday, 25th of September 2010
Time: 9:00am – 4:30pm
Cost: BUGIE/ RUGIE Members: Free General Public: $10

Click To RSVP

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dept. of Off Topic - Introducing Revit "the frog"

Dave Edwards shared this with me the other day after I posted the picture of the Jeep with Rev*IT.

He writes:
Don't know if you ever saw this. There was a Harley Davidson licensed Beenie Baby frog called "Revit." When I first started with the software, every Google search on "Revit" came up with all these Beenie Baby sites. Well, because I had dreams of working for them at the time, I bought three of them and sent two to the Execs of Revit Tech. One is still on my desk.

The tag says: "Revit's no toad, and he's not just a frog. He's King of the Road, when he's up on his Hog!" On the back of his jacket it says: "Harley Davidson, Kiss Normal Good. "Fitting for a frog". For years we called Revit, FrogCAD.

Thanks Dave!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dept. of Off Topic - Revit Ride

Saw this in Orlando on a recent trip to a client's office. Clearly a Revit user? Of course...what else??

Dept. of Cool Stairs - Australia Style

Took these while in Sydney...nice stair!

Video Training Option - Paul Aubin on Lynda.Com

I'm a bit late mentioning this, sorry! Paul wrote to let me know that he recently finished a Revit Essentials training class in a video format that is offered at Lynda.com.

They specialize in video training for all sorts of things. Paul wants to get the word out so here's my little contribution.

Hope it sells well!

Level Annotation - Elevation Units

Here's a quick video showing how to change the units of a Level annotation for elevation.

No time for a video, want to dash in and try to do it? Take these steps (added per Rusty's comment):
  1. Select the Level
  2. Examine it's Type Properties
  3. Find the Symbol Family it is assigned to
  4. Close the Type Dialog(s)
  5. Scroll to the Families category in the Project Browser
  6. Select the family the Level is using under the Annotation Symbols category
  7. Right Click > Edit
  8. Select the Elevation label, click Edit Label
  9. Select the Elevation parameter in the list
  10. Click the Format button, Un-Check Project Units
  11. Choose another setting
  12. Save the family and load it into your project
You should save this family as a new type in your office standards folder.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dept. of Off Topic - Calatrava's Dallas Bridge

Drove by Santiago Calatrava's bridge design in Dallas tonight.

The "hoop" is up.

I didn't try to get closer to see more though. I used Auto Stitch (iPhone app) to build this panorama.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dept. of Quirky - Duct Duct Weird

Observed this odd behavior when attempting to add a riser to an existing lateral duct run. If you create the riser during the initial sketch of the lateral run it works fine. It just gets weird if you try to introduce a riser later. It works fine if you just create a riser separately. Also curious is that sketching a duct will cease the duct run when you click on a reference plane. If you expect to continue sketching duct you need to be careful not to click on a reference plane because the current duct sketching mode with stop and you'll have to select the first point again to continue. Both conditions are quirky in my book. Video embedded below and posted at OpEd Videos and YouTube.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Stair with Landings at Both Ends

I made the Video posted below after receiving an email asking about an earlier post.

Friday, August 06, 2010

AUGI | AEC EDGE Spring 2010 issue is posted

The next issue of AUGI | AEC EDGE is finally out. Each issue is intended to arrive at the end of the season. Unfortunately my workload made it harder than usual to meet our intended deadlines. All that is behind me now...it's posted!

Thanks again to the authors who make each article possible and this issue's authors are:

Lee Ambrosius, Christian Barrett, Elizabeth Chodosh, Lonnie Cumpton, Doug Eberhard, Jon Allen Gardzelewski, David Harrington, Trey Klein, Glenn Jowett, David Light, Jay Polding, Philip (Chico) Membreno, Keith Rice, and Daniel Stine

Now on to prepare for the next issue.

[Amended 9:00 PM] The magazine cover image at the magazine web site is still pointing to the Winter issue. The link on the left frame that says Online Version works. That and you can download the pdf versions.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Dept. of Wishes - Revit MEP - Selection Priority

I made a brief video that describes a frustrating selection situation when linked models are involved. Revit places the link at a higher priority than local MEP elements. Wireframe visual style will change this but wireframe in some views (3D) isn't always a better option. It would be really nice if a linked model had a lower selection priority when compared with other native elements. I've embedded the video here but you can also watch it at YouTube.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Revit MEP - Hiding Elements in Linked Models

Revit MEP 2011 introduces a way to copy/monitor additional elements from linked architectural models. A client asked me how to hide the originals in their views once they've used this new feature. I was attending the BIM Analytics event at USC and couldn't respond effectively during the day so I did a short video tonight in an attempt to make up for it. I've embedded it here too.

Two techniques are mentioned in the video; using an override of the Model Categories for the linked file or an override of a specific Workset assuming one is created for such a use in the linked file.