Friday, July 29, 2011

Unblock Your App

If you download a Plugin of the Month or some other application that doesn't have its own installer you might find that when you get it "working" that it doesn't actually run. The key to get it working again most likely, assuming your paths and names are correct, is that you need to "Unblock" the .dll and .addin files so Windows 7 security will give in.

Right click on the file name > Choose Properties. If the Unblock button is there then security is telling you to "talk to the hand". Click Unblock and "she'll be right".

While attempting to get the new Wall Opening area I ran into this situation and this thread at was useful background information. Gordon included part of a reply by Kean Walmsley with Autodesk.

Kean wrote:...snip "Many of the 2012 family of products use version 4 of the .NET Framework. .NET 4.0 implements slightly more stringent security than prior versions of the framework: if a DLL is suspected as having been downloaded from the web – as is clearly the case with our “Plugins of the Month” – the .NET 4.0 runtime will treat that DLL as if it has been loaded from a network share...snip

Lighting Calculations by AGI for Revit

The folks (Lighting Analysts Inc.) that create AGI32 (a popular lighting analysis tool for AutoCAD) are in the Beta process for their new application for Revit called ElumTools.

From their website:
ElumTools is a calculation Add-in used to predict the performance of electric lighting systems within the Autodesk® Revit® Architecture or MEP software. With ElumTools the need to utilize external software to compute illuminance from light sources placed in Revit is no longer necessary.

Click HERE if you'd like to join their BETA Process. The pricing structure has not been defined yet, just TBD on their site.

Want to watch some videos?
ElumTools Test Drive
ElumTools Overview
ElumTools Visualization

To get you started I've embedded the Overview Video.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dept. of Subtle - Exporting and Printing - Show List

Back in January of 2008 I wrote a post for the HOK CAD Solutions blog that has since changed its name to HOK BIM Solutions blog. The post is about what happens when we use the feature to filter the list of views and sheets to print. The same can be said for exporting to other file formats too.

The Show options that appear for Sheets and Views are filters to control the display of views in the list above. They do not affect whether a view is selected or not. If you have Views selected and turn off Views display, they remain selected and they will print/export regardless.

It is important to either scroll down the list to make sure just the views you really want are selected or click the Check None button to start over, otherwise you may end up with a bit more printed output than you expected.

The same thing is true of the export dialog.

A video might help explain it better?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Shared Coordinates and Copy Monitor

I read and responded to a post at AUGI over the last few days. The problem is that levels in the structural model won't display the shared elevation values based on the architecture model. To replicate the situation I imagined what steps were taken, based on the info in the post. I couldn't reproduce the problem. However, one thing my attempt didn't include was the Copy/Monitor tool (C/M). It turns out that when the levels are involved in a C/M relationship they won't acknowledge the change in their type parameter setting: Elevation Base > Shared.

Here's the steps that were part of the issue:
  1. RAC Model started with Level 1 at 864'-0" elevation (not at zero)
  2. RST gets RAC model and moves their levels to match
  3. RST uses Copy Monitor for levels and grids
  4. RAC model uses Relocate Project to move back to "project elevation" 100'-0"
  5. RST uses Acquire Coordinates to adjust - no acknowledgment of change
If you do this without C/M (step 3) it works.

Once two files are sharing coordinates you can't really remove this relationship. If you remove the link and import it again (Auto - Origin to Origin) the relationship survives.

To truly remove (really more like replace) the relationship I use a new file that is based on the stock Revit template default.rte. I import this file and Acquire Coordinates from it instead. Revit can only acquire coordinates from one source file so using a "good" one "resets" it so it is possible to acquire them from the original file after removing the C/M relationship.

Once the shared coordinates are "reset" I was able to import the RAC model and use Acquire Coordinates to match up the elevation values. Lastly, I used Copy Monitor to let Revit watch the levels again. Hopefully it doesn't happen again!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Elevation Tag Disappears

Via email yesterday, a Revit user wonders why an elevation symbol won't show up in the view. It boils down to the crop region and cut-plane of the views involved. The question was also posted at AUGI and I responded there too.

Here's a simple image depicting the issue.

If the cut-plane of the elevation is moved away so that it no longer intersects the crop region of the view, no elevation symbol anymore!

A VIDEO works best to "see it happening".

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

File Upgrader for Revit 2012 Available at Autodesk Labs Plug-ins

They've made an updated version of the Revit File Upgrader available at the Labs, check it out!

From the blog post:
    In addition to being stellar programming examples, the ADN plugins provide useful functionality. As such, the developers routinely update them in response to feedback at With this in mind, there was a recent update of the File Upgrader for Revit. You can use this plugin to batch upgrade previous versions of Revit files to the Revit 2012 format. This utility tool is intended to help upgrade family contents, but you can also use it to upgrade project files. As included in its read me, and all ADN Plugins of the Month come with read me files, the changes for this version include:
    • Support wider range of source filename lengths (including single character file names)
    • Handle situations where multi-level nested source sub-folders are devoid of Revit files (except for the last sub-folder).
    • Set the focus of the list box in the user interface dialog to show the new entries being logged.
    • Reflect the progress of the upgrade more correctly especially in cases where there are files not matching the upgrade file types in the source folder.
    When using this plug-in, avoid placing the destination folder as a subfolder of the source folder. It doesn't handle that. The source code is supplied. Anyone care to try their hand at fixing that?

Shared Parameter Utility - Revit SP Writer

Alan Jackson has made his new Shared Parameter application available. From his blog openRevit:

This utility is intended to manage shared parameter files for Autodesk Revit platforms. It was written and tested using Excel 2007.

  • Import Shared Parameter .txt files
  • Export Shared Parameter .txt files
  • Create New Shared parameters
  • Selective Export from Parameter Library
  • Organize Parameters

You can DOWNLOAD NOW from his site.

He followed up the first post with this one too.

Dept. of Echo - Revit Implementation: Workflow Tricks

The most recent AUGIWorld was posted and available yesterday. It is the "Management" issue and I thought I'd take a moment to "shout out" about Aaron Maller's article (works for Beck Group in Dallas).

His is the cover's feature article and title of this post: Revit Implementation: Workflow Tricks. He shares useful insights regarding the Revit 2012's approach to handling the "initialization" information that historically been stored in the Revit.ini file. It's still there sort it already! If you deal with this aspect of Revit routinely I'm sure you'll appreciate the information! Good job Aaron!

AUGIWorld High Resolution (30 MB)
AUGIWorld Low Resolution (6.9 MB)
AUGIWorld Read it Online

Since this blog is obviously Revit biased you also find these other helpful Revit focused articles:
  • Managing BIM Coordination – Michael N. Smith discusses the team approach and preparation needed for solid BIM coordination through Navisworks.
  • Revit MEP / Up-front Organization – If you’ve been tagged as the office’s Revit MEP “go to” person, learn how to deliver superior file management. David Raynor offers some tips.
  • So You Want to Implement Revit? – The key to becoming a fully implemented Revit firm can be found in a single word. Let Ibrahim Hakki enlighten you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Alternate Units - Part Two

A few comments responding to yesterday's post made me aware of a couple perspectives I had not given enough fair play in my mind. Thanks for the comments and the attitude adjustment. Just to repeat myself, I'm not opposed to showing alternate units or defending Revit's lack of the concept. I'm all for Autodesk making alternate dimensions a priority for documenting in Revit. Hopefully it will happen sooner than later.

One comment asked about using a dimension style that uses "no lines". I exaggerated, it does use the dimension line but that will overlap the other so it is "invisible". A video will help see how I apply it and these two dialog boxes will show what settings I used. Hope it helps...a little.

Setting the Type Parameters:

Setting the Units (from within Type Parameters):

Here's the VIDEO and the version at You Tube:

As it turns out the person who asked about this wrote a tip at the that describes roughly the same thing except he eliminates the dragging of dimension values by increasing the Dimension Line Snap Distance parameter so that one dimension is above the other automatically. A nice improvement which assumes that format approach will be acceptable. Hopefully it will be! If not, the way I show in the video shows what you'll have to consider.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Alternate Units - Seriously?

I encounter the request to show alternate units in Revit every now and then. I see the subject pop up in user forums like AUGI and too. The superficial response is, "Nope the dimension styles in Revit don't have a "show alternate units" option like other CAD software."

Seems simple enough to me for the software to provide it doesn't it? I'm not a programmer so I won't speak further for them.

    Below the surface what's always bothered me is, why???? - Some bureaucratic response? "Just show both units!" Some generic project wide uniformity? -

No this is not some fanboy defense for Revit's lack...I really don't get the notion that we have to provide alternate units for everything. What practical purpose does providing overall building dimensions in both units of measure serve? If the project is to be built in China, or Europe, or the Middle they really care about imperial units? Does the window manufacturer that builds imperial based products care about the metric equivalents? Is the framer going to compare the values before they nail in the studs? Is including both units meant to be "easier" for those team members who can't be bothered to become acquainted with the appropriate unit of measure?

How about providing dimensions that show the units that really matter to the poor sap trying to build the project and leave the rest of the clutter off the drawing? I can understand a manufacturer including both when they are seeking pricing for manufacturing something from a variety of sources including overseas vendors. But then often metric and imperial numbers have some fudging involved to cleanup the numbers (3'-0" vs 900mm doors, shaved 15mm off the imperial size).

Backing up...sure, "please "factory" GIVE us alternate units." But using them in practice still ought to be based on reasonable application versus an arbitrary "just show both", some degree of appropriate use. My $0.025

At this time we've got some "ugly" options.
  • Add the alternate values as an override suffix to each dimension (make that really really ugly).
  • Change the unit of measure for the project dimensions and plot the set again (PDF only hopefully) It does nothing to resolve "messy" conversion numbers like the door example above.
  • Add additional dimensions that don't show the "lines" and adjust the dimension value so it is next to the others (pretty darn ugly but at least tied to real elements/values).
  • Provide and use alternate dimension styles that show the appropriate units for what is being communicated and based on where the project will be constructed. (maybe you can sense my preference here?)
  • Use API to add/update alternate unit suffix for us, don't know if API actually permits this though. Programmers confirm/deny?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sharing Data and Language

Interesting thing is happening to a friend and his firm as they collaborate with an engineering firm based in China. Language is an obvious issue for project meetings and documentation. At a little deeper level how about between applications. Let's say using Navisworks and exports from Revit...

There is no translate option during export!

Seems to me the "solution" to sharing this is to use a common language for the modelling/software/documentation. Easier said than done perhaps to choose English as the "language of business"? What if the project is to be built in China? Better make sure you have native Chinese speakers on staff?

Architecture/Engineering work is increasingly international and multi-national, I imagine we haven't seen the last of this sort of thing.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Difference Between Join and Attach

There are two kind of messages that Revit shows you regarding how walls, floors and roofs interact.

The first kind (Attach) occurs when the geometry of a wall touches a floor or passes through the floor. If you edit the sketch of a floor, when you finish the sketch Revit asks you if you'd like to attach this wall (or any other walls that intersect too) to the underside of the floor.

The point of this is to establish an "automatic" relationship between the underside of a floor and various walls. If the floor type (thickness) changes the top of the wall(s) will change as well. If the level the floor is assigned to is raised/lowered the walls adjust accordingly too. It's meant to be "quicker" than manually doing it yourself by selecting walls and using the Attach Top/Base tool. However you may want some walls to do it and others not so much. Many times the "correct" answer is NO.

Here are the results for yes and no responses (note that there is no "joining" of geometry, just the wall height is changed).

Same thing happens when a wall and roof geometry intersects except the dialog message is slightly different.

The second kind (Join) is when a floor intersects a wall, like at exterior walls. Revit asks if you want to join geometry so the cut/projection lines that it draws better represent how these elements would really intersect.

The first message does appear too, just before the second message appears. It's good to choose NO to the first so the wall does not get attached (which would change its height) and then YES so the geometry joins nicely. If you aren't cutting a section through this part of the building then you could argue there is no need to join geometry since nobody will see the clumsy connection between wall and floor.

Now for this message to appear it is necessary to "Pick Walls" and use the "Extend into wall (to core)" Option. If you don't use these then you just get the first message.

If you choose NO for both "questions" you can always use the Join Geometry tool later between any elements that need to "clean up" better. Again the point of this second kind of question is to provide a "speedier" way to end up with a better section(s) when you cut one later.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Application Development - Building a Case for It

I was approached by Mike Shell recently. Since he is interested in developing a software application intended to support viewing Revit models via a 3D PDF Converter his need is a bit broader than just my opinion. He needs interest from bigger organizations than mine.

He is seeking statements from firms that support his business plan. Here's one of two sample letters he provided:
    To Mr. Michael Schell or to whom it may concern,
    Our firm uses Autodesk Revit for our architectural and 3D CAD design needs. We are currently using another product for viewing and illustration for sharing our model requirements and for printing documents, but not aware of 3D PDF format, for printing or illustrating our models.
    If this product is available I would be interested in purchasing the product, if the value was in the $________ price range. It would be valuable for us to be able to distribute our 3D Revit designs in a neutral 3D format like PDF… since the Adobe viewer is free and everyone has it already on their PC.
    Integration of 3D views within the construction set as the next step in the evolution of construction drawings would be beneficial. Having an Adobe 3D PDF that a contractor can use during the construction phase would further enhance our communication with the clients.
    Sincerely Yours,
    Your Name
If you and/or your firm are interested in learning more contact him via EMAIL. He's also hoping you'll provide such a letter to demonstrate how interested you are, and thereby demonstrating overall interest in the project.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Patterning Plug-In Teaser

Via a Tweet today HLJacobs posted a video at You Tube demonstrating a patterning tool.

Looks interesting! I suspect that HLJacobs is none other than Hiroshi, founder of RevitCity. Could be a coincidence?

And this one too:

This one too:

What Happened??

I couldn't keep up. The month of June and running into July was over the top for me. When I returned from RTC Australasia at the beginning of June there were many distractions preparing for RTC North America. Then the event itself.

The Revit part of it didn't worry was the drumming part! ;)

Steve Shell and his band Shell Shock were nice enough to let me play for four songs! Thanks to the guys and especially Chaz for letting me take a little more life out of his drum heads and sticks! Next time you find yourself in Tuscon be sure to check them out!

The week after RTCUSA left me and the family with one week to prepare for moving house. Our lease was up for renewal and we decided to split the difference between our kid's schools. One advantage of leasing over owning anyway, besides when we moved to California there was no way we were getting into the crazy housing market here.

All that is behind me now so I'm attempting to fall back into routine, not that the life of a consultant is ever really routine. It's kind of like being a keeper (soccer goalie), periods of extreme boredom (looking for work) mixed with periods of terror (having more than one can handle)! With the economy (Aussie's just refer to it as the GFC - Global Financial Crisis) the way it is a little more terror than boredom is a good problem to have!

At least there are many other active bloggers to fill in the gaps when I get too distracted! Others like: (check them out!)

Luke Johnson - What Revit Wants
Jason Grant - Arch in 3D
David Light
The Revit Clinic (Autodesk)
Zach Kron - Buildz
Jay Polding - Revit in Plain English
Phil, Eddy and James - Arch | Tech
Jeffrey Pinheiro - The Revit Kid
Greg Arkin - Revit 3D

Revit 2012 Update - What's Fixed

When I mentioned the availability of the new update the other day there wasn't the usual "list of stuff we fixed" to go along with it. I can sympathize, it takes a lot of effort to compile that stuff. As a contributing author, blogger etc... it takes time to put things together. I think Mark Twain is credited (although variations are attributed to a good many others) with saying, "If I had more time I'd have written a shorter letter". Even this little post has taken more time that it might seem. Here's the links to the PDF files:

Revit Architecture 2012 enhancement list
Revit Structure 2012 enhancement list
Revit MEP 2012 enhancement list

Don't Ever Edit a Central File?

I regularly read the Southern Arizona Revit User Group's blog. A recent post poked me in the eye and I thought I'd respond to it here. Here's the bit that poked me:

1. Make sure no one EVER edits a Central file directly, once local files have been created. If you do, you will need to recreate all the local files from the new Central file.

It's good advice, don't work in a central file.

The second sentence is what concerns me, it isn't accurate. If someone does work in the central file no harm is done by doing so. The worst thing that will happen is Revit will force that person to save the central file as a local file before allowing for synchronization to occur. If other people are actively working in their local files and someone opens the central directly they are very likely to get this message (after doing some work for awhile) when they attempt to save.

This dialog isn't guaranteed to appear no matter what. It only shows up when there is some conflict between the central file that is being edited and changes made in a local file. The more users there are the more likely it will show up.

The dialog title (Local File not Synchronized) is a little confusing because it appears when editing the central file and trying to save. It's the central file that couldn't save. The solution is to use Save As to create a new file (local file as a result) and then use Synchronize with Central (SwC) again.

Assuming it is necessary to work in the central file, the only way to completely avoid running into it is to only work on a central file when there are no other active local files in play.

Why would it be necessary to work in a central file? Read an earlier post.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Marcello's New Blog - Simply Complex

Marcello recently presented classes at the Revit Technology Conference in Huntington Beach, CA. In his spare time he's done some pretty amazing modelling with Revit, such as an elephant, a cow, a telehandler and others. He posted his elephant on You Tube awhile ago.

He's decided to start blogging and calls his blog: Simply Complex. I encourage you to check it out and to encourage him to keep posting!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Workflow Audit

Seth Godin wrote a brief post today called Time for a Workflow Audit. It explains very simply one way people like me (Revit consultants) help others (and their firms) with Revit. As a consultant I tend to call it mentoring.

Seth wrote:
    Go find a geek. Someone who understands gmail, Outlook, Excel and other basic tools. Pay her to sit next to you for an hour and watch you work. Then say, "tell me five ways I can save an hour a day." Whatever you need to pay for this service, it will pay for itself in a week.

Substitute Revit and/or Navisworks for gmail/Outlook, Excel and the rest, though I've occasionally even helped out with those "mundane" applications.

An aside... geeks and nerds combined are: a neek, a gerd, a gerk? I heard someone say that Nerds talk/think about doing cool techy stuff while geeks get cool techy stuff DONE. At least that's how I remember hearing it!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Fonts and fonts

I recently traded emails with David Edwards of TC Fonts regarding Revit's ambivalence to .shx fonts and the issues that arise when we import from dwg files and export to dwg files.

Initially he was interested in my thoughts on something he is considering working on. I think my opinion is too narrow in this case and he agreed to let me open it up a little more, to this blog's readers.

David writes:

I'm working on 2 sets of fonts intended to make importing DWG files that use SHX fonts into Revit work better. This means that the fonts will match more accurately, at least when it comes to their height and line length. I was thinking about making the characters not look identical (except for stroke) width to Romans or Simplex for more like Arial or Helvetica, so that when using Arial in Revit, the old details wouldn't be so "different" in look. Alternatively I could make them very similar to the plot look of the SHX.

Any thoughts on what might be preferable?

He also wrote:

Revit really screwed up on the DWG export. It only allows Truetype fonts to be specified in the DWG whereas most of the AutoCAD world still uses SHX as their standards. I'm also thinking of doing an SHX that matches with the look and width of Arial.

If you've got an opinion on this subject please respond in a comment. If you'd like to have a longer conversation with David about it I can connect the dots! Thanks!