Monday, July 29, 2013

Overlay VS Attached

A question posted at AUGI started out simply by asking if this concept is the same as for AutoCAD. I replied, "Exactly the same concepts". Then another member expanded on my reply and it seemed to muddy the water for the person who wrote the original post because when they replied it sounded like it was still unclear. I wrote this longer reply and decided to put the explanation here too.

Choosing between attached or overlay is to determine how Revit should regard a link when the host file is linked into yet another file. For example, if File 1 is linked into File A and set to "attached", when File A is linked into File B, File 1 will also also be loaded into File B. If File 1 is changed, when its host File A is reloaded in their host File B, File 1 changes will also be seen, if its own changes have been saved before Reload is used. Both files are read independently during a Reload. You will only find the host File A listed in File B's Manage Links dialog however. Written another way, when a link is reloaded, it's attached nested links will also be reloaded.

When Overlay is chosen instead File 1 does not get loaded into File B. No circumstance will cause it to appear nor will we be aware of changes within the link.

We should use the "Attached" setting when we link a file into another file AND expect its own linked files to show up as if they are native elements in the file too. Changes in either the parent or child will appear when the parent file is reloaded into its host or if the host file is opened after changes have occurred in either.

In practice, if we create an architectural model (parent) that uses linked files (children) for repeating units they will need to be set to Attached if we want the units to appear when the "parent" architectural model is linked into a structural model. When we pass along our model to the structural engineer we will need to send both the "parent" architectural model and the "child" repeating units. When we link in their structural model we should use "Overlay" so Revit does not try to load their structural model when the structural engineer links our architectural model into their own model.

Clear as mud?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

An Apology to Mr. Baldacchino

I've made references to David Baldacchino's blog many times in my own posts here. In a casual conversation (at a very late hour) during the last evening at RTC in Vancouver David mentioned to me that I routinely misspell his name. Shock, shudder, dismay!!! Say it isn't so!

    I did some research. I found out David is spelling his name wrong, I'm off the hook.

Okay no not really. I found five posts that mispelled his name Baldachinno (two n's) instead of the correct way Baldacchino. There are a total of twenty posts that refer to him or his blog. So I was wrong about 1/4 of the times I mentioned him. Not good, not terrible...still wrong.

Hey David! I fixed them all!! Well I feel better now!

Sorry David, I'll do better from now on! From now on I'm just going to call you Mr. Do U. Wevit :)

Concrete Steps

Revit doesn't seem to like generating a smooth underside for some stair configurations. A post at AUGI asked about making what seems like simple concrete steps. Yes, they do look simple. The stair (and railing) features sure have a lot of buttons, dialogs and subtlety. There is definitely no easy button unless you are satisfied with whatever the stair looks like after you place two points to create a straight stair. This is the image that the original post included at AUGI.

Years ago I picked on Autodesk because the stair and railing features couldn't easily be used to make the stair in their building's own ground floor atrium/foyer. They've moved since and there aren't any featured stairs now. Coincidence? [evil grin]

Revit doesn't mind creating the steps if we choose the "Stepped" option.

This is what the sketch looks like.

Keep in mind that the "end" of a stair like this needs a riser not a boundary sketch segment. That's why the sketch line at the top of the steps is black, not green. Creating a stair that ends at a landing can be a bit counter-intuitive, I wrote a post about that condition some years ago too, it's called "A Flat Slope".

A little bit later I was doing something with a floor slab edge and it occurred to me that I could use a slab edge profile to create the steps too. So this is the result of a profile family applied to a Slab Edge type and then applied to three sides of the floor edge. I made the top step the floor so I'd have three edges to work with. If I wanted a joint between the floor slab and the step I could just make the top step a floor and create another floor behind it for the building's floor slab.

Here's the section through the steps and floor (on the left) and the profile family in the family editor (on the right).

The section of the step profile shows that it extends under the slab. I did that so I could use Join Geometry between them and clean up the lines between them. Assigning the same material to the Slab Edge type means that the concrete pattern flows between them nicely. The view from below the steps reveals the nice sloped slab edge that results from the slab edge profile. Compare that against the stepped version and this one looks more realistic from a construction perspective.

Now all I need to finish it off is a short foundation wall to close up the space behind the steps and the edge of slab. Something to consider for those little steps you need for your next project.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It is a Training Problem

I frequently get involved in conversations that start with someone wishing Revit would help resolve "x" problem. The essence of "x" is that somebody on the team keeps doing something that the team wishes they wouldn't. So we want Revit to fix a user, or make it impossible for a certain user to do something.

Usually it is just growing pains and those WILL subside after enough time is invested and experience is gained. That's the purpose of training, we can shorten the time required with training. Yes, I do work as a trainer but I'm not just saying that because I'm a trainer (the carpenter thinking every problem needs a hammer). The whole point of hiring a training consultant or going to classes (for anything) is to reduce the time it takes to become productive or knowledgeable.

    We SPEND money to SAVE time and invest in our skills.

Too many firms don't invest in their staff (or if they do, they don't do it effectively). They expect or assume that their staff will just manage to get by on their own. Give them a book, they're smart, they'll figure it out. They probably are smart and they will figure it out...eventually. How long can you wait for that to happen? They might pay for training but then after three days in a class they've been trained and therefore are experts! At least that's the perceived expectation or assumption. After all, that's why architecture is such a easy degree to get and getting licensed is a snap, right?

Getting training is a piece of the puzzle. Putting that training to work is how experience is gained. The training makes it possible to shorten the learning curve toward experience. No matter which way you approach the learning don't underestimate the importance of the experience of doing the job, the project. You'll just enjoy the job or project more if you get some good training and spend less time getting frustrated.

If a firm really keeps track of how much time is lost to inefficient task completion and inexperience leading to rework. They'd find out eventually that hiring that consultant or training facility would have been a bargain. If we don't treat "time lost" as "money spent" we don't realize how much it really cost. So many firms behave this way, they don't pay attention to the money going out the door the slow and "invisible" way. It goes out so slowly they convince themselves it isn't happening. If you are serious about seeing a return on investment (ROI) you need to know what it costs to do everything now (the established or "old way") and then later after becoming proficient with Revit. As they say, you can't manage what you don't measure. Keep in mind that lots of data doesn't necessarily mean it is useful.

A senior architect mentoring an intern architect is the same thing, your experience helps the future senior architect become one. You can be a mentor in your office for Revit and bring people up to speed sooner too! So it's not just about hiring a great trainer, it's also about striving for better continuously.

    We sprung for training and people are still making mistakes and they've been warned repeatedly!

Mistakes are one thing, we all make them. If people know better but keep doing the same thing over and over again you now know what they really think of you and the firm. They don't care! They don't care enough to "play along", be a "team player" (OMG, holy catch phrase Batman). Sorry but AEC is a team sport.

    Messing up other people's work IS a training issue, until it ISN'T anymore.

If people are trained and continue to be RUDE and refuse to work well with others it is no longer a training issue. It's a HR (Human Resources) problem, yeah I mean "possibly cost them their job". A firm (and it's staff) shouldn't have to tolerate people refusing to work together well. That's easy to write, not as easy to work through, I know that. Someone once said to me, "Yeah we have a few people who should work for our competition". So I say, "why aren't they?" (big grin)

Ignoring the problem, yeah how's that working?

Plaaaaay BALL!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Revit MEP - Options Affect Parameters

Daniel Stine sent me this subtle issue the other day, thanks! He wrote that it affects 2013 and 2014. If you are using Revit "one box" but customize your user settings so that the Systems tab for electrical is off it will affect your ability to access certain parameter types. Here's the check box I'm referring to.

There are normally 21 parameters associated with the Electrical Discipline. If the previous image option for Systems tab:electrical tools is unchecked as shown you'll only get 6 parameters offered instead, like below.

Definitely subtle and a bit quirky. I don't think Revit should restrict this list just because I've said I prefer to not see electrical ribbon features. If you are making Revit content don't restrict the tabs as it might impact what parameters are available to you.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Training Resources or Options

This post is biased toward learning on our own and in a way a response to a question I was asked recently.

There are many many options available to learn Revit whether Architecture, Structure or MEP (and in no particular order):

  • Autodesk Help Documentation
  • Autodesk You Tube Videos
  • Autodesk Resellers (there are many and vary from region to region)
  • Autodesk Training Centers (usually associated with or are resellers)
  • Consultants (like me)
  • Virtual Training
  • Colleges/University programs
  • Community Colleges
  • Adult Education programs
  • Technical Universities
  • Video Training
  • Online Videos
  • Blogs
  • User Groups
  • Web Sites
  • Books

Some of those listed above are structured like a formal class and some are better tuned for independent learning than others. Some are very specific while others are "surface scratchers". Nearly all rely on your initiative. The tricky part about training is one approach does not work for everyone equally, there isn't a one size fits all solution, regardless what you may have been told.

A common approach is to throw students at the software in a classroom setting either at a reseller, training center or in your office hiring a consultant or reseller to come on-site. Considering my earlier comment about everyone, this approach at least hits the middle ground consistently. Students leave with a fairly consistent understanding of the software. The group as a whole makes a single "Uni-Mind" since collectively they probably took in everything delivered and can piece it back together later if they ever talk to one another about it again. Not much chance of the "Uni-Mind" working if it is in a classroom of people from different firms, such as a community college setting or reseller's training room.

Another typical approach is to throw software at the students without formal training/trainer, just go for it. This usually takes the form of a highly motivated individual or individuals opting to take it on with the hope of getting the rest of the firm on board. I've seen this work but it's hard! I've been down this road myself. In other cases some firms take this route, a passive training route that pretends it doesn't cost much as formal training to let people struggle and do things inefficiently, repetitively until they figure it out, if they ever really do. For that strategy to work long term it really takes some people with a strong sense of purpose and extreme loyalty.

Classroom instruction at the university/college is usually structured over a longer period of time, weekend class, one or two evenings per week for example. Finding these will depend heavily on where you are. There are several options here in Southern California but in Davenport, Iowa it might be harder. Your mileage will vary.

User Groups that meet monthly offer a meaningful way to discuss how to accomplish things if the group is structured that way. Some groups have formal presentation but leave little time for one on one or sessions for solving problems. Those that do put time aside for that can sometimes feel burdened, especially if only a few are really contributing to solving the issues the group brings forward.

The online resources available suffer from the lack of structure, at least when viewing them as all one thing. Individual online videos from a company like or Infinite Skills obviously have more structure and purpose than my own videos that are created because of circumstances and just because I feel like it. An internet search will yield a lot of things to read or watch but sometimes they conflict with each other, different viewpoints or in some cases just wrong. It doesn't take much to create a video explaining how to do something that you only know how to do one way, which happens to be "wrong" or just uninformed. If you spend five minutes watching that sort of video you'll just have more questions afterward than when you started.

Books are always based on the bias of the author or contributing authors, their own work experience as well as the kind of problems the book chooses to consider in the solutions or concepts it offers. I wrote in another post that we aren't limited to one Revit book on our book shelves so don't feel like you have to buy only the "best book" (whatever that is), buy several or all of them, you'll pick up useful things from any or all of them.

It's been written/said many times before, just because we finish attending school formally at some point, learning should never stop. What sort of person are you? How do you learn and retain information? Do you remember things somebody says more than when you read it? Watch it? Do you need to try something, experiment for two hours before things really start to make sense to you?

There are a lot of options! Figure out what sort of learning method works best for you and then find everything that fits that best. Don't shun the others but if you won't remember anything from a 20 hour class any better than by reading a book, by all means read the book! If your company is going to hire a trainer and you don't learn that way the best, say so, tell the trainer too. Find a way to benefit from the training, but in a way that'll ensure you retain as much information as you can. It's your class! Make sure it works for you, the trainer already knows the stuff.

Oh, you don't have to wait for your employer to "train you", what and when you learn is up to you too! :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Three Laws - Family Content

This is repost of a post that I wrote in September 2008. I thought of it as I was working through some content tasks.

Not to be confused with Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics", I first heard of the so called "three laws or rules" of software development from my father who spent many years working at IBM. These so called laws simply represented a philosophy about how to get something accomplished as efficiently as possible for the least cost (not always in terms of cash either). When I read Code Complete by Steve McConnell he mentioned the "Buy-vs-Build Decision" that developers should consider as they design/develop an application. It might seem radical to buy a solution when you are focused on making something yourself.

I've personally kept these in mind when thinking about content for Revit and even AutoCAD/ADT/Microstation before that.

Law One - Borrow
Law Two - Buy
Law Three - Build

Law One - Borrow
I can hear the cynic saying, "you mean steal". I'm sure that has happened too often. However the idea of borrowing what has been shared made the early adopters of Revit very special to me. Their willingness to make something that took them several, many hours in some cases, and make it available to others was and remains refreshing, altruistic. Guys like Chris Yearick (Yman), Scott Brown (sbrown) and Chris Zoog (czoog) to name just a few, their AUGI usernames in ().

Have you used the "All Windows" families found at Revit City? Chris Yearick (Living Places part of The Pilari Group) made those many years ago now and posted them freely at RUGIE (no longer in existence) and they found their way into the Revit City content as well as AUGI's Exchange and other places I'm sure.

Scott Brown (now with Beck Group) shared his office template as well as many standard office/product detail components and views which short circuited the time someone need to spend on their office template substantially.

Chris Zoog (now with HOK) started Zoogdesign and created a vibrant community resource for Revit discussion. It eventually merged into the Revit community forum at AUGI.

More recently an AUGI member known as CadKiller has made an ftp site available to share templates in the same spirit.

Law Two - Buy
There is something to be said for the education of making something yourself but if you can't perform billable work during that time it may not make economic sense to do it yourself. It may not make sense to have anyone in your employ do it either for the same reason. Worse yet all too often I find that a firm's different offices have made the same content themselves without realizing that someone in their own organization already made it or bought it. So communicating what is available is pretty important too...and another topic entirely.

Law Three - Make it yourself
Like I wrote above there is nothing quite like making something yourself for both satisfaction and reaching a fuller understanding of the Family Editor. At times this is the best solution or perhaps the only "affordable" way to get precisely what you want. Just be prepared to apply these same "laws" to how you acquire any knowledge you lack, maybe in a different order?

Here's to being "Law" Abiding!

Edit: Realized that the people mentioned are with new firms now, revised.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Not Enough Time

My daughter plays soccer, it is one constant that she's stayed focused on since she was old enough to play. Jack, her coach, shared a bit of wisdom with the parents the other night during a team meeting. Now this is biased toward our daughters of course but I see some parallels that work for me too.

168 hours in a week
84 hours for sleep (12 a night, hah usually more like 6 maybe 8)
35 hours in school (for me it's work and probably a bit more than 40)
10 hours of homework (I don't have homework do I?)
7 hours for practice (drums?, or commuting in LA traffic)
5 hours "me time" (never enough me time)

Leaves 27 hours of available time for practice, extra effort

I guess that excuse, "I just don't have time to learn the Revit API" is a lie I keep telling myself?

Dear Mr. OpEd - Follow Up

When I read the letter I received yesterday I must admit I was already primed to overreact. During the last twelve months I've been aware of Autodesk's effort to police their trademarks. My initial reaction was a single tweet last night, a Facebook status remark and this morning's previous blog post. I also wrote a letter (very late last night) in response (to Autodesk) explaining how each site is used, why I created them to begin with and how I think they fit Fair Use.

This morning I spoke with Jennifer (an Autodesk Attorney) and she assured me that as far as Revit OpEd is concerned there was never any worry about it not being an example of Fair Use. Unfortunately Revit Inside (the domain redirect is currently broken (by GoDaddy)) and Revit JOBS were not as clear cut to them. They really wanted to know more about them. In my opinion the letter didn't really say that, at least not in a way that got through to my thick head.

In my defense I said that whenever you get a letter from a lawyer it isn't usually good news, not a "hey let's chat sort of message". I suggested that future communication with people start off more conversational when that's the goal. To be fair I went on the offensive quickly, I didn't give them a chance to respond, to explain their email more fully. As I mentioned before, I didn't read the message as open to conversation in the same way it was intended. Email is such a poor means for communication at times.

This morning I've described each blog's purpose and it appears that we are in agreement that each of the three domains meet their criteria for Fair Use.

I now understand that it is not necessary to offer or have a Fair Use Agreement in place to demonstrate Fair Use compliance. My three blogs carry a disclaimer at the top right column that meets their requirements, and that is sufficient. Advertising can be an issue when it is in poor taste, focused on competing products or reflects badly on Autodesk (Fwiw, it would reflect badly on me too). I only let Google Ads run on Revit Inside and Revit JOBS and I don't really have much control over what Google puts there.

I'm overwhelmed by the emails that I received in support, thank you! I'm sorry I got you all fired up, ultimately it was really a fairly minor issue. Thanks to Jennifer for talking me through it this morning!

Dear Mr. OpEd - A Letter from Autodesk

I received an email from Autodesk yesterday. They are policing the use of their trademarks in domain names. I am not alone in this. I have heard from many others that have already been through this.

This blog uses a primary domain as a redirect to this blog's address at Google's Blogger ( The essence of the letter is a demand to surrender the domain (and domains for Revit Inside and Revit JOBS) to Autodesk. I registered the domains to shorten the URL required to get to the blogs. It's easier for business cards and little easier to remember.

Obviously I'll deal with this outside of this blog. Pending that outcome I may end up making some changes around here. Maybe I'll call it tiveR OpEd instead?

In the meantime, I thought I'd share the letter I think I should have received as they are actively enforcing their trademarks. This is NOT the letter I received.

Dear Mr. Stafford

We are writing to you because you are the registrant for three web domain addresses and blogs that use the registered trademark "Revit" in them: Revit OpEd, Revit Inside and Revit JOBS.

As you know we are a company that offers many products in the marketplace. Many companies register trademarks. Revit is one, of the many, trademarks Autodesk has registered. In order to maintain and demonstrate active ownership and control of a trademark Autodesk is required to continuously police the use of its trademarks or risk losing them. Any person or company that uses a registered trademark needs to do so within boundaries and guidelines set forth by law and by the registered company's policies.

We have visited each of your sites and reviewed the content therein to determine how each bears on the trademark and Autodesk's own goals and objectives for Revit. We observed that each is focused on the needs of Revit users and is not merely a site focused on generating income by misdirecting or attracting click-thru traffic based on a domain name likely to appear in common search criteria by Autodesk Revit users.

We also asked our own product and marketing staff about your sites to get a sense of their impact on and/or relevance to our customers. Their feedback reinforced our own observations and we are grateful for the support your sites have given to our products and customers.

We have attached a Fair Use Agreement for you to review. To summarize the agreement, it stipulates that as long as you continue to operate your blogs in the manner you have already demonstrated for many years you can continue to do so, and continue using these web domains with Autodesk's permission.

We are looking forward to hearing from you so we can continue to support each other and Autodesk's customers.

Autodesk Legal

To close this post, in my view, there is nothing that prevents Autodesk from granting me permission to use their trademark in my domain name, other than a willingness to do so. I understand their situation. Where they lose my understanding is how they approached the situation with me personally. If they did a modest amount of research (externally and internally) they'd realize they are "poking a friend in the eye" over nothing. This really isn't a "slippery slope argument", that granting permission for me means they have to do so for everyone, though they ought to. I don't think their customers care if I use their trademark in my blog domain. I seriously doubt there is even the slightest consumer confusion. The reality is my blogs are such a small piece of the Internet that it is bit amusing that this is even an issue. That it is an issue is definitely a waste of resources.

I'll follow up with another post to indicate if I'll be making some changes or continuing on as before as soon as I know, either way.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Copy Then Paste a Level

Ever have someone want to use Copy to Clipboard and then Paste Aligned to create a new level? I haven't but it is technically possible to create a new level by doing it.

Example 1:
Open an Elevation view
Select Level 2
Use Copy to Clipboard
Open the floor plane for Level 2
Use Paste Aligned > Aligned to Same Place
Result - A new level but on top of Level 2.

Example 2:
Open an Elevation view
Select Level 2
Use Copy to Clipboard
Open the floor plan for Level 2
Use Paste Aligned > > Aligned to Current View
Result - A new level but using the same elevation offset (distance) as Level 2

Example 3:
Start with a new template
Create a new level with the Level tool
Adjust all three levels so they are each 12'-0" apart
Open an Elevation view
Select Level 3
Use Copy to Clipboard
Open the floor plan for Level 3
Use Paste Aligned > > Aligned to Current View
Result - A new level but using the same elevation offset (distance) as Level 3

You can also place a new one with Paste Aligned > Aligned to Selected Levels, choose the appropriate level in the dialog that appears.

It isn't the first thing I'd think of to create a new level, but it IS possible.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Revit MEP - Free Size Parameter

If you use the Free Size parameter instead of Size you might notice a subtle anomaly.

In elevation views where we only see one dimension of a duct Free Size does not switch between WxH and HxW, the Size parameter does switch. In other views they both display width x height. In section or elevations that show the profile of a duct both dimensions are measurable and each parameter is consistent, they default to Width x Height.

It does seem like an oversight on their part, they ought to be consistent whether we use Size or Free Size.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Revit MEP 2014 - Reapply Type

This button snuck past me in my reading about what's new. I don't see anything at all about it in the What's New documentation at the WikiHelp pages at Autodesk either.

Originally I was preparing for my What's New session at RTC (happening right now!) and while I was working through various tasks I noticed the button and thought, "Hey I don't remember that in 2013!"

    Well my memory isn't that good anymore apparently because it IS in 2013 too.

I don't see it in the What's New for 2013 though and I didn't find it in 2012. Perhaps I am sort of correct (a little?) that it is new, or at least undocumented? I guess this fits into "What's old is new again"? I left a mention of it in my What's New class handout even though it isn't new to 2014.

If you haven't noticed it then let me explain.

Imagine you've placed a lot of duct and then change the related duct system settings about which fittings should be used. Nothing will happen to the existing duct. The Reapply Type button will take whatever duct you select and REAPPLY your recent changes (to the type) to your selection. Once a duct is placed it more or less remains inert unless another duct it trimmed or extended into it, touches it. When the duct is harrassed by another Revit will start to refer to the settings to determine what fittings to use.

Here's to "new" old features!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Five Minutes Working with Rotated Views

A common question from people with experience using AutoCAD is, "Does Revit have a UCS too?". There isn't a literal equal tool in Revit, no UCS button. In Revit we manipulate views to make it easier to work with different orientations. This means making some extra views. We can move back and forth between any number of views, as often as necessary. If we don't need them anymore, we can just delete them (thus the notion of a "working view").

There are several ways to manage working with different view orientation:
  1. Turn on and rotate the Workplane, turn on Workplane visibility, Revit will snap architectural elements to the workplane (not effective for MEP elements)
  2. Rotate the crop region of a view (rotation is in the opposite direction to the orientation you need)
  3. Scope Boxes - associate views to a scope box that is rotated by the angle required. The scope box controls the crop region (see 1)
  4. A Callout View can be placed and rotated to generate a view that is oriented to a desired direction

How about a video?

There is another way to rotate a view but it is related to the orientation of the view to the sheet it is place on. Imagine a portrait orientation of a view on a landscape oriented sheet. I've seen this used for overall elevations of tall buildings. It is a property of a View or it's Viewport called: Rotation on Sheet.

Post was inspired by my response to a thread at AUGI.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Revision Numbering

A month or so ago I received an email from a friend asking about dealing with revision numbering in Revit. Apparently the project team is expecting some specific habits to be followed that Revit doesn't support adequately. My response to him was much calmer than the curse words I muttered to myself. I wrote this post then and let it simmer till now. I'm all for Revit being better. It's just that I think sometimes we get a bit carried away with "our" methods or systems.

In California (where I live), and most any other for that matter, they manage to uniquely identify millions of cars with 8 characters (yes I admit, a combination of letters and numbers). In Revit we can choose between Numeric or Alphabetical (or no numbering), not a combination of them. Let's say for example we could live with Numeric. That means every revision will get a unique number starting with 1 or a letter like A.

But Steve we want the revisions to be like this: 01, 02, 03 (those first nine numbers should start with 0), or we want 1A, 1B, and then to start again with 2A, 2B, or we want architecture revisions to be A1 and structural revisions to be S1 and so on and so on.

    It takes effort to resist the urge to be unpleasant...

1,2,3,4,5,6... aren't those bloody unique enough! Just say'n...

Let's not kid ourselves, it really does cost money to "do" things, especially things that a given (Revit) software doesn't support. Does providing the fussier nicer numbering scheme make the project recover money lost to a revision? Does it prevent the expense in the first place? Does it save "man hours"? How many man hours does it actually cost to do what "they want"?

I'd rather use the feature as intended, live with the limited sequence of numbers or letters, than put more energy into creating additional bureaucracy for a team to deal with (and yes cost "us and them" money). Working within the Revit system, however flawed we view it to be, will at least ensure that our documents are consistent, predictable.

Creating and applying workarounds opens the door to the very circumstances we hope to avoid in the first place. We aren't just typing "dead data" into text or attributes like drawings completed by hand or with CAD. The clouds, tags, sheets, views, schedules and revision dialog are all working together to organize them into something we can rely on (assuming we know how to use the tool at all).

Failing that, I sure hope we'll be compensated for the hassle of dealing with it in some other way. If not I hope we'll keep track of the time and effort so next time we'll know how much it really cost?

Perhaps the time and money could be put to better use to avoiding the circumstances that created the need for them (revisions) in the first place?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Cheeky Devil - Support Requests

When Revit crashes it will often generate a dialog prompting you to provide some information about what might have caused the crash and a way to contact you if they need to. In the past I wrote about a cheeky response I used once about the computer I was using not having enough memory. In that post I encouraged Autodesk to put enough RAM into their software so I don't have to worry about it.

I was working with Camtasia the other night and I thought of this cheeky support request.

    Dear Autodesk,

    I recently purchased a high quality microphone to use with my computer. Now when I open Revit it doesn't acknowledge this microphone at all even though other programs do. Camtasia works great with it. I've checked all the settings I can find but nothing seems to resolve the problem.

    Here's the thing, I spent a lot of money for this microphone. I should be able to talk to Revit and tell it what I want it do instead of having to use this silly mouse all the time. If Revit isn't going to recognize it and do what I say then I think you should refund the money I spent on this microphone. The microphone works fine so it isn't fair to return it to the manufacturer.

    It's just your software that isn't working properly!!

    Is there a service pack, hotfix or patch I can download? If not, please let me know how soon I can expect this to be fixed, thank you!!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Recent Files and Worksharing

Just don't do it. Don't use the Recent Files page/list if you are actively working on projects that use worksets (worksharing). Why? All too often I find people click on the links that are offered there instead of clicking Open to browse to the location of the Central File to create a new local file.

The Recent Files page that opens (if you let it) will offer you the last few files you worked on. If you closed your local file last night then that's the file it will offer you in the morning. I've always encouraged people to make a new local each day, in fact I just make a new local every time now regardless how many times I leave and return to a project. When you click on the link on the Recent Files page you'll be opening your local file from yesterday. Is it the end of the world? No but the larger the team and the bigger the project the less I want you to do it. The more moving parts the more chance that working with dated local files can introduce a conflict.

If you just created the central file then the file offered is actually the central file. Clicking that opens the central file without asking about a local file at all. I've seen that happen several times. The person that just created a central file ends up working in it and then other people get started in their local files. When the person in the central file tries to synchronize they get the message that they must Save As to create a local file first. Confusion sets in for a moment and then they realize what happened...or they ask me what happened and we realize what happened together.

When I'm working on projects that use worksets I only use the Projects > Open link if the Recent Files page is being used. I could use the Application menu > Open or just click the little Folder icon on the Quick Access Toolbar.

Once I've got the correct central file located I just make sure the Create New Local option is checked and off I go. Oh, I also make sure I choose the Specify option so I can decide which worksets to start with. My local file will open a lot faster if I'm selective.

I say "just say no" to the recent files page. (when worksharing is involved)

Friday, July 05, 2013

Parts and Linked Files

When Parts as a feature appeared in 2012 it didn't support creating them from elements in a linked file. When 2013 came out it casually mentioned that it could do so in the last line of the "what's new..." text regarding Parts.

    Parts can now be made from loaded families (such as Columns, Structural Columns, Structural Framing, and Generic Model) and from originals in a Revit link. (my emphasis added)

Perhaps this willingness to work with link elements could be leveraged for some sort of coordination approach as compared with the Copy/Monitor tool?

As it happens, Desirée Mackey with Martin/Martin is presenting a class (lab format) at RTC next week called "The Prolific Potential of Parts". I'm looking forward to hearing what she has to say!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Beam Joins

Quick tip Thursday: The shortest beam in a join will force the longer beam(s) to cutback. In other words the shorter beam will not cut back. We can use the Beam/Join Editor to adjust relationships.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Visibility Graphics Dialog and Using Current View Only

Revit 2014 introduces an enhancement regarding importing CAD data (I believe undocumented). During an Import of CAD, in the past when we used the option "Current View Only" Revit showed a reference to that link in the Visibility Graphics dialog (V/G) regardless of the view we were working in.

With Revit 2014 it now filters out the link in views that it was not imported into. Naturally if you use Copy to Clipboard and Paste Aligned to put a copy in another view Revit will start to include the link in the V/G dialog again. This is what you should see if you use Current View Only for the import.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

CASE Apps Go Pro

CASE is desperate to gain new subscribers, so desperate that they are resorting to easter eggs. Very funny image will greet you if you follow the advice at the end of their post. I was tempted to give it away but decided not to at the last moment, tease...

Synchronize with Central and Referencing Elements in Linked Files

A post yesterday at RFO reminded me I've not written about this situation before. Generally Revit supports applying dimensions to elements that are in linked files (tagging too). If we go down that road a paradox of sorts can occur as several of us are working. RFO member AnthonyB did a nice job of explaining the conditions he encountered. The following is based on his example, applying dimensions to linked walls:

Model A has walls and Model B has dimensions. Larry adds some new walls to Model A and uses Synchronize with Central (SwC). Then Larry opens his local copy of Model B and adds dimensions to his new walls followed by using SwC.

Meanwhile Darryl already had his Local File of Model B open doing other things and Larry's changes all happened while he was working in this file. When Darryl uses SwC to share his changes he gets a warning message like this one.

Further, since Larry added a couple tags on walls, in the link, Darryl's message includes something like this one. The host elements (walls) are not present so Revit wants to toss the tags too.

We must take extra care when we choose to reference elements in linked files. If your project uses this approach you'll need to let others know that they should use Manage Links, select each affected link and click Reload BEFORE using SwC. This will ensure the elements that your current project file is supposed to see, will be. Be careful out there!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Moving the Project Base Point

David Baldacchino tweeted today that he has proof that Revit doesn't like geometry far away from the origin of the project file, specifically 10 mile radius from the origin. He provided an image of this warning message.

I have to admit I've never tried moving the project base point that far. I guess I've been indoctrinated to play inside my 10 mile radius sandbox? Be prepared to get your hand slapped by Revit if you try it.