Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Detail Item and Reference Plane Settings

The stock Revit family Nominal Cut Lumber-Section isn't built very well. Here's an example of it being used in a Drafting View. Notice the dimension style I've used shows a center-line symbol when it comes into contact with a so called center line, which is determined by the use of the IsReference settings; Center (Front/Back) and Center (Left/Right).

In the family editor, this explains why the center-line symbol is showing up. When this family was made they paid no attention to the IsReference setting for the reference planes. The Center (Left/Right) IsReference setting is assigned to what should be the Left reference plane. In fact the none of the other reference planes have appropriate names or IsReference settings either.

The symbolic lines that form the "X" in the detail item are assigned to Weak Reference and that means dimensions will see them as well as the Align tool. That doesn't make much sense either. There is nothing to allow us to dimension to the center of the lumber section either.

This is what it ought to look like, I've revised all the reference plane settings and added two new reference planes to permit adding a dimension to the actual center of the lumber.

By the way, the intersection of the Left and Front reference planes are assigned to the Defines Origin parameter so that corner is the origin of the family, which is the same as it was originally. After reloading the family into my Drafting View the center-line symbol and dimension witness line references have shifted over to properly identify the center-line of the lumber section instead. They did that automatically because of the new reference planes using the correct IsReference values. The first dimension on the left is no longer showing the center-line symbol because it is still referencing the side of the lumber section. It shifted over too but I reassigned it to the side of the lumber section.

I also changed the "X" Symbolic Lines to use a IsReference setting of Not a Reference and now Revit won't see them when I use the dimension or align tools. In the following image my cursor is hovering over them but Revit only sees the Center (Left/Right) reference plane.

I wish I could tell you that this is the only one like this...

Perhaps this is just one more reason to attend the Building Content Summit just before RTC in DC this July?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Revit 2016 - Rendering Engines

Some years ago we went through a changeover from Accurender to Mental Ray as Autodesk focused on Mental Ray as their preferred rendering engine for several of their products. If you didn't know it already Mental Ray belongs to Nvidia. Autodesk has purchased companies, and their products, more recently that allows them to focus on using what is now their own rendering engine; which is being called Raytracer. Don’t confuse it with the Visual Style called Raytrace.

This means we find ourselves in another period of rendering engine transition from Mental Ray to Autodesk Raytracer instead. Revit 2016 has both Mental Ray and Autodesk Raytracer options available to us when we decide to render via our desktop (not using Cloud Rendering).

As I understand it they are motivated to go through this in order to provide what they believe will be simpler yet higher quality and faster rendering options because they will have more control over the engine being used; it’s theirs, not someone else’s. Unfortunately it takes quite some time to plug in and unplug something so intrinsic to how Revit works. I believe that, if things go according to plan, we’ll probably just find the one option (Raytracer) in the next full release of Revit.

Considering the visualization products available today like Revizto, Lumion, Fuzor and Enscape, which all offer a very impressive real time rendering environment as well as integrating well with Revit, I can’t help but wonder if the development team is really in tune with the market. Maybe they have something up their sleeves we just can’t see yet? I hope so. For a very basic comparison I took a model I made recently during a training session and used both rendering engines with just exterior lighting. I used the same location each time, southern CA (where I live).

This is using Mental Ray (3:27 seconds at Medium)

This is using Raytracer (2:53 at medium)

This time I switched to rending the same model and view using the Draft setting. This is using Mental Ray (51 seconds at Draft)

This time using Raytracer (39 seconds at draft)

For each rendering Raytracer was the faster engine. The quality difference between the draft renderings was much more noticeable with Raytracer’s result being cleaner and clearer. Raytracer’s Draft and Medium was much more consistent than for Mental Ray. If rendering is your passion then I encourage you to read Daniel Stine’s article about this new development in Revit. It was published at AECBytes.

A quirky outcome of this transition is how the two engines deal with the Adjust Exposure feature.

With Mental Ray we can render and then click Adjust Exposure and tweak the result, seeing the changes in the image immediately. With Raytracer we can't do that. We CAN use Adjust Exposure first and then render, which makes no sense to me at all. This means we have to render first, make some adjustments to the exposure (which is adjusting blindly), render again to see if it provides a better result...repeat.

It's my understanding that it is what it is...for now...

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Placing Columns - At Grids Option does not Work

When we are placing structural columns you'll find that there is a button for the At Grids option.

All we have to do is select at least one pair of grids to define intersection locations for Revit to place columns for us quickly. If we select all our grids we get a column at every intersection, FAST. Sometimes it is faster to do that and delete a couple we might not really need than to carefully place a column at grid intersections one at a time.

When we use this option there is a condition that renders it numb or ambivalent to our wishes. Put another way we can select the option, select grids yet when we click Finish to create the columns nothing happens, no columns.

If we place columns from level 1 to level 2 but then increase the height of the columns to allow for additional height to accommodate a splice above the floor slab Revit will think there are already columns at these grid intersections when we attempt to create columns from Level 2 to 3. When a column is found by Revit within the primary range of the view Revit disregards the intersection where this column is, it isn't a valid location for a new column.

To get around this it is probably best to alter their offsets after they are all in place. Place all the columns and then reconcile where the splices should occur.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Upgrade Projects from 2015 C4R to 2016 C4R

The Revit Clinic offered a post describing the steps to move a project from 2015 to 2016 versions of Collaboration for Revit. It isn't as straight forward as we might think. It isn't as simple as opening a 2015 project via A360 with 2016 and waiting for it to be upgraded to 2016.

Take these steps:
  • Open Revit 2015 (with C4R installed)
  • Browse to the A360 project that you want to upgrade
  • Open each Revit model and save it to your local workstation
  • Create a new project to be used with A360 Collaboration for Revit 2016 in your A360 team hub
  • Open Revit 2016 (need C4R installed for 2016 first of course)
  • Open each Revit model that you saved to your local workstation save it after it upgrades to 2016
  • Initiate Collaboration on each model and specify the 2016 project name that was created on A360 earlier
  • The model is associated with the new A360 Collaboration for Revit 2016 project
  • Re-link any Revit models as required
  • Let everyone know that they should use the 2016 project now
There are now two separate and distinct projects (2015 format and 2016 format). Everyone must use the upgraded (2016) project and models now. Remember to rename the 2015 version of the project or deactivate it via A360.