Showing posts with label Revit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Revit. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Manage Cloud Models - UI Real Estate

 I wish the list of projects I get when I use Manage Cloud Models (BIM 360 projects) didn't waste sooo much real estate. These big icons are a waste of space, they just mean lots of scrolling. Well if you only have a couple projects on BIM 360 maybe it's no big deal to you. But hundreds? I keep looking for a View option of "List" or "Details" ... something to shrink this bugger down.

That's my experience with Revit 2020 at the moment when a good many projects that I get to look at reside. I'll have to check out 2021 to see if it is any different.

Friday, November 06, 2020

Insert From File and BIM 360

When we're working on a BIM 360 hosted project there are times we'd like to use the Insert From File > Insert Views tool. Unfortunately BIM 360 isn't an available path in the Insert From File dialog.

Yes, we can download a copy of the project or open both projects and use Copy/Paste but it would be nicer to be able to use the tool itself as it is an easier/faster (more obvious) process.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Parameter is Missing for Some Types

From a thread at RFO, Aaron explains what's gone wrong...

Aaron wrote:
"If someone deletes a family that is also the default option for a Family Type, with that Shared Parameter: Yes, the entire parameter gets deleted. It's terrible behavior, and its been that way for years.

In case I wasnt clear: This is a known issue, and it's easily reproducible.
  1. Take any Family that uses a Shared Family Type Parameter, that has a default value.
  2. Find the family in the project browser, that is the Family and Type that's in the default value.
  3. Delete that family from the Project Browser.
  4. After you've clicked *DELETE* in the warning, go back to the original Family (the parent family with the parameter).
  5. For JUST the types that had that default value set, that parameter is now gone.
And yes, the instances in your project are hella broken, now."

Friday, December 06, 2019

Internal Origin Follow Up

After I shared the earlier Dynamo graph I received an email from Aaron Rumple that did away with any package requirements. He wrote a python script and added it to my graph. It also eliminates the warning message that appears after running mine. The crux of that issue is the need to filter out view templates from the process because while view templates are applied to views under the hood they are also least that's my layman's understanding.

Many thanks to Aaron, a real design software savant.

Download the new Dyn

As before, my graph allows you to include/exclude the internal origin, survey point and project base point. Just edit the settings of the Dyn before running it (see previous post).

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Zoning Clearance Thoughts

A long time fellow Revit traveler reached out to me via Revit Lifeline last night asking about zoning clearance ideas. Where he lives and works they want designers to demonstrate the building is not too tall. They also want them to prove it doesn't extend into a zone that leans back into the site. All in all the code reduces the size of the building that can be built on any given property that falls under its jurisdiction.

I have heard and read about this concern many times over the years. But in response last night, I mocked up a quick example to see if it met his needs (waiting to hear back). I thought, "Blog post? I just posted something the other day...don't get carried away. Yeah, but you've only posted like twice this year slacker! So a blog post it is then..."

Here's a few images to ponder first. Pretty fancy house design eh? Doors and windows are so last century. I CAN design YOUR next home, just call when you're ready...operators are standing by.

The upper surface is a thin floor which is manipulated through Dynamo and Shape Editing. Lauren Schmidt's LandArchBIM blog is a very nice source for land techniques and I stole her graph ideas in this post to make it. Her post explains the technique relies on a sub-region to match whatever hardscape shape (property boundary in this case) is necessary. I used the floor's offset parameter to move it up above the surface by the zoning height required.

The front and back property boundary clearance requirement is built with a railing and profile. The fact that railings can be hosted by toposurface now opens this door wide. The surface form might not lend itself to a nice clean railing though, mileage will vary. You can see the rear railing is a little deformed in a couple spots. I built parameters into the profile so I could (using types) vary the height of the angle portion, change the angle, change the height above property (spring point of the lean) and the thickness of the railing.

I created a specific material to assign to it all so it can be mostly transparent.

My example is admittedly simplistic. How many property boundaries are really a simple rectangle? Pretty rare, about as rare as a purple unicorn that uses Revit? A front or rear boundary that has arcs and many segments will probably pose some issues creating a hosted railing. I can imagine things going wrong but I'll wait until I'm dealing with something specific to worry about that.

The file I mocked this up is in Revit 2020.2 and the dynamo graph (link has both RVT and Graph) is so simple that this screen shot would help you build it nearly a fast as downloading and opening it up. That's what I did with Lauren's example. You do need the packages I've circled.

Oh, the mockup has a massing element too, you'll have to turn massing on though. At first I thought I'd sweep a profile along the property edge defined by the upper surface. After I did that I thought of the railing. The learning curve is much less steep for a railing than massing, bonus being much faster too.

Decided to add a couple more images. I realized that I could have turned off the sub-category Interior Edges for Floors to hide the tessellation in the other images. It also occurred to me that another railing and profile configuration could deal with the top. I just created another type from my existing profile family to make it a 90 degree railing. A separate wide profile without a vertical portion would provide just a top surface. The floor and railing approach don't result in the same surfaces but within reason? If reason can be applied to a zoning requirement?

Here's both visible...

Friday, February 03, 2017

Autodesk Seek is Dead - Long Live BIMobject

I've been busy, experiencing angst or lazy, you pick. Then again dear reader you may not have noticed that I haven't been posting as much lately. Apparently some readers are still hoping to be able to rely on me to try to stay current with things. At least that's what a few emails asking about this semi-recent change suggests to me. I do apologize if my reticence to post more often is disappointing. I have been busy as well as going through another spell of "What's it all about Alfie?". Oh I've given it away...or have I? (imagine Craig Ferguson was speaking).

Get on with it Mr. OpEd... At the moment the only place other than Autodesk sites that I recall reading information about this change is the Revit Add-Ons post on the day it happened, so well done Tim.

Specifically, you may have been, or will be, greeted by a message when attempting to search Autodesk Seek via Revit's Insert ribbon? The message begins with something like (I didn't capture the screen the first time) ..."As of January 18, 2017 Autodesk Seek has been transferred to BIMobject. At least I think the naming is BIMobject. It could be bimobjects because that's also on the site. I digress...yet again.

They've provided a transfer FAQ you can read but it's not really responding to any questions I have, as a user...UNLESS you are then careful to click the small link for User FAQ on the left side (link next paragraph).

I see they've set up a hotline for Autodesk Seek transition so look for that information there (via separate FAQ sections for User and BPM) too, it's the same telephone number for either category, user or BPM (Building Product Manufacturer).

I know nothing about BIM Object yet. I can say after arriving at their site via Revit once that the UI presented to us is a sight better than Seek. My first impression is that their customers are product manufacturers, selling the service of creating and hosting content for manufacturers, the same as for Autodesk Seek.

Assuming the somewhat jaundiced view of a Revit user, the user is the product they are selling to their customers, like Facebook for example. However attempting to be fair, users need good quality content to make quality building models so if these guys do well we BIM users ought to be winning.

Regarding my overall experience with Autodesk Seek, prompted by a post at RFO, I wrote this reply there a couple days ago, responding to Philip...(a bit more of the Opinion part of OpEd)

My own experience with Autodesk Seek began with hmm promising, let's see how this goes and ended with what's the point. If you consider RevitCity's content quality is ravaged pretty consistently by fellow Revit users, as such lately I have had the same dread reaction to resorting to searching Autodesk Seek. I even went there a couple times to pull down bad examples of content to show people I was mentoring on the subject...not a good recommendation eh? Inspiration for blog posts is one upside? Okay, getting snarkastic sorry.

My feelings changed sharply a short while after the Family Style Guide was published related to Seek. A great idea and initial effort but it was a bit plain to see the market/revenue generating bias of it toward Seek. ...and it too has died on the vine.

Overall, very disappointing. Especially considering I've heard it was no small investment of time and money by companies to get their content hosted by Seek. But then that's the secret about content it takes time and both involve money even if we don't look.

Back to BIMobject, I'm going to keep an open mind, more open than my obviously skeptical comments above suggests is possible. Let's see how this goes. Oh, I'll answer the question that's probably on any user's mind for them (from their User FAQ):

Do I have to pay for the BIM objects I download? is a free of charge web service for architects, engineers, specifiers and all other disciplines in the AEC and Infrastructure industries.

They offer a free Revit app to directly integrate their content search and access into Revit too.

Feel free to use comments to share your observations and experience with Autodesk Seek (in the past) or BIMobject if you've been a using their content already.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

New Command Reference Book for Revit Architecture - Daniel Stine and Jeff Hanson

Daniel Stine and Jeff Hanson have teamed up to create a new book called Autodesk Revit 2017 Architectural Command Reference book. The inclusion of the term architectural in the book title means it does not delve into the Systems ribbon tab commands.

It has 13 chapters: Introduction, Application Menu and User Interface, Architecture Tab, Structure Tab, Insert Tab, Annotate Tab, Analyze Tab, Massing and Site Tab
Collaborate Tab, View Tab, Manage Tab, Modify Tab and Contextual Tab.

You probably already know Daniel from his pretty extensive Revit collection of books. You already know Jeff too assuming you've read any of the help documentation or watched the training videos Autodesk provides online. That's been his focus for many years now working for Autodesk.

SDC Publications, their publisher, offers the book via eBooks using Apple iBooks ($39.99), Google Play Books ($42.40) or RedShelf ($49.47). It is available in hard copy via Amazon USA print on demand ($84 on Amazon) or Amazon International options. They also offer training videos, via separate download, for those who purchase the book. The prices are those that I saw at the time when I followed the various link options for purchasing. Fwiw, the Redshelf link took quite awhile to load at first, subsequent tries loaded faster, though the fact that I've never visited their site before might be why.

An aside, I've warned Daniel that Jim Balding (The ANT Group) has long been suggesting to me, at least since 2003, just this sort of book ought to be written. He'll either be happy it exists now or sad that they've beaten him to it.

Congrats to Daniel for yet another book and to Jeff for his contributions as co-author. Starting a book is easy...finishing it and getting it published is no small thing.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Revit Roadmap

Autodesk's Sasha Crotty discussed the big picture for Revit's development at RTC in Porto. Sasha is the current Revit Core Product Manager which means (from her bio) she is responsible for the direction and evolution of Revit's multi-disciplinary tools, performance, and the API.

If you're curious about that you can check out her post HERE.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Revit 2017.1 and Space Naming

While I was on a job site yesterday Autodesk released Revit 2017.1. In the past they've called this release R2. I think 2017.1 is better.

Finally the Space Naming Utility is just Space Naming and built-in. I've been complaining about the illogical segregation of this crucial collaboration tool for a long time. So many engineers I've met didn't even know the tool existed and that's silly. When they get to use 2017.1 it will just be waiting for them on the ribbon, no extra installation for EyeTee or Revit Managers to remember to deploy. Yay!!

As for what features are included with 2017.1 you can check out the Inside the Factory blog post. As usual Luke has shared some very useful links on his What Revit Wants blog.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Create New Local is Disabled

I've written about this in the past, like THIS ONE. Today I noticed another circumstance where the option is disabled even though it shouldn't be. When we browse to open a project we can click on a file listed among the contents of a folder. If we do that then Create New Local is enabled and checked by default. At least that's true if other circumstances are not preventing it, like those described in my other post.

What I saw today is that if I choose to type some of the file name in the file name field Windows will supply me with a list of file names that begin with those letters, cool Windows behavior. If I select the correct file using that list then Create New Local sleeps through the effort and fails to become enabled.

Want to see it happen?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Wish - Revit Safe Mode

I'm echoing something I heard David Baldacchino suggest, good idea Dave. Revit will crash from time to time. Sometime it isn't because of something I've done, it tracks back to an add-in I've got installed. It can be a bit of a hassle to disable add-ins to rule them out.

It would be handy if there were a way to start-up Revit in safe mode - add-in free so to speak so it can run on its own and help us diagnose an issue.

Speaking of Wishes - Autodesk started a new community forum called Revit Ideas to post this kind of thing. It allows us to Vote Up an idea so those that many of us really like can rise to the top. Potentially this can help them focus on things we really want and are (hopefully) expressed well enough to pursue.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Keyboard Shortcuts

These are the fastest way to start a command or tool in Revit. No amount of user interface customization we can do or Autodesk can give us will beat them. My problem with them is my ability to remember them. Yesterday in a discussion with some other people I did a quick count and came up with 24 that I could remember without any real effort. Today I managed 31 so I'm seven smarter today! Oh, up to 33 if you count the ones I remember have alternates.

How many do you remember??

The Keyboard Shortcuts I remember today (the winners) are...(bold are ones I use constantly, which helps)

ZZ(ZR) (Zoom Region)
ZA (Zoom All to Fit - all open views)
ZF (Zoom to Fit - active view)
ZS (Zoom Sheet Size)
ZO (Zoom out 2x)
WT (Window Tile)
XX (Close Hidden Windows - custom)

SM (midpoint)
SE (endpoint)
SI (intersection)
SO (snaps off)

VG (VV) (Visibility/Graphics)
VR (2017 View Range)
HH (Temp/Hide Hide Element)
HI (Temp/Hide Isolate Element)
HR (Temp/Hide Reset)
IC (Temp/Hide Isolate Category)

CO (Copy)
TR (Trim - Corner)
TS (Trim - Single Element - custom)
SL (Split Element, with Delete Inner Segment option checked a lot)

Creating Stuff
WA (Wall)
DR (Door)
CM (Place Component)

DI (Dimension Aligned)
TG (Tag by Category)

MD (Modify)
RL (Reload Latest - worksets)
CTRL+C (copy to clipboard)
CTRL+V (paste)
CTRL+X (cut to clipboard)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Revit Viewer and Worksharing

Reading a thread at Autodesk's Revit Community forum David reminded me of the quirky issues related to the Viewer when worksharing is being used. If someone launches Revit Viewer and then tries to open a project that has enabled worksets they'll get this warning.

When the file is opened and they try to print, export or save they'll get this warning even though they haven't DONE anything...but Revit has made changes to the file in order to create a new local file.

Okay, let's follow the instructions in the first warning message. We'll open the project using Detach from Central. Sorry, "Do not pass Go, do not collect $200". That process also changes the file. Still no export, save or print for you!

The ONLY way we can use Revit Viewer to open a project with Worksets enabled is to open the Central File itself, by un-checking the option to Create New Local. This means that user is now working on the real central file with Revit Viewer.

If you do this you will likely encounter several of the messages shown in the first image. The projects I've done this with all have linked files and it seems to pop up for each link (RVT) used and once more if there are any linked/imported DWG files.

To the good, they won't be able to synchronize their work nor will it prompt them to Save when they close the file. They won't be able to edit much of anything though because they can't borrow elements. The notion of using Revit Viewer to poke around the model, do some experimental stuff within the model is off limits to Viewer mode. We are able to print or publish to DWF, because those formats don't create an editable version of the data/model.

It seems to me that the notion of Revit Viewer for workset projects is fundamentally flawed, if we're thinking of it as a way for Project Managers to poke around, do anything other than JUST LOOK at views. If we'd like them to be able to cut a section view or hide things, do anything that requires temporarily borrowing something, that's all off limits to the Viewer.

For that we'll have to show them how to use Detach from Central AND to be careful not to save that file overwriting the original project.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Getting Started with Collaboration for Revit (C4R)

Below are a couple of links that describe the process for getting your project started using Collaboration for Revit (C4R).

It all begins with creating a project using your A360 account/subscription. Naturally you've got to create an account first so this assumes you've done that. The linked page also explains how to upload your current project to the A360 project if necessary.

If you're responsible for putting your active file on the A360 Project, READ ME, it has a video too.

There is a ton of information lurking at Autodesk, just use your Google-fu.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Revit Viewer

Yes it still exists.

I've been doing some work with Autodesk as a Revit Mentor helping users navigate their 30 day trial. One of the recurring themes is, "I only need Revit to view other peoples models. How do I do that?" In the old days a version of Revit that lacked a license turned into viewer mode. At times that proved a bit dangerous because a user could lose a license (network issues or internet access) while working on a model and find themselves in Viewer Mode and unable to save work they ordinarily could, should be able to.

To counter that situation we now have a separate application that is Revit Viewer. It's installed alongside Revit, wherever you decided to store it on your computer. In my case it's listed like this when I search in Windows 10. FWIW, I don't put any icons on my PC's desktop so that's how I start everything, click on the Window...type a few letters, launch an app. It's the illusion of an uncluttered mind! My actual desk...well that's a different matter...

When you run it you'll be greeted by this message before it will finish opening and let you open a project.

It is worth stressing that the limitations the dialog above describes kick in as soon as ANY change is made. I frequently hear, "I can't print in Viewer mode". That happens when you change the model, to which they reply, "I want to print using a different titleblock, I switched to a different one".

Yeah, that's a change...

It doesn't matter how minor or subtle a change is, the key word is change. If you move a tag, add a dimension, put a view on sheet, change a view's scale, a view's detail level...yeah those are all changes. Trying to print (or save/export) afterward will cause Revit to pop up the dialog above again. If you get the dialog, use Undo until the action you want will work. Most likely you'll have to undo everything you've done just after opening the file.

I should clarify, using Viewer won't allow exporting to formats that can be modified (that is part of the license warning message). That means Viewer can't be used to export to DWG, DXF, IFC etc. We can use Viewer to Print or Publish to DWF.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Purchase Advice for a Fellow Revit User

I received a message the other day asking me for advice; that classic conundrum Mac or PC? I don't have a Mac and rarely get to use one. I do know quite a few people who love their Macs, likewise for PCs. I thought I'd share some of the message here and see what sort of comments it might spur, advice or otherwise.

He writes:

I am hoping to get some advice from a fellow a Revit user about a pending purchase decision.

I have been using Revit now for almost 4 years, even somewhat addicted in spite of it's occasionally awkward ways. A client has offered to buy my next computer and has offered up a spec for an Intel PC. I'm using a 2009 iMac w/ 8 GB RAM, Intel 2 Duo 2.93 with 6 MB L2 NVIDEA MCP79. I run Revit using Parallels. I recently found out about maximizing the RAM in parallels and accessing the 2nd core processor and it has helped to speed up Revit.

I was having some performance issues (slow response) using materials palette. It could take 30-40 seconds to open up and I did have some wicked crashes. But after making the adjustments I have found it quick, responsive and stable. I was having 45 minute restarts but now it works smoothly. I have heard of people running bootcamp but I can't at this point because my partition is too small and I'm not eager to reformat my current setup.

I'd prefer to stay with a Mac but I get that Revit doesn't run on the Apple OS. Should I stay or should I go?
Btw, I also got a quote for a Boxx PC but it's expensive.

Looking forward to your thoughts.

What say ya'll?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Revit 2016 Missing Content after Installation

If you've installed Revit and then found your library was empty you're not alone. I haven't figured out who is to blame for this yet because the people I've encountered with this problem so far haven't been very computer savvy, haven't been able to recall what they did during installation or they didn't install it themselves. When the Revit installation is underway it is important to select which content is installed. I suspect that this is either overlooked or something has prevented that task from being completed. During installation it is important to make sure you visit this section.

The content is a separate section below the Revit application itself. It is important to review the settings lurking within the Content section too.

Assuming that was done then we should find the content installed in the default location or where we decided to put the content ourselves. This is the default location with individual sub-folders within it for each unique library you've selected:

C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\RVT 2016\Libraries\US Imperial or US Metric etc

Still no content in this location, or the one you chose instead?

Revit downloads the content libraries you've selected to install so perhaps this task is being blocked by anti-virus, user permissions or internet access/restrictions? That's quite a conundrum for many people.

Making it a little more difficult, when you visit a related help document at Autodesk's Knowledge Network it describes the situation for 2015 and tells us to use the Control Panel Add/Remove feature. Fair enough for 2015 but for 2016 I find no such option for Content, despite the article specifically claiming it is similar for 2016. In fact I don't find such an option for 2015 either on my computer. FWIW, I only see an entry for Autodesk Content Service.

RAND IMAGINiT has made some of the content available via a blog post of theirs. It might help to try downloading it from their FTP site.

Autodesk Seek also hosts Revit content including its own library. If you visit the site, at the bottom of the page they have links for each disciplines library.

While I can download specific families and templates from that location I don't see an easy way to just download the entire library. They used to provide a page where we could just browse for and download a library bundle, for any of the localised versions too. I've not found its equal yet.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Revit Schmevit

Plan, Section and Elevation...the bread and butter of architecture. Why would anyone want to work on these three kinds views of a project and not find that the elements (doors, windows, walls, etc) they present don't match? If I create an enlarged plan shouldn't it match the plan it was generated from, but have greater detail? Shouldn't the windows called out in a plan match those called out in an elevation? Even if you get it perfect at the first submission I guarantee you'll miss stuff when the next design submission is due. By the time you get to the fourth...faahgeddaboudit.

BIM... I don't care if you ever learn what those three letters mean...

PLEASE, in the year of Two Thousand Fifteen, finally abandon your disconnected ways and use Revit (or ...Archicad).

Seriously, because the people that have to read your drawings aren't impressed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Revit and AutoCAD

It's been 14 years since Revit formally began knocking on the doors of architectural firms. The first response quite often was, "We've already got {insert your software here}, no thanks"! Other responses were, "Really? Let's have a look"! Which was then followed by "Oh gosh, you mean it doesn't do "X" just like {insert your software here}? Well thanks for coming by, good luck"!

As Revit matured there were fewer opportunities for showstopper items. The rejection response or yeah, but response also matured to focus on the practical side of changing an office from this to that. Such as, "We've got all these people who are {insert your software here} experts. We can't justify the time and effort required to move to Revit". Another familiar one, "We've got a decade of {insert your software here} detail and object libraries, we can't possibly be expected to do that all over again." Revit Structure was introduced (2005) and the conversation began again with engineers. A year later Revit Systems (now MEP) started the same dialog for another set of engineers.

When Autodesk decided to buy Revit Technology Corporation they confused many of their own customers who, until then, were using AutoCAD or Architectural Desktop (aka ADT, now AutoCAD Architecture aka ACA). I think Autodesk has a curious relationship with its customers. All too often I meet (and read people's writing) who, regardless how much they like the software they use, are at best ambivalent about being an Autodesk customer, at worst resentful or angry.

Witness some of the comments in response to my earlier post about Revit 2015's new features. Accused of being a monopolistic company or evil empire, we even joke that friends have joined the dark side if/when they are hired by Autodesk. I'm not sure what they can really do to alter this perception, except to suddenly offer their software for free? I suspect the stockholders might object to that move.

With that in mind, it has taken a formidable marketing effort to get Revit where it is today. In my opinion the phrase Building Information Modeling (BIM) was born in part because Autodesk desperately needed to differentiate ADT/ACA from Revit, at least as BIM is defined and expressed by Autodesk. The notion of using computers to help accomplish the broad goals of BIM is nearly as old as computers so it's not a brand new idea.

And yes, other companies lay claim to the doing of BIM and living up to BIM ideals too. It (BIM) just wasn't on the lips of AEC professionals or their clients the way it is today before Autodesk began expressing it in conjunction with Revit. This means Revit was the latest expression of those ideas on a desktop computer instead of a mainframe. Marketing is the telling of a compelling new story to motivate people, to consider changing how they do things, to buy things. Like them or not, Autodesk has done an earnest job of telling the story of BIM and Revit.

One of the many stories we've heard that was meant to help us in our transition was how easily Revit worked with other CAD software's data. Revit was the new kid on the block. What chance did it really have if it couldn't import a DWG or DGN file? Being able to import external data was meant to ease the collaboration with firms that didn't use it as well as the transition from other software.

All these years later I keep reading, "It is necessary to use Revit AND AutoCAD", or "Revit can't be used productively without AutoCAD" or "...since AutoCAD is a superior drafting tool it isn't sensible to use Revit for basic drafting tasks".

It is NOT necessary to use AutoCAD if you use Revit. The error (thinking that it IS necessary) is mistaking necessity with what is merely an available interim approach as we work through the transition from AutoCAD to Revit.

Using AutoCAD to do detailing is NOT optimal because doing it entirely within Revit is integrated within the project more tightly and logically. If you are not efficient drafting in Revit then the implementation is not effective, but it could be. That's not Revit's fault, it is our fault (though it could always ship with a larger stock library). If you'd like some examples of Revit details that are devoid of lines/circles/arcs/text have a look at ARCxl's free samples. If you are looking for a shortcut to build that better implementation then their library might a place to start.

To some degree the perspective, "It's better, faster to draw details in AutoCAD" is a mind over matter issue, not a software issue. We tend to ignore or forget the reality that we've been changed by {insert your software here}, not the other way around. The software doesn't change to suit us. Our use doesn't change the software, we change in response to how it works. If we are fast then it's because we've grown accustomed to it, learned tricks, customized it, built our own library and so on.

It's no different whether we are talking about AutoCAD, Revit, Excel or Word. We do influence what the developers code into the software but we respond to the software and then provide feedback, not the reverse. The only exception is when no code exists and the software is in its infancy. Once code exists we are always dealing with legacy decisions.

When we say that {insert your software here} is faster or better than Revit it really means we know it better, we are more comfortable with it. There was a time that I'd agree I was faster with AutoCAD or Microstation than Revit. That is far from true today. In fact I find AutoCAD to be a very frustrating experience now.

Faster is also a subjective term. What context? Faster sketching a single line? Faster creating an entire detail? Faster for whom? Me myself and I? What about downstream members of the team? What about the hours of design and investigation required to decide what to draw? What if another section is required to figure out what is required to finish that detail? What if the Revit modelling activity helped inform the decisions? What if the ability to create more sections automatically or have a look at the model in 3D provides more insight?

The further we can step back from our experience and bias with a given software the easier it is to see they are all flawed in some way, Revit included. I clearly remember realizing just how convoluted AutoCAD is when I began supporting Microstation users that had to start using it (AutoCAD) instead. They'd just shake their heads at the quirky rules and methodologies that were in stark contrast with Microstation's own quirky rules and methods. They are ALL quirky. Some quirks just happen to match our own thinking or approach better than others.

As for our legacy library of details, we forget or minimize the fact that it didn't happen overnight. It was built project by project. Remember, all the previous details were drawn by hand, right? At this point I think it's a safe bet that, like most libraries I've seen, it could stand some careful weeding or pruning anyway. Maybe it isn't so precious that we can't consider creating Revit native versions now? The sooner we do the sooner each project can be better integrated.

If you take anything away from this post at all I hope it is this:
It is NOT necessary to use AutoCAD to be productive with Revit. Revit does NOT need a software crutch to be useful or a productive good decision for any firm. The longer you pretend that it does or is, the longer you prolong not being as productive as Revit was intended to help you become.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Type Catalogs and MEP Parameter Syntax

The formatting of type catalog parameters has been consistent until the introduction of Revit MEP features. The WikiHelp at Autodesk provides insight into many things but it still doesn't tackle this subtlety yet. It does offer a number of sample entries, all without a bias toward MEP settings however.

The syntax for Common and Structure data types is parameter name##datatype##units
The syntax for MEP engineering data types is parameter name##discipline_datatype##units

MEP focused examples

Structure and Common
Assembly Code##OTHER##

Each MEP related parameter type begins with the discipline it is associated with. In other words when you create the parameter in the family which one of the available disciplines did you choose the parameter from?

If you choose from Common or Structural it isn't necessary to specify them first. It seems to only have been added since the introduction of MEP categories. Another subtle difference is that you'll also find that MEP parameters use the underscore (_) instead of spaces between words in both the data type and the units used.

Examine the Discipline and Type of Parameter wording when you create a new parameter. When you are ready to create your own type catalog headers, refer to those again and as a general rule you can type:
  • Your parameter name
  • ##
  • Discipline
  • _ (underscore)
  • Parameter data type (with underscore between words)
  • ##
  • Units (with underscore between words)
When when I'm not sure what the correct format should be, I either open an existing family or create a new one from scratch that uses the parameter type I'm dealing with. Then I use the relatively new Export > Family Types feature to create a type catalog. If Revit makes it then it must be correct? Right? Better still using that feature can be a shortcut in itself, just clean out the extraneous parameters I don't really want to include in the type catalog. I wrote a post recently offering some advice on Working with Type Catalogs.