Saturday, December 31, 2011

Show Your Constraints

In Revit we can apply constraints (padlock and EQ) using dimensions. These dimensions can get deleted and if the person doing the deleting doesn't respond to the warning well...the constraint remains intact without any obvious visible evidence.

Choosing Unconstrain will eliminate the constraint when the dimension is deleted. Unfortunately many users just click OK, leaving the constraint to come back and bite someone later, maybe themselves.

For example, years ago, a friend started modeling a tall building. He locked the distance between a few different floors and then later deleted the string. Eventually he needed to change the floor to floor height and Revit crashed. I took a look at the model. When I used Zoom to Fit in an elevation view I noticed that a little padlock appeared when I selected a Level. Revit tends to display the icon for a constraint at the opposite end of what is being examined, usually off screen unfortunately (less clutter with other icons is my theory). Using Zoom to Fit meant I could see the whole level, and the constraint icon, like in this image at the far left.

Software programmers "comment their code" so that it is easier to figure out what a section of code is intended to do later. It's etiquette, good practice, nice... Half the time it's self serving too. I've returned to some code I wrote months or years later pleased to find my own comment helping me remember why I did "that".

To mimic this notion of "commenting our code", I frequently suggest that if this sort of constraint is really important then consider making a duplicate view called Level 1 - Constraints (or somesuch). Lock and constrain it there. With this special view any/everyone can see the constraints anytime they want and see why they are there because you can add a note saying so.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Shades of Grey Revit Blog Plug

This is a brief post to plug Andy Milburn's blog Shades of Grey. He started blogging in October of 2010 and his work is a fine testimony to quality over quantity.

Lately his posts have been about his exploration into the work of various masters and how he's used Revit to further his study of  them. I enjoy his work and appreciate that he takes the time to share it with us. If you haven't already found his blog I think you owe it to yourself to subscribe so you won't miss future posts.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Revit and BIM Blog Lists

A brief post in the midst of a holiday hiatus from blogging. I started a couple lists of blogs years ago, Revit Focused and BIM and Misc. Originally they were all on the right side bar of the site. That got tedious fast so I moved them over to their own pages when Blogger added the feature. Slowly since then I've added to it as I became aware of others. Between the two lists there are well over two hundred to chose from. A few months ago I added a "Must Follow" label to some. That generally means they are part of my own reading list.

Lately I've either received email about not being on the list or read Tweets mentioning my list and then lamenting not being on the list. In every instance, so far, the blogs that were supposedly not listed...were/are.

For what it's worth, I'm not selective or exclusive about which blogs are on the list. I only have one criteria, that I know they exist. How could I put them on the list if I didn't?. Some blogs on the list have just one or two posts total. That just shows it's easy to start a blog, harder to keep at it. I leave the blogs that are hibernating on the list because you never know if the few posts that are there will be helpful to a reader.

If you are looking for your blog on the lists you need to be aware that there are two lists.

When I picked which list to place a link to a blog I tried to decide how "Revit" biased/focused they were/are. If the blog was distinctly ended up on the Revit list. If the blog ventured off on other software or included the BIM acronym in the blog title then I picked the other list. In some cases blogs have changed their name or focus since I first saw them or the people that write/wrote them have changed employers/careers. I don't get as much time to revisit the lists to check URL's or names as I'd like.

If you write a blog and read this one it is very likely yours in on one of the two lists already. If it isn't, just let me know.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Unconventional Revit

Back in 2005 I wrote about using Revit to choose my son's soccer team lineups. Since then I learned that a friend used it to help her plan the seating for her friend's wedding reception. Now Case Inc. has offered up yet another way to use Revit in unconventional ways, Checkers! Must use worksets though. My mind wanders to four player Battleship? Cool game Case guys!

[Added: 12/29/2011]
Zach Kron "one-upped" the Case boyz with his Chess Set version. Read his Buildz Blog post. Next up Mouse Trap?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

You've Got a Bad Profile

Considering the time of year and checking lists you don't want a bad profile. If you create a profile family for a railing and don't do a very good job of it Revit won't offer you your profile in the list of available profiles.

The missing profile you expect to find here is a clue that your profile is bad. You need to check your sketch to  make sure you don't have a Bad Sketch. Only kids with a good profile get to use their profile in their railings.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Little More Dialog Resizing Please

It would be nice if the gang at the factory would add some re-sizing magic to this dialog too!?! The Tag All dialog can be a bit hard to deal with the type name when some company naming conventions result in long names. There's only so much room to adjust the column widths within the fixed frame of the dialog. Seems like such a minor kind of finesse?

In the past I wrote about a free utility (that David Kingham found) called Resize Enable that permits some "hacking" overrides of the dialog sizing. I just downloaded it and ran the app again tonight. It does work to allow for stretching this dialog though it gives no visual clues that it will work. You just have to and drag to see if it does and it does (true for me using Win7/64)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bending Railings to Your Will

Food for thought, what if we used railings for millwork and egress paths? By millwork I mean custom work, not fixed sized cabinets which are often referred to as casework by some architecture and interior firms). As for egress paths, I've written about them many times (I've put a list of those posts at the end of this one) in the past and the example of using a line based family kept me busy for quite some time with requests from people to get their own copy. Busy enough that I finally made it possible to download directly without needing to ask. I also recently mentioned the technique that Brian Mackey uses to demonstrate stair clearance using a railing, so that's yet another way to bend railings to your will.

A railing can do the same task as the egress path I've written about. That example only came about as a possible example of how to use the new line based family template (new in 2006), not something optimized for the task but it's worked pretty well over the years. If you consider applying a "person" profile to a railing, like for Brian's stair clearance, you've just got to sketch the path the railing takes. You can schedule the railing and provide a similar tagging approach to identify each path as different as well as display the total length. Give it a go?

Back to the idea of millwork. Railings are based on profiles, so are cabinets, at least when you are being really schematic. Obviously it won't really do the job for fabrication or construction documentation. If you want a fast way to "draw" millwork a railing works pretty well. A railing sketch is really tolerant of the path being straight or curved too. To get started you sketch the base cabinet profile, save it. Sketch the upper cabinet, save it. You can incorporate the counter profile in the base or make it separate. Load the profiles into a railing type and adjust some values and you can get something like this.

It works pretty well as long as you don't care about seeing drawers and doors. What you see in the image above is railings posing as millwork cabinets and face-based families (line work only) assigned to the Casework category.

It is necessary to keep the upper and lower cabinets separate otherwise you can't get them (upper cabinets) to show up above. In the plan view you see here I've temporarily turned on the underlay so I can apply the Linework tool to see the upper cabinet. Relatively small price to pay for the views that really need to see it.

The neat thing about this approach is that you can get schematic design info such as overall length of different millwork conditions via a schedule. Then when you are ready to dive deeper you can replace them or, as in the image, overlay face-based families to "finish" the detailing. One schedule (early) for schematic and  another (later) for a more detailed summary of cabinets pieces and parts. It isn't hard to make a railing look a lot like something else in a schedule. Just change the schedule title, rename the railing type, change the assembly code values and you've got a pretty convincing railing slash millwork. Maybe call it milling or railwork?

It won't satisfy everyone or maybe anyone...well it did make a few folks more content than they were a few years ago when we decided to do it.

Past Egress Posts (a summary)
Egress Path
Egress Path Update
Egress Path Tags - New Versions
Egress Path of Travel Uh Oh
Egress Example Update
Egress Regress
Egress Family Arc Version

Monday, December 19, 2011

RTC Alumni Early Bird Registration

As promised during the wrap up of RTC USA 2011 it is now possible for alumni to take advantage of early bird pricing to register now. The email inviting past attendees to register early went out last night.

If you have not received an email let the committee know by responding to the thread(s) at the RTC Linked In community. If you aren't a member at Linked In send an email to the Conference Secretary.

Friday, December 16, 2011

To Host or Not Host

This isn't asking about a Xmas party or dinner party. This is a frequent topic with anyone digging into making content seriously.

Usually the bias is toward defining the answers according to architectural needs. No offense intended, whoever is asking the question is going to have some bias. I spend as much or more time these days dealing with the "other" disciplines and this question.

If dealing with the other disciplines, the typical quick answer is usually face-based as well. True if we assume a Revit to Revit consulting relationship. If an engineer wants to use their cool new software (Revit of course) and their architect isn't using it then a face based family will need a face that isn't there. With a solid library RME can be quite effective even without an RAC model (though a bit harder without something to create spaces in). In this situation we can't just put those families on the level's work plane because they won't be oriented correctly. A reasonable argument (I think) can be made for families that are not hosted at all, even if assuming an engineer is dealing with "your" architectural model linked into their project.

To be most flexible, as "crazy" as it might seem, the answer may be starting with non-hosted content. Yes, it is nice to have a family follow "your" walls when they move (face-based will). Yes, with non-hosted content you may have to move (more) things when designs change. Change quite often isn't just a wall sliding left or right, it can also mean a completely new wall or walls or a different layout entirely. When the original host gets deleted the orphaned face-based family ends up "wanting" a new host and resolving that is usually an onerous (not difficult) task too. A family that isn't looking for a host won't move automatically but fixing that situation isn't really any harder, all that different a task or substantially more work when you compare the "doing" of the tasks.

Then there is the notion of "close enough", which freaks people out too. Consider a electrical disconnect (device) can be six inches, eight or twelve inches from the equipment it supplies power to and it is still close enough. If the equipment moves a "little", no harm done...the disconnect is still fine where it was when you put it in originally because the "whip" the electrician installs between them will deal with the difference. Most engineering solutions have room for "slop" at the end of (at least somewhere along) the system. They have to design in something to deal with the construction reality on site. It seems reasonable to me to mimic that where appropriate/possible in our modeling effort.

The perfect answer, the one solution that fits all situations doesn't really exist at least not one that fits every firm or project. We might get close for one firm or discipline but each project brings new conditions to consider. It's more work but it may come down to having complete content libraries for each condition rather than only having one solution focused on one approach.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

No Way! Way! Live Slices

This is a echo of Zach's post tonight... in his video he says that we will say "No Way" and he'll respond "Way" and it will degenerate from there. Naturally I felt compelled to say "No way!" with a post... He's demonstrating how he built a family that can describe the profile of another form by placing its points on the host form. It's an adaptive point family that includes additional points that generate the same shape as the end result of the points you place on the massing form, "live" slices of the form. Pretty cool, pretty high rests the bar, Zach does...

Here's his video, read his POST on BUILDZ.

Show Title Option

Revit viewports have a parameter called "Show Title". The Type Properties dialog offers us "Yes", "No" and "When multiple viewports". This post deals with the wordy one.

The "When multiple viewports" option is meant to make it easier to leave off a view title when you are only putting one view on the sheet. Most of the time the sheet title is the same as the viewport title, like for overall plans. Seems a bit redundant to put a view title on too?

Unfortunately using it means we have to give up the option of having the viewport title extension line snapping into alignment with other viewport extension lines. I'm referring to the line that shows up when you check the box for "Show Extension Line".

If you are used to these lines snapping into alignment with one another, they won't when you use the "When multiple viewports" option. I captured a short video to help see it in action.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Family Category and Parameter Dialog

Sure wish this guy was more flexible!

This is a minor thing but it suggests that someone assumes that visiting this dialog is a pretty rare event. It is a rare event for someone working inside the project environment all day long. It's a pretty constant stop when making content for a day or week... a living. It is nice that the dialog stretches overall. It would be nicer still to be able to stretch the area dedicated to Family Parameters.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Visualization with Stadia

I recently became aware of a new application called Stadia.

It works like this: Model away in Revit, when you are ready to see something you submit your model to their cloud rendering service. You register your email address with them and you just enter it in the Revit interface. When you press Enter, Revit submits your model information to their cloud.

I believe there is supposed to be a "Bake" button on the panel too, but it hasn't shown up on my UI yet. At least there is an image file for one in the installation folder for Stadia. [I've been informed that I can download an update that will fix it.] After a few minutes you get an email with a link to download the results. Extract the compressed file that arrives, double click on the rendering.exe file and you can wander around your building. Move the mouse to tilt/turn and use the arrow keys to move forward/back/side to side. Pretty simple, once you get the hang of it.

It renders using the materials you've chosen, the lights you've the closer to what you want it is in your model the better the results. It's a bit closer to Revit's realistic visual style than photo real rendering. Naturally your mileage will vary according to your own sense of success.

In my brief experimentation so far I did find it necessary to put some site surfaces around the exterior of the building. Without such features you "fall" similar to Navisworks when "walking" through your building. Make sure you put a building pad in so the site doesn't go inside your building or you'll end up with dirt/grass inside too. Doors "open" when you approach them. They don't swing open, rather the panel vanishes as you approach, more like Maxwell Smart and doors perhaps. You can walk up and down stairs, also much like Navisworks. My first thought was that they are harnessing the Navis API perhaps but I don't actually know.

I did struggle with navigation initially because it wasn't obvious to me how to do it. I tried to use the scroll wheel to zoom but that just seems to "spin" the view in an awkward manner. I'm not sure why but I really found myself wanting to "zoom" at times instead of "walking" forward or back. My last submission resulted in a 20 MB zip file that I downloaded. It took about 5 minutes to get the email once I submitted the model to Stadia. I'm not sure if the result was actually sent to me faster than that because my email address is aggregated via Google so there may be a little delay involved with that step.

You can watch this video to see a sample (it's on the Stadia site too) of what you get after uploading your work to their "cloud" service.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Revit MEP - Lookup Table Issues

In October of 2008 I wrote about it being difficult for offices with many users to move lookup tables to a new "central" location. It made it awkward to deal with custom fittings and their lookup tables. A few years/versions later and we have some options now. Darrell Smith with TMA in Austin let me know that he'd resolved their concerns by reading a more recent post at The Revit Clinic.

Initially he reminded me of my earlier post. I didn't remember reading the newer Clinic post at the time and he found it after writing to me. He in turn let me know about it...embarrassed that I didn't remember it myself. I've modified the earlier post to mention this newer development too. Here's a simplified version, read the whole Clinic post for more detail.

If you wish to repath the Lookup Tables for your office to a new location you'll need to consider that Revit 2012 has changed things a bit. The path may also be stored in a second Revit.ini file associated with your user profile (to better support user specific options).

The default installation should be here:

C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\RME 2012\Lookup Tables\Revit.ini

The user specific one is probably in a folder like this one:

%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\Revit\Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012\Revit.ini

If you find Revit is unresponsive to your new location, check the user folder location. You can read more about it in a Revit Clinic post from August 2011.

Friday, December 09, 2011

RTC Prospectus

If you were a sponsor/vendor at RTCUSA 2011 and didn't receive the new prospectus for the 2012 event in Stone Mountain, GA (June 28-30, 2012) you can download it now via THIS LINK. Phil Read announced this on the Arch | Tech blog earlier today.

Also mentioned in the post, it will be possible, very soon, for 100 "early birds" to register for the conference and secure last year's price. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

BIM Content Echo

Quick post tonight, James Van put together a post the other day to provide a list of resources for Content. I've got a similar listing on my blog here too but I've been letting it slide for awhile now. Good list and now I've got a nice place to get any that are missing on my page too! :)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Schedule Grip Control

This change crept in with the 2012 release. In the "old days" the move symbol was in the middle of a schedule. This is the 2011 version, same for older ones as well.

Now it is located at the upper left corner of a schedule.

This makes it harder to see, find and use unfortunately. This fits the old wisdom, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". It might help to see what I'm writing about in a video.

If having the grip in the current location somehow made it easier to align a schedule perhaps it would better sense. However schedules always snapped into alignment with each other at the top anyway. Didn't seem broken to me...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Tab Key and Selection

Read a post by Luke at What Revit Wants regarding a tip he heard in Chad Smith's AU Virtual session, 45 Autodesk Revit Tips in 45 Minutes. It reminded me that I created a video of it to demonstrate it a couple years ago. Here's what I wrote back in October 2009 regarding this tip.

This is subtle feature of using the TAB key that many users are not aware of. First of all, it is easier to see than to describe so you might as well watch the VIDEO.

Two items:
  • Select Entire Chain of Walls or Lines
  • Select Partial Chain of Walls or Lines
First item - Hover cursor over a wall or line > Press TAB key once (Walls or lines highlight) > Left Click to select.

Second item - Select a wall or line > Hover cursor over a different wall or line somewhere along the path > Press TAB once (Walls or lines highlight) > Left Click to select. The subtle difference is that which direction the selected chain travels depends on which end of the element you hover your cursor over. Watch and then try it!

NO DISCO tabbing, as my friend Cyril says. Just press the TAB key once. You get the disco tabbing when you press and hold the TAB key down. We call it Disco because the highlighted lines will flash at you.

Last comment, make sure you hover and then hold your mouse steady. If you move the mouse away after highlighting the chain the TAB feature fails. You have to make sure everything is highlighted still before using the Left mouse button to select them. It is a process unlike any other software you are familiar with most likely. Practice a couple times if you aren't already very comfortable with it.

Here's the video...

Monday, December 05, 2011

Free Tools from Case Design

Just a quick one tonight, still burnt out from Autodesk University and Revit Technology Conference committee meetings.

The guys at Case Design created some free applications for Revit recently. They'd like you to know about them, as well as use them!

Just need to register (so they can spam you, teasing Don!), then you can try out their Change and Replace Line Styles, Revision Cloud Data Export to Text File and Door Mark Updater tools!

I'm bugging Don to work with him to build a cool "Where's my Stuff" tool, a clever way to track down things that go "missing in the night" since there's only something like 30+ ways that things can get "disappeared".

Oh, I'll be finishing up my last day at AU post tomorrow...I hope! ;)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Autodesk University 2011 - 02

This morning I was introduced to VEO. Most of what was discussed is still covered by a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). A few things are not. First of all a Twitter feed called @VEO News is not “them”, them being M-Six. M-Six is the creator/developer of VEO (pronounced Vay-Oh, Spanish for “see”). I chose not to take notes because of the NDA so going from my fuzzy memory 12 plus hours later, the letters work out to: V = Visualize E = Execute O = Operate.

When you visit their site you’ll see a simple graphic logo with six VU meters (audio) along the bottom of the page. The first time I saw the logo there were five, now there are six. The fact that there are six isn't really significant though, not aligning with the name M-Six.

These meters are not insignificant as they represent different features or aspects of what VEO will provide, not to mention the musical background of several people involved in the product. If you pay close attention to the meter needles, as in sound engineering the closer you get to “zero” the better. In this case they are indicating the degree of “bad-a$$ness” the feature they represent currently is capable of. Suffice it to say that I imagine you'll want to keep an eye on their progress. Check out and follow their Linked In site to stay in tune with future developments. M-Six

I missed my next session because of getting engrossed in conversation with a few folks, Kelly Cone (Beck Group), Matt Dillon (D|C CADD) and Scott Latch (Autodesk). At some point I suggested that Scott is like the heavy bag that fighters use for training. He takes punches (metaphorically for real criticism and pressure from customers/users) all day and is ready for more. Still not sure who the speed bag is though…

I caught up with Paul Aubin (Author/Consultant) at lunch as well as Matt and Kelly again. Paul teased me for last night’s post ribbing his session. I think it (the nature of the questions and answers we heard) is indicative of the level of proficiency many of the users in the session have reached. They’ve mastered much (or at least are pretty comfortable) of the software and are anxious for it to do more and do it all better too.

Then it was time for Twice Baked Adaptive Components with Robert Manna (Stantec) and Zach Kron (Autodesk). This session is further exploration of concepts they dealt with at last year’s AU. I shared lab assistant duties with David Light (HOK) and Phillip Lazarus (BIM Troublemaker blog). It went quite well considering the subtleties and complexity of the concepts. My side of the room must have been smarter because they had fewer questions than the other side. Either that or they were afraid to ask me for help? We get to repeat the class tomorrow at 1 PM.

At 5 PM I was torn between attending the Vasari class, the family editor session and the AUGI General Meeting. I went to the AUGI meeting, got my AUGI glass and then caught the end of the family session. By the way be sure to VOTE for your choices to form the next Board Members!

It was my loss for the Vasari session, I heard it was excellent. I headed to the AUGI Beer Bash, food and drink and vendors galore. The exhibit floor seemed considerably larger this year and well attended. Navigating wasn't hard but it seemed to have more back alleys to either miss or not get back too. Between running into people and chatting and the number of exhibitors I just didn't see everything. Excellent choice to offer the specialty coffee vendor by the publishing area, I went back for more!

@Case_Inc. held a TweetUp at La Scena lounge and a lot of people showed up. Even Marty Rozmanith (former RTC staffer) turned up! It was good to see him again. We rounded out the evening with a quiet light meal with several long time Revit pals and decided we ought to try to make it an early (depends on your definition of early) evening.

Day three is upon us already. Time seems to stop here, no sense of day or night...but it marches on pretty quickly nonetheless. Just one more day of AU to soak it all in, see friends and make some new ones.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Autodesk University 2011 - 01

How typical, the night before the first day of classes I find myself heading back to the room at 3 AM. The night closed with me having an animated discussion with guys from Spain, Scotland and England, whose favorite teams range from Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea, regarding our desire to see the offside rules in futbol revised. I happen to like the quality of play with Barcelona and I agree that we’d see more productive games if say, the penalty box defined where offside could occur. There are so many situations where a player being offside isn’t really a factor, not a goal scoring, unfair advantage at least. Oh right, AU...

Also last night I met Hideki who made his own custom “fan” that asks “Why Change” on one side and on the reverse shows all the different software that might motivate you to consider doing so. Steve Shell helps him display it in these photos.

Next AUGI Board member Bill Davis shows off his massive collection of AU ribbons. They make him lean forward under the weight.

I dragged myself out of bed to make it to the General Session and Keynote presentation at 8 AM. I was just 10 minutes late which really meant I didn’t have to stand in a long line to get in, but there weren’t many seats. Ran into Steve Shell on the way so we hung out and watched the show together. We saw very interesting presentations ranging from a 27 year old talking about his moon rover project to long time “Reviteer” Jeffery McGrew discussing the things that he’s been doing with his own company Because We Can and wrapped up with a talk with Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine.

My first session was Jeffrey’s “Five Common Pitfalls of Digital Fabrication”. He continued where he left off with his presentation earlier and it was quite enjoyable. His company has done fun and interesting work since embarking on his own. I enjoyed his comment, “Computers can smell fear and false promises by software vendors”. He said that in the context of our needing to test the workflow and methods we use to make sure data transitions properly from one software application to another. In other words don’t rely on the claims made, test and verify.

Time for lunch! Well I spent most of my available lunch time being intrigued by a puzzler set up by Revit QA staff, one called “Where’s my Chair”. They’ve provided thirty six views that you can’t see “your” chair in and it’s up to you to figure out why, fairly diabolical things they’ve chosen to do. If you are at AU be sure to stop by and tackle one or all of the puzzlers. Just keep in mind that they are not necessarily playing “fair”.

When I sat down in Jeffery’s class I had a sudden thought that I’d see Scott Womack’s smiling face wander in. Then I remembered that’s not to be, as he passed away recently. It’s a real loss for the Revit community at AUGI, his work place…and of course his family and friends. His pal Rick caught up with me to reiterate how much the Revit community meant to Scott. He is and will be missed.

I missed my next session to deal with some work stuff so I’m hoping the handout does the job w/o hearing the session in person. Then I was off to the Ask the Experts session with Revit MEP authors Paul Aubin, Darryl McClelland, Martin J. Schmidt and Gregg Stanley. Unfortunately this session turned out to be mostly apologetic, "yeah we know about that issue", "sorry, no way to really do that yet", "you should consider applying for the alpha/beta program"...

The exhibition hall opened up tonight and there is a plethora of firms to visit. I did a couple passes to just get a sense of who, what and where. Then I started to visit some and naturally ran into folks too. I left the exhibition hall when it closed chatting with Cyril Verley (CDV Systems).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Autodesk University 2011 - 00

It's that time of year again. Jim Balding (The ANT Group) was kind enough to let me ride along with him on Sunday morning. We arrived a little after 1 PM. We ran into Robert Yori and Roberto Mencarini (SOM) almost as soon as we started wandering. We headed to the Speaker Ready room and chatted until registration opened at 4 PM.

During registration I saw David Harrington (AUGI's current president), Mark Kiker (AUGI's Executive Director) and several HOK staff. One, David Ivey, invited me along to a group trip to Fast Lap for some racing! After taking the pole position during the qualifying race I came in second to my long time Revit pal, Chris Zoog. It was a lot of FUN! Thanks David and the rest of the HOK gang for inviting me!

At the La Scena lounge I spent some time chatting with Revit content guru's Jose Fando, Gary Sprague (Andekan) and Stephen Germano (BIM Advent). Nice to finally meet them face to face. It's certainly one of the really great things about AU.

Monday (today) is going to be a long one, starting out with visiting friends with HOK and later trying to squeeze several events into a few hours, AEC Mixer, Blogger/Media Mixer, RTC meetup, HOK BIMie Awards dinner...and some other things I've probably forgotten about. Need a way to attend them all at the same time.

For your racing viewing pleasure...

I thought I'd claim that I threw the race so HOK staff would win...but I didn't, too competitive. Chris won fair and square by being patient and waiting for me to make a mistake!

Friday, November 25, 2011

RTC Server Issues

Just a quick note to let readers know that the Revit Technology Conference hosting site experienced a server crash. They are working to get it restored. If you wish to submit an abstract in the meantime you can, that website is separate. Click to Submit an Abstract


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Content Critique

Content is King! The right content, good content, smart content...

How the content is to be judged is subjective, evaluated against personal criteria, as well as objective. It doesn't take a lot of effort to find something to complain about when you use content created by others. It isn't even all that hard to return to our own content a little later and have a different opinion about how well we made it. Ever evolving, improving...hopefully.

I had the occasion recently to poke and prod some families shared via Autodesk Seek. The first example is from Belden, one of their equipment management products, this image is a 3D view at 1/8" = 1'-0" scale.

Another example is from Siemon, one of their punch down patch panels, also in a 3D view at 1/8" = 1'-0" scale. This is a bit blobby eh?

What you see in these images are what you see in the project environment, assuming a particular scale as mentioned before. There is a heck of a lot of detail in each of the families. The rack weighs in at 796 KB and the patch panel weighs in at 2.056 MB.

Taking a closer look at the punch down patch panel we find this, I had to use thin lines to see the detail.

The back side has the punch down blocks modelled too as well as sheet metal bends and kerfs. There are even small parts on the inside of the panel which nobody will ever be able to see in a Revit view.

Another family I had a closer look at is one of the Siemon Wire Management racks which weighs in at 2.9 MB.

It is nice looking but there are elements that have been modelled that nobody can see in a Revit project. Cutting a section through the cabinet will not yield the extra modeling effort that was put in. A simple rectangular shape would yield sufficient results in nearly all views except for a close up photoreal rendering perhaps.

These last two families don't take advantage of Revit's Detail Levels or Visibility options to manage the complexity or detail they contain. What's more troubling about these is that they are posted on Seek, suggesting that they are ideal or represent content that others should emulate. The wire management rack is the most "over the top".

I've hidden a hundred or more elements (solids/voids) to show this stuff.

Nearly everything you can see in that image is hidden behind something (except for the door handle) which means in a Revit project that nobody can ever see it because the category (Electrical Fixtures) doesn't have a cut representation. In a few cases I've run across data related equipment that have been assigned to the category Specialty Equipment, which doesn't even show up in Revit MEP views ordinarily (not included among the MEP categories listed in V/G, without showing all categories).

Where am I headed with this critique? It's still the wild west folks. Just downloading content from Seek is no guarantee that you won't have to spend some time tweaking or in the case of the wire management rack or punch down patch panel, abandoning them to create something simpler.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stair Headroom Clearance

In the past I've written about using a line based family to document path of egress information. Brian Mackey with BD Mackey Consulting in Denver recently shared a concept he uses for demonstrating that a stair well has sufficient clearance. He uses a railing family that has a profile to document the required clearance instead of what we'd usually use. In this example I quickly mocked up I just used a similar "guy" I'm calling Clarence, so Clarence can show the Clearance is met.

It's easy! Just create a profile family and load it into your project. Assign the profile to a new railing type, called Clearance. Assign Clarence to the Railing. Place the railing on the center line of the stair. You'll have to fuss with graphics and decide when it should be visible but it's pretty simple. To really show the zone required for clearance a simple rectangular profile off a specified height would suffice and show where no building elements should touch. A quick interference check would help catch problems too.

Cool solution Brian!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Journal Files - Get to the Point Quick

The Revit Clinic's Kathryn Langan is sharing a little application that she wrote to make it easy to extract the basic information they like to review before they dig deeply into a support issue. Thanks for sharing, so go check it out!

I've clipped some of the info in her post:

Last weekend I wasn't feeling that great, and decided to play around with some scripting while we were just sitting around watching football. What I ended up with was a Journal File Parser, and I think it turned out to be useful enough to share.

What it does, is parses through a folder of journal files and pulls out the following:

  • Journal File Name
  • Start Date & Time
  • Username
  • Revit Build
  • Hardware Acceleration Status
  • Graphics Card
  • Graphics Driver
  • Operating System
  • Last Memory Usage Statistics
  • Last Entry Line

It takes all of this information and populates it into an Excel file.

So how is this useful?

When someone comes to us with a Revit problem, one of the first things we want to do is check the basics. Are users on the latest build? Do they have certified graphics cards? Are the correct drivers installed? Instead of having to open individual journal files to check all of these things, a single run of the script will pull out all of the information. Even if users aren't having problems, it could be used as a quick audit to make sure everyone is on the same build, has the same drivers, etc.

In addition, if a user is crashing, this can help us understand which journals to look at, and to eliminate memory as a suspect. The Last Memory Line will tell us how much memory was left the last time Revit reported it in the journal. So if the available RAM is really low, we'll be able to quickly identify it. If a user experienced an issue but they weren't sure which journal recorded it, we can quickly verify the Start Date/Times of the journals to be able to narrow down the right files faster. Also, if the Last Entry Line ends with 0:< finished recording journal file, that session probably wasn't a crash, so we can focus on the sessions that ended unexpectedly without having to open each one to check.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stairs by Sketch and Worksets

I've written about this a couple times in the past. Hanging around with a serious Revit guru tonight I was surprised that he wasn't aware of the issue. He'd encountered it but had not sorted out the cause. The previous posts are THIS ONE and THIS OTHER ONE.

The essence of the problem is how the sketch is created in a workset enabled project. If you create individual segments so the stringers are formed properly Revit complains about having "two boundaries".

If you sketch segments that will not generate stringers correctly the stair will finish but generate another error. If you immediately edit the sketch and use the Split tool to break up the segment it then works properly.

Do the same thing in a stand alone project file and no problem. This is ages old but for some reason it only showed up on the radar when I submitted the issue back in 2007. Still with us today, go figure! Hey for those of you out there that I tried to blame it as "user error", sorry bout that! :) An apology is better late than never...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Saving or Sharing Export DWG Layer Standards

The process has changed a bit for exporting to dwg (or DGN for that matter). We used to be able to export our own settings to a .txt file format for use with other projects. In Revit 2011 we had this dialog and Save As button.

With 2012 they've decided to capture our settings in a project file itself. They let us choose one of these four standards to use, or to use as the spring point for our own version.

The fifth option is to "Load settings from file...". Interesting that there aren't any files to use though. We are to capture our changes in the project and then, when desired, pass it along to other projects via the Transfer Project Standards tool.

I've posted the source files that the four export settings templates use because they don't appear in my 2012 installation anywhere. I recovered them from my 2011 installation. Interestingly the other three besides the AIA version didn't show up until I loaded each one in to replace the previous. As soon as I did that, the other files appeared alongside the AIA version. If you really want to edit the .txt version, to grow your own version, you can download them here:


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sneaky Buttons

I wrote this POST in August 2005 and then followed up with another POST in July 2008. All these years later this sneaky button still has no tool tip to tell you what it does or that it is even a button. Really sneaky in my book!!

There are other Reviteristic the first POST if you are interested.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Attend Autodesk University 2011 Virtually

If you can't attend in person then you can still get in on some of the action. Here are the details I swiped from the Autodesk web site:

AU Virtual 2011

Join us for the premier virtual conference dedicated to the worldwide Autodesk user community. This online event delivers on-demand technical classes on the newest releases of Autodesk products and the latest trends and challenges facing the design industry.

Register for Free

AU Virtual is free to all AU members. Select from 250 classes in English, Spanish, and Portuguese on a wide range of topics. Plus you can network with other virtual attendees, watch key AU 2011 Las Vegas presentations and insider videos, and visit online exhibits—right from your desktop. After the event, AU Virtual classes will continue to be available on the AU website.

AU Virtual Preview Classes Begin November 15

AU Virtual previews are scheduled for mid-November. Join us online November 15 for technical and certification preparation classes—especially helpful if you plan to take a free certification exam at AU in Las Vegas. Then join us online November 29–30 for AU Virtual 2011.

Mark Your Calendars

Plan now to attend this worldwide virtual event. Registration opens November 15, 2011.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Old Roadies

Off visiting my past...

Last weekend I traveled to Atlanta to attend the second annual gathering of the self proclaimed "Southeast's Finest in the Music Industry". My old nemesis/mentor Fred (aka FUF) started it last year and I managed to get to this one. One of the things FUF was best known for was the gags he'd play on a group's last night of a tour. Witness his Uncle Sam costume for a 38 Special tour wrap up.

When Huey Lewis and the News wrapped up their stint with 38 Special in 1984 he came out dressed up as Big Bird tossing candy out during "Wanna New Drug". Later he and another trotted on stage in a two man horse costume during 38's "What if I'd Been the One" song which features some horses in the music video (if my memory is accurate). The second man brought a water bottle with him, and at one point lifted a can guess the rest. When Eddie Money toured with us he sat on the down stage edge dressed as Santa Claus, he and Eddie bantering... You never really knew what to expect from him. A true character and it was good to see him again after so many years!

I've told people a number of times, over the years, that there is no proof that I toured with 38 Special in 1984 because the band's program "misspelled" my name from Stafford to Smith. I'm listed there but you'd have to be pretty special to figure that one out! The band/crew photo shoot at the end of the tour has me, but only a leg and an arm, the rest of me cropped out of view. Well at the reunion I got to see the program again for the first time in a long time (one is being sold on eBay for $40 right now)... imagine my surprise when I see a group photo in the back that I'm actually in! It's a grainy iPhone capture in a dim bar, sorry!

I'm the twenty something guy who looks like he managed to sneak in and sat on the couch when the photo got taken. Here's a few of the same folks now. Can you figure out which one is FUF?

(photo courtesy of Michael Beck photography)

Last but not least a shot of the guy that got me started at R.A. Roth to begin with, Peter (aka Wookie, though a slightly grayer shorter haired version now). It was good to see him again, with a beau and ready as ever! Apparently we managed to elude the professional photographer wandering around (Michael) so it's another grainy iPhone shot...(behind us is the never aging John Delong, rigger extraordinaire)

I'll end with the gangs "fight song/cheer"... "Friends may come and friends may go, and friends may peter out you know. But peter out or peter in, we'll be friends through thick or thin...YO!"

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Book for Revit and Interior Design

Daniel Stine teamed up with Aaron Hansen to write a new book with a focus on Interior Design. The formal title is "Interior Design Using Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012" and is published by SDC (Schroff Development Corporation).

They are offering a nice sample chapter on Materials if you want to get a better sense of the book. From the book's description:

"The overall premise of the book is to learn Revit Architecture while developing the interior of a two story law office. The reader is provided an architectural model with established columns, beams, exterior walls, minimal interior walls and roofs in which to work. This allows more emphasis to be placed on interior design rather than primary architectural elements. The chapters chronology generally follows the typical design process. Students will find this book helps them more accurately and efficiently develop their design ideas and skills."

Table of Contents consists of:

  1. Introduction; Leveraging Revit for interior design
  2. Project Navigation
  3. Revit Jumpstart
  4. Materials
  5. Programming
  6. Material Presentation Board
  7. Reception, Lobby and Lounge Design
  8. Office Spaces
  9. Break Room and Work Room
  10. Toilet room design
  11. Floor finishes
  12. Ceiling design
  13. Schedules
  14. Custom Content Creation
  15. Detailing
  16. Renderings
  17. Sheets   

Thursday, November 10, 2011

File Saving Issues

There have been a few threads at AUGI and alike that discuss an error like this one.

The folks at Autodesk support have apparently pinned the cause down and are now offering a solution via a post at The Revit Clinic yesterday morning. Here's the text of their post.
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____

This post is contributed by Niranjan Kamath who supports Revit on our team in India.

While working with a workshared file, Revit will report an error whereby the central file is not accessible.This issue occurs only when the clients had a different OS version. We could not recreate the file access issue if the clients were both W7, or both XP for example.

The reason this happens: Windows 7 client communicates with the server using SMB2, while the Windows XP client uses SMB. This difference in version may cause some file handling issues.

To resolve this issue disable SMB2 from Server and Win 7 users.

To disable SMB 2.0 for Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 systems that are the “client” systems, run the following commands:

  • sc config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb10/nsi
  • sc config mrxsmb20 start= disabled
  • Note there's an extra " " (space) after the "=" sign.

To restore SMB 2.0 for Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 systems that are the “client” systems, run the following commands:

  • sc config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb10/mrxsmb20/nsi
  • sc config mrxsmb20 start= auto
  • Again, there's an extra " " (space) after the "=" sign.

In order to disable SMB 2.0 on the server-side computer, follow these steps:

This document contains instructions for editing the registry. If you make any error while editing the registry, you can potentially cause Windows to fail or be unable to boot, requiring you to reinstall Windows. Edit the registry at your own risk. Always back up the registry before making any changes. If you do not feel comfortable editing the registry, do not attempt these instructions. Instead, seek the help of a trained computer specialist.

  • Run "regedit" on Windows Server 2008 based computer.
  • Expand and locate the sub tree as follows.
  • HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters
  • Add a new REG_DWORD key with the name of "Smb2" (without quotation mark)
    • Value name: Smb2
    • Value type: REG_DWORD
    • 0 = disabled
    • 1 = enabled
  • Set the value to 0 to disable SMB 2.0, or set it to 1 to re-enable SMB 2.0.
  • Reboot the server.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Door From and To Values

In October of 2009 I wrote a post that explains the way Revit determines the parameter From Room and To Room settings. This is just an echo of it because I've seen a few mentions of the issue lately elsewhere on the "internets". There's a video too!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Opening a New View

One feature of Revit that has been with us for a long time is also quite subtle. When you open a new floor plan view Revit will attempt to respect what you are currently looking at in a floor plan view. For example, if you zoom into look at a specific room or door family and then open a floor plan for another level, Revit will open the new view zoomed into the same area of the model (but on the other level). The key is the view can't already be open. I've posted a video to explain visually...

Monday, November 07, 2011

AUGI Candidates

From the BLAUGI site...

The AUGI Board is composed of nine directors elected on a rotating basis for three-year terms by the membership of Autodesk Users Group International (AUGI). The board includes professionals from varying locations worldwide who use, train and support the varying products of Autodesk software.

Each year the Nomination & Elections Committee and the AUGI Board strive to include candidates that represent diverse interests and global perspectives. The seven colleagues who have graciously agreed to stand for election for the three positions spanning the 2012-2014 term are (in alphabetical order):

  • Scott Ebert
  • David Gaskill
  • Assis Haubert
  • Tommy Holder
  • Dario Passariello
  • Desiree Ratley
  • Jay Zallan

Members now have the opportunity to view candidates’ information and ask questions.

You can find the new Forum Area for the 2011 Candidates here.

Friday, November 04, 2011

RTC USA 2012 Update

The Revit Technology Conference North America 2012 has finally announced the next location and dates as well as inviting people to submit their abstracts. If you are on the mailing list you've probably already received your notification. If you aren't on the list then let me know so we can get you added to the mailing list.

In hints on Twitter I wrote that RTC was going to be "romancing the Stone" and "there will be a mountain" of sessions as well as a passing mention of Robert E. Lee using BIM... All subtle hints at the location that has been selected. The very first RTC event in Australia was held at a resort in the Blue Mountains, so this location is reminiscent of that kind of place.

Click to visit the RTC NA 2012 web site
Click to Read about the venue
Click to Submit an Abstract

You can keep track of things as we ramp up for the next conference via Linked In, Twitter, and Facebook (well on the website too).

Keep in mind that it is quite possible, even likely, that the conference will fill the entire hotel, read into that what you may. See you in June!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Family Naming - Don't Worry

Jose Fandos of Andekan posted again in his continuing theme of content related posts. He suggests that worrying about a family naming standard, an all-encompassing one at least, isn't our biggest priority. I agree, I've always preached consistency instead of specifics. Every firm I've met over the years has their own position about file and folder naming for every kind of software they use.

He (Jose) predicts that how we find content in and out of Revit will only get better as we move forward so the actual name of a Revit family may become less important as a means to find one. For example, the add-in Family Browser allows us to organize content logically and the name isn't really the focus (while it, a standard, does help organize the folder the content is in perhaps).

If by some chance everybody could agree on a standard strategy it wouldn't hurt us. I don't think it is a fundamental or major priority over actually having content created. If it gets made with a "bad" name, I can always rename it when it hits "my" library anyway. ;)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

No Math Characters in Parameter Names

I've mentioned this before in the context of older posts but never in a dedicated post. Don't use characters that Revit respects as mathematical symbols in the parameters names you create. That means don't do things like this.

Revit will be nice and accept parameter names that include most if not all of them but when it comes time to do something more clever with the parameters you'll regret it. More clevererer? Like using the parameters in a formula, that's clever! You'll get messages like this one.

Easy to resolve, just don't use mathematical symbols in parameter names.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

M6 or M-Six

One is a great car, one of the most fun/pleasing auto's I've driven so far.

Another is a potentially great new technology offering. There is a little bit more information on their Linked In page. You might recognize a couple of the people that are part of the company? Phil Read placed a teaser on his blog yesterday.

I wrote about a minion doing design work for a Lord and Master (maybe evil) recently. There are some videos on You Tube which if you look closely carry the "M" brand on the dialogs that are visible at various times. I think they are connected. You be the judge... check them out again!

And another...