Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holidays 2008

I intend to take a low profile and do little if any posting during the holidays.

I wish everyone who visits my little corner in cyberspace a great holiday season and may you each enjoy the company of family and friends. Cheers!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Room Name - Full or Abbreviation

Sometimes a name is just too much, too long, it just doesn't fit in a room. The stock Name parameter for a room is easy, it's already there waiting for us to us. When we use abbreviations in this parameter we end up with some full names and some abbreviations. An abbreviation of "T." for Toilet might be fine on a plan view but it is less than stellar in a schedule. We could use another stock parameter like comments to store an abbreviation instead but that subverts its usefulness for actual comments.

Shared Parameters to the rescue!

I've written several posts about shared parameters in the past so I won't go into making them again in this post (see bottom). This is what you need to do to get a new parameter working in a project.

Create a shared parameter (called Abbreviation for example)

Create a room tag family that uses your shared parameter, save the Family and load the family into your project

Add a Project Parameter (Settings > Project Parameter) using your shared parameter too. Assign the parameter to the Room Category

Use the parameter in your rooms, set-up a schedule and tag your rooms with the appropriate tag.

This gives the best of both worlds. Supply abbreviations for names that are unruly and don't bother for reasonable names. A schedule will make it easy to define either and those that don't have abbreviations don't "need" them. Just make sure you use the correct tag to display the value you really want people to see.

I've posted a revised copy of my Egress Example project that contains a working example of the shared parameter, tag and schedule.

This post Shared Parameter File: A Little Clarification provides a full list of the posts I've made in the past on the subject of Shared Parameters.

Friday, December 12, 2008

News at 9:48 - Revit Rock-n-Roller donates Hair

Steve Shell the "Rock-n-Roll" Architect, famous for not only his membership at AUGI but his rock-n-rolling ways as a guitar player in Shell Shock has decided to donate some of his "locks" to a deserving fellow Reviteer, Jim Balding (at right). Jim, who says he "lives up to his name" Balding was attending Autodesk University last year when Steve (at left) suggested that he could help with his "problem".

A schedule for the transplant has yet to be defined but Jim was quoted as saying he already plans to learn how to play the bass and join a band as soon as possible.

About the Author, Freddy Latherdon:
Revit OpEd's ace reporter, Freddy recently moved to Wapakoneta, Ohio to get away from the LA party scene. Brittany, Lindsay and the "others" were just too "out there" and he needed a break. He has a one bedroom studio apartment now that he shares with his three "Lavender" Retrievers, don't even try to tell him they are Labrador Retrievers...he'll get mad and punch you. The judge gave him one more chance to deal with his anger issues or he'll do some real time. Might account for why he's been so quiet as this is his first story in quite some time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Schedules and Data Entry

I often think that Revit users ought to spend a few days getting acquainted with database use, like with Microsoft's Access for example. If more users had such experience then they would probably find Revit's scheduling to be more "obvious"...maybe.

One of the more overlooked capabilities of scheduling is to supply a new value or change a value for many items with a single entry. Many schedules that people use list every instance within the project. This means you have to find some other way to update all those families quickly. Unless you revisit the sorting criteria of a schedule.

Let's take a simple example a room schedule. I have a number of rooms that need to change, they are all lower case instead of upper case (The Change Case tool from Avatech makes this easier still). I also need to supply a department value for each room.

When a schedule lists every instance of the rooms we get a nice long list of each room. Like this one...not nearly as long as most real schedules though.

If we change the sorting/grouping criteria to use Name instead and un-check the option "Itemize Every Instance" we'll get a different result.

Like This...(I added a count column to show how they've been condensed according to the same "name").

Edit the Name and Department parameters and the values will be applied to each instance of the multiple rooms, like this...(removed the sorting change and restored the sort by number and "Itemize every instance").

Typing EXAM in the Name field supplied the value to all seven of the rooms using that name. The same is true for the SERVICES department name. The same is true for the other repeated values.

In the future, to use this, just remember that you need to sort a schedule by THE value that needs alteration AND you need to un-check "Itemize every Instance".

Remember too, there is nothing wrong with having a schedule that makes your daily work life easier and one that your clients/readers see, a quality assurance schedule and the final "report". Happy "reporting"!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tongue Twister

Said by me during a training session discussing making families...

"a Famula" as in a Family & a Formula are a "Famula".

Structural Column - Quick and "Evil"

I was checking out the new Mastering Revit Structure book by Tom, Jamie, David and Eric (yes...too lazy to spell out their whole names but then I wrote this instead, hmmm). On page 144 is a grey section that describes the following tip, written here in my own way.

Need a Structural column that leans, quick? Don't want to make a column family first? You could use a wall? BIM purists, cover your ears and eyes..."you know where to put the cork" ("The Who" fans quiver with recognition). You can use a wall and then edit its profile to create the appearance of a leaning column in about the same time as it takes to choose the correct family template first.

Naturally this assumes that we are talking about concrete, it doesn't work quite as well for steel shapes.

Just a little "out of the box" thinking courtesy of the four RST "muskateers", check out the book!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Echo Dept. of Echo - Zooming in Dialogs

David Light posted this bit waaaay back in November, before AU and I thought I'd echo it here too. He observed that we can actually zoom in and out of some dialogs by using CTRL + Middle Scroll Wheel. The link above is for his follow up post which tells us that this works in the following dialogs: managed links, view templates, element properties, view properties, worksets and export layers.

Thanks for being observant David!

TurboSquid Contest - Revit Content

Warning...Sales "pitchish"...

TurboSquid is a popular site for 3D content that is branching out into the Revit Family realm. In partnership with Autodesk, they just opened up their "Revit Market", a marketplace especially for user-generated Revit families. "Revit Market" is designed to complement Autodesk Seek.

To encourage users to publish Revit families for sale, TurboSquid is holding a Revit Contest with cash prizes up to $2500. Deadline is Jan. 31, 2009.

A little bit about them clipped from their site:

TurboSquid is:

The largest library of 3D products for sale in the world.
A clearinghouse for digital artists to make money selling their content.
A place to find premium plug-ins for 3D software applications.
A forum for 3D professionals to exchange ideas.
A service accessible by a traditional website as well as our free, downloadable client applications for PC and Mac.
A production tool to help digital artists more rapidly find, preview and acquire essential content.

The TurboSquid Mission:

Our goal is to revolutionize the way that 3D products are bought, sold and delivered by creating a new and focused digital marketplace designed to offer large selections of affordable products while providing maximum returns to intellectual property owners. We strive to provide unmatched value and support to our partners, content creators and customers while creating a stimulating and exciting environment to accomplish our plans.

EDIT: They've started a blog called Revit Market.

Monday, December 08, 2008

RME - Connectors and their "Arrow"

This is referring to the arrow that appears on a duct or pipe connector icon in the family editor. This arrow indicates where the pipe or duct must point toward the connecting pipe or duct. You can flip this easily when you place a connector on a face but not as easily when using the work plane option.
Connectors placed on a "work plane" define their "arrow" orientation based on the "positive" side of the Reference Plane used. The positive side of a Reference Plane is the left side of the "head", where the name appears (when you assign a name parameter to the ref plane). This is true for Reference Planes we add to a family. The stock reference planes that you find in the template behave the opposite way, go figure...positive is to the right side of the "head".

I suppose the connection arrow is just there to tease you in this instance. When the connector is applied to a "face" the "flip" arrow works. Remember the connection arrow represents the duct/ should point toward the connecting duct/pipe. Actual Flow direction is defined inside the properties dialog of the connector.

Oh...if the arrow is "wrong"...flip the reference plane, drag the end control grip at one end over the other, don't mirror because Revit will want to delete the connector.

Another worthy tip, brought to us by AUGI member Truevis aka Eric, is to use the "Split Face" tool on a face to define a portion of the surface to contain a connector as opposed to adding another solid to do so which you'll find in many of the stock families. May you "connect" well!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

AU 2008 - Day Seven - Saturday

Seven days of AU? You probably didn't realize it was that long? Well this was my travel day home. I drove to AU and therefore...drove home. At the valet I waited and waited...then a valet shows up with a piece of paper in his hand, uh oh! I'm thinking it was stolen, or damaged or...I'm not sure...

He says, "The battery is completely dead and this paper needs a signature for him to "jump the battery"". Oh is that all...sigh of relief... signed and I got my car back. I topped of the gas tank and left the car running, just in case. I drove four hours, even...home at last! I was very pleased that the several serious traffic jambs that I saw on the South bound lane of I-15 last Sunday were not to be found on this particular day.

The reason for my "panic" is that two weeks earlier this same car was vandalized while I was teaching a class. Someone with some pent up anger decided that the paint job needed some alterations. They scratched up the hood, the trunk, the passenger door and passenger rear quarter panel. They also etched a frequently used four letter word on the hood too, nice touch!

They apparently lacked the time or skill to write the accompanying "You" and just left a "u" instead. I was angry at the time, frustrated now that the car will need to be painted completely to fix it. The lease ends in a few months so we may just work something out with the dealer... I don't think I've made anyone mad enough to do this so I'm inclined to think it was just a random act of stupidity.

Revit is so much easier than real life!

AU 2008 – Day Six – Friday

I began my day as a lab assistant for Paul Aubin's Family Editor session. I got their early and discovered a few pc's with “problems”. The other two assistants from DC Cadd were able to get a couple up and running but two pc's had no pc...a much harder issue to overcome. Autodesk scrambled to get them sorted out but we ended up without one of them for the duration. We were able to keep these from delaying the class at least.

The session maintained a comfortable pace and everyone did their best to keep up. Paul planned more material than fit in the time slot but that's pretty easy to do, I did it every time I did a lab too. Better more than too little eh? In a quick thank you email Paul wrote that the class survey results were very good with a pretty high ranking, congrats!

When that wrapped I rushed to make my lunch meeting with Cyril Verley and his gang of trainers for CDV Systems. We seldom have a chance other than AU to all be in the same room so it was both nice and necessary to get together. I left the meeting early to have another AUGI session, an AU wrap up meeting. At 4:20 I bailed from that meeting in order to catch the ride to the CDV dinner and show that Cyril's “right arm”, Carolyn, arranged. We enjoyed Tenderloin at the Luxor followed by the Chris Angel “Believe” show. Very nice end to AU! Thanks Cyril and Carolyn!

AU 2008 - Day Five - Thursday

I managed to steal some Revit time for myself and attended two Un-Plugged sessions sponsored by Robert and Krista Manna, a husband and wife team that work for different firms but whose sessions dovetailed together pretty well. In fact two other sessions by two Scott's (Brown and Womack) did as well but I couldn't attend them, my loss. Each of the four presenters are AUGI members naturally!

AU Party featured the conclusion of the AU Design Slam where various participants designed either building or products using Autodesk software in a short amount of time. The event began the night before and AUGI member and blogger Craig Barbieri won the design portion from Wednesday night.

I was disappointed in the audio during the party, too tinny and very difficult to understand Lynn Allen at all. Fortunately the comedic talent's of Don McMillan were able to transcend the poor audio. Don is a gifted story teller and his somewhat distorted view of things as an engineer turned comedian contribute to a laugh riot. If he didn't pause now and then his audience could become physically ill from continuous laughter.

I got to spend a little time (too little) with my friend Bruce Gow (BeeGee at AUGI) from Brisbane. I managed to miss each of his classes this year, oh well. I hope to see some more of him in Melbourne in June 2009 at the Revit Technology Conference. His cohorts from Karelcad, Shane and Adam...among others were also present and they are always fun to hang around with.

Later I traded text messages with Wesley Benn trying to find each other in the hall during Don's show. Funny how hard it can be until he realized that the columns are numbered...we wrapped up the night with a stop at the Grand Lux, the all purpose "diner" at the Venetian.

AU 2008 - Day Four - Wednesday

AUGI all day. We met with all the international members who make up the chapter leadership for each of AUGI's Country Chapters. At first it seemed as though we were an organization divided in direction and mission. Quickly however we all began to realize that we are not divided, that we share the same goals, ideals and mission. At the close of the day we shared a solidarity that felt both good and invigorating.

At five the AUGI General Meeting opened. Lynn Allen, designated AUGI Sweetheart, began the session and she turned over the mike to President, Mark Kiker. We delivered Wishlists for AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Inventor and Revit. Buzz Kross (Inventor) showed his counterparts how to accept a wishlist by upping the ante with a prepared video showing the features that were directly from the wishlist he was just handed. Nice!

Mark and the board presented the outgoing board members (me and Chris Lindner) with a nice plaque thanking us for our service. He also announced the voting is now open for the next board, and open through the 14th.

He wrapped the meeting with the anticipated “It's Beer Time”...the annual AUGI Beer Bash. Everyone grabbed their AUGI beer mug and headed to the trade show hall for food AND Beer or at least a beverage of their choice!

I attended the Avatech party at Tao on the coat tails of RTKL staff, primarily Hiroshi Jacobs. We ran into each other at the Beer Bash and decided to head to Tao (head to toe?) afterward. Too loud at Tao, such that you have to yell at each other to be heard...definitely strained my voice that night. We closed up the party hanging out with Beau Turner (Avatech and Will Render for food blog). When they asked us to leave so they could open up to the public again I ran into Willem from the publisher Wiley/Sybex and Eddie Krygiel (Wiley/Sybex author). At this point I decided for reasons of self preservation to go back to my room and sleep!

AU 2008 - Day Three - Tuesday

Started out the morning in the Managing Large Projects session hosted by Lonnie Cumpton of Friedmutter Group. He went through a list of key items first and then started a Q/A session. No real surprises from my perspective but I'm sure other attendees who haven't yet wrestled with a large project yet were quite happy to be listening in. Lonnie assembled a panel for the Q/A consisting of Bill Debevc, Friedmutter, Lance Kirby, Autodesk Consulting and Beau Turner, Avatech Solutions. The good news is that there are some options when dealing with large projects, not without cost, but options.

At this point my Day Three at AU started to change hands from what I wanted or intended to do to what I ended up doing. I had intended to take in the session for interiors projects but only managed to catch the tail end. I also started to see Kyle Bernhardt's class for Revit MEP but had to leave early in this case.

I spent the evening in the AUGI booth on the trade show floor. Much of the time was helping members find their log in information again and signing up new members. I stole what time I could to visit with friends and other attendees.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

AU 2008 – Day Two – Monday

[Obviously the following didn't get posted on day two, apologies]

Morning came quickly today but it didn't seem like it because the room has drapery that literally cuts out any evidence of exterior light.

We started out with a board meeting (AUGI) at 10 AM, mostly a planning session for AU events and activities. After a brief lunch in the food court we had a very long session called the Leadership Conference. I say very long because it went from 1-6 pm according to the schedule, it actually concluded a little after 6:30 pm. The purpose of the meeting was to provide people that run user groups and or user communities, like AUGI user groups or the AREA with a lot of information that will hopefully help them start a group or just manage their existing one better.

I personally found the last two presenters the most interesting while I'm sure the majority of the attendees found value in all of the presenters information. John Morgan, AUGI board member, discussed the “best practices” of starting/running a user group. Though compressed into much too little time he covered a wealth of ideas. Then Shaun Hendricks with Autodesk and the manager for The Area spoke about their three versions of the site and what they've learned, all very insightful!

After the LC wrapped up I made a “quick” trip up to the room, (definitely not quick) and then joined the line to attend the AEC Mixer. I never made it to the food because each time I turned around or changed location I ran into another Revit user/friend. It was fun to catch up with everyone and I regret not managing to find time to chat with more people.

Last but not least, “dinner” at the new Grand Lux in the Palazzo portion of the Venetian. A little name dropping...Jim Balding, Doug Williams & Scott Brown (WATG), Matt Jezyk and his wife (Autodesk), Greg Demchak (Autodesk), Wesley Benn (Benn Design) and last but not least the “Rock-n-Roll” architect – Steve Shell. Always a fun happy bunch to share a meal with, thanks for including me!

Lights out!

AU 2008 Day One – Sunday for Me

I left home on Sunday afternoon and arrived in Vegas at about 5:30 pm. I parked the car at the Valet, checked in and made the veeerrry long walk to the registration area. It is about as far away from the hotel rooms as it could be and still be part of the Venetian complex.

I met with a few members of the AUGI board that were also either registered or just finished doing so. We then separated briefly so we could all regroup for a dinner at Dal Toro (Lamborghini). It was really quite good but surprisingly quiet, the calm before the AU storm of attendees I suppose. I was told by another attendee that their taxi driver told him that it has been a “ghost town” lately though, evidence of the currently economic situation I suppose.

After dinner I ran into Pat and Todd with HNTB (and we met up with Jim Balding, WATG) and we passed a couple hours chatting about stuff, well in fact a lot of it was Revit stuff...which isn't really that surprising is it?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Autodesk University 2008

I will be attending this event during this coming week so my posting may or may not be sporadic. I have a pile of posts in "drafts" but just haven't finished anything, favoring family time during the holiday.

If you use Twitter you can find me "there". I intend to update where I am as often as I can remember to do so via Twitter so it may be a little easier to find me, there are going to be a lot of people there!

I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones this week.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Service Packs for Revit

The product managers for each version of Revit announced at AUGI today that there are new web updates/service packs available for both 32 and 64 bit.

In general they each wrote the following:

1) I am pleased to announce that our product team has just released the English version of Web Update 3 for Revit 2009 (Build 20081118_1045) and it is now LIVE at:

DOWNLOAD Revit Architecture Update

DOWNLOAD Revit Structure Update


2) Web Update 3 is also using the Service Pack technology and is for English version only. All localized and translated versions of Web Update 3 will use the previous Full Install method, but we will continue to improve the service pack technology for all languages in the future release of Revit Structure. Also, we are currently working to release the localized Web Update 3 over the next several weeks.

For a list of improvements, please refer to the “Web Update Enhancement List (pdf)” located on the product download pages.

3) Before you install the English Web Update 3 Service Pack, please make sure that you read carefully the entire “Service Pack Readme (pdf)” as it will explain how to use the Service Pack as well as its current limitations.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Revit MEP Content via Subscription content at available for Revit MEP subscription members. Stephen Roth, the new product manager for Revit MEP writes, on the Inside the System blog:

I am pleased to announce two new content extensions for Revit MEP 2009 that are available on Autodesk Subscription Center:

The "US Content Extension for Revit MEP 2009" contains imperial and metric duct and pipe fitting families that adhere to SMACNA and ASME standards, respectively.

The "UK Content Extension for Revit MEP 2009" contains duct fitting families that adhere to the DW/144 UK industry standards.

Please log on to Subscription Center and click the link labeled either "US Content Extension for Revit MEP 2009" or "UK Content Extension for Revit MEP 2009" to go to the web landing page that allows you to download the content. A ReadMe file exists that explains how and where to install the files.

This content was developed based upon feedback from users like you, so we do appreciate your feedback.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Revit MEP - Temporary Dimensions/Dimensions

There seems to be some inequity in the implementation of dimension behavior with Revit MEP. When we use RAC and RST we find that we can use temporary or permanent dimensions to reposition most elements.

With RME however Revit does not conduct itself in the same fashion. As an example we need to just look at a pair of ducts that are parallel to each other. A dimension placed between them does not become editable when you select either duct, nor does the Activate Dimensions button appear on the Options Bar. No temporary dimension appears between them.

It is as if it has been determined that behavior that most Revit users have come to expect isn't relevant or appropriate in RME for some reason. The lack of this make it more tedious to place duct work precisely relative to other duct. An exception to this is when two parallel ducts are not connected to each other via another duct.

It is my humble opinion that this deserves another look by developers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - Wall Representation

Dave Plumb with BWBR Architects in St. Paul, MN suggested this one to me, thanks! I was just in Minneapolis two weeks ago ironically and didn't get to tip a couple with him, maybe next time!

Walls can be displayed in Legends and Revit provides a preview in the Wall Assembly dialog (making/editing walls). Technically it's a toss up between a Reviteristic and a Subtlety. Take a look at this image, a Legend with a wall and a Wall type preview (section view orientation), the finish side is on the right in the legend and on the left in the preview.

Is it a Show Stopper? You bet...well okay, not really! Just an insight from another Revit user like me who probably doesn't get out much either. Sorry Dave!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hard Boiled Dimensions

A recent thread at AUGI and then an echo of the question at a client office prompts me to write this one. The question is, "Can we show both metric and imperial units in the same dimension string?" More specifically the client request was to provide for "Hard Metric" and the imperial value at the same time.

Regardless, sorry, the answer is no. You cannot automatically show both imperial and metric dimensions in the same dimension string. Even if you could show them both Revit could not provide the "Hard metric" value because this is not a consistent conversion.

In an attempt to be clearer, the concept of "Hard" metric values is the alteration of actual dimensions to a "normalized" or nominal metric equivalent, for example: 36 inches = 900 mm or 8 inches = 200 mm. Conversely "Soft" metric is the literal mathematical equivalent dimension or as in the previous example: 36 inches = 914.4 mm or 8" = 203.2 mm.

If it helps you could think of the normalized metric value as "hard" to do while the mathematical conversion is "easy" or..."soft". My interpretation of this is based on reading a number of governmental sites that discuss the use of this practice. Fwiw, I have heard it described exactly the opposite way, hard is soft and soft is hard, hmmm isn't that a Zen thing? Regardless there is a different approach for each.

With regard to Metric versus Imperial project templates and choosing which to start with...consider that an imperial project can be switched to metric soft metric. Easy, however, the content will STILL refer to imperially named families. As a practical matter a truly metric project should begin with a metric template and use metric content so that schedules report 200 mm walls not 8" walls or Single Flush 900x2100 doors instead of 36x84 doors, for example.

As for the display of either unit of measure in cynical side wonders who really wants or needs this? In my North American tunnel vision I don't see a real need to show both even though a local jurisdiction may require it. Despite being told since I was a young lad that we are going to "go to metric"...we still haven't. In a practical way our trades don't really need it and in fact may just be confused by it. An exception might be where the actual material involved is truly specified and supplied according to metric specification. Surely this doesn't require an entire set of documents to adhere to such requirements?

Well enough assumption...what to do if you must? You could consider metric plans and imperial plans, completely separate views. Document it fully as if metric were the only appropriate unit of measure, do the same for imperial. can place a string using one and then place another string either above or directly on top of the previous string and then move the text off to the side "next" to the other. Sure looks like it is the same string when it is printed out but "we" know better. There are a few ways to replicate the dimensions quickly, such as copy/paste aligned. Still quirky and definitely extra work.

Personally I kind of like the idea of duplicating a view with detailing and then switching all the dimensions to a metric formatted version. Either way just keep in mind that you won't get Hard metric, just Soft.

What I like better still is the ability to provide alternate dimension unit display, much like the "step-brother" AutoCAD perhaps? It probably isn't all that hard to do, just needs doing? If it gets done this post will be pointless eh? Here's to pointless posts!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dept. of Unfair - Placing Tags

When you place most tags Revit doesn't offer the option of choosing a specific tag prior to selecting the element to tag. They depend on the current tag assignment. This is managed via Settings menu > Annotations > Loaded Tags. The listed tag is THE tag that Revit will use. Revit uses/assigns the most recent/last tag loaded into your project for its category in this spot.

Room/Space tags permit us to choose which one we want first, from the Type Selector. It would be good if all tags did too! It is quite common to have multiple tags loaded for many different categories and therefore being able to choose which one to place would be great!

A workaround exists however...

When you use Tag all not Tagged AND have some elements selected Revit will select an option on the resulting dialog.

This will tag just what you select AND allow you to choose which tag to use. Almost the same thing. It would be nice to have a consistent tagging approach though.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Quick Tip - Center a Ceiling

Perhaps it is obvious, perhaps not...

If you want recenter a ceiling grid in a room, assuming that it has been adjusted already but you need to change it again. Add a dimension string to the defining boundary walls and to one of the parallel grid lines, click the EQ control toggle. The grid repositions itself.

If you have a specific corridor width (say 6'-0") that a 2x2 or 2x4 ceiling should fit nicely in but it isn't in the correct spot, same trick but add a second reference to the other side of the same ceiling "panel" and use the EQ control toggle.
The result:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Scroll Wheel and Save Reminders

Caution!! When Revit's little timer goes off and says you need to Save it opens the Save Reminder dialog. If you also happen to decide to use your scroll wheel to zoom in or out you may have noticed that Revit has moved its focus to the dialog and the Save Reminder Interval List Box. Scroll causes the reminder value to change. If you think you have it set to every 15 Minutes but check it and find something else, chances are good that you bumped into this issue.

Beware the save reminder and your scroll wheel!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Revit MEP - Light Levels

Jason Combs a P.E. (Professional Engineer) with Woolpert, Inc. was worried about me. He noticed that I hadn't posted in a couple days and sent me this so I could keep on track. Okay, okay I may have stretched the truth a bit. He wasn't worried about me but he did share this information with me the other day and it seemed so nicely put together that I might as well just put it here too. He said it was okay so here it is!

Jason writes:

Adjusting the elevation of a light inside of a space will change the lighting level in the room. Following is a significant set of characteristics affecting the way lights work in a room/space.

Light families must have a light source to add illumination to a room. In other words, in order to schedule the estimated illumination of a light, a light source must be added to the family through the Categories and Setting dialog within the family.

The illumination in a space is related to a light family's Illuminance. But don't be confused when scheduling Illuminance versus Illumination. Following are two schedules, one is a Light Fixture schedule and one is a Space Schedule with Lighting fields included. Illuminance of a light is based on a given foot-candles amount at a given height (i.e. 10fc @ 10'). Illumination in a space is dependent upon the number of lights and at what level the measurement is taken for a given set of light Illuminances.

The Light Source location is what matters when it comes to measuring the illumination in a space. The following image depicts that the light source is within the space. However, there is an unclear limit to where the light source must exist within a space. After some testing, I (Jason) determined that the light source must be within 1'-0" of the space and exist on the same side of the work plane to included in the space. Further I (Jason) was able to adjust the tilt angle of the light source from -90 deg to 0 degrees and still existing within the space.

Without the Light Source visible it would appear that this standard troffer light in the following image is outside the space. But no, Revit still considers it to be within the space because the light source is within 1'-0" of the space even though the visible geometry is entirely outside. Just remember to keep the light source within the space!

Here's an example illustrating that the Light Source location affects lighting calculations. Flipping the work plane of the light can significantly change the illumination value in a space.

In the following example it appears that Adjusting the Tilt Angle of the Light Source did not change the illumination calculation within the space.

Thanks for sharing this Jason!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Want it all? What do you Buy?

What combination of Revit software will give the most with the least outlay of cash with the current Autodesk product delivery strategy? I believe that the answer is Revit Structure (RST) and Revit MEP (RME).

These two versions have all of the features that Revit Architecture (RAC) has spread between them plus there are compelling extensions for both whereas RAC has simply inherited its own from them.

It isn't really a coherent work flow to travel between the applications to do your work if you are an architect. As an example, you can't make a ceiling plan in RST but you can in RME. You'd have to use RME for full documentation purposes, not RST. At the very least you'd have to travel back and forth.

You might not even consider it efficient if you aren't. It would be more slickerer coolerer, Sweeterer (my opinion) if it were one seat of Revit that provided all the tools but that was a different post.

Schedules in RME offer both conditional formatting and embedded schedules, very useful and potentially interesting in that order. RST offers Graphical Column Schedules while RME and of course, RAC don't. RST also offers more tools to provide more accurate structural conditions like beam coping and curved beams.

Deployment would be a bit of a pain because you'd have to download the RAC content from the Autodesk web libraries and setting up templates might be a bit of a pain since you'd have engineering templates to work from instead.

I've experimented lately with not using RAC and favoring just RST/RME to see when I bump into something insurmountable, so far I haven't.

Perhaps Autodesk would recognize the value of a combined version if RME/RST sales began to cannibalize RAC sales? I was told that my earlier survey heavily biased the result by how I wrote the choices. I suppose but then what survey doesn't have a bias?

Something to consider. As usual be sure to prove it to your self satisfaction...your mileage may vary! Buyer beware...reader beware!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dept. of Subtle - Room Tag - Rotation

Matt Pettengell with Athfield Architects Limited in New Zealand wrote to me suggesting this subtle feature. From Revit Help!

Note the last item..."or rotate to a specified angle"? Yes, this means you can use the rotate tool on room tags! It would be very nice if we had this option on other tags too!

Thanks for the suggestion Matt!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Revit MEP - Heating and Cooling Loads - Isolate then Cancel Bug

Using the Heating and Cooling Loads feature choose to Isolate a space in the viewer.

You can crash Revit if you click the Cancel button before removing the Isolate option.
Want to cancel unscathed? Just make sure you uncheck the Isolate Space option FIRST!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - Modify?

There are four ways to "quit" something in Revit. The first and perhaps best way is to just pick another tool/command and do something else. Next (number two) is the ESC key on the keyboard. Sometimes you have to tap the ESC key twice to truly exit a command. Another (number three) is to use the Right Click > Cancel. This also may require using it twice in order to completely exit a command.

Last (number four) is the Modify button...on the Design Bar, the first one at the top of every Design Bar Tab.
Does the word Modify make you immediately think "Quit", "Stop", "Bail Out", "Escape", "Wait", "Let's not do anything now" etc? No? You are not alone. It is something that always puzzled me but I've never questioned, I just accepted it as "the way it is". Probably the best thing to do, but it remains a Reviteristic in my book!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations America! - Barack Obama

It has been done, the USA has crossed a societal metaphorical bridge with the election of Barack Obama.

I was born while segregation still existed. I was six years old when Martin Luther King was killed. It is an unpleasant part of our history and not so long ago in our past. I certainly didn't experience this aspect of our history as intensely as those directly affected by it.

I believe this election represents a proud moment where a once very racially divided country has turned another corner and found a way to look forward to something different, something new.

Regardless of who you voted for as a citizen of the USA, or rooted for from another country, I invite you to offer congratulations to President Elect Barack Obama and the Americans that chose to vote for him. I wish him and us the best possible outcome during his term in office.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - A Legend isn't?

Language is hard at times. The use of the same words in the context of Revit for different tasks can be confusing. Take for example the Legend feature which is a specific type of view that can contain symbolic representation of content and text as well as dimensions. These legends can also be placed on multiple views whereas most other view types cannot.

Consider then the Color Scheme Legend, it is a legend in the conventional architectural language/usage but in the context of Revit and views it is NOT. So imagine the possible confusion for a new user when we use the same word interchangeably for different purposes.

A color scheme legend is not a view, it is annotation that is placed in a view. It/they are managed via the Settings menu > Color Fill Schemes. These are only available if you've chosen to apply a color fill scheme to a view. They are intended to provide a way to discern what each color is meant to represent.

When working with new users (or seasoned even) be vigilant as we use words and their meaning and how things that may seem obvious may in fact be confusing.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Marvin Windows Content

Marvin Windows has released Revit Families for some of their product line, specifically the clad awning and casement windows. They hope to add double hung by the end of the year.

Visit their Building Professional resource pages for more detail. Click HERE to visit the download page.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dept. of Unfair - Stairs - Riser and Array

When you choose to create a stair with the Riser and Boundary tools instead of the Run tool the use of the Array tool is disabled. Seems like a perfect tool to layout a series of risers quickly. Instead we have to use copy, copy w/ Multiple, or some combination of copy and mirror etc... At least enable the array tool but disable the Group and Associate if that is why it isn't available. It's unfair!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Shameless Plug - AU 2008 Classes by Bruce Gow

My friend from "the land down undah" (Australia) Bruce Gow is presenting some classes at AU that deserve some attention in my opinion, if you are schedule to attend AU 2008.

They are:

AB304-1 A Better Understanding Of Revit® Architecture Families for Advanced Users

ME114-1P A Better Understanding Of Revit® MEP Families: Advanced

I thought I saw a third for Revit Structure content too but I can't find it right now? Well...I hope you get a chance to attend AU and his classes!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another Side of Mr. OpEd - Lighting

I spent the early 80's traveling with bands, a roadie. I worked for a club act called the New York Flyers. I did a little of everything over the course of three years. I started out setting up the back line (amps) then the drums (I'm a drummer after all). I then did lighting, sound and then sound and lighting at the same time. I also did the pyro, flash and flame pots. I got "blown up sir" by the keyboardist and spent a month recuperating from burns on my arms and chin. Lost my eyebrows and was lucky to not lose my eyesight. After that they stopped doing pyro but we developed "flaming drumsticks" and it was my deal to set those ablaze so that Earl could play the drums for a bit with them. Cool trick! You can see them in some of the pictures on their site.

In the middle of that gig I left and worked for a small lighting company that did one night stands mostly (1982ish). I setup and or ran the lighting for a bunch of groups like Joan Jett, Orleans, The Rods, Moonlight Drive, Loverboy, 805, Duke Jupiter, Dakota, Stray Cats, Return to Forever...probably more I don't remember right now. That gig didn't last and I returned to the Flyers as the crew chief.

In 1983 I moved to Atlanta and joined a lighting company called R.A. Roth with the help of my good friend Peter "Wookie" Magdarz. My first tour was with Frankie Beverly and Maze, We are One tour, a great R&B group from the SF Bay area. You might also want to check out their song "Southern Girls". If you check out the videos note the fiber optic back drop. One of my tasks was hanging one like it each night. Had a stage hand (in Macon, GA I think) walk across it one night when we were preparing to fold it carefully for the truck. Crunch...crunch...$$$$

After that I spent eight months with 38 Special in support of their Tour de Force album (1983). This video, Wild Eyed Southern Boys, is from one of their earlier tours and this song struck terror into my heart each night because I had to get the two 50 gallon dry ice fog machines primed for the next song, Chained Lightning as Donnie Van Zant told me one night that he'd "kick my butt" if he couldn't duck down and hide in the fog. Turns out my crew chief put him up to it, inside joke I wasn't party to for awhile.

There were a lot of great opening acts for them too, Huey Lewis and the News (just as Sports was hitting it big), Golden Earring, Night Ranger, Joan Jett, Michael Stanley Band, Eddie Money, Ratt (well you decide about great?), Cheap Trick, there may have been more but I'm blanking...not a bad list though.

When their tour wrapped up I/we quickly turned around another lighting rig and left for four months straight with The Fixx for their Phantoms Tour (1984). God bless never know what you'll find there! I did a search recently for them and found these two links from the tour I was on but don't remember them being filmed so I can only assume they weren't authorized.

This one is their song Wish, which I really like but don't recall them playing it live much so it must have been a fluke that it was caught live, that or my memory is fading. This second one is called "Lost in Battle overseas" which I also liked quite a bit.

This tour was unique for the time because it was one of the first to use primarily moving fixtures, the Vari*Lite made by the then called sound company Showco. Only Genesis tours featured more of them at the time and Genesis was an investor if I remember correctly. Their (The Fixx) lighting director, Alan (the spelling of his first name and last name escape me at the moment), used them in quite inventive ways and it really set the show apart from a typical concert.

There were 29 ellipsoidals, just 12 par 64's (for opening acts), four Mole Fays (audience lighting) and 24 Vari*Lites all mounted on a squarish box truss configuration and 4 Vari*Lites on the floor. There were lots of black curtains with a black scrim and white muslin cyclorama curtain complimented with a long row of cyclorama light fixtures in three colors, white, red and blue. There were two lighting techs, me and Fred (FUF) and two for the Vari*Lites (Eddie and Billy). Later Dunaway replaced FUF when his antics at a video shoot in Ventura precipitated an early return home (that's definitely another story).

This is what the Vari*Lite (1984) computer console looked like. Eventually I talked Alan into letting me use a few of the Vari*Lites for opening acts as long as I didn't "move" them. I argued that the opening acts deserved to be "seen" at least a little bit and maybe one day they'd be a big act that would remember standing in the dark and never hire him. One act ended up hitting the charts pretty well, Bourgeois Tagg with I don't mind at all, a one hit wonder though. Once I made a mistake and changed scenes that refocused the lamps in a different spot, which is what made the lighting "move". Alan was convinced I did on purpose but it was an honest oops!

The set you can see in the video was a real pain in the butt and Malcomb had loads of fun with that each day. The set carts it came on were huge and heavy and the whole thing had sharp bits waiting to bite you at every turn.

I'll save more reminiscing for another time and more time to search for web bits. I'll have to dredge up my old tour passes and scan some for a chuckle or two.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Join Geometry - Crossing Window

When you use the Join Geometry Tool and check the Multiple Join Option (yes the Options Bar) you can use a "Crossing Window" to select multiple items to Join to your first "Pick". Thanks to Ed Tallmadge (Kelar) for the reminder!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Revit MEP - Lookup Tables

[Edited December 9, 2011]
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.

Original Post follows:

Pipe Fittings use a special folder to determine the correct fitting sizes when you create or change piping. The path may vary a bit depending on the operating system you are using. The folder, called Lookup Tables, is stored along with the content library, wherever that may be on your computer. This location is found in the Revit.ini file too.

If you move the folder elsewhere and change the location in the .ini file Revit doesn't acknowledge it. It still looks in the default location and now your fittings don't work. Seems to be hardwired...seems buggish to me.

Perhaps they didn't intend to give the impression that it could or should be moved to a central location? They don't even have a topic for lookup tables in the help documentation. Try a search for "Lookup" or "Lookup Tables" results.

The impression that it can be moved is given by the inclusion of the location in the Revit.ini file. Not the sort of thing your average "bear" will notice but those implementation minded "bears" will..guaranteed! In fact that's why I know about this...a fellow "bear" asked me about it! Now you do too!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dimensions - They Tell a Story!

Ask someone how a floor plan should be dimensioned. You might be surprised at the range of responses you'll get. Answers will depend on what is important, what is in the view, who you ask, if they have field experience...but the answers you get will vary. Just as you'll get varied responses to where dimensions should reference, face of stud, face of finish, wall center line....

Take a look at this picture and "tell me" what's wrong dimensionally. Now I'm sure that you could come up with something other than what I'm trying to show but I've made ONE mistake that is important to me (hint, yeah it's the one in red).
This is just a simple wall layout, no column grid lines, no columns...just a simple rectangular layout yet it is wrong. It is wrong because I couldn't stop "talking", I said too much. By talking I mean using dimensions. Dimensions are a dialogue that we, the documenter, has with the reader/listener. They are NOT just information or something we do without intention or purpose.

My mistake is that I closed the dimension string. By closing the string I haven't told the person in the field what I think is important. What is important changes. An exit corridor has different criteria from a room in a line of rooms. A laboratory for highly technically equipment will have its own needs. My simple drawing should not have included the middle dimension, something like this instead, not much difference but an important one.
This image tells a better story, that I want the room on the left to be a specific size and the room on the right to be a specific size as well. The space in the middle is LESS important than those because it is NOT dimensioned. This is the story I intended to tell but I failed in the first version. I was ambiguous, they could come to their own conclusions. (Yes I realize that I didn't dimension the other wall offset...I stopped talking too soon!)

Worse my dimensions might not actually add up. By the time they are ready to put up those partitions the exterior walls have been there awhile. If they can't make the center room the correct size, what then? If they work from the left and make the left and center room the correct size and the right one is the one I really cared it is not the size I wanted. Maybe we are only talking about inches or less...but maybe not.

Purpose - Why am I using a dimension and who is my audience? A presentation drawing has a different purpose than a construction document. Dimensions on one drawing compared with another therefore can have a different purpose. They speak with a different dialect, the one that the intended audience will understand and appreciate.

Lessons learned...years ago I worked for J.R. Clancy, a theater equipment manufacturer. I was their dealer sales person. I wore several hats. One was shop drawings for custom components our dealers needed for their projects. This deceptively simple looking drawing was a lesson learned and the same as the one above. (Note: I used a drafting view to mock up the critical mistake I made so the bill of materials and all the other information it would technically have is missing here)

I closed the dimension strings in this case too (yes in red). The problem I created by doing this is, in this case, consistency. The person who spends his day punching the "circles" out of the steel angle cut 300 pieces first and then spent the rest of the morning making the first 150 or so. He set up his stops on the punch press assuming measuring from the left end. He finishes the job after lunch and sends them off to assembly. No worries.

The next job comes along and I reuse this drawing since it is just like that last one they ordered. Off to the shop it goes but this time "that guy in the shop" decides to set up the press from the right end. Why not? I gave him all the numbers to do it easily didn't I? Trouble is that this part is used with others, a pair of which a computer makes in the thousands by an outside firm. These angles are the only custom part of the job, done on a job by job basis. If I did this on standard part drawings the effect would be more dramatic.

When he measures from the "wrong" end these parts don't fit as well because the cutting process for the steel angle isn't that precise, it's a band saw and well human beings are easily distracted. When these pieces are used later to assemble the final component the finished product looks "crappy" because of the slight misalignment.

There are any number of things the person running the press could have done to avoid the situation. But if I didn't provide the closing dimension at the end it would have "told him" that it was more important to me that the holes were cut relative to the left than from other end. It starts with me and my dimensions, I need to enunciate when I "speak".

The lesson I learned then, and reinforced in many other situations since, is that dimensions are not something pretty that a drawing should have to look correct. They tell a story, they tell someone else what I WANT! If a dimension doesn't tell your story then you don't need it. Dimensions should speak with your voice but in the language of the reader/listener. If a dimension doesn't tell your reader/listener what you want then it isn't doing its job and neither are you. Know when to stop talking, don't say too much. Wait to say something else on a different drawing when the right audience is listening.

With Revit it is my recommendation that you use the full depth of Revit's precision, 1/256" as your project units (Settings menu > Project Units) or whichever units are involved in your situation. This means that temporary dimensions will display "funny, messy" numbers when they occur. They WILL occur because construction and physical materials have "funny/messy" dimensions. Dimensions will also show this if they are set to use Project Units, as the default styles are.

You can decide when to be abstract, just how abstract or real by using dimensions that use different rules for tolerance. All manufacturing drawings discuss tolerance so the person doing the work can determine what tolerance is appropriate for the task at hand. So should ours.

Now I'll take my own advice and stop talking!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another Side of Mr. OpEd

I have friends who are musicians first and have jobs second. I have friends who have jobs and happen to play an instrument. Although I have played drums since I was fifteen and been in bands for many of the years since I have never told someone that I'm a drummer first and a something else second. I guess that means I'm not a professional musician though technically I made a meager living as one in my late teens. I don't think of myself as a drummer first...funny how we can "pigeon hole" ourselves.

The band I played with the longest was called "Angry Neighbors" as in we've got them, angry neighbors. I don't even remember when we started playing together exactly and I'm even fuzzy on how we got connected. It was just a three piece outfit, drums, bass and guitar. Two Steve's and a Mike...pun intended, Mike played guitar/harmonica and sings like a birdie. The two Steve's just looked good in the background...well we tried.

We started out as a "B" side band that only played the stuff we wanted to. As you can probably guess there aren't that many places eager to book a "B" side band. So we played some "A" side stuff too and that helped. We also found we enjoyed playing original stuff that Mike wrote over the prior years in various bands. So we started focusing as much on that stuff as anything else. This didn't increase our marketability and our meteoric rise to fame has been in a long flat rise except for a week in 2002 or maybe it was 2003...when we played a clam bake and of rained! Check out the glamorous back drop!

We recorded a live gig and played haphazardly with recording in the proverbial basement. We were three guys who had jobs and played instruments when we could. It was a great outlet! We could get together next weekend and sound like we never stopped playing, just a strange sort of comfortable that we enjoy. We occasionally would practice whether we needed it or not! When someone asks me who we sounded like I'd say either, "We are easy to listen to but not easy listening" or "Imagine Neal Young and Tom Petty had a kid and he was Matthew Sweet"... Doesn't help much does it?

Then I messed it all up by moving to California! Mike and Steve went on to team up with The Z-Bones and then Steve stopped playing out for the most part. Mike is still at it! Me...I've been on my longest playing drought ever. I've been planning to pick up an electronic set so I can play "quietly" at home for months and I've just never checked off that to do item.

I've posted three songs that anyone who is interested can download.
Book of Love is a basement recording, Turn it Off and Half a Man are a live recording (board mix) of one of our occasional gigs.

We are on the slow trajectory for stardom...(in our own minds!) The latest news is that we are kicking around the idea of working electronically via Garage Band and seeing what noise we can make! I guess I need to get that kit!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hiding Un-Wanted View Annotation

This is about hiding view annotation like Sections, Elevations and Callouts.

You can hide individual annotation by selecting one or more, Right Click > Hide in View > Elements.

This will hide just those selected in this view only. If you have many and many views to do this in it can get a bit tedious. To restore these Hidden Elements you need to use the Reveal Hidden Elements feature found on the View Control Shortcuts Bar.

This mode will display those things that have been hidden and allow you to UnHide them.

Two other methods are possible, one easy and one a bit more involved but also "easy" depending on your definition of easy.

For "easiest", when you print you can choose the Print Setup Option: Hide unreferenced view tags.

This means that for any views that are not currently on a sheet view Revit will not print their corresponding annotation. They are still visible and yes you have to remember to choose this setting but it is "easy" and more or less automatic.

A more involved approach requires a couple things; a view and the use of the "Hide at Scales Coarser Than" parameter, part of each view's instance parameters and found here.

The first step is to create a view, like a floor plan using a ridiculous scale like full size or maybe 6"=1'-0". This view will never fit on paper. Now you can name this view something like: "Ridiculous Scale View to Hide Annotation" (RSVTHA) or maybe something more discreet?

Now you add all your working sections or elevations that you don't want to clutter your document set. When you place these views on your "RSVTHA" view you need to make sure they are using the same value for the "Hide as Scales Coarser Than" parameter. This will prevent the annotation from showing up in any view that uses a coarser scale than 6"=1'-0". If you have some views using this scale then pick the next scale "up" or coarser.

When you are navigating your sections or manipulating where they cut the model you just use the "RSVTHA" and you never have to worry about them showing up where they aren't wanted.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Schedules, Symbols and Marks

Anyone dealing with a little bit of implementation with Revit has probably heard this one, "Uh, but we show a "delta" for each Revision number in our revision schedule". Second verse same as the first when discussing schedules for doors, windows, motors, VAV's, Lighting Fixtures...the list goes on.

I tell people all the time that with Revit you have one of three answers to any question you might ask:

Yes it can do THAT! (85%) you have a minute? (10-15%)
NO! Well...not yet! (0-5%)

Yes means there is a specific tool or intentional way to do something. Ummm...means get ready for a work around because a precise tool is missing, an approach exists but isn't obvious or intentional or you must distort an intentional feature to get what you want. Usually the result is still good and in keeping with the larger idealism of Revit and BIM. No means no, but even NO has a workaround. However it usually is so ugly, painful or objectionable that most would run away to hide in order to avoid doing it.

This delta or door tag in a schedule column is a NO, not that can happen easily or automatically unfortunately. At its worst a work around is awful because you are asking someone to place a little symbol on top of every row in a schedule to get the "look" you want with the fairly obvious unpleasantness when the data changes. A slightly better solution is to just place one symbol at the top of the column instead. I try hard to get people to "relax" a bit about this one since they've (they should have) got a symbol legend already that explains what that little delta is all about. Caution though...don't actually tell someone who is tense to relax. Usually quite the opposite will happen! 8-)

Some are quite fierce about these established habits.

My problem is that I spent eleven years, working for a contractor and manufacturer, reading A/E drawings to get equipment, materials and personnel for projects prepared to then install in the field. My primary complaint with documentation was usually the lack of detail for a specific part of the project. Worse a section or detail that was "promised" in a plan but didn't materialize on the sheet it was supposed to be delivered on.

I never ever worried about a symbol or whether the elevation "punched". As long as the symbol was on the legend "up front" I was good to go. Of course there were plenty of symbols with out a match on the legend. When I was estimating a project I usually had about a half hour to make some pretty significant decisions about what our customers would need from us so "pretty" didn't cut it...I needed data.

Make no mistake, some drawings stood out to me, made an impact and caught my attention by being different. Usually these drawings were also "better" not necessarily because they were "prettier" but because such attention to detail tends to continue on into the subtleties of a project. One thing that always made schedules easier for me that is also a NO in Revit is even/odd shading or grouping of rows so there was some visual separation of data. This made it easier to read and find my way through large amounts of information.

After eleven years of that I was in for quite a shock when I started working for an architect who was quite particular about the documentation that left his office. It was an education in the finer points of documentation and design. For that I'm grateful and it has continued to this day every where I go. But once you've had Banana Cream Pie you don't forget...I've seen this issue from both sides and they are both correct...for different reasons.

I try hard to encourage people to not distract our progress with implementation by making a NO issue a "showstopper". I encourage them to contact Autodesk to make sure they (Autodesk) understands what they need done. Eventually they'll get to most if not all commonly requested features.

I try hard to keep moving forward because many of these kind of issues are not likely to turn up in a monetary penalty like change orders or rework. I'd gladly give up this sort of "sacred habit" if I could avoid some costly change orders because one of our staff is not busy putting little symbols on a schedule/sheet and instead catches that big "oops".

The first architect I worked for said in a meeting once that it often feels like he spends 90% of his time convincing people to do things, that they can do things and 10% designing and resolving things. He could only imagine what his work output/quality might be like if he could invert that. Apply that same thinking to documentation. If we spend a disproportionate amount of time doing things that don't add value but just keep us busy we probably are n0t catching significant errers or making better informed decisions.

Good luck with "that"!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Legends - Face Based Families

Short and sweet...they don't mix unfortunately. When they created the capability they either missed the fact that legends didn't support them or they decided the feature was more important than them working in Legends to hold them back. I'm glad we have FBF's. I'm not glad about or happy with the Legend feature set.

Legends are compromised by (at a minimum):

- Inability to transfer them between project files.
- Face Based Families do not work in them
- Tags cannot identify the elements displayed in them
- A sheet includes a legend in its "Scale" display evaluation.

An element in a Legend view should be "equal" to a real element but not affect quantity. That means tagging as well as dimensioning. The current implementation sacrifices bIm for graphic representation as well as ease and consistency of use.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hey You! Smell the Roses!!

It goes something like this..."Hey Steve can you help me with something?". Naturally I can't wait to help! I eventually stop browsing AUGI and wander over to their desk and ask "What's up? Need help with that Stock pick? or trying to decide between the Vanquish or the DB9?, you only live once go for the Vanqu...oh it's a Revit problem? I see, well what's seems to be the matter?"

They say, "I'm having trouble getting "this" to work!" I ask them to run through it again. Two steps into their demonstration I see a warning message flash on the screen and before I can say, "Jumping Jack Flash" they've clicked the OK button and they've moved on to the next step.

I say, "What was that message?". They say, "What message?" I say, "The one you didn't read and then clicked OK for!". They say, "NO!??!...really??"...yeah really!!

My advice? Take a deep breath, slow down...smell the those messages and more importantly try to understand them. Even the ones that just offer a simple "?". That one just means Revit is as confused as you are, you both need a break.

Have a nice day, visit a garden!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Standards - Everybody's Got Standards, their own!

Wherever I go I get the same story, we use the "standard". Yep, "you" and everyone else. Only trouble is the "standard" the last place is using doesn't look like the standard "you" say is the standard... No I'm not really going down this rabbit hole, as much fun as it might be.

I am however going to point out an issue that users have with content that comes from Autodesk, out of the box (OOTB), consistency or rather the lack of it. We'll look at two examples; the (RAC) stock door family template and the (RME) stock Automatic Transfer Switch family.

The door template looks like this in plan.
When you first start to use it you notice that there is no Width parameter in the view. You think, reasonably so..."I need a Width Parameter!". You add a dimension. Then you start to add a Width parameter but find one is already there!

Naturally you think, "I'll just use this one!". Now Revit yells at you!

Hmmm...if it is overconstrained by adding this, how might that be?? Well this forces you to examine the rest of the views in the template. Taking a closer look at the Front Elevation view we find that the Width Dimension and parameter are lurking here. What? What "standard" does this follow?

Moving on...

The Automatic Transfer Switch family looks like this in plan view.

Maybe I'm just a bit of a crank but this is one messy view. Reference planes all over the place. Nothing confuses me quicker than a messy layout. Next, notice the orientation of the Switch Width and Width parameters? If the front of the panel is at the bottom of the view wouldn't this Width parameter really be the "depth" of the cabinet? Now notice the Switch Length parameter, wouldn't this be "width"? Naturally there is another "width" is in the elevation view.

At least these two are consistent in this way.

It is my opinion that dimensions/constraints should be added to views such that X and Y information is described plan views and Z information is displayed in elevations views, primarily the front view unless that is unsuitable for some reason. Dare I say...consistent with drafting "standards" 8-). Further families that represent real equipment should be organized in the same way as their catalog "cuts" or data sheets indicate. Width should be width and depth should be depth, not length = width etc.

"Soapbox" explodes...and I'm done!

Friday, October 17, 2008


Someone asked me awhile ago why I picked this color scheme? When I saw this template design among those available to us at blogger I liked that it reminded me of the sepia diazo prints I used to make in the past (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we used technical pencils/pens to draw).

We used to have to provide a set of sepia prints with our equipment and design submittals when I worked for a theater rigging contractor years ago. These sepia diazo prints permitted altering the document without changing the the original vellum.

I've always liked the way sepia drawings looked when compared with "blueprints". I've seen a few blog templates lately though that have caused me to think about a change...but then I get sepia and go to bed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wish - Dimension Enhancement

One more wish that I hear very often, place a dimension across multiple elements by sketching a "line". Pick two points to define all elements that should be included in a dimension string. Further to that it would be good if you could sketch a multi-segment "path" as well.

I could wait till Monday...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Implementation by Accident

Don't try THIS at home!!

When a friend sent this image to me I thought of what Phil Read said at Autodesk University in one of his sessions a couple years ago. He said (paraphrasing), "You can't implement Revit accidentally". He was emphasing that implementation is a deliberate activity that requires planning. If you don't then in a way you are doing what this guy is doing...hoping that his supports hold...good luck!!

(I don't know where the photo originally came from but thanks!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - One Family at a Time

Eric Stewart with Design Development Architects mentioned this to me the other day and I thought it qualified as a "Reviteristic".

When you use the File menu > Load from Library > Load Family you get to load as many families as you can select in a single folder.

When you use one of the various tools to place a component and then choose to Load a new family you only get to load ONE. Eric wonders why? I wonder why? Seems a bit arbitrary to limit us to just one selection in this mode. Using the component placement tools doesn't seem to warrant the limitation.

I say off with the "shackles"!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Revit Structure - Wishlist - More Connection Types

We have Moment and Cantilever now.
We need...

Stiffener - Plate Steel welded between flanges
Braced Connection - structure between top flange and bottom flange of another beam
Drag - Beam that connects into another building frame and additional members extend bracing into the adjacent structure.

I suspect that one reason these other options don't exist is that external analysis tools either ignore these connect subtleties or deal with them differently enough that they've held off providing them. This is likely a "documentation" versus "engineering" situation...just a guess on my part.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dept. of Reviteristics - The Solution is Delete!!

Whenever you get a warning message or use Review Warnings have you noticed that the solution Revit seems to think is the correct choice for practically every situation is to DELETE the offending element. It is sort of an "off with his head" reaction isn't it?? Is your wall giving you problems...DELETE IT! That's what I do and I feel much better! It is the "duct tape" solution in Revit...101 uses!

I think it would be wonderful if...since Revit caught a problem in the first place...the warnings were more meaningful, in "plain English" and offered us some more useful possibilities in addition to or other than DELETE!

Am I unanimous in this?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Investment Strategy - Beer Drinkers 401Keg Plan

Assume you purchased $1000.00 in stock from one of these companies just one year ago. The value of your investment would track like this:

Nortel - Now worth $49.00
Enron - Now worth $16.50
WorldCom - Now worth <$5.00
Delta Air Lines - Now worth 49.00
United Airlines - Now worth zero

However, IF you used the same $1000.00 to buy beer instead, assuming aluminum cans, one year ago, consumed all the beer, then recycled the cans you would have +/-$214.00.

Based on the above, the logical conclusion is to drink heavily AND recycle.

This was passed along to me by Ed, Thanks! I don't know who dreamt this up first but it might be a winning strategy as long as the fact that your investment is still a "loser" does not bring you down?

Disclaimer: No, I haven't checked the facts in this claim and even if I had you couldn't count on my math skills anyway. Your return on investment may very depending on the beer you drink. My recommendation...Bass

Cheers Mate!

STC - Spot Elevation - Answer

As Afaq says in his comment, a color fill can interfere with placing a Spot Dimension. The other thing that can interfere is Model Graphics Style: Wireframe. A Spot Dimension can't "see" a surface if you are using Wireframe. It won't mind having a color fill or using wireframe after you place the Spot Dimension but you won't be able to place one while either condition exists.

Friday, October 10, 2008

STC - Spot Dimension > Spot Elevation Won't Work

"Stump the Chump...again"

Monica wants to place a Spot Elevation in a plan view. Revit just offers her the "nope you can't" symbol (circle with the line through it). What could be wrong?? Did Monica make Revit mad? She did notice when she put the cursor above an edge it started working that a clue?

Answer tomorrow AM. Post your answer in a comment. Answers/Comments, if any, will be posted in the morning too. (This is probably too easy....)