Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Detach from Central versus Save As - Make this a Central Model after Save

Both techniques allow us to create a new central file from an existing file that has enabled worksets already.

Save As - Make this a Central Model after Save - respects the Edited By information the project has stored. This means if other users have borrowed elements then you'll find those users among the Owner/Borrower column in the Worksets dialog after creating your new central file.

This distinction means it may be possible (though unlikley) to allow users to synchronize their work with the new central file. They'd have to use the Browse button in the Synchronize with Central dialog to point Revit to the new location of the central. I used italics on may be possible because there are so many variables that could prevent it from succeeding that I don't want to provide false hope. If people have not continued to alter or create new elements in their own local files, while this new central file is created, then it may be possible, worth attempting perhaps if you are in some sort of recovery mode.

Detach from Central - completely severs the relationship the file had with the file it came from (usually a central file) and any local files that may exist, as well as ALL ownership information (stored in Edited by parameter). It is a fresh start, utterly.

Btw, this post was prompted by a question at RFO this afternoon. It became evident that this subtlety is something I've not written about, I thought I had.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Family Offered as Work Plane Choice

A question popped up at RFO the other day. A member found Revit offering him a family as a possible workplane to chose when using the Set workplane option. It's perfect for the Dept. of Subtle!

When you use a family as a host for a Face-Based family this new host status of that family causes it to be elevated in status, to being eligible as a workplane for selection now too. For example I've placed a desk and then decided to mount an electrical outlet on the inside face so I can plug in my little space heater (I'm making this up as I go...).

You can see the Desk is now offered to me in the Workplane dialog. So don't panic if you start seeing families in this dialog. It just means they are hosting a party.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Wish - Insert From File - Work with Templates

Insert from File allows us to import views from another project, views like schedules, drafting views or even sheets that contain either. It is biased toward RVT files though.

It would be handy if it we less biased, enough to include RTE (Revit templates) too. Since we probably have standard stuff set up there anyway. Doing so would allow me to acquire a view from a template file instead of having to first save one as a new project or find another project that is already available in a project folder elsewhere.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Installing Updates and 2015 R2

Revit 2015 has seen 7 updates so far. I wrote about the confusion that began when Update Release 4 became available at the same time as they released the subscription only 2015 R2. R2 is a new version of Revit with more features/tools but using the same file format so no upgrading of our projects is required.

Some people are only just finding out about R2 now, partly because it is only available through the subscription site and you have to have a valid subscription in place to access it. Some of those folks in this position, in the meantime, have installed the Update Release 5 already, or even 6 and 7. Get ready with the sad trombones...

Per Autodesk support:
Given this scenario, you will need to uninstall and reinstall Revit 2015 if you want to install the R2 version of Revit 2015 and its subsequent updates. The reason for this is that the R2 updates, including the R2 versions of UR5, UR6 and UR7, only target Revit 2015 R2 installations. Likewise, non-R2 updates only target non-R2 installations of Revit 2015.

Will these help?

This means if you've already applied release update 5, 6 or 7 to your installation of 2015 without the R2 release in place, you'll have to start over, reinstall 2015 to get things in place correctly to apply R2 at all. This could have gone better for some, wish it were simpler.

At this point I think I'd just wait for the release of Revit 2016 which, if the past years are any indication, ought to become available mid April to early May. If your project must stay in 2015 but you really want the R2 features maybe its time to talk to Gordon at Pragmatic Praxis to see how his deployment tools can help you?

While you're working this out please let me recommend this Irish Whiskey, if you happen to enjoy a dram on occasion...

Friday, March 27, 2015

Remember Reveal Constraints

If you are examining a view, troubleshooting for example, we can take advantage of a recent addition (in Revit 2015 R2) called Reveal Constraints. It's a small button at or near the end of the View Control Shortcut Bar.

If any constraints have been applied, such as a locked padlock for a dimension, a locked alignment (also a padlock) or an equality constraint that's been imposed you'll see something like this; locked dimension on the left and EQ constraint on the right.

This mode isolates these constraints, making it easier to spot them. If you select the highlighted constraint you can delete it. Constraint be gone! Just add this to the list of things to remember you can do.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Revit mEp - Design Master

I've been hearing good things about this add-on for Revit from Design Master.

If you're doing electrical work then you ought to have a closer look at it.

It has a tab for HVAC but it appears to only support AutoCAD for that, for now?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SW Named Linestyles

Have you noticed the appearance of linestyles in your project that look like these?

This means that someone has begun using the Site Designer tools. Even if there are no Site Designer features in use the fact that they are there means at least one person has started a Site Designer command. If there are Site Designer created features then you'll also find related sub-categories under the Mass category.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

But You've Been Trained

Tom Nichols wrote this paragraph within a blog post about what it is like being a professor. This part resonated with me because often people attend a training session so now they are trained and in some way that is equal with being fully competent now. Three days in training, five days...a month...

Tom Nichols writes:
... "It doesn’t work that way. Education (as opposed to training, a distinction almost no one bothers to make anymore) takes time. It requires reading, writing, discussion, and reflection. It is a cumulative process. You cannot liquefy it and pour it down someone’s throat in a day, no more than you can eat all of your meals for a year in a single week." ...

You've sent your staff to be trained. Does your plan recognize education too? It was/is your money and billable time...

You've been trained, are you focusing on your education too? It's your career...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Web Update 7 is Innocent

A quick follow up post. I was wrong. What I thought was caused by the update is actually caused by the Snap setting Snap to Remote Objects being off.

I must admit it is a bit mystifying since I never turn it off or at least I can't remember I time when I wanted to nor do I remember doing so. Regardless when support gurus Trey and Danny challenged me with their questions I found it was off.

Fwiw, I'd prefer that it didn't impact grid and level placement editing behavior regardless.

At least it prompted me to deal with a couple hours of windoze updates I'd been postponing.

Web Update 7 Killed Grid Level and Ref Plane Alignment

I was wrong, the update is innocent, sorry. The culprit is Snap to Remote Objects which was off.

Uh oh, I installed the recent Web Update 7 and now grids, levels and reference planes don't see each other like they used to. Existing grids and levels work normally. It seems to affect new elements when you attempt to place them in alignment with others. For example, try to sketch new parallel grids. Normally we see a green dashed graphic that indicates alignment with an adjacent grid end. I don't see this anymore. I also don't get the locked relationship between grids. Same for new levels.

If you copy them they'll recognize their alignment and behave normally unless you unlock that and alter them individually. Then they'll forget they can see (should see) each other. We can get around it, with grids for example, until they patch it by sketching a reference plane across the grid ends and dragging them so they touch the reference plane. The grids will start to behave normally as long as we don't separate them again.

Well at least a couple replies suggest I'm crazy but here's what's happening to me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Be Careful Creating a Central File in 2015

A thread at Autodesk's Revit User Community Forum caught my attention yesterday. It seemed as though the culprit was something I've written about before, that user's were accessing the project via different shared resource paths. After digging in a bit deeper it turns out the issue, or at least an issue, is that Revit 2015 is more sensitive to how we navigate to the a shared resource.

This is what happens when I browse to a shared folder via My Computer and click on the Drive letter S:

This is what I expected to see (disregard the project name, I was experimenting with being logged in and out of A360 too):

A clue or warning you can watch for is what Revit displays at the top of the Save As dialog.

If you see the drive letter in the description then you'll likely end up with that as your path. I believe you should only see the folder the central file will be in if you are mapped correctly.

It is my habit to always use Synchronize and Modify Settings before closing the Central File, after creating it. As such I can see what the path that Revit captured is. When I notice that it is wrong, like the first image above, I can fix it, get the correct UNC path recognized instead by taking these steps (see the image that follows too):
  • Close the Central File (after noticing the wrong path reference)
  • Create a local file (before any other users start to work)
  • Use Synchronize with Central
  • Click Browse and click Browse again in the next dialog box that opens
  • Select the Central File by browsing to it via the shared resource path instead, type it in directly if necessary.
  • Click Open
  • Click OK (the correct UNC path should appear now)
  • Click OK (The path is fixed)

If you are creating a central file be very careful about how you browse to the project folder. Verify you have the correct path established before letting users begin working on the project.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Web Update Release 7 Available

Luke (What Revit Wants) reports that another update is now available. These are two links he provided, one for the update and the other for the readme information. He must have someone working for him on the inside. :)

Direct Download URL for Update 7

Update Release 7 ReadMe

Friday, March 13, 2015

View Reference Example

Related to a past POST or TWO...or THREE.

Here's a quick example of a poorly crafted Plan View reference that can be used to indicate what sheet a plan view is from a Section or Elevation view.

Want to reverse engineer it? Download the View Reference family.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Follow Up - Importing DWG Files using By Shared Coordinates

As the title suggests, regarding an earlier post earlier post, recently I was participating in a thread at the Autodesk User Groups and an Autodesk support person wrote that Revit intentionally attempts to create a User Coordinate System. This means what I wrote about in the other post is happening on purpose, not a bug.

This means they (Revit's developers) are assuming the files we are linking don't already share an agreed upon file alignment strategy between the people that created them. If I understand their logic, it means that using Positioning: Auto-By Shared Coordinates when we link a file triggers a response in Revit that it needs to create a UCS (User Coordinate System) to permit AutoCAD users to align these files if they are combined (apart from Revit) in AutoCAD at some point.

Revit can't know if these files have an agreed upon relationship to the WCS origin because in AutoCAD that's a subjective user based agreement, not something captured in code. In other words we agree as users to draw things relative to 0,0,0 in a specific way so our files will line up when we use them as an external reference. In my view, for multiple survey file relationships, that's most likely not necessary and just creates confusion. I can imagine how it might be useful if we are mixing a variety of trade files that might not have discussed how their work relates to the WCS origin. However that seems like a rarer circumstance to me, especially if Revit happens to be the primary platform in use.

Imagine we link a survey file into our Revit project and use Acquire Coordinates. Revit establishes a relationship with this external file and moves our project's shared coordinate system to align with the survey file. It moves the Survey Point (when the icon is clipped) to mark the WCS (World Coordinate System) origin location of the linked file. Now imagine we link a DWG file that, to pick a discipline, is the fire protection design. It isn't very likely that they started designing by importing the survey DWG. That means their file and the survey file don't share in their understanding of how to start drawing relative to the WCS in their AutoCAD files. In my opinion it is much more likely that they started designing based on a plan we exported from Revit and sent to them. If true then we'd be better off importing their file using Positioning: Auto - Origin to Origin.

If they just started designing without a background file from us (not really likely, what context would they have?) then we could link their file using Positioning: Auto - by Shared Coordinates. Revit generates a warning (refer to the other post's images) that this project isn't sharing coordinates with this file so it will import it using the WCS of the file, which is still pretty arbitrary in this scenario. Revit however regards this positioning choice as significant and when we try to save our work it prompts us to save the changes to the linked DWG file too. It wants to create a UCS in that file and save it so that an AutoCAD user can reference it, making it possible to line up this file with the survey data if those files are combined in AutoCAD.

In my view this a feature that is conceptually broken. It is changing a file (creating a UCS) that isn't the primary file, just my copy of it. They sent it to me so I can link it. If all of the disciplines work at my company and in my office then perhaps all the files are stored on the same server and accessible to everyone. That's certain possible but it is still unlikely that this UCS will be necessary or that anyone will even be aware that it exists.

The shorter answer, when confronted with this dialog: Choose Disable Shared Positioning (for the file involved, not the one that was used to Acquire Coordinates originally).

Based on my bias, we should have a way to tell Revit we want to link a file based on the Shared Coordinate system without incurring the belief that a UCS must be created in the file too. Perhaps an option to link via the WCS of the external file and the origin of the Shared Coordinate system without the assumption that we think there is actually a shared relationship between the Revit project file and the DWG file?

Saturday, March 07, 2015

IF Formulas and Notepad

A good tip was shared (by Josephpeel) at RFO the other day. If you use a Tab or Line Break in Notepad to make it easier to understand a lengthy conditional formula they won't affect the formula when you paste it into Revit.

Just make sure you put the closing parenthesis on the last line, as shown in the image. Revit doesn't seem to understand the copy/paste formula properly if you put them on their own line (at least that's my finding).

Friday, March 06, 2015

Synchronization and Disconnected Systems

This is a bit idiosyncratic but if it helps sort out an issue then its worthwhile to echo it (based on a discussion at the Autodesks NG).

Imagine this scenario:
  • An Air Terminal has an 8' elevation. A Duct rises from the Air Terminal to a elevation of 10'-0" and connects to a horizontal run (also at 10'-0" elevation), running parallel to the ceiling.
  • User 1 raises the Air Terminal to an 9'-0" elevation. The vertical piece of duct connected to it changes in length, but no user is recognized as Edited by (owning/borrowing) for that element.
  • User 2 decides to lower the horizontal duct (at 10'-0") to 9'-0". It is necessary for Revit to change the connected vertical Duct between the Air Terminal and the Duct to do so.
There are no warnings or alerts as these users do this. If a user decides to modify the series of elements, then a warning appears. A warning appears during Synchronize with Central only if this additional attempt to modify the element is made.

At the beginning I wrote idiosyncratic because it is easy to avoid if we agree not to work on each others elements. I would not ordinarily expect another user to decide to lower a duct that is connected to elements that I'm already working on. If we don't discuss what areas in the model we are focused on then it can easily happen. It is important to be aware of what others are working on. The Worksharing Display features can help us see what others are currently working on, if you don't really want to talk to your co-workers...but it's still a good idea.

Regarding the workflow above and not getting an error message, an Autodesk support person replied that they find an error message appears earlier to warn of the inconsistency when trying to reproduce the situation in the latest development build that will become Revit 2016. That means it is pretty likely Revit 2016 will prevent a duct element from being altered by two separate users when they interact with different elements that are both connected to it.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Saving Backward

It is a common question and the answer is no, Revit does not save backward, to an older version. 

People often regard saving a file from one format to another as a trivial matter. As software evolves and new features are introduced these new things have no equivalent representation in the older format. Even Microsoft Word or Excel warns us when we save a file to an older version and those are much simpler elements.

For example, when Revit Parts were introduced. If we could save to an older version that did not know what Parts are how should that transition be handled? What should the developers decide to do with them? What can they become and retain some usefulness?

With AutoCAD there are new features that can survive a trip backward, like Tables can be reduced to text and lines so it still looks like a table but is really less elegant than the Tables they came from. If the file is then saved in the most current version there is no "make me back into a table assumption" so fidelity is lost.

It is difficult to allow for forward saving (upgrading) too. Nobody is very pleased if they upgrade a file and something breaks. Saving backward is most assuredly going to break elements the more object oriented our design tools become and evolve.

Revit's founders chose to eliminate the complexity and development distraction of saving backward at the outset. Most software like Revit does too even if they don't acknowledge it outright. They may allow saving backward in concept but there is always some loss of fidelity or utility in the process.

Revit does permit exporting data to other formats to permit it being referenced in some way by other tools but it remains impractical to expect casual backward and forward file translation.

When Revit was introduced in 2000 it was a rental, we paid monthly and internet access was required. Using the latest version was expected, required. That's never changed even when Autodesk purchased Revit Technology Corporation in 2002. They just made it possible to buy a perpetual license like their other software. Conceptually though nothing has changed.

Autodesk has a legacy of customers who transition from AutoCAD where it is normal to ignore a new release for several years before upgrading. That is possible because the rate of change for AutoCAD has generally been much less aggressive than with Revit which is much younger and has different objectives. 

It is easy to have access to the latest version at all times, via subscription. Fwiw Autodesk recently announced that new licenses will soon be all subscription based (rental) going forward so the concept that Revit embraced in 2000 has come full circle.

I'm not always pleased with Autodesk's choices and how they affect me as a customer but no company is perfect. For example, I'm writing this post on an iPad that can't just give me bloody arrow keys (without an external keyboard). Instead I have to use a goofy fussy magnifying glass to reposition the cursor.