Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Two long personal months!

I must say, writing here about the tribulations and adventures that we partake in while modeling in revit, is one of the few things that i really enjoy totally "rocking out" while doing. Suddenly, i blink, and two entire months have gone by. On the one hand, it would appear i simply had nothing of value to say anymore, LOL! In actuality, its been a fantastically busy couple of months.

The below mentioned trip to Autodesk University happened, which was adventurous as always. A few notes on my adventures in Vegas;

1. If someone asks you if the MGM and the Venetian are within walking distance, ask then to QUANTIFY walking distance. I was yelled at relentlessly all week for that one, but everyone! Be green, people! Walk! :)

2. Trying to continually follow things on the 360 degree screen on the mainstage will almost make you want to throw up. :) Awesome show, as always.

3. It WAS certified on this trip that coffee from the venetian food court CAN be an absolute substitute for sleep. :)

4. AU Unconference is a great idea. I absolutely loved the sessions i attended. I missed a few that i really wanted to sit in at, and i HOPE they continue and even expand on it in the following years. I could see the unconferences running the entire week while the classes are going on. I got some great feedback from the attendees in the session on strategies for dealing with multiple users of multiple skill levels all working together, and i've been meaning to post up about it. Ive been a bad boy, and didn't update the AU wiki either. The family Editor discussion Steve Stafford led, had a lot of great theoretical conversation, which i imagine could have gone on for hours. I would have rather enjoyed that. I STILL don't believe in the "super door" family, but then again, i don't agree with the entire tool that is in-place families, and obviously it serves a purpose. :)

In my defense for not having written in almost 60 days!! WHILE all this was going on at AU, i also had a project under a serious time constraint deadline, and i was in the middle of purchasing a house... My first one! Since i usually try to include a lot of pics here (who really wants to read anyway?) ill toss some in. Its a cute little cape, perfect for little me, all by myself. :) There is also a perfect room for the
computer, where i will spend my evenings geeking out with Revit models, as always. Oh the exciting life of a twenty-something, LOL!

I hope the 3 of you that faithfully read (har har) will still check back often. I DID get a lot of worthwhile table discussion material at AU, that id love to hear thoughts on... ALA DWF/RVT, information exchange, and the need and/or desire for what we all wan tout of our Revit models, and why. I can see DWF as the answer to so many peoples different desires from the wondrous file format that is RVT... but we really have to convince the powers that be of the validity of those wishes, or we'll never see the DWF that we (or at least i) want.

In any event, i will be updating again soon with some of these discussions... After one furious weekend of moving, which is coming up this weekend! Any of you within a few hundred miles are welcomed to the party! :)

Friday, November 2, 2007

AU Unconferences- Check it out!

Im looking forward to a productive unconference about Modeling strategies with more than one Revit modeler in a large project... Its Wednesday afternoon at 4:20 pm, for those of you attending.

Also, there are some killer unconference sessions! I can definetely tell ull be anntending a lot of the others, instead of some of my classes, hehehe.

Here is the schedule so far. (This is not final, i snagged the image from Joseph W's AU Blog (BLAUGI?):

EDIT: The schedule is already out of date. It changes quickly. Heres a link to where it is:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


So if you recall from two posts previous, the issue was this: We needed the angle "Theta" to generate the arc length in the trig formulas. Now, for whatever reason (can anyone efficiently articulate what we call the "Revit behavior"?) we are able to constrain the Reference Lines to the springpoint of the arc, and to the intersection of the center reference plane, and the T reference plane. This flexes perfectly... Right up until we assign Parameter Theta to the angle dim between the ref line and the center ref plane. Once we do that, it tries to hold the value, and prompts us to remove the constraints. Boy, would it be nice if we could make the constraints override a value that isn't derived by any other incidental. So, we needed to derive Theta in some fashion other than with the angle dim.

James quickly realized that he could obtain Theta as follows: The sin of "Half Theta" is equal to 1/2 Chord, divided by Radius, if we look at the triangle produced. (SOH CAH TOA anyone?)hehe). So, having created parameter Half Theta, he used an arcsin function in his formula for Half Theta "=asin((0.5*CHORD) / (RADIUS)) and achieve Half Theta, and obviously he then made Theta = twice Theta. We obviously could have achieved this in one parameter, but Half Theta came about while exploring potential ways around our math problem. Now, we obviously don't need Theta (or Half Theta) to actually be used as a label in the family itself, as I've shown it in the first image, since its being driven by the math, and not by the reference line now.
What a fun refresher about High school Math this has been. Anyone else starting to think they've lost a little bit in our old age? (lol)

Monday, October 22, 2007

We have an answer!

Dont have time to capture and post it now... But James (the coworker with the original task) has found a way around the Theta Constraint problem...

Can you say "arc sin"....?

Trig family Broken.... :(

As much as i harp on my constituients to always "Flex them before you load them," i have evidently been a victim of not practicing what i preach. Something isnt working right in the below mentioned family... Any input on this? Im a little heartbroken :(

As you can see, everything flexes perfectly, including the Reference Lines that need to define the angle/paremeter "Theta." However... Once we actually place the Label for Theta, the reference lines become locked in at that angle, and no longer flex with the rest of the family. See below:
It is trying to hold Theta, instead of holding the constraints to the Reference Plane intersections where i have set up the reference lines. So far, ive tried a few workarounds on this, but havent gotten it to perform the way i thought it was...
So were past the hard math, now its back to pesky Revit Constraint headaches! :)
Shoot me an email or a comment if you have any ideas on the matter. Things ive already tried to circumvent:
An itermediate Reference line, dividing theta by 2, in to thetaby2, and constraining those. (Creating an angled EQ toggle). Didnt work, held them even, and held them constant. :(
Nesting the family in to another family, and trying to get Theta in the nested family. Once i constrained ref lines in the parent family, it wouldnt let it flex at all. Owned.
Deriving Theta mathematically and not tying it to the reference lines at all: Circular chain of references. I need theta to derive the arc length, and need the arc length to derive theta.
Freakin constraints! Someone help my wounded pride!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Trigonometry, Revit Parameters, and Scheduling...

I do regret that there hasnt been much going on in the last month or two that has been worth mentioning in a Revit blog... Thats a byproduct of a few jobs being at the wrap up stage, and a couple others being pretty early on. I havent had to craft up many things... Until yesterday. :)

Someone in the office was tasked with finding a linear distance around an arc, where the arc was not a full semi-circle. Furthermore, scheduling said distance, around several windows. Now, recently, i know there have been several posts on AUGI asking for "list parameters," or parameters that are driven by the geometry, but dont inflict the gemometry. I suppose any parameter works, in that sense... As long as its formulated by other parameters, which is what we did here.

We started out here: Some basic formulas regarding chords, arcs, circles, etc. As we wanted to create a formula for a parameter that would derive the arc length, we realized we would need parameters and formulas to provide the necessary values to calculate the arc length. Distance "t" (length from the arc's springpoint to the arcs center point) would be necessary. Likewise, so would the Chord distance. We would need the central angle (Theta) of the arc itself. Obviously, we would need the Radius.

A few things worth mentioning:

As with all Revit families and formulas, we quickly realized that we didnt need all these for the calc. We needed them to constrain things. T, for instance. If you work your way backwards from our end result, the parameter for Length T is never used... But we had to constrain the Reference Lines endpoints to get angle Theta. To constrain them, we needed value T to adjust correctly with the radius and chord changes.

Parameter "360": We still may not need this one. But in a formula, i couldnt figure out how to type in "degrees" as a unit, so i made a static angle parameter, lol. Chime in if theres a way to type in a value like "35 degrees" directly in a formula, haha.

Parameter "CIRC": Well, this was stupid. Im looking at the notes now, and the purpose of CIRC was to establish the circumference, for use in "ARC LENGTH" but it looks like in haste, i simply typed in the formula for CIRC anyway. So CIRC was irrelevant at that point, but the point is, we needed the circumference, one way or another. (Also, yes, i know i GROSSLY estimated Pi, and i couldve used an actual formula to derive it to more accuracy, but cest la vie.)

In any event, we started deriving the formulas... Heres where i had to call in help: Mind you, i was a big math geek back in the day, and like to THINK i still am. You can see in the circle formulas (which i got from thanks for the page, its great!) that they derive arch Length as a fucntion of Theta (in degrees) times the Radius. Anyone else have an issue with this? I couldnt wrap my head around how i multiplied degrees and Length, to come up with a mathemtatical unit (besides degree-inch, lol). So i called in a favor:

My good friend Brian (last name with held)is a Math Specialist at a local school district. He happened to be out at happy hour with some other math teachers. So i got him to hand the phone around the Chili's bar, which his teacher friend (Secondary Education math teacher) reminded me that i would have to convert Theta in to a length, using Pi. More accurately, i could take Theta's proportion to the overall circle (360 degrees), and ise that proportion times the circumference of the circle (CIRC), and i could then get the "length" of the arc length.
In finished form, it looks so simple, as the formulas (obviously) make all the reference planes end up in such a fashion that it looks easy to obtain. Maybe it is for you, i dont know... This took a few minutes for me to figure out, i might be slow, haha.
This brings up a host of other Revit questions that we could discuss based on this issue though:
When deriving parameters for scheduling such things, you have to wonder how exactly such things get scheduled. I asked the individual who asked for help: "You want a linear length, but its an arc that has thickness. So obviously the length is different on the inner radius and the outer. This was particularly a question of interest to me, as my first attempt was based on a material takeoff: If i know the cross sectional area of the profile used (the casing profile), then i could simply get the material takeoff in Volume, and divide it by its area in the Project as a Calculated value. I did this, but the number seemed off. Of course, i dont know where such a calculation would place the length. The inside, the outside, or somewhere in between?
So how do we (as an industry) decide HOW we quantify, WHAT we quantify, and who and what will guide such arbitrary decisions? Obviously some of these decisions are based on the manufacturing principles, and how the manufacturers will want take offs... But even from a simple Revit perspective, how will you reign in everyone making such families, so that all calculations are consistant, if nothing else? Id LOVE your thoughts on the matter!
Pardon the typos and spellcheck. I biked here, and the sun is going down... Ill spellcheck this tonight. :)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A few more images from Revit and the site...

As i mentioned previously, rendering wasn't in the scope of the work for the project, so (while we called out materials in the CD set) we had not produced any accurender materials inside the Revit model, nor had we gone to any other app for imagery.

Well, i had some downtime this week, and i wanted to take a shot from the hip to see how they would come out. Ive read all the arguments about accurender... Its slower, it looks cartoonish, etc... And i don't disagree with any of that. But, there's no denying (in my opinion) that there is a perfect elegance in NOT having to leave the program, to get the rendering.

On a process level, i look at it like this: Often times i'll work right in the Revit model while i client is standing behind me. Or, we will be in a conference room with a laptop and a projector. Seeing is believing, you know? Sometimes its great to change on the fly, add in a family here and there, and hit the lo-res-go-button so they can get a feel for it before too much time is invested. I know leaps and bounds have been made with the DWG compatibility, but sitting in the conference room and saying "Hang out for ten minutes while i STC, then export to 3D DWG, open up Max, reload the link, THEN set up a camera, and get around to your rendering. Oh, you wanted the window WHERE??? hang on a second, let me go back..."

The other woe i have with these images... The hardscape. I managed a little down the promenade, in the form of RPC trees, and an RVT light fixture that i had modeled for the job anyway. But renderings really show off what consultants modeled on the team, and which ones don't. Right in front of these buildings is a very nicely done canal, with some ornate site work. If we had it modeled, we could show it off... But alas...

I will say, i have great faith in the Development team that a better renderer is on its way. And if it isn't... I'm plenty fine with Accurender for now. The following are all quickies... I spent a coupld of hours on the whole model attaching materials, a few minutes throwing sun angles at it, and let them render for about 10 minutes each (the larger ones).
Here is a shot from the other side of the canal, which isn't shown. Below is a picture of the actual tower, as it stands. The colors are still slightly off, but i didn't spend too long tweaking them... All in all i like this one. I think i may have a colleague try to photograph the site from this spot, so i can PS the canal in place...
Here is an overhead shot of one of the restaurants. This begins my RPC rant: We have a TON of RPC content, but evidently its not compatibly with Revit. I dumped it all in the standard RPC content folder, and went to make a new RPC family, but only the standard 6 or 8 show up. Then i was heartbroken to find out what RPC peeps cost, LOL! I know, i could PS the people in... But you have no idea what a pet peeve it is of mine to go out and come back in... See above, lol. I know, those paver's are terrible. They were a quickie ground plane. If i get time this week, i may actually model some of the 'scape in.
To continue my ramble... These images (not these specifically, but images of 3D models in general) are very important to me on a personal level. When we all got in to architecture, we spent years in school "learning" about the things that thrust us in to the realm of architect/designer:
*Wanting to see things in section
*Wanting to profess how much sleep we didnt get
*Starting over an hour before the deadline after *12 hours straight of work
*Wanting to mesh sections/Plans/Elevations in to one single drawing with abstract construction lines everywere
*Wanting to sketch on garbage
*Demanding sharp pencils (and ill have you know, they laugh at me at the gym... When i go to pick up a pencil to mark my reps, i pick up the entire bin of pencils at once and turn them upside down... They make fun of me now...)
Does anyone see where i'm going with this? lol... I think its so programmed in to us, to understand that wall section means this space has good lighting, or this space has a tight ceiling. And yet, we show plans, and we show elevations, and we show sections... And who EVER sees an architectural creation in plan or elevation? To an extent, i believe there is a language breakdown between the graphical language we've all been taught to speak in, and the language of the space were creating, which is what our clients are after. My favorite times with Revit, have been showing Revit models to a friend of mine who self-proclaims "I have no idea what I'm looking at when i see a plan... at all." Because when i show this person the models, i do it solely with camera views. In a language they can understand... Eyesight. I know 3D models are nothing knew- as face based visualization models have been around for quite some time- but now that they ARE the Construction Documents, they are no longer as easily sacrificed on the lamb of budgeting.
After all... I walk around my apartment with my eyes. I don't have a plan of it with me... Not all the time, anyway. :) Your thoughts on the subject are always welcome. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Autodesk University 2007

I was on the home page for AU07, and i saw this flash animation that said "Schmoozing like a pro," and it made me think: Man, we should all start getting the word out about going to arrange some get together's!
I registered towards the end of last week, along with two of my colleagues from Dal Pos Architects.
This year, in addition to the classes and the lectures, i think it would be great to really mix it up with any of you that will be attending. Certainly, we've all had our struggles in Revit, and we've all come up with fascinating need-based solutions. it would be great to know what others are up to, where their struggles are, and to "share notes" if you will.
I know there is also talk of some extracurricular meetings, that would be great to organize! Steve Stafford has mentioned setting up an Advanced families venue, which i think would be awesome! Joseph Wurcher has mentioned possibly showing Users projects at the Welcoming, which i think would be a great opportunity.
I could see us setting something up for one night on our own, as well. Maybe we could all bring a model to show, and put them up on a wall somewhere with a laptop and a projector? We could do it over a dinner or an after hours thing. If nothing else, it would be great to trade cards and have people to bounce ideas off of when were sitting at our desks the week after, trying to figure out how to model something, and AUGI is having a slow day. We've all been there :) Not to mention, effective ways of sending out the awesome information we get to the rest of the office. Im always looking for better ways to teach! :)
So far, here's what i have going on. Everyone else should post up what time is good, if you want to have a get together of some sort!

MONDAY- I'm arriving at 10am, should be at the venetian by 11ish. The LUG Conference is from 1-5, i believe.
Dinner mtg somewhere on premises...

After 8pm(ish?) is open for whatever...

TUESDAY- Just Reg classes so far.

WEDNESDAY- Just reg classes so far.

THURSDAY- Reg Classes until 4pm
4:30-5:20- Titian 2204- AU Unconfered- Multiple Modeling Strategies

FRIDAY- I think I'm leaving Friday after the sessions, although that's not set in stone yet.

Ill update this as things progress and/or get set up. If you're interested in any kind of a group get together, post up! :)
Ways to contact me:
AIM: Roadspoet

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Pics of Model / Project continued...

The Food Court. :) The Food Court was fun to model in Revit, as it came about pretty late in the project. It originally wasn't in this location, and it looked nothing like this. As you can see, the FC originated from one of the typical Canopy Concourses. I think it was a great example of what Revit can do. Typically, when drafting in AutoCAD, i would have just done a "Save as" and ripped in to it. With a phased model, i was slowly turning the model back in time, before making the alterations

Another fun aspect (for me, in a masochistic way) was the floor tiling in this area. While arranging the floor tiles and the pattern around the GFRC's, we made good use of Revit and HatchKit. We assembled the tile patterns in Hatchkit, and modeled the tiles in as floors, to see how the patterns would mesh across the length of the Food Court. The real photograph doesn't show it, because they had the tiles covered up, but they followed the modeled tile pan almost to the 'T', only deviating by splitting a few tiles to compensate for an EJ, and in one other area where 2 rows of 4" tiles had to be made in to a single row, plus two rows of half tiles, to get the extra joint space.

While on site, i was checking out the FC, and someone saw me with the tile drawing, and they complemented us on it, saying it made laying out the tiles very easy for them. HatchKit was a life saver for this, with Revit. I wasn't patient enough to figure out the txt file for making the tile.pat's. HatchKit was great, and paid for itself in less than an hour of use, imho. If its drafting tools within the program get updated in the new release to be a LITTLE more friendly, i think it will be a huge asset. Currently its lacking a few things like Circular lines, and the snap feature is a little awkward. Still WELL worth the hassle.

*(Here is the Food Court with the seating installed...)

Here is a shot from the wings, where the actual vendors are. (My left side is to them, but there wasn't much to see there yet).

Its tough to see it all, as they didn't have power yet...

You can get the idea here... BTW, parametric Families and scheduling FOR THE WIN, when it comes to something like Seating. A chair in a table family (shared), plus a parametric Bar that automatically adds stools and counts them as the bar gets dragged longer... Such simple little tools that make seating counts so much easier. I know this can also be accomplished with an Area plan and a Calc. value (as shown at AU06), but we had the furniture selected, so why not ...

Here's a shot of the typical Corner Tower from up on the roof. Nothing exciting going on here, but this made me wonder about my other post on "Punchlisting with the Revit Model." This entire project made me think about that, especially as we get in to the concept of a revit model for the LIFE cycle of a building, and not just for construction. For that to work, i believe its important to have an accurate model when the building is completed. Its a minor issue, that the Access door got placed on the opposite side of the tower as was called for in the plans, but it gets me to wondering if there isn't a better way to document these changes in the field, other than writing them out in horribly scribbled shorthand, only to return home, retype them, and then tear through the model updating things to their as-built condition.

I know the better answer is right in front of our faces, i just haven't seen it yet. Between our export and import capabilities, and the API, there's got to be a better way.

I have a bunch more, but i haven't gotten all the model images yet. Its just more of the same though, so ill stop, hehe.
Here's the final shot from the site... Its the existing Mall next door, part of which was a part of this phase, and the piece you're looking at is the entire NEXT phase of construction, which we just wrapped up the Revit model for. That is what the Mall used to look like, with a normal roof over the concourse. (That's just the

temporary wall where they already demo'd a wing of the mall, however). Photo take from the roof of the new building next door, part of the phase included with all the pics above...
Here's the same area from the model. That line in the roof right by the Canopy End Wall, that's where the temporary wall is in the real photo. We used Phasing on this one... Worked great, until the model got too big for some of our stations to handle it. We learned a lot from it, and i cant wait for the next one.
Lots to go still! :)

Pics of the Project / Model finally...

So in my last post i was getting ready to head down to Orlando for the punch list... Lemme tell you, it was HOT. It had to be 100 degrees, and we were up on the white roofs, yow! Needless to say, i came back tan. :) I got some great shots of the mall, even though heavy rains caused some delays on site during the last few weeks...

After coming home, i took a quick shot at approximating some of the pictures i took from our Revit model. I was personally surprised, when i arrived there, at how much it looked JUST like the model. When i used to do AutoCAD documents, i used to always think the projects looked different... But maybe that's because i never saw the projects in 3d beforehand then. Flat 2D elevations are a pet peeve of mine. A necessary thing in Construction Documents, perhaps... But looking at presentation images in the flat 2D realm... gah! Dont get me started. :)

I withheld the rendered images, as it wasn't in our scope, so we didn't have proper materials and textures applied. I have a few renderings where everything is simply a couple of soft colors, so the clients could see it in something other than wireframe... But its a lot of time to get all the images rendered.

Here is the Vending Alcove the occurs at a few places throughout the project.

We modeled these a few different ways, as the project went on. A few of them looked better than the image represented from our model, but this is the actual location in the picture.

Ive discovered modeling areas like this just takes some good communication throughout the project team. IE- If the wall is changing finishes, something in the wall itself should change. Either split face and paint, or use a different wall type (with a different finish material with the appropriate surface pattern, etc.

For the most part though, it worked well. The one pictured was much better explained in the documents, with Detail Lines/Items showing the differentiation in materials, which is lacking in modeled items here. But, i wanted to approximate the camera angle as best i could, so i gave up the Detail items...
Here is a shot of a typical Concourse taken from up on the roof. The GFRC's are missing from the End Wall of this particular location, I'm guessing because they still need to get the generators out of there... In the far left you can see the light fixtures mounted to light up the canopy roof. We modeled these lights working with the Electrical Engineer to verify that they couldn't be seen when standing in the upright position (not shown). We didn't put them in every canopy in the model, so they aren't shown in the modeled image. We used the widest concourse to project a worst case scenario for visibility...

This particular Canopy also represents an Expansion Joint where the Renovated Existing Building meets part of the new addition, which were different projects. As that's the case, this also represents the joint between two of our Models. We used Revit's Phasing capabilities where possible, but in this case the scopes of work remained completely separate, and simply juxtaposed.

We modeled in the structure for the canopy as it was an architectural feature. Our structural engineers were also working in a 3D model using RISA3D, but unfortunately this was not a collaborative 3D project. We transmitted documents and coordinate through 2D export to DWG. Hopefully next time we can take advantage of some better methodology... I would have loved to have brought their model and ours in to Navisworks Jetstream...
Here is a shot of a typical corner condition at one of the Concourses. This tower assembly was both a great learning exercise, and a great opportunity to play around with new features in RAC 2008 (near the end of the project, haha). I built one of these towers immediately after first learning Revit, and until "Wall by face of mass" occurred to me, making the chamfered wall corners was a pain! DOH!
This tower condition occurs about 10 times throughout the 5 Revit models. Once we upgraded to RAC 2008, i took the opportunity to use the new Group features to assemble this tower in its own RVT file, as a group. This brings up another interesting point (for me, anyway):

The groups, and the ability to transfer large assemblies built out of System Families is great... As long as all of your System families are congruent across multiple files. As i mentioned in one of my first posts, this troubles me. If i have a wall assembly in each project, that are the same physically, but are named differently, this becomes a nightmare (in my opinion). 2 or 3 different versions of the same walls, which generate Warnings if they have the same Type Mark, plus its redundant work to update things. So now, i place the Group in to a neutral blank file, and then also copy and paste the wall types and other system families from both projects (or all projects involved) and make sure the items in the group are appropriate for the project I'm shoving it in to. It seems tedious, but well worth it from a file maintenance perspective. In the last phase of the project, after the CD's were done, we swapped from Stl/Mtl Stud to Tilt-up Concrete, and not having duplicate wall types made it much more efficient of a change.
Continued in next post, because the formatting of this entry gets tweaked everytime i paste a picture, lol...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Revit Model and Punch List...

So im flying down to Orlando Monday, and ill be there through Thursday. I'm going down with a few other people to complete a punch list on the project I've been working on for about 18 months.

As far as it pertains to Revit, I'm hoping to grab a lot of pictures so that i can compare with the Revit model I've been a part of creating, i think it will be great to see the side by sides, even if we didn't Render our model with accurate color schemes for the real project.

Then, i got to thinking about the actual punch list, as myself and the crew going down got to talking about organizing what items we need to check. Now, I've got my Toshiba Tecra M7 Tablet laptop, with Revit on it, that ill be taking with me. Obviously we aren't all taking computer hardware with us in to the field for 3 days, but it got me thinking:

First, a disclaimer- I love technology, obviously. Ive had a lot of conversations, however, hinging around the subject matter of technology as more of a liability than an asset. RE: What happens to our overly-connected-lifestyles when/if the technology craze explodes? But i digress, its here for now, and I'm enjoying it.

Anyway, the model and our Punch list: As we move on and on with revit, I've been trying to incorporate more features that i pick up from the AUGI boards and elsewhere in to our implementations. Obviously, Filters are a great tool. In my latest Model for the Orlando project, I've been working in RAC 2008, which I'm loving so far. A few simple filters have made the documentation a breeze. I needed to space plan for a few rooms that are "by others, at a later date," and filters were great for this. No confusing the Contractors with the information (Filter on, set to not visible), but its there for dimensioning in working views where i need it (Filter on, Graphic overridden to Hidden line Style). Its amazing what you can do with a simple entry in to the comments field of every object to read "Others".

We have a similar filter for Fire Rating: Graphic Override Filter for objects with a Fire Rating, and its a nice Plan to make sure our Fire rating Envelope is everywhere it needs to be.

This got me to thinking about this weeks trip: It could obviously be done with a simple Parameter field or two, such as (yes/no type: "PUNCH LIST OK" and text type: "DESCRIPTION"). I could walk the job site, broad stroke selecting items and checking the yes/no in their properties, and typing in the descriptions for faults as we moved along. A few simple views set up with Filters to only show the objects with a "no" in the field, and a few schedules, and we have a quick way to document the Punch List in our model. (To be specific, i would probably use a filter to NOT show the objects with a YES in the field... This way you'll get any objects you missed during the visit/data entry).

I'm sure the API could make this even slicker, because lets be honest. A tablet running on battery with a 200 MB Central File opened is going to last about how long... 2 hours tops? Plus, selecting objects with a tablet pen in the heat and accessing the properties dialogue could get cumbersome. But i can imagine it! Maybe the objects to be punch list-ed get certain parameters, to be scheduled, and maybe its gets exported to some 3rd party simpleton software. If you wanted to dumb it down, I'm sure Excel could handle it... But id prefer it be something ala PDF / DWF viewer, so you could scan the model or plans while you worked. You select with the tablet pen, and click the "okay" tool button, and it marks those items as completed, and at the end of the day, through an API function it back loads that parameter data back in to the model.

It goes without saying, i am a very lousy code writer. If i wasn't, id try it. I'm sure someone out there could do this with ease though, its not very complex at all. Imagine how much easier to convey what work is still not completed. Open a 3D view, activate the filter for "PUNCH LIST 07-09-2007" and see whats on the screen. Send a few images and a schedule down to the field...

Alright, enough from me. Long posts, no images... that's no fun! :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Classes at Autodesk University...

I attended AU2006 at The Venetian in las Vegas, and everything about the experience was great. I met a lot of great people, loved the atmosphere and the energy of the presentations, and i was and am looking forward to going back this year.

Its been a big year for me, having just started with Revit 18 months ago. ive come a long way, and have been helping people along in our office as best i can, as well as fighting hard to (try) and get a Revit program started at the Local universities.

Much to my disappointment, i will not be making a Lecture debut at AU07 this November. I had a couple of proposals in, as i just love to teach and i find the methodlogies surrounding BIM and Revit to be extremely fun conversation pieces to discuss. Still, i can imagine the number and quality of the proposals from very talented people had to be extremely high, and so i am greatly looking forward to seeing the selections when they are released.

I am absoultely hoping that if i cant be there in an teaching capacity, that i can make a convincing argument to go back this year, and sponge from the best of the best. :)

Congrats to everyone who had a proposal accepted, i cant wait to see the class lists. :)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Revit in Academia: Take 2

Another local architect and myself (both adament Reviteers) have been trying to persuade a School of Architecture to introduce Revit to the student body, as part of the curriculum. I remember the (not too long ago) CAD class i took at UB, with AutoCAD Polyline extrusions, exporting to Max, and rendering... A lot of work for just an image, nevermind intelligent data. At first whisper of it, the Schools we approached were (sadly) not extremely enthused about the idea, to say the least. Understandbaly so, as it may appear that we were two people wishing to promote our software of choice in a University setting. The letter below is a correspondence i sent back to the university, hoping to pursuade them. As ive said in the past, for me its not just about more intelligent Construction documents, i believe we can change the way work gets done in the field, and i think the first thing necessary for us to do is spread the word. Here is the primarily unedited (my email didnt like copy to clipboard, so the spacing of words had to be fixed) communique:

I know this corresponence is lengthy (and believe me, this is the edited version!) but i would greatly appreciate it if you could spare me a few minutes of your day.

In recent years, I have had the pleasure of working with many graduates from the Syracuse University's School of Architecture. Since relocating back to the CNY area almost 2 years ago, I've been immersed with many of your graduates, as they educate me through the early years of my career in architecture.

Having graduated in 2005 from the University at Buffalo's School of Architecture, my time in the field thus far has opened many doors, affording me the capabilities to work with a myriad of new technologies that have asserted themselves as placements in theArchitectural industry. I have been working with Dal Pos Architects,working on advancing our use of the Building Information Model throughout the architectural process. Through my exciting travels at DPA, I met (remaining nameless here), an Architect who shares my passion for the changes that Revit can bring to the field of architecture.

These changes are best described in Stephen Kieran's and James Timberlake's Refabricating Architecture. (Find it here)

They delve in to a process where:

Architects are no longer limited to the fragmentary representation of physical ideas; we can now fully pre-form them. This composite understanding of architecture before it actually becomes substance offers a deep understanding of the elements of architecture that affect our daily lives. Refabricating architecture leads towards a new humanism. (Kieran and Timberlake xii)

While their book speaks of the specifics as related to the manufacturing industry, their point is driven home in the comparison they make of modern architects and architecture, to that of Brunelleschi and St Maria del Fiore: "The master builder was a person who combined the roles of architects, builder, engineer, and scientist... Brunelleschi was such a man." In a chapter-long diatribe about the current state of affairs, they go on to discuss how our current industry trend to try catching up to more advanced industries have removed the architects from many of the decision making roles, proclaiming that there is an "art vs.commodity" battle taking place, where commodity is the ease of interoperabilitybetween all of those involved in the AEC industry, and where we (as DESIGNERS, as architects) have the disconnect with the rest of the industry, because of our antiquated methodologies.

It is my contention, that (while only a tool to communicate design intent and design iteration) THIS is where the capabilities of a software like Revit can put architects and designers as a whole back into their roles as Master Builders. With the capability to accurately convey the roughest design iteration to everyone involved in the process, Revit puts the Master Builder in the middle of the entire driving force that creates architecture, making US the translators(not only of OUR designs), but of everyone else who's designs will come to interact with ours. When the simplest of forms and designs can start generating intelligent data, which can then drive our consultants and collegues to make educated decisions WITH us rather than AGAINST us, our collaborated final product can achieve a higher degree of closeness to our original intent. Software as a whole is generally seen as a tool of efficiency, of production, and of profit. While Revit may be these things, I have seen its potential to communicate, and to inherently break down a wall that I personally believe exists between designers and clients: That wall being an education we have received to visualize and conceptualize a space, while trying to communicate it to an individual without those capabilities.

It is for the above listed reasons, why I have a great passion for seeing Revit make it in to a Higher Education's program in a School of Architecture. I have (enthusiastically) discussed this with (name of other enthusiastic Reviteer), and I have told her that I would be willing to teach such a class, if such an opportunity were to be made available and if the students were to display interest. I am aware that Syracuse University has the seats of Revit licenses available, and that some of your gifted students are already using it for some of their projects. (I have also had the joy to work with a few of them already, and see some of the magic they have made with it!)

I would love to see this come to fruition at the University. If nothing else, I implore you to put it to the student body. I would be more than willing to bring a presentation and a short lecture (an hour or so) on its effects in the DESIGN profession, (and not just the production profession) to the university, so that the students could get a feel for what kind of class we could theoretically give to them. Iwould love to hear back from you, if such a presentation and/or such a class would be of any interest to you. Please feel free to contact me at anytime regarding this matter.

Im happy to say that shortly after distributing varying copies of this letter to a few universities (honest variations, i havent worked with students from all the schools, so i had to edit it, lol...) we actually had a bit of positive feedback! The professor at the School of Architecture is interested in sitting down to discuss a potential class, and a professor from the school of Engineering has said he would attend as well, if it would be beneficial. I think it would be GREAT to get the students to do one assignment with collaborating somehow... The School of E here uses RISA-3D... All in all, it may end up never coming to fruition, but im happy about it. At least tonight i know we tried, and at least a couple of people will listen. :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Revit Plan vs RCP Visibility... Do you want both?

Another short note i sent in using the Product Feedback page at:

I may be the only one wishing for this, but its something that seems (in my very limited knowledge) easy to accomplish.

The Visibility conditions for geometry in families-

Plan/RCP when cut

These all work very well, but Plan and RCP would be much better if they were separated. Often times i build items that i would like to see in the RCP, but not in the Floor plan (Light sconces, some generic models, Louvered awnings over doors, etc.) and i am not able to, unless by chance the item is cut by the cut-plane of the RCP.
Then i have to spend a few hours explaining these shortcomings to the Project managers, haha.
Also, i have a door with transom windows, and because of the transom it is cut by both plan and RCP. This makes the symbolic lines for the door swing show up on the RCP as well. Now, i can go in to VG and disable them, but with 6-8 RCP's in the project (plus enlarged) this sometimes takes a large amount of time. Also, i may not want the frames and such to show. If there Plan and RCP boxes were separate, i could affront this much easier in the family editor during content creation.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Revit, Random, and different platforms...

One thing i always "ASSumed" about 3D modeling and Consultant Coordination, was that in some way shape or form, everyone would "see" your model, and could derive object locations based on it. So when i heard that (for some reason), we had to provide actual coordinates for a floor opening that is (somewhat) random in design, i was curious. "Aren't they working with our model overlayed?" "Well yes, but..."

I digress. Its not the point anyway. A couple of people in the office began wondering how an object in Revit would report coordinates relative to a structural grid. Granted, the Spot Dim. tool reports coordinates, but our structural grid was not aligned with the coordinate system (and we couldn't adjust, there was another coord. system, etc...) So anyway...

My solution was a simple one, its been done many times. We use Parameters to Drive geometry, so i thought id just reverse engineer a family, so the geometry could drive the Parameters, giving a dimension. Its NOT a 100% intelligent tool, and its certainly not "user-proof," but i don't believe we'll ever be "User proof" :-)

All the family entailed, was two Crosshairs, which i just made from Specialty Equipment Families to be consistent. (The whole assembly is a Spec. Equip. family so it can be scheduled...) In any event, the Distance Parameters have to be shared, obviously... That way they can be reported in a schedule.
Where its UNintelligent, is in the smaller crosshair. Ideally, we could intelligently have it report where it lies, but i dont know of a way to accomplish this. So the accuracy of this tool rests in someone aligning the smaller crosshair to a common "origin" from which to report. With Revit's Multiple Alignment tool, this takes about two seconds. :) The DIMS go to the reference planes, which the Crosshair is locked to. In the project, this gives us pull tabs, which are great for this application.
For ease of use, i prefer to insert them and copy them around so they're already on the "random" points i need coordinates for. You can put them on the "origin" first, and stretch/align them, but then you have a number of points in different locations to deal with. Since they're all connected to the same Critical Origin, i like to get the random points out of the way when i drop them in. Then i can multiple align to the "origin". (I'm using the term in quotes because its not an origin, its just a base point... Just wanted to clarify). the little "legs" hanging out in space are what need to be aligned to a common point. Because of the pull tabs, you can literally just "align" with the Crosshair.

There are the pull tabs, if you choose to go that route... I prefer the align tool for this application, but i can see why it may not be ideal. The align tool is tough if your object isn't parallel with the Crosshair, so i was using a Component that was just an empty crosshair, that i placed on all the Floor Edges ahead of time. Again, not a perfect solution, as it requires of you to accurately pick the points to be located and scheduled.

I think a better solution could be had of those Spot Coordinates... I don't believe we can schedule them, but if we could... Wow, that could go places. Calculated values accounting for the grid orientation shift and/or the "origin" in use... And it would all stay live... BUT, you'd still have to clock the points. So I'm not sure its possible to eliminate us from the game. I guess we all get to keep our jobs today. :) So anyway, i put a bunch of them in, and did the multiple align to the two grids I'm using as my Benchmark.

I have to admit... After a few years at UB doing Ink on Mylar of obscure objects, part of me wanted to print this... for no practical use. But alas, save a tree, hit Print Screen, lol.

Those are all the markers after having the crosshair aligned to the "origin." About ten minutes of work, then i tagged them. That took a while, because we cant specify in the family, WHERE the tag goes in, so it defaults to the center of the family... Which makes me cry in this instance. I had to move the tags, which also is a liability in the fidelity of the model... But, since the coordinates and the schedule will always be right, its a visual mis-cue, if anything.

In the family, i put in a Visibility Parameter for the Connecting Line, so i could shut them off in the end. Here are the markers, with the lines disabled. Pretty simple, really.

Here's the schedule with the values reported. Some of them are horrible numbers (Rays rule for precision...), but that's what it actually is, right? Id like to play around with something similar in principle, but much bigger in design. Maybe take something like one of the Morphosis Buildings, and try breaking it down.
Gehry Tech.'s Digital Project is great at documenting complex relationships, where structure is based on form, which is based on some mathematical algorithm... But one has to wonder: What happens in a case like this, where someone ELSE'S software, that DOESN'T read the formulas, needs values for location off something like that? I liked this exercise for that reason alone... Its easy to say CAD standards are heading by the way side, and Schedules are live, and information now has to be displayed and conveyed in a fashion that doesn't compromise the integrity of our models... But with ArchiCAD, Revit, DP, RISA3D, Solidworks, and on and on and on... There is obviously a communication breakdown, save for things like IFC (which i know little about at this point). So what do we have to look forward to, in terms of breaking down information in to values everyone can appreciate? Because at the end of the day, I'm betting that a gorgeous 3D model isn't turning in to a building unless the Structural guy knows where to put the Steel. :-)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Bentley Architecture?

I haven't gotten a chance to even DL the trial yet, but I'm going to. Its based on Microstation, i suppose, since you must have the latter to try out the former. Ive never used either, but in the spirit of staying Objective about Revit I'm going to Download it this weekend.

Granted, i haven't spent a great deal of time with the various platforms I've used... But I've used a few, and i prefer it that way. So far I've been the happiest and most successful with Revit, for a number of reasons. Yet, having been down other roads always offers perspective, and from it, appreciation for the things we have. :)

Anyone try Bentley Architecture yet?

Additive Information... And the Human Implication.

I'm working on an Egress Plan on Revit, and awhile back i took my best shot at automating it. For this particular job, we are taking the SF, calling 90 percent sales, 10 percent stock, and calculating the number of exits based on number of occupants, based on the SF.

Now, it was fairly simple to do, until i decided i wanted a check in place in case i didn't have the correct number of exits. This wasn't difficult, more than irritating to set up. And in the end, while it works, every person must now know how it works: Exit tags by doors are really Area Tags, that way the value of Door Capacity can be a property of the Area. This lets a string of formulas and calculated values all stem from the area of the "Area", which works nicely.

There is a schedule on our drawing sheet, that only shows up if some of the values are not correct, warning you to go to your automated schedule to check the exits and such. This was a great idea i got from Steve Stafford. (Works great Steve!).

This method hasn't let me down yet, unless.... I simply never define an "Area." Maybe there is a space that was "Area 2c03", but somewhere along the way it got bisected by a demise wall, and the origin for said Area is on one half. Well, if i never place an "Area" entity in the other half, all of the calculations are moot, yes? Depending on what platform you work in (I'm in Revit obviously, but that isn't the point of this post) there may be options, depending on how different platforms work. Ours treats Areas and Rooms as objects, and they have to be placed.

This instance aside, it got me thinking about the subject of Object Omission: BIM, 3D modeling, Live scheduling, yadda yadda... They do wonderful things for us. But along the same lines of garbage in garbage out, what happens when its NOTHING in = ________ out?

I'm not sure its far off, but i DO wonder: With everything that used to be done longhand, and everything that isn't now, when is the time coming when smarter programs like Revit can tell us when we completely forget something? Already, if you try to fill out an application online, and you miss a text field, they will not let you proceed. I could see us building enough intelligence in to a program like Revit that it knows you've...

*placed the components to establish a space.... But you didn't include a way in. (How DO you get in those rooms we model and forget doors? LOL)

*Defined a space with geometry, but never with a "space" object (Room, area, etc...)

I know there are already Programming Programs (haha) out there... Trilligence Affinity comes to mind... That can establish the "Space objects" and criteria ahead of time, before the geometry takes form... Is this the start of a program that can warn us when we simply forget to complete something? I'm very interested to see... So far we've been able to schedule everything, and calculate anything.... But we cant do much with nothing, can we? Share your thoughts...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

DESIGN OPTIONS... Is it just me? Or do you guess what to include?

The following is just another thought i had during a frustrated moment, while trying to add an object to a Design Option. I know for reasons like this many professionals hate Hosted Families, but i believe they are there for a reason, and love them. They make moving walls and the like very easy. They KILL me, however, when i need to insert a wall in to a design option. The same is true for Wall Sweeps, etc. What do you think? read on...

Design Options - Wonderfully powerful tool! I use them all of the time, for showing my clients different variations of facades for Retail work.
One thing i would LOVE to see chnged (as it would save me literally hours), is being able to place elements in an Option, which host elements int he main model. I understand why we cant (i could delete it in the option...), so maybe if i TRY to place it in an option, instead of telling me i cant, it should ask "do you want to place all hosted objects in the option as well?"
This would save me HOURS. I use a lot of Hosted objects(wall hosted families, wall sweeps, walls attached to roofs (top or base), and while i love design options, they are sometimes lengthy (time wise) to initiate, because i have to guess and be sure to get anything with a relationship to an object, or it will not go in to the Option.
I have 2 window awnings that MIGHT have to be deleted, so i want them in the Options right now. They are wall hosted. So i cannot insert them without getting the wall as well, which means the wall sweep (Cornice and base) which is continuous around the building. That means needing all 4 walls, with all 30 doors, every wall mounted light (in between all the doors), etc.
In the end, because i cannot mentally track which items i need to grab, i will end up simply deleting the awnings, and putting them back later.
An option to automatically "would you like to include all related hosted elements?" would save me hours, and able me to use this tool with the utmost in efficiency, something i already love about the Program. :)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Why we need Track Changes

Track Changes:

We need the capability, in my opinion. Have you used it? In Acrobat and Microsoft Word? I use it when im proofreading peoples papers for classes or for work. The beauty of Revit is it updates things automatically. But that beauty is killed when we have to chase down all the automated changes by hand, to mark them as changed, during the Revision period. Not to mention, getting back in line with my original post, what happens to keeping track of changes youve made, if and when we ever get away from a standard set of documentation? Suppose hypothetically, that im leading a team of ten. No sheets in a document set. Instead, we have hyperlinked files, some showing Axons, some showing details, some showing plans, etc. Its ahrd to imagine it not being "sheets," but try. Now, if its hard to track revisions NOW, when we have standard sheet layouts, what will happen if and when we have to intrinsically "know" all the fancy knwe views we have? Already Revit lets up put 3D views on sheets. Well, everytime someone puts a 3d view of a building on a sheet, do you remember to cloud it AND the plan AND the elevation AND the section? It seems restricting, that a program lets us avoid hitting every sheet for change, but we have to check each sheet on our own, in case it needs a cloud or change tag. Let me know what you think?

The reasoning is as follows: Where Revit is great, is making change. The entier model updates at once, its amazing. BUT, we tend to use a lot of Working Views, that arent in the drawing set. I may make a change on "Floor Plan - Aaron Working", and it may actually "revise" 4 Floor Plans and Elevations in the Drawing set. Even with this automation, i have to manually look at each drawing, to see if there is something i need to cloud. Its not feasible to Cloud things automatically, but maybe it could have a dialogue that lists what VIEWS have had things change?Maybe they just highlight in the Project Browser until someone right clicks and says > Revision noted? The beauty of this would be clouding could be done much faster at the end of the Revision. Right now, we spend hours again, checking to make sure we have Clouded and tagged all the right sheets.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Arrays Less than 2?

NOTE: Nice... I got the layout adjusted to 820 pix wide. If you use revit, i cant imagine you work on less than 1024x768 anyway...

Recently someone on AUGI was looking to array an element in a family, but the array kept collapsing when the value got pushed down to less than 2. It is unfortunate that Revit will not "store" a dimension between the first element and the hypotehtical second (in case the second goes away) but cest la vie.

This is obviously treaded ground already, and there are much better explanations for how this works. But below is a quickie i used to explain it on AUGI:

Okay, ill go through the steps of what i did, and you can try it unless someone else has an example for you to reverse engineer. Sorry about that, but my home computer is demo version, it wont save.In IMAGE 1:

1. I made Family 1, just the one piece sweep.

2. I made Family 2, and loaded family 1 in to it. Family 1 is then arrayed, and i put in aparameter for COUNT and DISTANCE. I then assigned the param. COUNT to the label of the array. I dimension the First blade to the second, and assign the label DISTANCE to that dimension. (i went bottom to bottom...)

3. I loaded both families in to Family 3, and placed them both, one on top of the other. The parameters are then set as follows, as shown:

F1V: (Yes/No instance) This will control Family 1 visibility. For the formula, input COUNT = 1. Go to Family 1 that you placed, and go to its properties. Click the gray area at the end of the Visible field, and tie it to F1V.

F2V: (Yes/No instance) This will control Family 2 visibility. For the formula, input COUNT > 1. Go to Family 2 that you placed, and go to its properties. Click the gray area at the end of the Visible field, and tie it to F2V.

Now, make a parameter DISTANCE (length) and ARRAYCOUNT (integer). Go to the Properties of Family 2, and click the gray box at the end of the COUNT field, and tie it to ARRAYCOUNT. Also tie DISTANCE in Family 2 to DISTANCE in Family 3.

Make the Formula for ARRAYCOUNT the following: if (Count>1, Count, 2)What that is doing, is saying if the Value input (for COUNT) is greater than 1, use the value input. if its not greater than 1, use the value of 2, so the family doesnt collapse on itself. This wont matter, because the visibility parameter F2V will make Family 2 not present anyway.

**Peek at image 3. It demonstrates how the if statement, and the visibility parameters will behave. If the value is 1 (for COUNT), the if statement will save the arrays geometry by defaulting ARRAYCOUNT to 2. It will not display Family 2 in the project, so this is irrelevant.

When COUNT is greater than 2, Family 2 shows up with the actual value, and Family 1 is hidden.

4. Load Family 3 in to your project.

Now, in the properties of Family 3 (the actual "FAMILY"), you have a COUNT and a DISTANCE. Through the nested families, the ARRAYCOUNT parameter will make whichever one visible that should be, given the conditions.

If you decided to SHARE the families 1 and 2 (under fmaily catagories and settings, at the bottom) when you loaded them in to 3, (see image IN PROJECT).Both Family 3 AND Family (whichever) will schedule if you made them shared. In my opinion, i wouldnt, because Family 3 is your "actual family" and 1 and 2 are just necessary evils. (Thats more an argument about what youre doing though...)

Also bear in mind, much like Parameters DISTANCE and COUNT, any other parameters you wish to be flexible from the project will have to be nested. For instance, if you want to control the width of the Louvers...Family 1 Parameter WIDTH and Family 2 Parameter WIDTH must both be tied to FAMILY 3 Parameter WIDTH through their properties dialogue, before you load Family 3 in to a project. Because Family 3 is the real family.I hope this makes sense...