Saturday, October 25, 2008

Revit Freelancers, beware!

I debated putting this on the blog, as i like my blog to not be polluted with personal issues. BUT, i pride myself on "doing the right thing," and i would feel bad if any of you who work from home ended up in this situation too. Luckily, for me Reviteering at home is a side thing of passion, and its not what pays the mortgage.

Its not uncommon for us on AUGI to ask one another for help, and sometimes, people are actually seeking contractual work. In one such instance, there was a Rendering task that needed to be done in SHORT order... (2 days from first contact.) Naturally, not much time to hammer out an actual written contract. That DOES make this predicament my own fault, and rest assured i take full blame for it. But naively, wanting to help a fellow AUGI poster, and wanting to satisfy another end-client that Revit IS the way to do architecture, i put my nose on the grindstone, and hammered out the work. Thankfully, i only invested about twenty hours, during which times 78 emails passed back and forth between myself and the client (which i have saved, email me if you feel this post is inappropriate, and ill be happy to share them as a statement of fact so this post cannot be construed as only one side of the story), and about 25 phone calls. There were several progress updates, and several updates in terms of how much compensation was owed. (Again) naively, i was willing to transmit final images in good faith, as i know how some time sensitive jobs can be, with regard to winning over investors, etc.

Suddenly though, the end client has gone missing, or unresponsive to communication. I have made several attempts to establish communication with him, and in one successful attempt he even mentioned having me do MORE work, but was not forthcoming when i mentioned i liked to settle old business before new.

In any event, i would feel terrible for NOT writing this, if i ignored it and the same thing happened to one of you. So Freelancers beware, here is the contact information, in case he solicits work from you:

Name: Lee McKinney
City: St Louis, MO.
Email address: (the account states the name of Chandis McKinney)
MSN Contact:
Project: 514 W. Diversey Ave
Cell Phone number: 773-497-9789

Freelancers beware!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Copy Monitor- How i love thee, but how i loathe thee.

* thanks to David B. for bringing this one up. Because while i could be relaxing, everyone knows the right way to spend an evening is arguing over the pro's/cons of Copy Monitor, LOL!

One of the great things about exploring tools in Revit, is coming up with new ways to change your processes. Amongst everyone i talk to, Copy Monitor is a pretty hated tool. I think it has immense capabilities (not that anyone argues that), but it certain has its shortcomings. This one, however, i hadn't thought about until i gave it a whirl last night while David and i were chatting about it.

Let us suppose: Project 1, with a few "openings" in a wall. One, an actual Opening. A pair of Single Doors: They are the same family. The family has a Nested Light fixture constrained to the wall, with a visibility parameter that is type driven. Also, a pair of double doors, in the same configuration.

Now, i preface this issue with the following: I don't believe in the *super door family* theory of having every possible combination built in to one door family, with super adjustable frames, panels, sidelights, etc. BUT, that said: Lights above doors are a PERFECT procedural reason for nesting a family. Why? If they're lights for exiting safely, they WILL go above the doors. Why manually chase moving doors through design iterations, with the align tool in elevations snapping light fixtures, when a simple nested light fixture can save you the hassle in one click? Precisely. Now suppose, this file was sent to your Structural Engineer, as this was a Bearing Concrete wall. they will Copy Monitor, to maintain consistency and coordination in both location, length, openings, etc. And CM even has that radio button in the options for walls, to "copy doors/windows/openings," right?

As they proceed, the end result is pictured at left. What appears to be happening, is for the CM feature, it is seeking out the
EXTENTS of the family, instead of the Opening of the family. MORE concerning, is that it is also doing it for Family Types that have the light OFF. As Revit is
WYSIWYG, this is MOST surprising. Until
noticing that, my suggested workaround WAS going to be edit the Family Type, uncheck the box, send to Structural, recheck the box. Not clean, but sufficient. Now, if you built your doors as SEPARATE families, instead of the type parameter for the light, you can do a Family Reload, and select a door with no extraneous items.... But that makes QC difficult, what with Dimension references being eliminated with inconsistancies in families. Not to mention if a door you switch it with has a slightly different origin configuration... Certainly that wont work!

I wanted to verify that it was checking total extents, and that it wasn't an anomaly with the nested family, so i added a few model lines to the Door family, and reloaded, then performed the coordination review in the other project...

Getting back to my first paragraph, I'm finding there isn't much this program cant do. CM is a tool that can help a great deal of trades, and lately I've been appreciating it for Architectural/Interiors collaboration. As an architect, i may want a 4-7/8" wall with gyp on both sides, and end of story. As i build my walls that way, my Interior Designer may want to explore paint patterns or additional materials on top of that wall. For add's, that's fine... They build their own wall and we call it a day. But for painting/wallpapering/finishing? This is a great situation where their CM rules can be set to turn a 4-7/8" wall in to a 3-5/8" stud (wall) and they can then layer they're own version of gyp (replete with different paint or finishes) and be done with it. Could i build just a 3-5/8 in my model, and let them cover the walls in theirs? Sure, but what about tagging/Partition scheduling, and again... How to assert that both parties are content with the QC of their product? Its an issue CM could EASILY rectify... But what if that door has Accessibility signage on the side of it, or room signage? Certainly, this is one thing that needs to get fixed!

While were on the subject, we NEED "Rule Based Copy Monitor." CM works great, if i lay out grids, and send them to Struct, and then move them or delete them. What if i add a grid? its another instance of "you don't know what you don't know" to quote JAB. They have to TELL it to CM, which means if i drop the ball and don't tell them, they aren't CM'ing that grid. Or toilet. Or column.

If I'm MEP, you know what i want? To open my file, after getting a new Arch. Model, and to get a coordination review alert, because Architect ADDED 4 lavs to the men's room. Now i know to get in that area. It could be very similar to what we have now, with a few more radio buttons. Under additional Copy Parameters, it could say "Copy ALL Grids" "Copy ALL Toilets" etc.
Furthermore, you know what would be sweet? I way to Monitor the ENTIRE model. I mean, yeah... we have "Compare Models," but think of it this way: My structural Engineers model is already IN my model. Quick issue in the field, and we start revising drawings. Maybe it was structural first, so they revise and resend a model. CM will tell us what moved... If it was something to CM. But imagine CM's potential in terms of document tracking! I go to open my file after the new struct arrives, and because I've "issued" my permit set, and they have too, i get a "Coordination Revit Alert- Items in instance of link have changed after issuance." I go to a 3D view where "Project completion" is showing everything halftoned, besides the three beams, 6 columns and footings, and 4 pieces of bracing that just changed.
Man, i can dream i guess. :) LMK what you think on the CM issues though. Maybe I'm NOT the only one who secretly loves this tool!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

AU 2008- Vegas! (Unconference Topics?)

Having covered everything in my LAST post, i did not think AU08 was going to happen for me. I really enjoyed 07 and 06 (though 07 happened at a terrible time, so my mind wasn't completely in the game), and i was a bit disenchanted that all of the circumstances would basically mean not participating in AU this year. (After all, who would you ask? The boss you just stopped working for? Or the one who just hired you? LOL)

But MUCH to my surprise, an opportunity to attend made itself known to me, in the form of some generosity from another believer of what i like to call "Revit hippyness." Sooooo, that being said, i will see you all in Vegas this year!

Which brings up AU Unconference. Last year, i found these to be some of the most enlightening and entertaining parts of the entire week. I am hoping then end up as such this year too! I'm contemplating putting a few topics in, but as I'm a latecomer this year, i haven't even looked to see if they're all picked already or not.
But this year (as i read so many others have done) ill be sure to stick my "avatar" in my badge, so I'm easier to identify.
Lets talk shop!

Revit Semantics, AND a job change!

I discovered something in Revit tonight, when a colleague asked me a question about a specific command, and then i realized i hadn't been here in some time. More so, i realized that my last couple of posts here have all said that i would come back to expand on them, and that i never had. It hasn't been lack of wanting, but in both Revit and Architecture: it has been a long few months.

It started with the tool of Revit, but it didn't end there. Still, in my first post here i indicated this would be more on the journey as i perceived it using Revit, and less of a "how to" in using the tool. There are far smarter people than me to teach you all. :) What transpired isn't all tool related, but since Revit began the journey: Here is my story.

A funny thing happens when you start to use Revit. Well, i digress. If you're using it the way *I* think it should be used, something interesting happens: You either fail, or you learn how things get built. You cant model correctly if you don't know what you're modeling. So, being fairly green in the profession, i asked a TON of questions, and learned rather fast. As the knowledge started to grow (due MAINLY to the two men i worked directly under, who were fantastic for my career growth. Thanks NCG and DEC!) i started to be able to move on my own. I learned the ARCHITECTURE.

As YOU all know, aside from THAT venture, once you start to progress your architecture, you start to see shortcomings in the organizational structure of your REVIT... Maybe in your revit strategy. You modify, you refine, you progress the PROCESS, WHILE you progress the architecture.

You realize you need conventions where your office has none, you need instructions where your office has none. You start to use tools, and that means teaching. You start to brainstorm with collegues, and that means testing. You guys are figuring things out, and talking to the people in charge. There are more meetings, there is more implementation, and on it goes.

But after a while, something interesting happened. I had learned enough from my superiors to move ahead, and help them do more... And on the Revit side, i had started pushing the office pretty hard. I was teaching them more tools, wanting more from the model. The client wanted more from the model, and i knew we could do it... But, as you ALL know, not everyone shares that dream.

Suddenly, something else started creeping in to the workplace: Resentment. Bullying. Sabotage. Infantile, maybe, but after a while we tire of the fight. For a long while i tried holding on to my somewhat advanced position in both architecture AND Revit, but there was a time when i knew it was detrimental to my mental well being to remain.

For a short while, as i considered a job change, it looked very much like i may have been throwing in the Revit Towel, as jobs in the area aren't aplenty using Revit, and with my house purchase and general state of content in the area, I'm not keen on moving. I'm not done here.... YET.

But i lucked out, and have transitioned to another Revit house. I am learning as i go that "Everywhere you go, there you are..." and that every day is a different fight. What i do know is this: I love this tool, and more than that i love doing Architecture. the new gig aside, there are some other things in the works that will hopefully assure that i ALWAYS stay involved in Revit and Architecture... So we will see.

For now, ill let go of my more frustrated tone, and hope to get back in to the geekishly interesting!