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!