Thursday, August 28, 2008

AutoCAD Architecture: The Unsung BIM application?

The "I" in BIM is the defining factor of what makes a software a true BIM application. Any software that allows you to attach, store, and extract information from a model (whether 2D or 3D), and allows you to present design intent and investigate constructability, goes a long way towards implementing BIM and Integrated Project Delivery. (Notice, I'm not saying that a software is BIM. I'm just saying that it is a tool to help you create BIM and integrate your processes with the processes of other. OK, rant over.)

Given that, I wonder why Autodesk chooses to market its products the way that they do. Revit Architecture (RAC) is the flagship BIM platform in Autodesk's armada of software. AutoCAD Acrhitecture (ACA) is billed as a tool designed to increase the productivity of "Architects who know AutoCAD." No mention is given in the advertising literature about ACA's use for BIM.

Alot is said about Revit's ability to attach parameters (information) to elements in the model and schedule them out. ACA has similar ability. ACA let's you use a ubiquitous file format (.dwg)(remember, interoperability is KEY in Integrated Practice) to produce a 3d model that uses "smart objects" to represent and document the built environment. These objects "know" what they are and how they should interact with objects around them. Doors "know" that they go in walls, as do windows. Roofs are modeled based on complex rules running behind the scenes with limited input from the user. These objects also have information attached to them (manufacturer, material, etc, etc.) and they can communicate that information to schedules created within the program.

I DON'T think that ACA is as robust as RAC in some functions. Sections and elevations aren't "live" you can't select objects in them and modify those objects. When you make changes to plan views, you must update the section or elevation that is produced from them (which could lead to uncoordinated documents.) You can't select objects in schedules and make changes to them that effect the model.

However, all said, ACA is a pretty darn powerful modeling, drafting and information organizing software. Wow, sounds like BIM to me. It is especially useful in leveraging the training and skills of users who are experienced in AutoCAD.

I'd love to hear the opinions of anyone who has used ACA or by its former moniker ADT Architectural Desktop (either in a BIM capacity or not) on real life projects.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Vista's Snipping Tool

No, it's not a veterinary tool for digital pets. It's a decent screen capture tool that comes with Windows Vista.
To find it; Click the Start button>Select "All Programs">and navigate to the "Accesesories" folder.
If you have ever used the Print Screen funtion to show someone (through email or otherwise) what's happening on your screen you should really give this a try. The Snipping Tool goes beyond Print Screen in s couple of ways. First you get to see what you just captured. I don't know how many times I have said "Just press the button Labeled PRT SCR... No, don't worry that it doesn't seem like it did anything... No, you have to paste it into a document or an email first... Yes, I think they should call it "Screen Copy" instead of Print Screen too."
That aside, You also don't have to settle for a full screen capture that you crop in Word or Paint altough it does that as well.

You can also choose any open window to capture and you can annotate (with pens and highlighter, no text though.)

You can even crop a rectangle or use a free form tool.

So if you don't want to spring for SnagIt or some other screen capture program maybe you should reconsider that Vista upgrade you have been putting off... Well at least Revit runs fine on Vista despite our fears to the contary.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

e-SPECS for Revit

e-SPECS for Revit is a software program that interfaces with the Revit model, extracts assembly information from families in the project, imports spec sections based on that information and produces a Project Manual manual specific to the assemblies in that project. As changes are made in the project the Project Manual updates based on those changes.

Other neat-o features are; the ability to do mark-ups of the specs from Revit, and a project specific Keynote File (again, based on the specs, which are based on the project.)

Keen! See a recorded online Demo here.

Now that's creative use of information in models.

Friday, August 15, 2008

REVIT Dimension weirdness

The "whole wall" option that is available with the dimension tool in REVIT can be a great time saver. However I discovered something kinda weird today. I dimensioned a wall and received this dimension string.

What's with the 0'-0" dims? And, you may have noticed, that the cursor is over the grip you would use to edit what the extension line is snapped to (which is also the way that you would delete that dimension form the string.) You can tell by the dialog that says "Drag to set the gap between..." So I have 0'-0" dimension that I can't get rid of. Hmmmmmmm.

If you look a little closer you will see that there is an underlay visible in the view (Thanks to Andre Carvalho over at AUGI for seeing that.) So, setting the underlay to "none" we get.
Nice fix, but... why does REVIT reference a "whole wall" dimension to a wall other than the one you select?

Navisworks 2009.1

Autodesk has also come out with a point release of NavisWorks. Unlike the point release of AutoCAD REVIT Suite the NavisWorks point release comes with new funtionality. NavisWorks now provides:

-Support for Revit assembly codes for "symbol" element types
-Properties support for new style DWF files (as exported from Revit)
-Asta Powerproject V10 support
-AutoCAD Mechanical 2008 64-bit support
-64-bit exporters now included in the main installer
-Vico Constructor 2008 support
-Enhancements to application programming interface

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BIM Forum meeting

Quoted from an email from the AGC's BIMForum;

"The BIMForum will meet October 2 & 3 at The Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, Virginia. Meetings will be held all day Thursday and Friday. The theme of this meeting is how interface points are established to help Building Information Models to evolve. This meeting will be loaded with presentations on the interfaces between project teams, the current status and future of software interoperability, risk management, as well as a showcase of new and innovative technology. "

Check them out here.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

AutoCAD REVIT Architecture Suite 2009.1

Autodesk announced to it's Reseller's sales staff that they are coming out with a point release for REVIT Architectural Suite. Currently that suite includes REVIT Architectural 2009 and Autocad 2009.

The 2009.1 Suite will include those applications as well as AutoCAD Architecture.This decision was made to allow those thinking of migrating to a true BIM product can make that move and still keep their old platform for current projects and future projects using existing files.

Ask your VAR for details. More information will be available on the Autodesk website as of Aug 22. Salespeople are being encouraged to market this point release starting now.

The above is my opinion of information given to me by an AutoDesk Value Added Retailer and is not implied to be a release by AutoDesk.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Alternative Energy (Off topic)

Check out this ad and then visit the website. I am excited by the fact that a private businessman has a an energy plan for the country. I am excited by the fact that said businessman has no aspirations (visibly at least) to politics. Will he make money on this venture? Who the hell cares? Make money AND reduce dependency on foreign oil? My God, what a concept.

Find more videos like this on PickensPlan

I'm a member of the Pickens Plan Army, and I encourage everyone who reads this to at least investigate the plan and see if it makes sense to you.